By Jimitota Onoyume
THIS year’s conference of the African Bar Association, AFBA, which held in Port Harcourt, capital of Rivers State highlighted several lessons for African leaders to draw from for development of the region.
Former President of Tanzania, Dr Jakaya Kikwete set the ball rolling in his key note address when he challenged Africa leaders to create the right investment climate in the region, stressing that only such move would guarantee sustainable development and happiness among the people. According to him, with the appropriate leadership Africa had capacity for greater growth and wealth creation.
President of the AFBA, Mr. Hannibal Uwaifo said the body was formed to properly position the continent in the legal community at the global level, stressing that African leaders should centred their policies and programmes around people.
It was like a gathering for the people to confront their leaders with the home truth. Aminu Tambuwal, governor of Sokoto State, who is also a lawyer, said in his remarks that it was time leaders in the continent began to achieve their development goals. He said they should focus more on building the continent to a greater height, shunning acts that could provoke unnecessary conflicts and tension.
The host governor, Nyesom Wike, used the platform to draw attention to democratic challenges in the country, saying as lawyers in the continent they should show concern. According to him, the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, at the top was allegedly manipulating democratic processes to its favour, allegedly using security and government agencies at its control to stifle opposition political parties.
The governor who expressed fears that the ruling party at the centre had allegedly sealed its plan on how to rig the 2019 general polls, said, “They promised Nigerians change, but we are seeing nothing. The former President of Tanzania by his visit has done us much good by his presence in Nigeria. Through him, we will send a message to the world.”
Wike accused the federal government of allegedly harassing the judiciary, stressing that the government had destroyed the pillars of healthy democracy bequeathed to it by former President Goodluck Jonathan. He said that rather than sanction some Police officers allegedly involved in rigging elections in the state recently the government rewarded them with promotions. “Democracy in Nigeria is gone. By 2019, nobody should talk about democracy. One (name withheld) who was caught on video rigging election has been promoted. Another who was also a culprit in the rigging of elections has been promoted. Both of them are to be positioned in Rivers State for 2019 to help the APC rig elections,” he said.
Wike accused the federal government of allegedly intimidating and harassing the judiciary to disregard rule of law, stressing that the government had destroyed the pillars of popular democracy bequeathed it by the former President. He painted an unfortunate picture of how the Police allegedly certified election results for the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, at the election petition tribunal, an act he said had never been heard of in the nation’s history.
The governor also accused the Police of being behind most of the kidnappings in the country. He said, “The police is the one promoting crime in Nigeria. Most of the kidnappings in the country are done by the police. We cannot continue like this. Enough is enough.” He literally cried to the African lawyers to be part of building a virile democracy in the country, saying they should add their voices to condemn acts of the government that threatened democratic values.
He also spoke about the success of his administration, describing the state as attractive to investors. He recalled that when he assumed office two years ago courts in the state were shut down for over a year, adding that the state House of Assembly complex was also under lock and key. He said he had to resolve the lingering crisis for these democratic institutions to function properly.