Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal has urged African lawyers to oppose the arbitrary exercise of power by elected leaders on the continent.
Tambuwal, who is also president of the Governors’ Forum of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), advised in his keynote address at the 2020 Virtual Conference organized by the African Bar Association (AfBA) in Niamey, Niger Republic, made available to journalists in Abuja.
He said it was time to insist that all African states should be governed in accordance with the wishes of the people and the dictates of the Constitution.
He also called on African lawyers to ensure that the right policies are in place to generate effective business support and capacity building.
“As lawyers, who are trained to promote the rule of law and ensure that society is governed in accordance with the law, we have an inescapable responsibility to speak on the side of the people.
“For too long, our continent has continued to lag behind all known human development indices.
However, after more than 60 years, after political independence, Africa should have had the desired impact.
“Unfortunately, we have continued to wallow in economic underdevelopment,” he said.
The former speaker of the House of Representatives said it was necessary for lawyers to restart the continent’s agenda to align it with current socio-economic and political realities.
He said that was key, given that no significant progress had been made since, after the political decolonization of the continent,
“As lawyers, how can we lead?
“The new political agenda, in my opinion, should focus on democratization and human rights.
“The rule of strongmen and the military dictatorship, which was the hallmark of leadership for an exceptionally long time on our continent, did not lead to sustainable progress.
“He never advanced the fortunes of our people. Rather, it took us several years back without any significant development to prove it.
“The world has moved forward with democracy and the rule of law, especially in this age of globalization. We cannot afford to be left behind.
“This is the time to insist that all African states must be governed in accordance with the wishes of the people and the dictates of the Constitution.
“Democracy promotes political inclusion and the rule of law. Therefore, we must say “NO” to arbitrariness in governance.
“Given our training as lawyers, we are better positioned to fight against the arbitrary exercise of power by elected leaders on the continent.
“Lawyers must also lead to ensure the right policies are in place, to generate effective business support, capacity building, absorb technology and product innovation.
“Adequate policies to access sufficient financing for small and medium-sized enterprises to improve job creation, improve productivity and promote social inclusion.
Tambuwal said that the macroeconomic objectives of any nation cannot be achieved without supporting and improving the capacities and competitiveness of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.
“African lawyers must lead, they must strive to make Africa a free, democratic continent, a just and equal society and a land full of opportunities for citizens”
Tambuwal, speaking of the coronavirus pandemic, said that COVID-19 had affected efforts to promote integration and harmony on the continent.
He added that the continent’s response would determine how quickly it would get back on track, and said that if it did not respond well, the continent would risk reversing the gains made over the years.
“This presents an opportunity for the continent to re-commit itself to the path of sustainable development goals.”