Anyaoku Insists on Restructuring, Decries Attacks on Judiciary

Emeka Anyaoku

Advocates return to regionalism

Sunday Okobi

Former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Nations, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, has reiterated his unswerving stance that the only way out of the present challenges plaguing Nigeria is to restructure the country and possibly return to regional government system.

He spoke thursday in Lagos at the launch of a book “Contemporary Issues in Law and Society” (Legal Essay in Iyizoba’s tribute) and the inauguration of the African Women Forum for Good Governance (AWFG), an initiative of a retired Appeal Court judge, Justice Chinwe Iyizoba.

Anyaoku, who lauded Justice Iyizoba as a distinguished lady who had a great and enviable career at the Bar, Bench and the academic environment, also decried what he termed as constant bashing of the judiciary.

He called on the executive and the judiciary to guard the integrity and independence of the third arm of government.
Speaking on whether Nigeria has the right structure to lead it out of the present state, he said: “I believe that the government structure is sound; but how to operate it is the challenge the country is facing today. We have the structure that can cope with the challenges the country faces- insecurity, climate change, economy – but like I have always said, the present structure of the country is not efficient, and cannot successfully cope with the present challenges the country faces today.

“I have been advocating the restructuring of the architecture of governance of our country. This country was doing a lot better when it was a true federation of four regions – each region coping with its development, security, education and health facilities. We should return to the system because the present structure, in my view, is not likely to lead us to our destination.

“Also, I am concerned at the current wave of criticism of our judiciary. I am, however, calling on the judiciary and the executive arms of government to do more to ensure they do not provide grounds for casting aspersions on the integrity and the independence of the judiciary.”

On insecurity, he said the present government was going in the right direction by advocating community policing.
“I believe that the security challenges we face in this country would be effectively met if the different areas and states in Nigeria were to play more active part in securing the lives and property of their citizens,” he added.
Anyaoku said Justice Iyizoba had a very distinguished career as a university teacher and she was the attorney-general before she went to the Bench.

“She has acquainted herself very creditably and she is retiring with a glorious record behind her, so I am very happy to be here. She was also a very active judge, and now as she is going into retirement, she will write books and push her initiative-African Women Forum forward and go a long way with that,” he added.

In her remarks, Justice Iyizoba, who was also celebrating her 70th birthday, said the judiciary was in an excellent shape.
She, however, noted that there are a few persons who might have done things to taint the image of the judiciary, “but that does not mean the entire judiciary is bad. They are excellent materials as well as good judges and justices who write judgments that can stand the test of time; so that doesn’t mean we should judge every judge with what a few of them do.”

On the newly-established Africa Women’s Forum For Good Governance (AWFG), she described it as not for profit as it will focus on promoting good governance in both public and private sector

In his speech, foremost entrepreneur, Mr. Tony Elumelu, represented by a former First Lady of Cross River State, Mrs. Onari Duke, identified the private sector as the engine room of a country’s economy and not the government.