OPENING REMARK BY THE CHAIRMAN, PROFESSOR DAVID LONGWAP WONANG ON THE OCCASION OF NIGERIAN BAR ASSOCIATION(NBA) 2018 LAW WEEK, JOS BRANCH HELD FROM THE 30TH NOVEMBER, 2018 TO 5TH DECEMBER, 2018 AT MILLENIUM INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE CENTRE, DOMKAT BALI ROAD, JOS, PLATEAU STATE, NIGERIA.
THE SPECIAL GUEST OF HONOR, HIS EXCELLENCY THE GOVERNOR OF PLATEAU STATE AND LEADER OF THE RESCUE TEAM, RT. HON. SIMON BAKO LALONG, ALIAS GOVERNOR ALERT; HIS EXCELLENCY, THE DEPUTY GOVERNOR OF PLATEAU STATE, PROFESSOR SONNI GWANLE TYODEN; THE INEC CHAIRMAN, PROFESSOR MAHMOOD YAKUBU; THE SPEAKER, PLATEAU STATE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY, RT. HON. JOSHUA MADAKI; MEMBERS OF THE PLATEAU STATE EXECUTIVE COUNCIL; MEMBERS OF THE PLATEAU STATE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY; THE CHIEF JUDGE OF PLATEAU STATE; MEMBERS OF THE PLATEAU STATE JUDICIAL COUNCIL; JUDICIAL OFFICERS HERE PRESENT; THE KEYNOTE ADRESS PRESENTER, REV. PROFESSOR PANDANG YAMSAT; VERY SENIOR LEGAL LUMINARIES, ESPECIALLY THE SENIOR ADVOCATES OF NIGERIA(SANS) HERE PRESENT; THE CHAIMAN, ORGANIZING COMMITTEE, CHIEF GARBA SHAMTU PWUL, SAN; THE CHAIRMAN, NIGERIAN BAR ASSOCIATION, JOS BRANCH AND MEMBERS OF HIS EXCO; MEMBERS OF NIGERIAN BAR ASSOCIATION, JOS BRANCH; DISTINGUISHED POLITICIANS AND TECHNOCRATS; ELDER STATESMEN; OTHER DISTINGUISHED INVITED GUESTS; PARTICIPANTS; GENTLEMEN OF THE PRESS; LADIES AND GENTLEMEN.
It is my singular honor and pleasure to welcome you all to the 2018 Law Week of Nigerian Bar Association, Jos Branch, with the theme ‘’The role of Lawyers in Engendering Free, Fair, Credible and Acceptable Elections in Nigeria. ‘’
First and foremost I must appreciate the organizers of this Law Week for finding me worthy to occupy the exalted position of the Chairman of this all-important occasion. When I was called by one of the most respected Legal Luminaries, as a matter of fact, the first Senior Advocate of Nigeria of Plateau State Extraction, TheTrurakinMangu and SardaunanMwaghavul, ChiefGarbaShamtuPwul, to serve as chairman of this occasion, I quickly knew and considered it a rare privilege and a great honor accorded me by this respected personality and by this esteemed organization, the only learned organization, Nigerian Bar Association(NBA).
The theme of the Law Week is apt, especially as we are approaching the 2019 elections coupled with the fact that in the recent past, some states in Nigeria, Plateau State inclusive, have witnessed election controversies/crises. It is quite exciting that this Law Week is organized byLegal Practitioners, who are not only at the forefront of dispensing, protecting, upholding and advocating JUSTICE, but the most knowledgeable group in this regard.
Justice as we all know is the bed rock of any credible democracy, peace and sustainable socio-economic development. It is the only hope of the common man and any patriotic citizenry. Justice, to the best of my understanding is impregnated with FAIRNESS, EQUITY, FREEDOM, HONESTY and CONSCIENTIOUSNESS which are attributes that are at par with the attributes of any credible democracy. Recall that one of the world’s famous and scintillating reggae Artists, Peter Tosh (of blessed memory) said “Everyone is crying out for peace, none is crying out for justice. I need equal right and justice”. No doubt, this is in realization of the indispensable role of JUSTICE in peaceful coexistence and by extension, in facilitating credible democracy, which are critical ingredients of sustainable socio-economic development. Abiding by the electoral guidelines or laws and peaceful conduct of the electoral processes, devoid of rigging, thuggery, vote buying/selling imposition of candidates or any other form of sectional interest/sentiments by the electorates, politicians, election officials and the electoral empire will translates to JUST andCREDIBLE elections. This will culminate in the emergence of credible people in governance and will also truly reflect the will/choice of the people. Credible people in government will turn around the fortunes of our States or Nation through lawful and prudent management or utilization of resources and their equitable distribution for Infrastructural and human capital development, Industrialization and Employment Generation. Even our respective faiths teach us to be JUST, HONEST, RESPECT CONSTITUTED AUTHORITIES and the LAWS of the land (CONSTITUTION) and most importantly, LOVE one another. Again, it is said that the voice of the people is the voice of God. These are panaceas for our peace, progress/development or comfort. We thank God that the electoral guidelines always make provisions for Legal platforms (election tribunals) manned by members of your organization, the NBA that would address the grievances of aggrieved parties/persons. The onus is on you to discharge your professional responsibilities in this regard creditably to ensure that JUSTICE prevails at the end of the day.
I envisage that this Law week will refresh, enrich, motivate and dispose us the more, to aggressively sensitize, advocate, dispense, protect and uphold justice for a peaceful and credible forthcoming 2019 elections and beyond, both in terms of the processes and outcomes.
I am happy to note that just recently, on the 20th of November, 2018(to be precise), the INEC Chairman, Professor MahmoodYakubu (in NTA network news), expressed satisfaction with the 2019 elections campaigns that just commenced, stating that so far it has been issue-based rather than black mail, hate speeches and the likes and hoped that it continue in that vein for the enthronement of credible democracy at the end of the day. I expect all of you, especially in the light of your status, to continue to impact on the citizenry to exercise high sense of decorum and mutual respect in the electoral processes to achieve credible elections.
In the light of the foregone, I enjoin all participants to pay assiduous attention and contribute meaningfully in the course of the interaction sessions, please.
Thanking you greatly for your audience while wishing you a very successful deliberations and journey mercies at the end of it all.
Professor David LongwapWonang.