From Olalekan Awojodu, Abuja
The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) on Monday apologized to Nigerians for what it described as the failure of lawyers to live up to their responsibilities in offering guidance and leadership for the advancement of the country.
Speaking at a National Dialogue on the State of the Nation organized by the association, in Abuja, the President, Mr Yakubu Maikyau, expressed regrets that most of the challenges Nigerians were facing were as a result of the neglect of lawyers to provide direction and leadership to the people.
The dialogue is with the theme; State of the Nation Dialogue; Security, Economy and Administration of Justice.
Political parties and their presidential flag bearer who was present at the occasion include Mr Hamza Almustapha (Action Alliance), Omoyele Sowore (African Action Congress (ADC), Professor Peter Umeadi (All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Prince Malik Ado Ibrahim (Young Progressives Party (YPP) and Mr Dan Nwanyanwu of the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP).
Maikyau, who described the apology as necessary, noted that no other group of professionals is called to such a privileged position as the lawyers, which according to him also comes with corresponding responsibility to provide leadership.
He said: “I dare say, with utmost respect, that to a large extent, our experience today as a country is a direct result of the legal profession’s abdication of the duty to provide direction and leadership to the people. I must therefore, as one who is privileged to lead the Bar at this time, apologise to Nigerians for the abdication of our role;
“Today, as members of the Bar, we are reputed more for how much fees we charge our clients as opposed to the discharge of our primary call to offer guidance and/or offer ourselves for the advancement of the cause of our country;
“This apology is necessary because no other group of professionals is called to this privileged position as the lawyers, which also comes with corresponding responsibility to provide leadership,” Maikyau said.
In his own remarks, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, described the dialogue as apt, saying it was a call to duty for legal practitioners. “I thank the NBA under its new leadership for initiating this national dialogue,” he said.
Giving a keynote address at the occasion, the Deputy Secretary-General, United Nations, Amina Mohammed decried the state of insecurity in the country, lamenting that injustice, increasing social inequalities, impunity, rights violations and the lack of economic opportunities for citizens may have contributed to lack of peace in the land.
The importance of the dialogue according to her cannot be underestimated as it would provide legal professionals a platform to discuss roles in managing conflicts that may arise from the outcome of the election. She, therefore, charged lawyers to remain impartial in the discharge of their functions by ensuring fair and justified results in all electoral matters.
She also expressed the need for the protection of electoral and other institutions related to the administration of justice to ensure that justice is served.
Mohammed, who frowned at the near alienation of women and youths in Nigerian politics, demanded for an increase in the number of women in government. She further warned that equal participation is crucial for development.
“Equal participation in politics is crucial for gender equality, yet, the number of women vying for political offices has been in decline. In addition, the Nigerian population is young and talented and yet, they are not heard. 70 per cent of the Nigerian population is under the age of 30 years, yet they are also not represented and often not included as active participants in decision-making;
“My sincere hope is that this can be turned around to build a more equal and just society when we embrace the best of our traditions with open minds and build the trust that would allow us move towards a better future together,”She added.
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