By: Abdulrasheed Ibrahim
I recently came across and read a speech delivered by Mr. Adebowale Oladinni, the Personal Assistant to Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN which I found very thought provoking. The speech was an offshoot of a paper delivered by Chief (Mrs) Victoria Awomolo, (SAN) as the lead presenter on a topical issue “Child Labour : A bane to economic and social development in the society”, at the 2019 International Federation of Women Lawyers –Federacion Internacional De Abogadas (FIDA) week in Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State . In his speech on Mrs. Awomolo’s paper it was stated by Mr. Oladinni that:
“…The truism that the children are the leaders of tomorrow and any society which neglects the rights, education and social development of its children runs the great risk of succumbing to underdevelopment, as children are regarded as the greatest human asset of any nation. Sadly I must state that this recurring cliches that ‘children are leaders of tomorrow is vanishing into oblivion. An issue which should serve as a grave cause for concern for all stakeholders as stated in her presentation is fact that about 105 million children are out of school in Nigeria, with 43 percent engaged in one form of child labour or the other. ”
It was revealed that by the 2015 International Labour Organization World Report, about 168 million children are said to be trapped in child labour globally, while there are 75 million young persons between the ages of 15 to 24 years of age, who are unemployed and many more who must make do with jobs that fail to offer a fair income and security in working places and among other vices. Also referring to the 2017 survey by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBC), he said:
“About 50.8 percent of Nigerian children, between the ages of 5 and 17, are involved in child labour, with the North Central having the highest percent percentage of child labour of 56.8 percent, followed by the North-West accounting for 55.1 percent .The South South recorded 48.7 percent l; South East 46.6 percent and South West 38 percent respectively.”
The issue of child labour, child begging, human trafficking among other vices are becoming serious problems that must be tackled drastically by the society that wants to be in peace with itself. Among the recommendations that have been preferred by Mrs Awomolo which I so much agreed with and prompted me to write this article was the “need to provide easy access to qualitative and affordable education for the Nigerian child; the need for stakeholders to make concerted efforts to ensure that the Child Rights Act 2003 is strictly enforced to the letter to protect the rights all children, as failure to enforce same would not augur well for the future of Nigeria”.
After reading Mr. Oladinni’s speech on Chief (Mrs) Victoria Awomolo’s presentation in one of the social media platform, I responded as follows:
“This issue as discussed is very interesting. My take on this is that the inability of the government at various levels to do the needful is one of the factors that encourage child labour. Day by day education is becoming more and more inaccessible to the children of the poor people with the level at which the private institutions from primary level to the tertiary level are being proliferated. How many parents can afford the outrageous fees being charged by those institutions? How many children can the public schools accommodate? While the government must take free education very serious as was done by the likes of Chief Awolowo, there is need for intervention on the part of the government on those establishing private institutions to regulate their school fees to make it more accessible to the children of the less privileges in the society.”
It is very disheartening that after the fall of the first Republic, we have been having leaders most of whom do not care about educating the Nigerian children usually refer to as the tomorrow leaders. If most leaders have followed the footsteps of leaders like Chief Nnamdi Azikwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Sir Ahmadu Bello, probably the stories would have been different today. These were leaders that had the interest of their people at hearts. These leaders introduced and encouraged free education as well as scholarship for children of their various regions.
For instance, Hon. Justice Muhammed Lawal Uwais, a former Chief Justice of Nigeria when retiring from the bench on 12th June 2006 had this to say in his valedictory speech:
“In 1956, the Northern Nigeria Government headed by the late Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto, took a decision to grant to all the students in Barewa College scholarship, thus making education in the school free like in the Elementary and the Middle Schools. Not only that, it was decided to return to the students’ parents all the fees paid from 1952 to 1956. The sum of 48 pound was refunded to my mother who asked me to mention what I would like her to buy for me from the amount as a present. I chose a bicycle whose price was 8 pound then. It was ‘Robin Hood’ brand. By this act, I became the first student in my class to possess a bicycle. This was source of pride for me.”
Did the successive governments following this footstep? According to Chief Obafemi Awolowo: “The children of the poor you failed to train will never let your children have peace”. I think it was this kind of thought that made Awolowo to introduce free education in the Western Region in those days when a particular region was made up several states we have today. These were done by our past visionary leaders when the mainstay of the economy was basically agricultural produces. But what has happened in recent time after the crude oil was discovered in abundance by government and more money is being earned? Most Governors today have abandoned taking advantage of the natural resources in their states and always run to Abuja to collect oil money. It is unfortunate that most of those who had benefited in past from free education do not see the need why the present generation should have access to free education. Recently General Yakubu Gowon, a former Head of State lamented the proliferation of universities in Nigeria. I keep wondering why should former leaders in this country like Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and Alhaji Abubakar Atiku join the rank of those building private universities to charge exorbitant school fees out of the reach of the common people. How much did they pay when they were schooling in this country or benefiting from the Nigerian Government scholarships? It would have been a different thing if those institutions are established to assist the less privilege to have access to free education. How many of these leaders have donated buildings and structures or equipped libraries from their private pockets to our federal universities? The greatness of a man is not measured by the wealth he has or the private university he is able to establish but the positive impact he is able to make in the lives of his people. Did the likes of Awolowo, Sardauna or even Nelson Mandela of South African build private universities?
The failure of successive governments to make education free or more accessible to all is majorly responsible for the problem of child labour, child begging and human trafficking that have become very rampant today in our country .The resultant effect of this failure are the problems of Boko Haram, kidnapping, armed robbery and banditry, human trafficking as well as ritual killing for money among other crimes which have constituted serious threat to our existence and security. The children that the government and society have refused to train are now disallowing the society to be at peace. The situation is as if the society is paying the price for its failure to do the right thing. Another problem is the situation where people go to schools but no jobs at the end of the day to show for it. From the experiences of those who have fallen victims of the kidnapping and other vices, there is no doubt those who are well educated are also involved in those crimes and most times even use those children engaging in child labour, child begging and human trafficking as instrument to perpetrate their evil acts.
I think some effective solutions to this problem have been suggested by Chief (Mrs ) Victoria Awomolo (SAN) as earlier quoted above. Apart from this, our contemporary leaders should emulate and follow the footsteps of the likes of Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Sir Ahmadu Bello by putting in place free education policy for the benefit of all children. The responsibility should not be that of government alone as every stakeholder must be involved to borrow from the words of Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) as quoted by Mr. Debo Oladinni in his speech:
“…The family being the foundation and fabric of any nation must be strengthened. The government, law enforcement agencies, judiciary, employer’s and worker’s organizations, NGOs and other civil societies both internationally and regionally as well as nationally must work in partnership to curtail this dreadful and destructive plague afflicting the African child. Together, we can choose to make the African child grow up in safe society free from violence, exploitation, poverty and discrimination”
The wealthy people particularly the professionals in the society equally have great roles to play to give back to the society from what they have been blessed with by establishing foundations to assist in giving out scholarship to the brilliant but indigent children in the society. They can equally donate fund, buildings and structures to schools as well equipping their libraries and laboratories. I think one of the things Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN) did when he was alive and continue after his death is the giving out of scholarships to the indigent students and even donating books to various institutions. Chief M.K.O. Abiola when he was alive was said to have donated millions of naira to the Nigerian universities. Other wealthy people in different parts of the country will do well to emulate this kind of gesture to help the society.
NBA LAGOS ELECTS NEW EXECUTIVES
On Friday 28th June 2019, the eligible members of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Lagos branch went to poll to elect new executives that will pilot the affairs of the branch for the next two years (2019 -2021). In the history of the premier branch that election will remain one of the most interesting and keenly contested elections. The election was the first to be conducted online in the branch. In the election results eventually released by the Electoral Committee of the branch chaired by Chief Ayodele Akintunde (SAN), out of the 883 eligible voters, only 780 lawyers casted their votes. For the position of Chairman, LATEEF OMOYEMI AKANGBE emerged winner by scoring 440 votes; Adebola Lema scored 311 votes while Bolatunmi Animashaun scored 23 votes. For the position of Vice Chairman, OKEY ILOFUNLENWA emerged winner by scoring 295 votes; Chuks Nwana scored 246 votes while Bode Omoboriowo scored 204 votes . For the position of Secretary, MOSHOOD ABIOLA emerged winner by scoring 470 votes; Tochukwu Chukwumerije (Lato) scored 208 votes while Okereke Obinna Nnaemeka scored 60 votes. For the position of Social Secretary, EGEONU GLORIA NGOZI emerged winner by scoring 406 votes while Adefowoke Olubusola Ayo-ponle scored 336 votes .For the position of Legal Adviser, HARRY O. UKAEJIOFOR emerged winner by scoring 331 votes; Ebenezar Marcus Ihesiulo scored 245 votes while Torbari Dumgbara Nda Smart scored 147 votes. For the position of Assistant Secretary, IFEOMA CATHRINE BEN emerged winner by scoring 367 votes; Elo Adhekpukoli scored 260 votes while Hammed Bakare scored 115 votes. The candidates for the following position won unopposed: Treasurer, FOLUNKE O. AKINMALODUN (766 votes ); Financial Secretary , CHINENYE ORAGWU (765 votes); Welfare Secretary, ANTHONIA ENITAN EKE (767 votes); Publicity Secretary, JAMES SONDE (768 votes) and Provost, FLONRENCE EKWUTOSI CHIJIOKE-DURU (770 votes).
Like the repeat of what happened in Nigeria in 2015 when President Muhammadu Buhari won the elections and was called by Dr. Goodluck Jonathan to congratulate him for winning the General Elections, Mr. Ademola Lema put on a phone call to Mr. Lateef Omoyemi Akangbe to congratulate him for winning the election. That is the spirit of sportsmanship that usually comes to play after every election in the premier branch as tomorrow is another day. I want to use the opportunity to congratulate all the newly elected executives as well as all other contestants that could not make it in the election. A loser today may be a winner tomorrow. That is what decent politics is all about. I salute them all for their maturity. The Electoral Committee headed by Chief Akintunde again did a wonderful job which it has been doing for many years now. Chief Akintunde is a person I can recommend for any electoral assignment whether nationally or internationally. We have a personality in our branch that the NBA at national level can look up to, to deliver a free and fair election in the nearest future.Chief Ayodele Akintunde (SAN) is a person that will not compromise as he is a principled man. I congratulate him and all members of his committee for making history again. Before ending this, I must not fail here to pay tribute to the outgoing Chairman of chairmen, in person of Mr. Chukwuka Ikwuazom, to me any incumbent Chairman of the Premier Branch is the Chairman of chairmen. Mr. Ikwuazom is a gentleman who in the last two years has displayed high sense of responsibility and maturity. He has done his best for the branch which we must all commend him and his team for. I congratulate them all and wishing them the best in all their endeavours. I also wish the incoming executives under the leadership of Mr. Lateef Omoyemi Akangbe well. May his tenure bring more greatness to our great premier branch.
ON FAILURE TO RAISE OBJECTION WHEN NECESSARY
“It is the duty of the Appellant and counsel to raise the issue before the trial court, that she did not understand the language being spoken by the prosecution witnesses. If after such objection was raised the court overruled it and yet proceeded with the case, the story would have been different. Not having stated that an objection or complaint was raised or made, it is safe in my view, to assume that the Appellant had no cause to complain.”
Per ARIWOOLA, JSC in Madu Vs. State (2012) 6 SC (Pt.1) Pgs. 120-121 Lines 35,5
THE SETTLED PRINCIPLE OF LAW
On whose part is trespass actionable
“It is the law and this court has so held times without number that trespass to the land is actionable at the suit of the person in possession of the land. The slightest possession in the plaintiff enables him to maintain trespass if the defendant cannot show a better title.”
See Christopher Okolo Vs. Eunice Uzoka (1978) 4 SC 77 at 78; ADEPOJU Vs. OKE (1999) 3 SC at Pg. 41 Line 15
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30th June 2019