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Justice Court of Appeal Hon .Justice Chinwe Iyizoba, (rtd) Pro Chancellor University of Lagos, Dr. Wale Babalakin (SAN) Director UBA Group, Mrs. Owanari Duke , former Commonwealth secretary General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, First Female Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief (Mrs) Folake Solanke (SAN)and Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, Justice Olabode Rhodes Vivour during the inaugural dialogue and book launch in honour of Hon. justice Chinwe Iyizoba held in Lagos on 30/1/2020
By Odinaka Uruakpa
Former Commonwealth Secretary-General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku has called for the restructuring of the Nigerian system of government from presidential system to true federalism of four regions, with each region catering to its own development.
Anyaoku who made this call at the inaugural dialogue and book launch in honour of Hon. Justice Chinwe E. Iyizoba, JCA (Rtd.) held yesterday in Lagos, noted that the Nigerian state was doing better when it was a true federation of four regions.
Said he: “I believe our government structure is sound, it is operating that is the challenge that the country faces. We have a structure that can cope with the challenges the country faces; the challenge of security, the challenge of climate change, and economic challenge. But, as I have said all the time, the present structure is not efficient, and cannot successfully cope with the challenges the country faces.
“I have been advocating a restructuring of the architecture of governance in our country. I think this country was doing a lot better when it was a true federation of four regions. Each region was coping with its development; coping with its security; coping with its education and health facilities. We should return because the present structure, in my view, is not likely to lead us to where we want to get to”.
Expressing his concern at the current rate of criticism of the Nigerian judiciary, Ayaoku called on the judiciary, as well as the executive arm of government to do more to ensure they do not provide grounds for casting aspersions on the integrity and independence of the judiciary.
Speaking on the rate of insecurity in the country, he said: “I think that the government is going in the right direction, am now advocating community policing. I think the security challenge we are facing in this country will be more effectively met if the different areas, different states of the country were to play more active part in safeguarding the security; life, property of the citizens.
While commending AWFG in its bid to bring more women participation in leadership positions and interweaving good governance into the fabric of the African society, anyaoku noted that the womenfolk had been cheated out of governance.
He also commended Hon. Justice Chinwe Iyizoba whom he said had had a very distinguished career as a university teacher and attorney General before she went to the bench, adding that on the bench, she had acquitted herself very creditably, as she was retiring with a glorious record behind her.
Said Antaoku: “She is an intellectually active judge, and I hope now that she is going to retirement, she is going to write books, and push this initiative of African Women Forum for good governance; I am sure she will go a long way with that”.
Speaking at the occasion also, former governor, of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi said if a country got everything right, and its politics and governance, wrong, everything would be wrong, adding that Nigeria had not made the progress she should make in education, economy and other areas because of bad politics and governance.
He said Nigerians needed to fix their politics and governace by voting the right people into public offices for things to work out smoothly in all sectors of their economy.
Stated Obi: “The problems we are facing have nothing to do with government structure. We may have a structure problem, yes, we have issues, but once we have good human beings involved in governance, these problems will be solved. We need good people to be involved and those who are in office should know that they are holding public trust”.
While advocating for more women participation in politics and governance, he commended Hon. Justice Iyizoba, as he hailed her sterling qualities and that of the women who he worked with as governor and in the banking sector.
On her part, Hon. Justice Chinwe Iyizoba urged Nigerian women to vote right, and put into power people who are worthy to be their leaders.
Said she: “Women are the bulk of voters. If only they (women) will learn to vote right, then that will help us to put into power people who are worthy to be our leaders. I think time has come for our women to understand that they hold all the aces. If women would understand the power of their votes, and it is no good to simply vote somebody in because he gave you money, then we will begin to make progress.
Noted Iyizoba: “As someone rightly said, the right people are out and the wrong people are in because the right people don’t have the money or are not willing to spend their money to fight for politics or for power if they intend when they get there to do the right thing. So, why would he? He has something to offer and you want him to pay for it, he doesn’t want it like that. It’s about time that our people learnt that progress is putting the right people in power; people who have something to offer, who want to serve the country”.
She urged women to come together and chose among themselves those who are competent and capable to contest for political office.
Noting that the biggest problem women have is money to fund their political quest, Justice Iyizoba said in the western world, political parties go and search for competent people irrespective of their financial standing who they push forward for elections.
Said she: “Things like this don’t happen in Nigeria. These are the things we have to do to educate our people. If you are a political party and you want to win election, you should present a worthy candidate, not somebody who because he has money, will come and use money to buy the position; that is the problem we have in Nigeria.
“Women are not given enough opportunity because the women are looking for what the men are looking for, and you know very well what happens once there is a struggle between a woman and a man. I think maybe one thing we should consider is the possibility of making a law at the
L-R: Chief Ziggy Azike, Former governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi , Dr Oladapo Olanipekun (SAN), Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Amina Augie, Justice Court of Appeal, Hon.Justice Chinwe Iyizoba, (rtd), Pro Chancellor University of Lagos, Dr. Wale Babalakin (SAN)during the inaugural dialogue and book launch in honour of Hon. justice Chinwe Iyizoba held in Lagos on 30/1/2020
state level, at the national level to give a specific quota to women as an encouragement for them to come up.
She said that women provided better governance because they know where the shoe pinches most since they are the ones who take care of the home and every member of their family.
Said she: “Women are the ones that need good hospitals, good schools for their children, good road, water and electricity”.
She noted that it wss the job for the literate ones to educate most importantly, the rural women for them to understand the power of their vote.
Noted zIyizoba: “Most often, when you see the line; the people queuing up to vote are mostly rural women. So, we need to educate women to understand the power of their vote, and voting the right candidate”.
She also urged Nigerians not to view the Nigerian judiciary in bad light due to the few bad ones among them.
Urged she:: “I can tell you without equivocation that the judiciary in Nigeria is excellent. There may be a few people or few judges or justices who do things that taint the image of the judiciary, but that does not mean that the entire judiciary is bad. There are in fact very good judges and justices who write judgments that can stand the test of time. So, it is not right for Nigerians to judge every other judge or justice by what is happening with a few”.
On how she feels leaving the bar and the bench, she said: “Well, you know, I am a human being. Every human being when you have done one thing for a long time and you leave, you are bound to miss it. I will certainly miss my colleagues in the judiciary, I will even miss the judicial work, but everything that has a beginning has an end. The end of that phase of my life has come, and I don’t have any regrets because I have attained the age which I must retire.
“I will miss it all, but am looking forward to the future. Luckily, I have things mapped out such as my NGO, teaching on part-time basis, among others to ensure that I don’t wallow in loneliness or idleness because that’s when you begin to miss it tremendously, but if you get unto something else right away, then it will reduce that loss you will feel as a result of your retirement”.
The Hon. Justice, JCA Rtd. Who clocked 70 on January 19, revealed that it is the retirement age for the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court. On that date, she ceased to be a justice of the court of appeal, and now became JCA Rtd.
The book, Comtemporary Issues In Law And Society: Legal Essays In Tribute To The Hon. Justice Chinwe E. Iyizoba JCA, Founder, African Women’s Forum For Good Governance (AWFG), was reviewed by Dr. Joy Ezeilo, Dean Faculty of Law, UNN.
The event was attended by dignitaries including Former Commonwealth Secretary General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, former governor, of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi, wife of former governor of Cross River State, Mrs. Onari Duke who represented the Chairman, United Bank for Africa, Mr. Tony Elumelu, as well as legal luminaries such as Justice Amins Amins Adamu Augie, Justice court of Appeal, Folake Solanke, SAN among others.