By Emem Idio
YENAGOA-A retired Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, Justice Francis Tabai, has called on Ijaw leaders to champion the call for restructuring of the country as it was in the best interest of the Ijaw people and other federating units.
Justice Tabai, who stated this during his seventy-fifth birthday ceremony organized in his honour by the Ijaw Lawyers Forum, in Yenagoa over the weekend, expressed disappointment that the Ijaws are not speaking up enough in the calls for restructuring of the country, adding that restructuring would guaranteed justice and peace in the country.
He maintained that the Constitution of the country had concentrated so much power at the centre, emphasizing that power should be devolved to give the component units greater power to determine and control themselves and their resources.
In his words: “Ijaw people should join the call for restructuring, I don’t think that there is any opposition to restructuring from this area, but we should talk, Ijaw people are not talking, we should do the talking particularly the intellectual aspect of restructuring, it is our case.
Restructuring is our cause and our desire as Ijaw people.
“We should be able to get greater control of our resources but our present constitution is such that we do not have proper access to our resources and it is not good for us.
In the interest of justice and peace, there should be restructuring so that we can have greater control of our resources, Nigeria is a great country and we also a part and component unit of this nation, but every component should be able to control their resources and contribute something to the centre.
“The Constitution is such that there is too much power at the centre, so power should be devolved. The components unit should have greater power to determine and control themselves and their resources, but everything is at the centre and it is not good.
Those who have landmass should be able to look at it and see whatever benefits they can and get and those who have the water mass should be able to look at it and see what they can also get from there.”
In his remarks, chairman of the planning committee and Dean Faculty of Law, Niger Delta University, NDU, Professor Solomon Ebobrah described Justice Tabai as a judicial icon and an inspiration to the younger generation, having climbed to the summit of the legal profession as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
“This is a man that we respect in the legal profession; the best time to celebrate him is now that he is alive to see that he is being celebrated. In appreciation to the inspiration that he has been, we decided that he should be celebrated especially to mark his seventy-fifth birthday,” he said.