A former Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, has revealed the reasons why President Bola Tinubu should probe all the past administrations in the country.
Chief Olanipekun made this disclosure while speaking during a colloquium marking the 25th anniversary of Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama as a SAN, held in Abuja on Friday, September 1, 2023.
According to him, examination and audit of all books and records, as well as past expenditures, would provide an insight into “why the economy is grounded; why the refineries have collapsed despite billions if not trillions, of Naira that have been allegedly expended on refurbishing them.”
The famous legal luminary, in a paper presented at the event entitled ‘The Nigeria of Our Dreams: A Call to the Patriots,’ also called for the renaming of the country.
“My position is that we should stop mocking ourselves by retaining the name Nigeria, a hypocritical and demeaning appellation given to us by Lugard’s mistress.
“It is intriguing that, to date, we have not mustered sufficient courage to drop this denigrating appellation. Come to think of it, the French named their French colony Niger, which the British gave the ridiculous appellation Nigeria.
“What is the difference between Niger as pronounced in French and Nigeria as pronounced in English? A citizen of Niger is called a Nigerien, while a citizen of Nigeria is called a Nigerian.
“Have we bothered to ask ourselves what the difference is between these names? It is a difference without a distinction, and the recent developments in the Republic of Niger have brought to the fore this stark reality.
“As a person, I keep asking myself why I am described and addressed as a Nigerian, a name imposed on us by the imperial masters.
“Thus, the first takeaway from this colloquium is a challenge to all of us: to offload this appellation or nickname and decide to give ourselves a name that is indigenous to us, that is arrived at through consensus, and that evokes in us a strong sense of belonging and ownership because it will carry meaning that proclaims a destiny or actualization of a dream worth being proud of,” he opined.
While calling on the President to probe past administrations, Olanipekun, SAN, said: “Let us remind ourselves that we cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs. What do I mean? The President has to ask questions, and sordid questions indeed, about how we have come to this sorry end; why we are in a big mess; why the economy is grounded; what has happened to the previous budgets and the trillions of Naira allocated to road rehabilitation, healthcare delivery, security, infrastructural rehabilitation, institutional restoration, etc.
“Why have our airports, particularly the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, which is our gateway to the outside world, plunged into such a shambolic state, constituting an eyesore to any rational human being, despite the billions of Naira purportedly earmarked and expended towards rehabilitating them? Why are our youths and professionals of all cadres, at their prime, exiting the country in droves (JAPA) in search of the golden fleece, which does not even exist in several instances?
“For example, it is now common knowledge that many Nigerians are left destitute without jobs after travelling to the United Kingdom.
“Lest I forget, the government must also interrogate a very profound question as to why the national currency, the Naira, has fallen so abysmally, almost from grace to grass, and is virtually becoming valueless with N900 exchanging for just one USD.
“The present administration must examine and audit all books and records as well as past expenditures, whether real or otherwise,” Olanipekun added.
Also speaking during the event, the celebrant, Chief Gadzama, SAN, said the colloquium was organised to bring Eggheads together to address some of the issues affecting the country.
“There is a consensus that is building up that Nigeria is on the brink of collapse. What then can we do as compatriots, patriots, nationalists, major stakeholders, community leaders, and politicians?
“A lot has been said. What we want to do is ensure that what has been said is put in the public domain, particularly at the feet of those in government, to see what they can do to have a new order in the approach to national issues.
“Corruption has been identified—nepotism, electoral rigging, etc. We need good governance and transparency in this country at all levels,” he stated.
The event, chaired by a retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Mrs Mary Odili, was attended by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, among other dignitaries who graced the occasion.