Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
Renowned Lawyer, Chief Afe Babalola (SAN) has described as irresponsible and callous a situation whereby Nigerians are committing suicide on daily basis due to unpaid salaries and pensions of retirees.
Babalola, who absolved President Muhammadu Buhari of the orgy of killings bedeviling the nation, blamed the military for throwing the country into confusion by involving itself in governance.
He said the Military took over government in 1966, which ushered in a lopsided unitary system in the country and abrogated the regional system, which was responsible for the unwholesome scenarios playing out in the facets of herdsmen killings and Boko Haram insurgency.
Babalola disclosed this in his institution, Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti (ABUAD) weekend while being honoured by the Northern Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN).
The revered lawyer was decorated with the Sir Ahmadu Bello Platinum Award as the â€˜The Icon of Greater Nigeriaâ€™ and Garkuwan Matasan Arewa Najeriya by the youth group.
Babalola expressed regret at how Nigerians were dying due to leadership failure, particularly the civil servants and pensioners due to non-payment of their entitlements.
â€œMany pensioners have died having been owed several years of pension arrears. Even those in the service were owed seven or eight months salary arrears, so just like I said earlier, our leaders have turned us into beggarsâ€, he lamented.
He added: â€œI am a counsel to Nigeria Association of Pensioners, so I can speak with authority about how they feel about their sufferings.
â€œHow can somebody worked for 35 years or spent his productive life in the service and he is being deprived of over two years salary arrears, this is callous and wickedâ€, Babalola asserted.
On the rising insecurity in Nigeria, he said: â€œThe essence of government is to guarantee the security of lives and property of the people. President Buhari is not to blame for this insecurity but the military.
â€œBefore military took over in 1966, Nigeria was operating regional system with each region growing and developing faster at its own pace. These regions were closer to the people. Killings or insurgency were alien to our culture then. Nigerians love one another, though they were divided politically.
â€œI want to say that if those regions were allowed then, the country would have had a nation or nations that are well developed todayâ€, he said.
Talking about the vision of his university, which was to build the youth into a reliable future leaders, Babalola told the group that many of the rich men in the Northern part of Nigeria have financial wherewithal to establish such fast-growing university.
â€œThere are many rich people in Nigeria who can establish this kind of university with the vision to bring quality education as well as moral and cultural values to the doorstep of Nigerians.
â€œIf we have this kind of university in each of the six geopolitical zones or every state, Nigeria will change for better. Go to the North and propagate the ideals which my university stands for. Nigeria must be united at all cost for us to make a headway and overcome all our challengesâ€, Babalola stated.
The leader of the youth group, Mr. Steven Bidemi, said the honour was in recognition of Babalolaâ€™s contributions to humanity and the unity of the Nigerian nation.
â€œAt a time when Nigeria youth are facing relegation from the scheme of things, Babalola continued to exhibit youth friendly vision which gave us a renewed hope as leaders of tomorrow.
â€œChief Babalola is a symbol of a true Nigeria where unity, love, integrity compassion and brotherhood take a sit at the high table. He is a true representation of Sardaunaâ€™s philosophy, which was about religious and ethnic toleranceâ€, he said.