The Chairman, Nigerian Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Professor Chidi Odinkalu has said the corporate existence of Nigeria depends on the choice made by Nigerians, especially on the general election.
Odinkalu, a professor of law made the remark at the annual lecture he presented recently in honour of the former Chief Justice of Botswana and former Director General of the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS), Justice Akinola Aguda.
In the paper, titled: “The Place of Good Governance in Nigeria’s Human Rights Philosophy”, Odinkalu cautioned Nigerians that they cannot afford “to fail to find our values this time.”
The law Professor, who argued that there is no reason for the nation to fail, however opined that extreme care and caution must be exercised for the country to sustain her corporate existence.
He noted: “With such demographics, (religion, ethnic multiplicity, etc) Nigeria’s failure would be akin to a piece of fine China dropped on a tile floor-it would simply shatter into potentially hundreds of pieces.
“There is no reason why this must happen. Yet there is no reason to think it cannot. Whether we realise it or forestall it will depend on the choices that citizens, communities, institutions and leaders make.”
On safety and security, he said, “If we are going to address our safety and security crises, we need to re-construct the police and policing. The incapacity of the police in Nigeria is reflected in the fact that the Army is presently deployed in internal security operations in 32 out of the 36 states of the Federation and is fighting insurrections effectively in three of the six geo-political zones in the country.”
He, therefore, suggested that the government should invest in policing to give rise to the confidence required to undertake their difficult task.
Odinkalu noted that Nigeria must address her “demographic acceleration clearly outstrips our capacity to extract a demographic dividend from our population growth.”
He declared that impunity is affecting equity and justice in all ramifications in Nigeria. He said: “We need a judiciary that is less accountable and a legal profession that is committed both accountability and value for money professionalism.
Among the dignitaries at the event were Hon. Justice Alade Eunice, Mrs O. Akinola-Aguda, Justice F. O. Aguda-Taiwo, Mrs Dare Soetan and Prof. Akanki.