Gov Udom Emmanuel has re-echoed the need for the restructuring of the country to maximize unity, peace and sustainable development.
According to Akwa Ibom News Online, the governor made the advocacy while declaring open the 2018 Bar Week of the Uyo Branch of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), which took place at the Judiciary Multipurpose Hall, Uyo.
He observed that the lack of consensus on restructuring had led to the sad and unfortunate fratricidal civil war and the ethno-religious crises that we were currently experiencing a zero-sum game approach to governance that hinders development and a sense of unity and oneness.
Emmanuel noted that Nigeria had huge potentials across sectors, but there was a clear lack of a galvanized and patriotic mass to translate these blessings into a compelling national narrative.
He reasoned that no nation filled with disparate or heterogeneous tendencies such as that had succeeded in fulfilling the dreams of the founding fathers without these issues being addressed in a sincere and open manner.
The theme of the conference: “The Ideologies of Restructuring in Nigeria: The Legal, Political and Socio-Economic Imperatives”, he said, was apt, as restructuring was a major element of governance across the democratic space.
He explained that in matured democracies where there were clear absence of cleavages and the fault lines not manifestly pronounced, or where there was homogeneity of language, culture and traditions, there had always been the need to restructure the organs and mechanics of governance, strengthen the institutions and unleash the human potential for development and pursuit of happiness.
Citing the United States example, the governor noted that after their independence in 1776, the legal instrument of governance of the United States was enshrined in the Articles of Confederation, with powers concentrated in the 13 original states of the union.
The states, he said, were sovereign and autonomous, and only ceded powers to the government at the centre on such issues as foreign policy and national defence, with the central government being severely limited because powers resided with the states.
Emmanuel hinted that a true federalism was established from the legal instrument and since then the United States had grown from a purely agrarian society that the founding fathers had intended it to be an industrialized nation and now to post-modern society, shaping the world in its own image and becoming both a hard and soft power – the only hegemonic power in the world.
The state chief executive said Nigeria claimed to have a federal system of government patterned after the American System, but in Nigeria restructuring seemed to have become a political pastime with several attempts made to restructure the nation and remove the deep cleavages and fault lines that had impeded the nation since independence, not achieved.
“We still have the chance to correct these ills and move our nation towards a more equitable, fair and balanced union. America did it and I think, we too can do it,” he submitted.
The attorney-general/commissioner for justice, Mr Uwemedimo Nwoko, who congratulated the members of the association on the event, assured of the relentless support of the Udom Emmanuel-led administration to the NBA.
Nwoko used the event to inform of the association of the plan to establish voting centres at the NBA secretariat and branches of the body for the participation of members in the 2019 general elections.
The state chief judge, Justice Godwin Abraham, in a goodwill message commended the state government for giving the necessary support for effective justice delivery in the state.
Represented by Justice Charles Ikpe, the chief judge said the chosen theme of the celebration was impressive as reforms were needed in all sectors, including the judiciary with a view to enhancing more efficiency in the system.
He acknowledged the collaboration that existed between the judiciary and the stakeholders; the NBA, the Nigeria Police Force and Nigeria Prisons Service, saying such was needed to move the system forward.
The chairman on the occasion, Chief Assam Assam (SAN), said restructuring and constitutional amendment were the panacea for national development, hence the government should consider same.
He further observed that the minority tribes in the country were marginalized, while the majority ones continue to dominate in various spheres.
Assam, a former ambassador of Nigeria to Russia, used the occasion to canvas support for Mr Paul Usoro (SAN) who is vying for the national president of the NBA in the forthcoming elections.
The Uyo branch chairman of NBA, Mrs Eno-obong Akpan, said the Bar Week was usually celebrated yearly as a ritual with programmes lined up to mark the event.
She hinted that in the event lawyers were expected to shelve the rigours of litigation practice, refresh the body and the mind and celebrate the fine essence of the profession.
The state NBA boss remarked that the theme of the week celebration and the lecture topics were aimed at contributing to the contemporary national discourse and the professional duty to feed the intellect of members in diverse areas relevance to the nation and the profession.
Akpan, who presented the 2018 NBA Bar Journal, stressed that in furthering of continuing professional legal education, the branch had been publishing the Uyo Bar journal which provides a veritable platform for the publication of career enhanced academic articles at no charge.
She expressed gratitude to the state government for its support to the NBA and appealed for assistance towards the completion of the Uyo Branch secretariat as the current Justice Eno Otu Centre could not accommodate the over 700 members of the association.
The event featured the unveiling of the year 2018 NBA Uyo Branch Journal.