A former President of Nigeria’s Appeal Court, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa yesterday decried the deteriorating state of the nation, laying the blame on the country’s leaders and professionals.
Speaking at the 2022 Charles Mbanefo Distinguished Lecture Series in Abuja, Bulkachuwa, who was the first woman to occupy the Appeal Court presidency in Nigeria, lamented that things have gone so bad that people now tag the country a failed state.
The event organised by the Abuja chapter of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) had as its theme: “Governance and sustainability of an Egalitarian Society Within the Context of the 1999 Constitution and Our Democratic Setting: The Role of Engineering Practitioners.”
The ex-judge stated that things were deteriorating really fast in all spheres of the country’s life, calling on professionals in government who are in positions to make and execute policies to do the right thing.
She explained that today, whether on land, sea or air, Nigerians feel unsafe to move around, insisting that it would seem that the security apparatuses have totally failed.
“It appears all the security apparatuses have broken down as every part of the federation is now occupied by criminals. Kidnapping and terrorism are on the increase. Everybody appears helpless. Security challenges are staring everyone in the face.
“There is hardly any economic growth or egalitarian state that can be attained by any nation facing such serious challenges as we face in Nigeria. There is no steady supply or generation of electricity; many industries have closed down; workers have been laid off; millions of employable youths and other categories of people are either under-employed or unemployed.
“Educational institutions have been financially and academically affected by the economy; learning institutions are dilapidating and lecturers go on strike for months if not for years,” she lamented.
According to her, while the universities are graduating students of various professions every year, there’s no hope of a feasible employment for them.
“Many take to crimes and prostitution, schools are being closed down due to lecturers strike on grounds of failure to pay teacher salaries and inability to fund viable research projects.
“Most major roads in the country have collapsed…and almost all roads throughout the country are now in a bad shape. Kidnappers and criminals make it impossible for people to travel on roads and for farmers to access their farms for food production. To travel by air is now fraught with its own challenges. The prices keep increasing,” she added.
Bulkachuwa pointed out that, these challenges notwithstanding, there are men and women of different professions running the affairs of the country in both private and public sectors, stressing that yet things have gone so bad.
“There’s hunger in the land and the commoners as well as the so-called middle class or high class in the society are all living in fear of insecurity and unstable economy. The problems are colossal and daunting,” she maintained.
She added that members of the public are rightly pointing accusing fingers on their leaders, stressing that Nigerians cannot be blamed for doing so since it’s now one bad news after another in the country.
According to her, there’s no visible honesty in the response to the challenges, insisting that the challenges need to be addressed as soon as possible.
With many people having been killed or displaced by insurgents, she stressed that while everyone has a role to play, there has to be some form of social welfare for the people.
“Most of the problems confronting our country can be traced to leadership failure, incompetence of some experts and professionals involved in policy and decision making,” she lamented.
She therefore urged the engineers in the country to embark on internal cleansing, including removing quacks from among them.
Bulkachuwa described engineers as nation builders, maintaining that as important stakeholders in Nigeria, the professionals must take their jobs seriously.
While commending them for their role so far, the former judge stated that no nation will develop without a core of competent engineers, urging them to ensure that jobs are professionally carried out.
In his remarks, the Chairman, Abuja branch of the NSE, Mr. Abdulbari Abdulmalik, noted that the programme was meant to honour and celebrate Mbanefo, whom he described as a visionary leader, a motivator, a distinguished gentleman and an inspiration to younger engineers.
He added that the event in respect of the octogenarian, a past president of the NSE was because of his (Mbanefo’s) invaluable contributions to the profession both within the country and abroad.
Also speaking, President of NSE, Tasiu Wudil, said the theme for this year was significantly different from those in the past because a knowledge of the law remains a critical tool for any engineer who intends to go far in the profession.