By Rotimi Ojomoyela – Ado-Ekiti
Founder of Afe Babalola University Ado-Ekiti (ABUAD) Aare Afe Babalola, SAN has faulted President Muhammadu Buhari over his refusal to appear before the House of Representatives, stating he was wrongly advised.
The legal luminary noted that the invitation by the lawmaker was not out of place considering the series of killings and other heinous crimes against hapless citizens, adding that the lawmakers are the representatives of the people.
Worried by the worsening insecurity in the country, the House of Representatives had penultimate week invited the president to appear before it to talk on how his administration is working to address the ugly trend.
The president had earlier fixed last week Thursday to appear at the chamber but was cancelled following advice from the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN that the lawmaker lacked the constitutional power to invite the president to the house.
The governors of the All Progressives Congress (APC) also told President Buhari not to appear before the lawmakers, “who were out and determined to embarrass the president.”
But Babalola averred that the President ought to have appeared before the National Assembly to explain his government’s efforts in addressing the deteriorating security situation in the country.
Babalola spoke at the weekend in Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti state capital after being honoured by the Akure branch of the Nigerian Bar Association(NBA) as the grand patron and the naming of the permanent structure of the branch after him.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria who deplored the waves of killings and kidnappings in the country said the government must be alive to its responsibility of protecting lives and property so as to allow development of the country,
According to him, “The reason why we are together in the society is because we want our property and lives to be secured. Today we have a crisis over security and there is virtually no day you read the papers that you won’t see people being reported killed or kidnapped, it has become the other of the day as if human beings are not important anymore.
“If the parliament invites the president, I believe he ought to have appeared by way of courtesies to the lawmakers.
“The national assembly is the legislative body of this country, they make the law and they expect the president to carry out the law. I believe if I were in his position, I would have gone.
“Fortunately, he wanted to go, he told the whole world that he was going to appear but he was ill-advised not to go.”
On the threat by the new president of the National Association Nigerian Students (NANS), Sunday Asefon, to shut down private universities if the eight-month-old strike of the lecturers is not called off, Babalola wondered the power the students’ leader has to close down private universities, describing it as a criminal offence that must be investigated by the police.
Afe Babalola advised the NANS president to focus on how the federal government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities would reach a compromise, rather than inciting the public against individuals who established the private institutions in order to improve the standard of education in Nigeria.
“I read in the papers that the new president of NANS who happens to be from Ekiti state, about 200 yards from my father’s house threatening that he will close down private universities if the government did not listen to and agree with the ASUU.
“I thought he would have directed his vengeance to the government or to ASUU and seek a way of settling it instead of saying he will attack private university.
“The private universities as you all know are established by the private individuals who are interested in changing the quality of education in this country, as you know ABUAD is known for quality education and students are here from all parts of the country.
“What power has he to shut down a university? What method is going to use to shut down the university? Does that not imply that he was inciting those who did not attend university to come and attack private university?
“Of course, you should know that is a criminal offence and I am sure the police must have read it and take necessary action for anybody who wants to take the laws into their hands in shutting down universities. It means he is going to take violence in achieving that and it is left for the police to take action,” he said.
Afe Babalola commended the Akure branch of the NBA for honouring him and their gesture towards the law faculty of his institution, promising to continue his efforts at giving back to the society and contributing to the livelihood of many people.
Earlier, the chairman of NBA Akure branch, Rotimi Olorunfemi said the lawyers found it expedient to honour Babalola and name the permanent structure of the branch after him for his, “outstanding contributions to the development of law and jurisprudence through advocacy in court ,” and his contributions to humanity.
He said, ” Permit me to mention that if we can have the type of Aare Afe Babalola who has invested into humanity, replicated in each of the states in Nigeria unemployment would become a thing of the past and the economy of the nation would be better for it.”