Delegates to the 2021 annual conference of the Nigerian Bar Association’s Section on Public Interest and Development Law (NBA-SPIDEL) emerged from a pre-conference evening of dining, wining, unwinding and networking to confront their mission in the ancient city of Ibadan, capital of Nigeria’s Oyo State.

NEWSWIRE Law and Events Magazine’s correspondent in Ibadan reports that the first full day of the Conference was graced by an array of critical stakeholders from various walks of life and backgrounds, who joined the country’s legal fraternity in a dialogue that promised to put the public’s interest squarely at the forefront of national discourse as far as democratic and inclusive governance in Nigeria is concerned.

Welcoming conferees to the event, the chairman of the Conference Planning Committee, Monday Onyekachi Ubani, fondly referred to by his teeming admirers as MOU, described the gathering as unique in every sense, not least its theme, ‘The Role of Public Interest in Governance in Nigeria,’ as it speaks to one of the leading causes – if not the leading cause – of our national malaise.

Though Nigeria was beset with multiple diseases at the moment, MOU said, all her diseases are curable – but only after a thorough diagnosis, prognosis, and accurate prescription of medicines is done.

The purpose of this conference, he said, was no less than the survival of Nigeria as a corporate entity.

Ubani, a human rights activist and former chairman of the Ikeja branch of the NBA, praised the array of personalities that had turned out to grace the event – comprising of sitting and former state governors, senators, and other prominent political office holders, Justices, and Judges on both the upper and lower benches, as well as leaders in the corporate and civil society space.

In particular, he saluted the Governor of Oyo State, Engr. Seyi Makinde, his attorney-general, Prof. Oyelowo Oyewo, the Chief Judge of the state, Hon. Justice Mukhtar Abimbola, the body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria in Oyo State, and the government of the state for the immense support they had given towards the success of the conference.

Ubani ended by describing the vision and leadership style of the national president of the NBA, Olumide Akpata, the chairman of SPIDEL, Prof. Paul Ananaba, SAN, and the pioneer chairman of the section, Joe Gadzama, SAN, as unique and inspiring.

Also speaking, the SPIDEL chair, Prof. Ananaba, SAN lamented the deterioration of the quality of life of the vast majority of Nigerians, and the failure, or inexplicable deferment, of the several promises that were made the people of this country, from when he was a boy – from Vision 1990 to Vision 2030 – and attribute it to the absence of public interest and its corollaries such as patriotism, nationalism, and selflessness in the country’s governance structure.

Urging the assembled delegates to make the most of a conference which, he said, would undertake a comprehensive re-evaluation of policies, perceptions, and values as they influence governance in Nigeria, Prof. Ananaba expressed confidence that the event would be a catalyst for the emergence of democratic institutions and systems and procedures capable of propelling Nigeria to greatness, as well as enhance the mental horizons of attendees on global best practices that underpin true governance in the public interest, thanks to its focus on law, regulatory institutions, accountability in governance and nation-building.

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In his own remarks, NBA President Olumide Akpata called for a governance structure in Nigeria that is not built on what he called ‘political crucibles’ such as ethnicity, religion, and party affiliation, but on measurable indices of welfare and security among the people of Nigeria.

He saluted the leadership of SPIDEL for their tenacity in bringing the Section back from the doldrums of obscurity and expressed confidence that SPIDEL’s interventions in the national discourse would spur a turnaround in the trajectory of a nation that seems to be speeding towards the brink of perdition.

Describing the security of lives and property as the primary responsibility of government at all levels, Akpata said, however, that government has failed utterly in this regard, for which reason our political players must rise to the challenge posed by our current avalanche of problems, and show leadership. The conference theme, he ended by saying, was a timely one, as the essence of governance is public interest and nothing more.      


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