The Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations and Chair of the United Nations Sustainable Group, Ms Amina Mohammed, on Monday, charged the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to ensure the success of the February general election.
Mohammed, who gave the charge in a keynote address she delivered at the State of the Nation Dialogue, also tasked the umbrella body of lawyers in the country to device mechanism that would effectively manage conflicts that may arise from the conduct of the elections which commences on February 25 with the presidential and National Assembly polls.
The State of the Nation Dialogue, which is a maiden programme of the NBA, has as focus: Security, Economy and Administration of Justice and also has in attendance experts and professionals from relevant fields, as well as seven presidential candidates.
According to Mohammed, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has made a giant stride in ensuring a credible, free and fair election in the country.
She assured the lawyer of the United Nations’ commitment to ensuring a credible election in Nigeria, just as she made case for increase in the number of women in politics in the country.
Meanwhile, the National President of the NBA, Mr Yakubu Maikyau (SAN), on behalf of lawyers in the country has admitted failing the nation in the area of providing direction and leadership for Nigeria, a situation which is responsible for the unfortunate situation the country is.
Maikyau, while noting that lawyers are first and foremost called to serve the cause of justice, lamented a drift to the pursuit of fame and money.
While apologizing to Nigerians for failing over the years to ensure right and quality leadership in the helms of affairs, Maikyau assured compatriots that the lawyers would henceforth turn a new leaf.
“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,” he said.
While stating that lawyers have what it takes to precipitate the leadership that will bring the succour and freedom Nigerians deserve, the NBA president harped on the need to continuously engage government at all levels and thereby generate discussions that will provide Nigerians with sufficient information to guide them in making their choice of persons to occupy elective offices in the upcoming general election.
He said: “Nigerians must be satisfied, given the concrete realities of our nation, with the practical solutions that are being proposed by those seeking elective offices with the current security, economic and political challenges.
At the dialogue, various panelists who spoke on issues relating to security, economy and justice urged the presidential candidates present to shun religious and ethnic considerations in governance.
They also made a case for the engagement of competent and capable hands that would quickly bring about the much needed dividends of democracy.
Amongst the presidential candidates in attendance were Hamza Al-mustapha of the Action Alliance (AA); Omoyele Sowore, African Action Congress ( AAC); Dumebi Kachukwu, African Democratic Congress (ADC); Sani Yusuf, Action Democratic Party (ADP); Prof. Peter Umeadi, All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Prince Adewole Adebayo, Social Democratic Party (SDP) and Daniel Nwanyanwu of the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP).