LAGOS — Ghanaian Vice President, Mr. John Dramani Mahama, has said Nigerian government needs strong institutions, especially a strong legislature, whose legislative functions will hold the government accountable.

The vice president stated this in a lecture delivered on his behalf by Ghana’s Minister of Information, Haruna Idrisu, at the special parliamentary session to commemorate the first  anniversary of the 7th Lagos Assembly, at the Chambers of Lagos State House of Assembly, yesterday. The lecture was entitled: “The imperatives of a virile legislature in the socio-economic development of a state.”

Attributing the crisis of development in Africa to governance and accountability, Mahama said: “For elected governments to deliver on their promises of socio-economic development to their people there must exist a strong legislature with powers to check the Executive and to provide space for civil society to participate in governance”.

According to him, the state must create an enabling political and legal environment for economic growth and promote the equitable distribution of the national cake.

In his remarks, Speaker Adeyemi Ikuforiji said if the Federal Government was sincere about immortalizing MKO Abiola, June 12 should be declared as national holiday and that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should declare the late Abiola as the winner of June 12, 1993 presidential election and ensure that his name is included among the past presidents of the federal republic of Nigeria.

He said: “The naming of the University of Lagos after MKO Abiola is not even enough giving his enormous contributions to the emergence of the current political dispensation. The federal government should declare June 12 as a national holiday and INEC should declare Abiola as the winner of the 1993 presidential election and put his name among the past president of the federal republic of Nigeria because the Chairman of Interim National Government, Chief Earnest Shonekan, who was not recognized constitutionally, is addressed as the past President of Nigeria.

In his presentation titled, ‘True federalism as panacea for national development and integration: The roles of the Press’, the Head of Department of Mass Communication, University of Lagos, Prof. Ralph Akinfeleye, said the press as the fourth estate of the realm should carry out their professional duties dispassionately in order to promote national development and integration, adding that there was need for courageous will if Nigeria could have true federalism.

He said: “National development comes from knowing people and the press in this regards is the fourth estate of the realm and should not be estate of the wreck. They must be partners in progress as journalists must write dispassionately in order to promote national development and integration.

There is the need for courageous will if we must have true federalism. Nigerian politicians must change from military mentality and psyche. There is the need to be rule of law not law of the rule because Nigeria has changed from the rule of law to the law of the rule and with this development, there cannot be true federalism”.

Akinfeleye, who said that though the late winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, MKO Abiola, needed to be honoured by the federal government, he said the government had put a round peg in a square hole by naming the University of Lagos after him (Abiola), adding that the federal government should have named National Assembly or Aso-Rock after him ‘because the then Military President, Ibrahim Babangida denied him access to the Presidential villa’.

“Federal government should have named National Assembly or Aso-Rock after MKO Abiola because he fought for the current dispensation.

I regard the announcement of the name change as a political miscalculation and illogical inconsistency which cannot lead to true federalism. But true democracy is the one that encourages environmental scanning and accuracy.

If we must practice true federalism, the President should eradicate poverty and ensure that rule of law is holistically embraced without fear or favour. As we celebrate this year June 12, it will not be out of place for Mr. President to declare June 12 as national public holiday”, Akinfeleye said.

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