President Bola Tinubu has vowed to address the lingering issue of remuneration of judicial officers and legal practitioners, saying that is the bedrock for true justice.

The President made the statement yesterday in Abuja while declaring open the 2023 Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA-AGC) held at the Velodrome of the Moshood Abiola Stadium, Abuja.

Against the backdrop of the judicial reforms he undertook as Lagos State Governor, Tinubu renewed his commitment to deal conclusively with the pressing issue of remuneration for judicial officers and legal practitioners, noting that true justice reform must begin with world-class salaries and benefits for legal professionals in Nigeria.

“You are learned. I want to learn. Why are we so blessed and we are still lacking? We must have a change of attitude and a change of our mindset. We accuse our nation and its previous leaders. We complain a lot of the past. Is that the solution? No! Let us look forward and be determined! God has given us what we need. We must work hard with determination to make our country great and it begins with you who are seated here with me,” said the President.

Speaking on the theme of the conference, “Getting it Right: Charting the Course for Nigeria’s Nation-Building”, the President said hard decisions must be made to set the country on a growth trajectory despite the initial pains which meaningful reforms would usually bring.

He warned that Nigeria cannot sustain a failed economic framework that deploys 90% of its scarce revenue towards external debt service amid many development challenges facing the country.

His words: “Can we continue to service external debts with 90% of our revenue? It is a path to destruction. It is not sustainable. We must make the very difficult changes that are necessary for our country to get up from slumber and be respected among the great nations of the world.”

Speaking on the theme of the conference, “Getting it Right: Charting the Course for Nigeria’s Nation-Building,” the President stated that hard decisions must be made to set the country on a growth trajectory, despite the initial pains which meaningful reforms usually bring.

“We cannot have the country we desire without the reforms we have initiated. It is painful at the beginning, in the short and medium term, but we must do what we have to do to take this nation to its great destiny. It is not about you and it is not about me. It is about our generations yet unborn, for whom we must bequeath a great and prosperous country,” he affirmed.

Referring to the Keynote Address by the Chairman of UBA Plc and Heirs Holdings, Mr. Tony Elumelu, President Tinubu bemoaned the inability of the country to eradicate poverty and tackle poor electricity supply despite Nigeria’s abundance of gas.

While praising Elumelu for setting an agenda for economic growth and development, Tinubu vowed that his administration will ensure that Nigeria generates and distributes the electricity the economy requires to thrive.

He said: “Yes, it is a shame not to have adequate electricity for the mass majority of homes in Nigeria and to power our industries. How can we address poverty without electricity? We can take many people out of poverty with uninterrupted electricity supply. Poverty is not acceptable, and we must banish it.”

The Keynote Speaker, Elumelu noted that the central theme of this year’s conference was nation-building.

He decried the fact that Nigeria’s accomplishments are few compared to its population and potential, and went on to set an agenda for all stakeholders towards making the most of the nation’s human capital especially.

Elumelu, who is also the Founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, referenced the need for investments in the nation’s power sector as well as social infrastructure such as hospitals and schools among others. He urged investments on young people, noting that by empowering them the country would set the tone for social advancement.

Quoting late civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Elumelu said, “Poverty anywhere is a treat to our prosperity and safety everywhere.” He urged robust investment in women, noting that when a woman succeeds, the community succeeds.

On his part, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Prince Lateef Fagbemi SAN stated that the rule of law and democracy remain the bedrock for ‘Getting it Right’ in nation building.
He assured that the rule of law will be strictly enforced by the Tinubu Administration, stating that President Tinubu is a democrat who needs moral support to succeed.

In his Welcome Address, NBA President, Yakubu Maikyau, SAN, expressed the confidence of the NBA in the ability of President Bola Tinubu to deliver good governance to Nigeria because of his pedigree and track record of performance in Lagos State between 1999 and 2007.

Noting that about 17,000 lawyers registered for this year’s conference, Maikyau said: “President Tinubu got it right in Lagos, and it is our considered expectation that as President of Nigeria, you will not only replicate your achievements in Lagos, but surpass them for our country.”

The conference was also attended by many key stakeholders in the justice sector including the Chief of Staff to the President, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila; Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Mr. Nyesom Wike; Minister of Sports, Senator John Enoh, and former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha.

This year’s Annual General Conference Planning Committee is chaired by former NBA General Secretary, Mazi Afam Osigwe SAN.

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