Major stakeholders in the justice sector have said that Nigeria can only come out of her economic woes when integrity, honour and accountability are properly entrenched in the nation’s public sector.
The stakeholders spoke at the 2nd Annual Colloquium of Awomolo Associates with theme “Accountability and Integrity as Pillars of National Development” held last week in Abuja.
They said that the greatest service the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration can render to the country was to institutionalize open and transparent government that will withstand future economic and political challenges.
Among the stakeholders were the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Justice Mahmoud Mohammed, Justice Ibrahim Tanko Mohammed of the Supreme Court and the Chief Judge of the FCT High Court, Justice Isaq Bello.
Others include chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Professor Chidi Anselem Odinkalu, Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, and the ICPC Chairman Mr. Nta Ekpo.
The CJN, who spoke through Justice Cletus Nweze of the Supreme Court, called for collaborative efforts among stakeholders to arrest all the social vices hampering the advancement of the country to greatness.
He canvassed that good value which shot the advanced countries up must be emulated by the leaders and the led in the country.
The CJN urged the various tiers and arms of government to imbibe the virtues of integrity and accountability.
Chairman of the occasion, Justice Ibrahim Mohammed Tanko JSC, said the time tested virtues of integrity and accountability were needed for Nigeria’s economic and political development.
He described the chief host, Chief Awomolo (SAN), as a man of immense knowledge whose quest for legal knowledge had no limits.
Speaking in a similar vein, Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Justice Ishaq Bello, said in the absence of integrity and accountability, national development would be a mirage.
He called for the need to improve the standard of living of people in the country, saying “It is corruption that threatens economic and political fortunes the most. Institutions must develop the ethical value of integrity.”
The chairman of the Governing Council, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and keynote speaker, Prof. Chidi Odinkalu, said the country is underdeveloped due to the absence of integrity.
Odinkalu, who said there were no role models for the country’s youths, added that: “Change from where we are to where we have to get to involves a discursive process of leaders talking to Nigerians. We need change in order to achieve integrity, we need change for accountability, and we need change for a developed country. We need a leadership that will not take Nigerians for granted. We need a leadership that will trust our people. Speak to us as if we own this country.”
“Our integrity systems are compromised,”he declared.
Speaking in a similar vein, the Executive Secretary of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-corruption, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, said the character of persons who occupy public offices in the country was questionable.
He said over 15 per cent of the current National Assembly members have cases of corruption hanging over their necks.
Owasanoye alleged that lawyers and the judiciary colluded with politicians to erode integrity and accountability in the country.
He queried the process of conferring National Honours on persons with questionable reputations.
In his remarks, the Chief Host, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, thanked the attendees for the honour done him.
He explained that the essence of the colloquium was to engage Nigerians in an intellectual discourse about the lack of integrity and accountability in private and public lives in the country, and the need to entrench the values for the nation’s development.