Eminent lawyer and human rights activist, Femi Falana, on Saturday chided the judiciary arm of government for failing to live up to expectations in the nation’s democracy.
Mr. Falana, one of the guest speakers at the public presentation of the book ‘Time to Reclaim Nigeria’ by Chido Onumah, in Lagos; also criticized former president Olusegun Obasanjo for his recent denial of his third term bid.
“Many people did not know why he (Obasanjo) came out to say he never supported the third term…
“Obasanjo was disgraced in Senegal where he went to mediate in the country’s conflict on behalf of the AU (African Union),” said Mr. Falana.
Mr. Falana said that the Senegalese people “insulted” the former president for suggesting they give 85 year old Abdoulaye Wade an additional two years after he (Obasanjo) had schemed to perpetuate himself in his own country but failed.
“That was why he rushed back to Nigeria and syndicated that interview to the media that he never wanted a third term,” Mr. Falana added.
The organizers of the presentation were audacious in drawing up the guest list; the book was brave in its attempt to draw attention to the crisis of the Nigerian state.
Five present and former state governors, four former presidential candidates, and other eminent Nigerians headlined the event.
However, while a couple turned up, a few sent their representatives, others were absent.
Yinka Odumakin, spokesperson for the Save Nigeria Group; Ganiat Fawehinmi, widow of the late human rights activist, and her son Mohammed; Ben Nwabueze, lawyer and professor; Keziah Awosika, executive director of Women, Law and Development Centre; and poet Odia Ofeimun among others were in attendance.
In a detailed review of the book, Ayo Obe, the reviewer, while noting that our leaders’ speeches are generally written by someone else commended Mr. Onumah for his “bravery” in trying to distill the problem with Nigeria.
“That is why the leaders forget what they said just after reading the speech,” said Ms. Obe, human rights lawyer and activist.
“A few days ago, Mr. President talked about merit in appointments into positions… What happened at the PDP convention where a 60 year old was appointed the youth leader?”
Mr. Onumah, who described his book as “a wake up” said that he hoped the book would spark the debate for a sovereign national conference.
“It is clear to anybody who is interested in Nigeria and the politics of Nigeria that the country only exists in name and that there is need for us to do something and urgently too to save and salvage our country,” said Mr. Onumah.
“Nigeria has gotten to the stage where the current political leadership does not have the drive to deal with the problem, whether you are talking about corruption or the anarchy that has overtaken the land.
“We are saying essentially that the state as it is presently constituted is not in a position to deal with the problem,” he added.
Tunde Samuel, representing the former Lagos State governor, Bola Tinubu, while launching the book with “a modest token of N5 million” said Nigeria could not be left in the hands of “buccaneers and musketeers.”
“If we want to reclaim Nigeria, we must resist the political rascality of the federal government,” Mr. Samuel said.