Joseph Kanjo, Benin
Renegotiation based on religion, ethnic differences consideration and constitutional review have been identified as panacea to addressing the increasing agitations for secession and uniting the country as one entity.
This was the stand taken by panel of discussants in Benin during the weekend at the 2021 Legal Coaching and Mentorship Clinic organised by Olayiwola Afolabi & Co, with the theme: ‘An Unhappy Union? Renegotiating Nigeria’s Legal Frameworks in the Light of the Rising Insecurity and Secessionist Agitations.’
Speaking on the theme, the keynote speaker, Gabriel Arishe, Associate Professor, University of Benin, UNIBEN, said while all must come together to renegotiate and re-uniting the nation, the negotiation must be rooted on religion freedom, distributive justice that guarantees equality.
The Head of Department, Public Law, UNIBEN, added that negotiation of the Nigeria unity must be based on security of life, promotion of economic wellbeing.
“Perhaps, what is required and which should be championed now is based on the earlier mentioned philosophies and fundamental principles that will:
“Promote development, guarantee economic sustenance, and ensure the consolidation of democracy and integrate the polity as contained in Section 15 (1-4) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” he noted.
Speaking on why some persons are agitating for secession, the guest lecturer attributed it to: “non-existence of distributive justice; faulty structure of government that promotes consumption and not efficiency; electoral authoritarianism with attendant crisis of legitimacy,” among others.
On her contribution, Iryn Omorogiuwa, Esq., chairperson, International Federation of Women Lawyer, Edo State, attributed the rise in agitations for secession to failed government.
While emphasising on the need to elect good leaders into the helms of affairs, Omorogiuwa called for a round table discussion that will be based on salient issues.
“We need to go back to the renegotiating table, otherwise we will continue to have agitations. We need to sit down and look at how we will not be encroaching on each other’s rights.
“If we have bad leaders, we are going to have bad governance, and that will lead to people that are dilutioned; people that are marginalized, and this will lead to we having unhappy people, and when we have people that are unhappy in the society, we are going to continue to have agitation,” she said.
Another discussant, Bright Ojezele, Esq., O/C Legal Unit, Nigeria Police Force, AIG Zone 5, Benin, said though he believes in one Nigeria and the Nigeria project, there are some salient issues those that brought Nigeria together failed to address and that there’s need to address such issues.
“Those that brought the southern and northern protectorates together did it for adminstrative purposes – to make things easy for adminstration of the nation, Nigeria – but while doing that, they failed to look at the ethnic, the religion and political differences we have in various tribes.
“Resource control issues need to be addressed or else we will continue to have agitations.
“For us to live as one Nigeria, we must go back and practice true federalism,” he advocated.
Making his contribution, Comrade Abraham Oviawe, Esq., Chairman, Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, CDHR, Edo State, said Nigeria needs an independent and working judiciary, electoral system that is strong, independent and working, just as he stressed that the present Nigeria union is faulty.
“The Nigeria union is ungodly; the union itself is not helping us; the union is oppresive; the union is depriving a lot of people what they ought to ordinarily have access to, but the solution is not secession, the solution is, we need to tell ourselves the bitter truth and face the reality,” he said.
Earlier, the convener, Olayiwola Afolabi, Esq., said as a Nigerian, he is concerned about the myriad of challenges confronting the nation and the need to address them.
He also noted that the public lecture was organised in honour of Austin Alege, Esq.
The programme was rounded-off with a dinner in honour of NBA , Benin branch executives, and award giving.
Awards were given to the best graduating student, law, university of Benin, some set of young lawyers who participated in an essay competition, and law gowns and wigs were also given to executives of law students, University of Benin, etc.