President- elect, Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Olumide Akpata has charged Nigerians to begin to hold leaders at all levels of governance accountable , by asking questions bothering on the sustainable development of Nigeria, if the desired transformational change would be achieved.
His assertion was reechoed by former NBA Chairman, Lagos, Adeshina Ogunlana and other prominent lawyers, at the First lecture to commemorate the Anti-Land Charge 2018 protest in Lagos.
The lecture, themed Maximizing The Potentials Of The Enlightenment Of The Middle Class In The Struggle For A Proper Nigeria: The Successful Anti-Lagos State Land Use Charge Law 2018 Protests As An Exemplar, was organized by the Radical Agenda Movement in the Nigerian Bar Association, RAMINBA and the Progressive Bar Forum, in Ikeja, Lagos, on Monday.
Akpata said “ nothing will change in our country if our people don’t ask the right questions, if they don’t challenge those in authority.
I am against the paternalistic attitude when those in authority arrogate to themselves of being always right. Nobody is a monopoly of wisdom. There will always be an alternative opinion. You must agitate for a change to happen. You don’t have to be aggressive or combative, only make your point clear, in a tenacious manner”.
To reduce the tendency of imposed policies from government, the Guest Lecturer, Richard Akinnola, said there was need for a symbiotic relationship between the ruling class whom he described as policy makers and the masses, as well as an enabling environment for civil organizations to present their proposals for policy making and implementation. Lamenting the upsurge in crime and acts of criminality in the country, Akinola, said:
“ it’s quite sad that Nigeria is now said to be the poverty capital of the world with insecurity everywhere. We are daily faced with tales of kidnapping, armed robbery, banditry , terrorism , electoral heists and grand corruption.
“There is therefore, need for the formation of Think-tanks to proffer policy directions in our nation. Egg heads and original thinkers in the country should get involved in scrutinizing the quality of policies being formulated and ensuring their implementation within a realistic time frame.
The time has come for in-depth research into some of the problems and proffering solutions to identified knotty issues militating against sustainable development and economic growth in Nigeria”.
Earlier in his welcome address, Chairman of RAMINBA, Adeshina Ogunlana, explained that the lecture was held to celebrate the success of the protest against the Land Use charge imposed on Lagosians by former Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode. Commending Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu for reversing the Land Use Charge, Ogunlana, noted that it was very rare for government to reverse its decision.
He recalled that : “In 2018, there was a massive protest in Lagos over the Land Use charge by governor Ambode .
Our branch under my leadership championed the protest. We protested thrice: on March 13th, March 22 and March 29, 2018, on the streets and at the State House of Assembly.
We did that because we took a decision that we could not follow the regular process of going to court. While the protest was on, , we told Lagosians not to pay the increment in tax, that we had more than 3000 lawyers to throw into the field to protect their interest if they were arrested by the state.
We actually asked for civil disobedience and it paid off because everyone was involved in the protest.
“It is not always the case that the government reverses itself in Nigeria. In fact, it is epochal and fundamental. Another reason for this lecture is to entrench this legacy. It is a legacy we have bequeathed, that it is possible to oppose authority and succeed “.