Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has expressed concern over the nation’s troubled economy and its impact on the populace.
The association of lawyers has also called on experts in and outside the country to suggest ways to revive the ailing economy and ensure that democracy works for the people.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Oladejo Lamikanra, who spoke for the association in Abuja, said the NBA was planning a gathering to give experts, both lawyers and non-legal practitioners, the opportunity to engage in critical assessment of the economy and suggest ways out of the current situation.
According to him, Nigerians including lawyers are suffering under the present economic situation.
He explained that lawyers had decided not to sit down and fold their arms while workers continued to lose their purchasing power and had decided to examine some of the critical economic issues facing the country.
He said: “This is why we have chosen as our central theme for our national conference, ‘Democracy and Economic Development.’ We want to discuss the economy in the context of democracy. How can democracy make the economy grow better? The economy is quite challenging presently.
“There is a concern on how democracy constitutes a heavy burden on our Gross Domestic Product (GDP). We want to explore how democracy can be used to further grow the economy. The average Nigerian is feeling the pinch, he is feeling the crunch. We have been dependent on oil alone. How do we diversify? The practice of democracy should improve the economy. Democracy and economy are not mutually exclusive.
“We want to see the economy can grow. We want to see Nigerians live better. That informs our choice of the theme. How can we make sure our economy sustain our population growth. We need actions now.”
Lamikanra, who is the Alternate Chair, NBA technical committee on conference planning, said this year’s edition to be held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, between August 19 and 26 would examine how institutions could foster economic growth in a democracy.
He explained that the conference, to be attended by about 13,000 lawyers both from and outside the country, would feature Rwandan President, Paul Kagame, who is expected to share the country’s success experience with Nigerians.
He said the decision to invite Kigame was informed by the fact that the economy of his country has continued to grow despite the challenges facing the world economy.
He said the Minister for Solid Mineral and other government officials would be at the conference to share with Nigerians information on what the government was doing to revive the economy and diversify it to ensure multiple streams of income for the country as against the current over dependence on oil.
“What informed the conference theme is that there are more economic challenges in the country today than last year. The conference will address, among others, how democracy can deliver on an improved management of our economic affairs.
“This year’s conference will feature 28 sessions in all, including three showcase sections. Communique will be issued at the end of the event, which will contain summary of all that transpired.
“Some of the resource persons being expected include the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), former NBA President Olisa Agbakoba and Yunus Usman (SAN),” Lamikanra said.
He added that the conference would also witness the inauguration of the executive of the NBA and the swearing-in of officials elected at the association’s last elections.
Lamikanra said the new NBA President would utilise the conference to enunciate on his programmes and plans of his administration and how he hopes to improve the association.