Human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), has urged Nigerian lawyers to join the fray for the realisation of the much touted power devolution and economic restructuring to solve the myriads of problems facing the country.
Falana, who said the ongoing debate about restructuring in the country had centred on devolution of powers without responsibilities and as well quest to satisfy ethnic groups, said the bottomline of restructuring which the agitators had failed to address is economy.
The legal luminary, who spoke on the theme: ‘The Nation Nigeria: Restructuring, Secession or Status Quo – the Way Forward’ at the Obafemi Adewale colloquium and law dinner organised by the Young Lawyers’ Forum of Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) Ado Ekiti Branch to mark Adewale’s 60th birthday, said the type of restructuring that Nigeria needs is economy.
He charged lawyers to fight for the redemption of the country, saying: “For us as lawyers, we must save our society. If we are going to join the struggle for restructuring, we should not join as politicians seeking the transfer of power to the regions. Let it be for reduction of power at the centre, transfer of power to the states. Let us seek reduction of cost of governance. Let us seek right to education. Let us seek right to equitable distribution of wealth. Let us seek the need to fight the lopsided appointments in the country. Let us talk about economic restructuring.
“The bottom line of restructuring is economy. Majority of our people are poor and they are battling with survival. If you want more powers from Abuja, it is not relevant to them. Restructuring that has to do with job-creation for the youths. The resources of this country are enormous to accommodate the demands of the youths, women have to be factored into restructuring, the unemployed people, the masses, the peasant farmers, the workers. Nobody is talking about them.
“The economy of this country must be restructured. Restructuring is not about satisfying ethnic groups, it is about addressing the national question. When we address the national question, we are trying to find out who gets what and how. We have almost the worst income disparity in the world where a few people are dangerously rich while a vast majority are wallowing in poverty. It cannot continue,” Falana said.
He advised that the country’s marginal oil fields should be shared with a view to redistribute wealth instead of being sold, querying: “Why are we selling the oil fields to individuals when the states are suffering? Why don’t we sell or lease them to the states so that they can make money to run the business of governance?”
Falana, who said the fight against corruption was only at the surface level, charged the federal government to take a serious look at cases of corruption through putting in place necessary framework and addressing basic necessities cum social security that will discourage graft.
According to him, countries that have significantly reduced corruption have in place systems including effective healthcare delivery system, health insurance, mortgage and effective public transportation, saying: “When you address basic necessities of life, you don’t have to preach against corruption. Those who engage in corruption will be seen as mad when basic needs are met.”
Adewale who appreciated the young lawyers for the honour done him, advised them to be of good conduct, focused and follow in the footsteps of great lawyers who had made landmarks in the profession and as well continued to strive for the betterment of society and restoration of dignity to humanity.