Gadzama LLP Releases Quarterly Newsletter [Read Olanipekun’s Revolutionary Contribution]
In this edition of our Quarterly Newsletter is an abridged version of the lecture delivered by Chief Wole Olamipekun, OFR, SAN, who was the esteemed Guest Speaker at the Colloquium and Presentation of Books commemorating the Silver Jubilee of Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama’s conferment as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Theme: “The Nigeria of our Dreams: A Call to the Patriots. His lecture delves into the various aspects of the Nigerian Project and patriots of today’s Nigeria”.
Chief Wole Olanipekun, CFR, SAN emphasizes on the need for true federalism and the collective efforts of all Nigerians to join hands and building a New Nigeria. Chief Wole Olanipekun, CFR, SAN said “It is hoped that this Colloquium will provoke us to dreaming dreams that will match and address not only our present shortcomings but also put us on the crest for future development. A future that will ignite and rekindle hope in our youths and generations to come. With this process in place, war of attrition and transferred aggression by the youths, poor and down trodden against any person or citizen who is generally perceived as an oppressor, be he a civil servant, middle class man or woman, successful Farmer, Lawyer, Doctor or any other professional, would be substantially curtailed”. Chief Wole Olanipekun, CFR, SAN concluded that the acclaimed and celebrated successes of our youths in music and sports bear eloquent collaboration of the foregoing testament that our citizens are not lower in status than any other race or nation.
We have a range of exciting and informative features that are sure to captivate our readers. Our Sights and Scenes section brings you the latest happenings from within and outside our firm. Our Photo Speak section brings you a visual narrative of some of our recent events, while our Legal Humor section is guaranteed to put a smile on your face. We also have exciting news from the firm, including updates on our upcoming events and a proile of our staff members who work tirelessly to provide our clients with the highest quality legal services. As always, we are committed to providing quality and informative content that educate and entertain our readers. We hope you enjoy reading this edition of our Quarterly Newsletter.
We welcome your feedback and suggestions for future content. As usual, previous editions of our newsletter can be accessed at: https://j-kgadzamallp.com/publications/newsletters. -Paul Ebiloma – Editor
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THE NIGERIA OF OUR DREAMS: A CALL TO THE PATRIOTS
(Abridged Version) Being the text of an Address presented by Chief Wole Olanipekun, CFR, SAN, At the Colloquium to mark the 25th Anniversary of Chief Joe-kyari Gadzama, OFR, SAN, As A Senior Advocate Of Nigeria
held at the J-K Gadzama Court, Abuja
The letter received on July 14, 2023, appointing me as the speaker for the Colloquium on the theme “The Nigeria of
our dreams: A call to the Patriots,” is an offer I couldn’t refuse, akin to Don Corleone’s words in ‘The Godfather’
The theme encompasses complex notions- ‘Nigeria’, our aspirations, and ‘patriots’. Who are these patriots in today’s Nigeria?
What defines them? The organizers rightly acknowledged_the theme’s complexity, alluding to the contentious 2023 General Elections. They urge unity and a concerted effort to better our nation.
Having addressed various aspects of the Nigerian Project, I contemplate if I can bring a fresh perspective. My recent discourse on “Beyond the Pandemic: Creating an Evolving New Normal” examined our ‘abnormal normal` and proposed a ‘new normal’, drawing global parallels.
Upon receiving the invitation, I pondered if I could enhance or offer a fresh perspective given my prior work on similar themes. I believe a scholar or practitioner should always seek new insights. Hence, I opted to tackle the topic from various angles, while still referencing my previous submissions.
NIGERIA AS A NAME: WHAT IS THE MEANING AND HOW WAS IT DERIVED.
Historical figures like Awolowo, Azikiwe, and Sagay have variously critiqued Nigeria’s nationhood. Awolowo deemed it a mere ‘geographical expression’ housing diverse ethnic groups. Azikiwe termed it a ‘marriage of convenience,’ while Sagay saw it as a union yearning for federal restructuring.
The origin of the name ‘Nigeria’ is worth scrutiny. Lord Lugard’s imposition of this name meaning ‘Niger Area,’ was not by popular request. It carries colonial connotations, yet we retain it due to unique circumstances.
Comparatively, nations like Ghana, Burkina Faso, and Zimbabwe embraced names reflecting their heritage upon independence. The UK, comprising England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, illustrates unity with shared symbols.
03. It’s time to shed the imposed label ‘Nigeria’ for a name reflecting our identity, chosen collectively and imbued with pride, aligning with the theme of this Colloquium.
The French named their colony ‘Niger,’questioning our distinction from Nigerien. Let’s reclaim a name that embodies our aspirations and heritage.
In 1947, Chief Obafemi Awolowo stated that Nigeria is a mere geographical expression lacking a unified national identity. He identified ten main ethnic groups, emphasizing their distinctiveness. Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe saw Nigeria as a “political, social, and economic marriage of convenience,” while Professor Itse Sagay believed it comprised many nations oppressed by a unitary system.
The amalgamation of Nigeria in 1914 was not voluntary, and Lord Lugard imposed the name ‘Nigeria’ without consent, reflecting a negative perception of the country. This name, carrying historical baggage, still persists due to unique circumstances.
THE PARTITIONING OF AFRICA CONSIDERED
3 .The Bible states that God created humanity in His image, without discrimination based on race or ethnicity. Ethiopia, the only African country mentioned in the Bible, demonstrates an ancient and enduring existence. It appears 37 times in the scriptures, emphasizing its historical significance.
Unlike modern nations like Britain or France, Ethiopia predates them. The Queen of Sheba’s visit to King Solomon in Jerusalem further underscores Ethiopia’s ancient connections. Until 1974, Ethiopia’s constitution mandated emperors to be descendants of Solomon and Sheba’s union. This changed with Haile Mariam’s overthrow of Emperor Haile Sellassie. The narrative prompts reflection on Africa’s historical trajectory and its encounters with colonial powers.
PARTITIONING OF AFRICA
The Berlin Conference of 1884 convened by Otto Von Bismarck aimed to resolve disputes over African control. It led to the arbitrary division of Africa into 50 countries, disregarding local cultures and regions. This imposed map disrupted Africa’s natural order, favoring European expansion at the expense of indigenous societies. Walter Rodney’s “How Europe
Underdeveloped Africa” eloquently depicts this colonial legacy. Post-conference, major colonial powers claimed extensive territories: Britain from Cape-Town to Cairo, France in West and Central Africa, Belgium in the Congo, Portugal in Mozambique and Angola, Germany in Namibia and Tanzania, Spain in a small area, and the U.S. in Liberia. Africa’s resources fueled European development, while the continent grappled with the
THE ‘ELEPHANT’ CALLED NIGERIA
Nigeria, spanning 923,768 km², comprises 300+ tribes, diverse cultures, and languages. Its creation served colonial interests in expanding their empire and securing resources Colonial policies fueled division and mistrust among regions. The nation’s formation is traced back to British colonial rule, starting with the cession of Lagos in 1861. Various sovereign states existed before British consolidation. The amalgamation led to Nigeria’s emergence in 1914, under British authority. Nigeria gained independence in 1960. Its amalgamation lacked a blueprint for harmonious coexistence, differing from Europe’s approach to nationhood. The colonial legacy still shapes Nigeria’s challenges. Pre-independence demographics highlight regional disparities.
Understanding this historical context is crucial for seeking solutions to current issues.
Nigeria’s constitutional journey has seen shifts from Clifford’s Constitution (1922) to Macpherson (1951) and Federal Constitution (1954). Post-independence, the 1960 and 1963 Constitutions allowed regions relative autonomy, but the 1966 coup disrupted stability. Military rule followed, alternating with brief democratic spells and imposed decrees. The 1999 Constitution, though labeled federal, centralizes power, contradicting
true federalism. This model grants excessive authority to the Center, diminishing states roles. It’s a departure from federalism’s core principles. Nigeria’s unique federalism emphasizes central control over devolved powers. The late Chief Obafemi Awolowo advocated for federalism rooted inlinguistic and national identities. Ildentifying problems is one thing, but meaningful action is vital. Nigeria grapples with diverse challenges, from insecurity to economic woes and institutional failures.
It is often said that when a problem is identified, that problem is half-solved, having been properly diagnosed. That theory appears not to apply to Nigeria, as we know the root of our problems, but are scared of finding or executing the solutions to them. We continue to play the ostrich, and keep on being hypocritical. In the process, our problems get more compounded by the day, whether in terms of insecurity, economic retrogression, decaying educational system, collapsing infrastructure, deteriorating health-care system, youth unemployment, poverty- which breeds hunger, anger, frustration, restlessness, loss of faith-in-the-system leading to massive exodus (JAPA); brain-drain syndrome; democratic epilepsy, monumental corruption, leadership deficit, relentless borrowing syndrome institutional failure, etc
SECURITY OF THE CITIZENRY
The 2023 General Elections in Nigeria have been notably intense and divisive. The aftermath, especially regarding the Presidential Election, has witnessed heightened acrimony and bitterness. This contrasts with historical precedents in the United States where even close elections led to unity after verdicts. The need for reconciliation across divides is evident. Nigeria should not deviate from this common practice. The current state of Nigerian politics emphasizes ethnic and regional allegiances, highlighting the urgency for meaningful restructuring. While the Abacha regime attempted some level of restructuring, it’s crucial to address the concerns of South-South, North-Central, and North-East regions, ensuring inclusivity and fair representation.
This will pave the way for a true Federal system, as Nigeria’s present arrangement leans towards a unitary structure. Returning power and autonomy to the States, anchored within a restructured geopolitical framework, is essential for lasting unity and progress.
ENACTMENT OF GOOD GOVERNMENT AND GOVERNANCE
In August 2023, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu emphasized the duty of his appointed Ministers to serve Nigeria above regional or ethnic interests, acknowledging the pervasive
existence of these concerns. Reflecting on Nigeria’s past, when regional economies thrived
and basic services were accessible, reveals a time of prosperity and unity. Martin Luther
King’s dream of a united, character-focused nation resonates with the dream for Nigeria
Imagining a future where education, healthcare, and leadership exemplify excellence, and
where citizens prioritize the nation over personal interests, is essential. President Tinubu’s
statements on reviving the economy and addressing youth unemployment are promising,
but the administration must also confront systemic challenges and past expenditures
Addressing the debt crisis and instilling confidence in governance willbe crucial.
In summary, it is crucial to prioritize serving Nigeria’s interests above regional concerns
Reflecting on past prosperity and unity can inform a vision for the future. President
Tinubu’s statements hold promise, but addressing systemic challenges and past
expenditures is essential. Confronting the debt crisis and instilling public confidence in
governance are crucial steps forward
9. WHAT TOUCHES US OURSELF SHALL BE LAST SERV’D
We gather here today to celebrate Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama, OFR, SAN, on his 25th
anniversary as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria. He was called to the Bar in 1986 and became
the 140th Nigerian to attain the Silk in 1998. Chief Gadzama holds a unique position in the
legal field, excelling as both a courtroom lawyer and solicitor, and making significant
contributions to arbitration and mediation.
I’ve personally known and worked with Chief Gadzama since 1998. He’s distinguished
nimself with attributes such as diligence, respect for colleagues, and a formidable lega
prowess. During my tenure as NBA President, Chief Gadzama’s support was unwavering
especially during challenging times when I faced opposition from the government.
In 2004, he played a crucial role in defending the Nigerian Labour Congress against a
Federal Government appeal. Additionally, when the ABA President visited Nigeria, Chief
Gadzama stepped in as my representative when I was initially excluded from the event
Chief Gadzama has been a resilient contender for the NBA presidency, displaying
commendable sportsmanship even in the face of defeat. His law office stands as a
testament to his legal acumen and success. He’s not only a legal giant but also a mentor,
scholar, and outstanding advocate.
n this presentation, I’d like to emphasize the importance of dreaming the right dreams
Joseph in the Bible, as the first dreamer, faced challenges but eventually saw his dreams
come true. Similarly, Martin Luther King’s dream materialized with Barack Obama’s
China’s recent achievement with a $15 billion bridge exemplifies how dreams can be
turned into reality. Minister Dave Umahi, an astute dreamer, transformed Ebonyi State,
demonstrating that wise resource management leads to significant progress
Umahi’s commitment to quality infrastructure should be a blueprint for our nation. Just as
China built a bridge to withstand 300 years of floods, Nigeria should aim for roads that last a
minimum often years
This colloquium encourages us to dream dreams that address current shortcomings anc
inspire future generations. By fostering hope and opportunity, we can mitigate animosity
and resentment amongthe populace.
The accomplishments of our youth in music and sports demonstrate that Nigerians are
capable of achieving great heights. From Burna Boy’s Grammy win to Asake’s mesmerizing
performance at the London 02 Arena, our talent knows no bounds. Shakespeare’s words
ring true: “If music be the food of love, play on…”