October 8, 2014

Urhobos must have a say — Akpomuje, SAN

Urhobos must have a say — Akpomuje, SAN

Akpomuje, SAN

CHIef Albert Akpomuje is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and currently National Secretary of Urhobo Progress Union, UPU. In this interview with Vanguard he bares his mind on issues pertaining to the union among others. Excerpts:

By Godwin Oghre

The gist is that some past leaders of the union have used the union’s political powers for financial gain?
Well I am not a politician but I think it is not incorrect that some past executives could have dissatisfied the Urhobo nation through their greedy behaviours. However, we have the good ones in the majority and that is why we are ever strong. For instance, the late President General, General Patrick Aziza was highly respected in Urhobo land for being an honest, detribalised and courageous man. That was why he was re-elected to a second tenure, but sadly he did not complete it before the cold hands of death took him from us.

Akpomuje, SAN

Akpomuje, SAN

What is your take in the ongoing agitation for rotational governorship in the state?
I do not know where those agitating for rotational governorship got that from. I am a lawyer; there is no known provision in the laws of this state that justifies rotational governorship. Above all, the concept, when you look at it properly, is undemocratic because it can bring unpopular, inexperienced and inept candidates into power.

The Urhobos are saying that the process of electing the governor of the state should be democratically done. We must be part of the socio-economic and political decision making mechanism in this state, being the largest ethnic group in the state and fifth largest in Nigeria.

How will you react to the activities of Boko Haram vis-à-vis the Chibok school girls’ episode?
Their actions have been condemned all over the world. They have gone too far and they need to retrace their steps. They should release the girls unconditionally. Let them come out and state their problems and dialogue with the government.

How will you score Governor Uduaghan’s administration?
He is doing well now. His presence is currently being felt across the state. I salute him.

The Peoples Democratic Party has pronounced Mr President as its  consensus  candidate in the next general election, do you agree?
We are in a democratic era. Winning elections should be a matter to be determined by the ballot box, not by sentiment or ethnicity. As a lawyer, I will say yes to that question.   If he re-contests and wins democratically, he should proceed to rule again. At that time the north should wait for another opportunity.

Is Nigeria really practising democracy?
By concept, yes, but by practice, we have much work to do, we are still developing. One thing I frown at in this country is corruption. It is just too much and it is hindering the development of this country.

For instance, take a look at our International Barr Association Conventions and see how the ministries will use government funds to sponsor government lawyers, while a few of us in private practice will sponsor ourselves. They will even sponsor more than the number expected from Nigeria, making Nigeria a laughable country to other participants from other countries. This is too bad. Corruption is the bane of Nigeria.

What are lawyers doing to correct the anomaly in government and to help end the plight of the poor?
The good ones are doing their very best. I am doing my best. It is sometimes difficult to estimate the number of free cases I have handled for the less privileged. There are some I will spend my money to do. Sometimes, I go as far as Enugu.