NBA Annual Meeting: Presidential candidates hints on Nigeria’s Challenges

As general election draw nearer leading presidential candidates in the 2023 general elections have proffered solutions to some of the challenges facing the country.

Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) and vice presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Kashim Shettima, spoke yesterday at the opening plenary of the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in Lagos.

The presidential candidate of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Rabiu Kwankwaso, did not attend the ceremony, while that of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, was represented by Shettima.

The presidential candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA),

Professor Peter Umeadi, also attended the conference.

The candidates were invited as panellists to speak on “Democratic Transitions in the 21st Century Nigeria: 2023 and Beyond”.

Atiku, who lamented that Nigeria had never found itself in a critical point as it was today, called on the citizens to choose right in 2023 in order to address the challenges.

He said, “Today, we have all the negative indices. Today, we are all disunited in the nation. We had never experienced this level of poverty. We had never experienced this state of insecurity. We had never experienced this level of unemployment. We have recognised all these negative developments in our history.

“This is where history and experience beckon on us to make sure that we don’t get it wrong at this point in time; otherwise if we get it wrong, I don’t know when we will ever get it right.

“I was involved in the struggle to return this country to democracy in the time of military days. In fact, I can say I am lucky to be alive because so many of my contemporaries have been killed in this struggle, but by the grace of God I have survived till this point in time.”

The former VP proposed reforms to create an enabling environment for foreign and local investors to invest in various sectors, including healthcare and education.

He said the federal government did not have the resources to be solely responsible for development.

He submitted that, “The only way is to make sure that a conducive environment is available for the local and foreign investors to participate in the development of our country; whether it is infrastructure, education or healthcare.”

While talking about effectiveness, Obi of the LP said the country’s woes had gotten so bad that the 2023 elections would not be about religion or tribe, but about who had the character and competence to deliver the country from its current mess.

He said, “Nigeria is in a mess. We got here simply because of the accumulative effects of bad leadership. The coming elections are not about tribe or religion, but about character and competence. We need a bold transition from a highly insecure state to a highly secure state.”

Shettima on his part promised that the APC would lead Nigerian troops in its fight against terrorists and bandits terrorising major parts of the country. He said his principal, Tinubu, would concentrate on the economy and transform it to be the best in Africa.

He further said, “Nigerians should follow the man who knows the road. From day one, we will hit the ground running. We will promptly address the issue of the economy, ecology and security. And we have the antecedence. I built some of the best schools in Nigeria. Go to Borno and see wonders; you will never believe that it is a state in a state of war. So, we are going to replicate our achievements in Lagos, in Borno and some of the frontline states so that our nation will be a better place.”

On the same note Award-winning writer, Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie, who was the event’s keynote speaker, lamented that Nigeria was starved of heroes to mentor its citizens, particularly the youths. She said, “We are starved of heroes. Our young people do not find people to look up to anymore.”

The author of “Half of a Yellow Sun” called on Nigerians to embrace self-criticism and untangle the knot of injustice so that peace and good governance could thrive.

She said, “There is need for resurrection. We cannot avoid self-criticism, but criticise the government. We cannot hide our own institutional failure while demanding transparency from the government.”

Meanwhile, the author mobilised participants at the event to raise over N3m for the female NBA team. During her address, she noted that there was “injustice” in the monetary compensation which the male and female NBA teams would receive in the football competition.

After her speech, several personalities, including the Director General (DG) of the Bola Tinubu Presidential Campaign Organisation, Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State, and the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, donated to raise the prize money of the female NBA team to N3.2m from the initial N200,000. The winning prize for the male team, it was learnt, is N500,000.

The social media came alive yesterday as netizens shared their reactions on the outfit of Shettima at the NBA conference.

Shettima was dressed in a suit and tie, accompanied by a pair of gym shoes, which many people found odd.

No fewer than 13,000 lawyers nationwide attended the opening ceremony of the NBA Annual General Conference (AGC) which was declared open by the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Olukayode Ariwoola.

The CJN, who was represented by the Chief Judge (CJ) of Lagos State, Justice Kassim Alogba, said the conference was the largest gathering of lawyers on the face of the earth.

He commended the NBA President, Olumide Akpata, for his leadership qualities.

Lagos State Attorney General, Moyosore Onigbanjo, represented Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

The theme for this year’s NBA AGC is “Bold Transition” and is being held at the Lagos Eko Atlantic City between August 19 and 25.

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