• NBA apologies to Nigeria

From Godwin Tsa, Abuja

The Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Amina Mohammed, has lamented at the near segregation of women and youths in Nigerian politics noting that equal participation is crucial for development.

This comes as the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr Yakubu Maikyau, SAN, apologised to Nigerians for what he described as the failure of lawyers to live up to their responsibilities of offering guidance for the advancement of the country.

They spoke separately on Monday at the State of the Nation Dialogue organized by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in Abuja.
Amina Mohammed observed that women and youths are too often left behind in the politics of the country.

The UN Deputy Secretary-General, who joined the conversation virtually, said 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 to move towards a better future together”, she stated.

Mohammed further identified factors confronting Nigeria’s peace and security to include injustice, increasing social inequalities, impunity, rights violations and the lack of economic opportunities for citizens.

she expressed the need for the protection of electoral and other institutions related to the administration of justice to ensure that justice is served.

Nigerian women constitute only 3.6 per cent of the national parliament and none is 35 years of age or younger. My appeal is to prioritize gender equality, and women’s rights and increase the number of women in government.

Muhammed, therefore, called for strong institutions, stressing that they are key to advancing equality and inclusion.

While applauding the increase in the number of registered voters from 84 million to 93 million, she decried the prevalence of fake news, hate speech as well as violence against candidates and destruction of INEC properties since the beginning of political campaigns began.

According to her, the importance of the dialogue cannot be underestimated as it would provide legal professionals a platform to discuss roles in managing conflicts that may rise from the outcome of the election.

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She, therefore, charged lawyers to remain impartial in the discharge of their functions by ensuring fair and justified results in all electoral matters.

In his speech at the forum, the NBA President, Yakubu Maikyau said most of the challenges Nigerians were facing were as a result of the neglect of lawyers to provide direction and leadership to the people.

“I dare say, with the 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 a corresponding responsibility to provide leadership,” Maikyau said.

Speaking on behalf of the Federal Government, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, said that the dialogue was apt as it was a call to duty for legal practitioners.

“I thank the NBA under its new leadership for initiating this national dialogue.

“This shows that you are bringing back the responsibilities restored on us as members of the legal profession,” Mustapha said.
Mustapha said whatever came out of the dialogue should be transmitted to the Federal Government to enable them to transmit it to the incoming government.

On his part, Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State said the dialogue was audacious.
Maikyau stated that the dialogue was necessary because the legal profession could not afford to fail to discharge its primary responsibility of providing leadership and guidance on matters that affect the socio-economic and political development of the country.

There couldn’t have been a better time than this for the NBA to set the tone and agenda for the Nigerian nation. The panellists include Engr. Bala Zakka, Professor Dahiru Hassan Balami, Mr Solomon Arase, MNI; Brig. General Abubakar Hanafi Sa’ad, Grp. Captain Sadiq Garba Shehu, Dr Babatunde Ajibade, SAN; Mr Wale Fapohunda, SAN; Mrs Huwaila Mohammed.

The dialogue focused on three key areas – the economy, security and administration of justice.