Nigeria Showing Signs of Failed State, Ozekhome Laments Says No Need for Fresh National Dialogue

14 May 2021

Awka — A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Chief Mike Ozekhome, yesterday stated that Nigeria is showing all signs of a failed state.

Ozekhome also faulted the call by 17 southern governors for a constitutional conference, saying the call for a new conference was unnecessary, especially considering that the recommendation of the one held in 2014 had not been implemented.

He said: "I was at the 2014 National Conference headed by late Justice Idris Kutigi, and the over 200 recommendations we made at that conference was yet to be touched.

"The conference consisted of 492 Nigerians drawn from all strata, and the report has never been touched by this government, even with a 10 foot pole. So, when I heard the 17 southern governors talking about another conference... I knew they mean well for the country, but we do not need another dialogue."

He was the keynote speaker at the 25th law week of the Awka branch of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Anambra State, where he spoke on the topic: 'Legal profession in a lawless society: Rediscovering law as a tool for social change'.

The senior lawyer, who decried the near state of anarchy in the country, lamented that there are already signs that Nigeria was sliding into a failed state, regretting that President Muhammadu Buhari was nowhere to be found in all the troubles in the country.

The legal expert said: "Let me tell you, one of the ingredients of a failed state is when non-state actors like bandits and kidnappers challenge the state security. With bandits just two hours away from Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), that is the greatest ingredient of a failed state, and that is where we are today.

"Let's not deceive ourselves that all is well. How many of us can still go to our farms without being killed, kidnapped or raped? We are in trouble; this is a clear and present danger, not imagination.

"Today, on the road we are robbed, in the schools we are kidnaped, in churches and markets we are bombed. This is because our president is missing in action. We have not seen him anywhere to address us. Even when he does, it is a recorded address. The president of United States of America addresses his people everyday. There is no day that the Americans don't see their president. Not even one day goes by without the US president addressing his people.

"In Nigeria, the president does not care about us. Does it not worry our president that his kinsmen are invading every nook and cranny of Nigeria? Sometimes I wonder how he sleeps in the midst of this disequilibrium."

The keynote speaker lamented that every part of the country is depreciating, and that the justice delivery sector was not spared.

According to him, "It is now a surprise that presidents, governors, senators, House of Representatives members and even councillors among others are incubated and delivered by the court and not voted into power by the people.

"We all saw what happened in Imo State, how the governor of a state, Emeka Ihedioha, voted into power by the people, was tossed out by the Supreme Court, and the man who came fourth was made the governor.

"For three days after the judgement, I could not sleep. I was only able to live with that judgement because of the reason given by the Supreme Court itself, which is 'the Supreme Court is not final because it is infallible, but it is infallible because it is final'.

"Law is made to ensure orderliness in the society, and that is what ensures that the society is sane. We do not obey laws in Nigeria because there is no sanction. Banditry is now the fourth arm of government. It is today the highest paying industry and that is why people like Sheik Gumi go into the bush, negotiate with bandits and return smiling telling us that hostages would be released the next day."

He condemned the insistence of the state governors keeping the judiciary from being independent, querying why a governor who is the head of the executive arm of government would be giving money to the head of another arm of government, and even determine when to give them cars and others.

"Why not give the arm of government their independence so that they will determine how to use their money. They can use it to build courts instead of foisting cars on them.

"My good friend, Justice Sylvester Ngwuta, is dead. We were all here when he was hounded and arraigned like a common criminal in court? That incident lived with him and even contributed to his death. Even when he was reinstated, did the federal government write to him to apologise for his ordeal? Of course it did not," Ozekhome said.

Earlier, the Chairman of NBA, Awka branch, Ekene Okonkwo, in his opening address, stated that the branch settled for the theme: 'Legal profession in a lawless society', because of the current state of the country.

According to him, "The theme is occasioned by the lawlessness in the society recently and the killing of security operatives, which has assumed unenviable and frightening dimension. We all know of the unfortunate happenings in Nigeria, and no one can boldly beat his chest and say he is a Nigerian, any longer. Through this event, we are proffering suggestions to solve the current state of Nigeria."

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