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Prof. Ben Nwabueze, SAN, LL.D: The Exit of a Legal Colossus

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BY Prof Mike Ozekhome SAN, CON, OFR, FCIArb, LL.M, Ph.D, LL.D, D.Litt, D.Sc.

The death, on Sunday the 29th day of October, 2023, of Prof. Ben Nwabueze, SAN, brought to an end, arguably, the first generation of Senior Advocates of Nigeria. The first ever set SANs in Nigeria comprised of legal giants, Chief F.R.A. Williams and Dr N.B. Graham-Douglass (both now late),who took the Silk on 4th March, 1975. There was a three year period of interregnum between 1975 and 1st of December, 1978, when this academic and legal Colossus was silked with 12 other legal titans such as Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Chief Remi Fani-Kayode, Mr T.A.Bankole-Oki, Mr E.A.Molajo, Mr Kehinde Sofola, Chief Richard Akinjide, Mr G.O.K. Ajayi, Mr Olisa Chukwura, Dr Nwakanma Okoro, Dr Mudiga Odje, Mr P.O. Balonwu and Dr Augustin Nnamani. Nwabueze was certainly the first from the academia, based strictly on his published works. His first love was the classroom and he bestrode it like the Colossus he was. He was thus justifiably called “the Professor of Professors”. He remained a teacher and mentor of many generations of legal academics both in Nigeria and beyond till his last breath. I am one of his beneficiaries who compared notes with him and drank from his inexhaustible well of knowledge and wisdom.
But, let us go back to the beginning, for the morning tells the day.

IN THE BEGINNING
Prof Ben Nwabueze was born in Nigeria, at a time when the country was under British colonial rule. He grew up in a society where opportunities for education were limited, especially for individuals from less privileged backgrounds. Despite these challenges, young Ben’s unquenchable thirst for knowledge and insatiable curiosity served as the driving forces that would propel him towards academic greatness.
By his own account (“Ben Nwabueze: His Life, Works and Times: An Autobiography”, published by Gold Press Ibadan, in 2013), Prof Nwabueze was born in Atani, in the present Ogbaru Local Government of Anambra State, on the 22nd day of December, 1932. With such humble beginnings, there was little indication of the shining star that he was to become in the legal profession.

EDUCATION
Prof Ben Nwabueze started his primary education at CMS Central School in his village of Atani, in Ogbaru LGA of Anambra State, between 1938 and 1945. Thereafter, he proceeded to CMS Central School, Onitsha, between 1947 and 1950. From 1956 to 1961, he attended the London School of Economics and Political Science, after which (between 1961 and 1962), he attended the School of Oriental and African Studies, London. It is important to point out that Prof. Nwabueze acquired most of his University qualifications on scholarships which were awarded to him by sheer dint of his academic excellence.

WORKING LIFE
Between 1962 and 1965, Prof. Nwabueze lectured at the Holborn College of Law, London. Upon his return to Nigeria, he took up appointment as a Senior Lecturer at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (between 1967-1970), after which he once again left Nigeria – this time, to Zambia, first, as the Dean of the Faculty of Law of the University of Zambia, and subsequently, between 1973 and 1975, as the Director of that country’s Law Practice Institute (the equivalent of our Law School).

ACADEMIC RECOGNITION
Prof. Nwabueze’s recognition across the African continent gives the lie to the saying that a prophet has no honor in his homeland. This is because he was a member of the Governing bodies (“the Senate”) of the Universities of Lesotho, Botswana, Swaziland, Haile Selassie (Ethiopia), Dar-es-Salam – not to mention Lagos, in his home country. In addition to this, he was also an Assessor for Academic Appointments in the Universities of Ghana, Jos, Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo), and Lagos. He was appointed to Professorial Chairs in the Universities of Nigeria, Nsukka, Zambia, Anambra State University of Technology, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, and Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. He later served, meritoriously, as the General Counsel of a first-generation bank, the United for Africa (UBA).

DEDICATION TO LEGAL SCHOLARSHIP
Ben Nwabueze’s dedication to legal scholarship was unwavering. His contributions in the field of law were simply vast and varied. He authored numerous books and articles, each one a testament to his keen intellect and deep understanding of the subject matter he dealt with. His works on constitutional law, administrative law, and human rights law have become foundational texts for generations of law students, legal practitioners and members of the Bench.

One of his most influential works, “The Presidential Constitution of Nigeria,” delved into the complexities of Nigeria’s constitutional structure, drawing attention to issues of federalism, decentralization, and the balance of power. Nwabueze’s insights and recommendations have guided discussions on constitutional reforms in Nigeria for decades, serving as a blueprint for the country’s path towards a more just and equitable society and governance structure.

In addition to his academic writings, Professor Nwabueze was an active participant in legal reform and advocacy. He served on numerous government committees and panels, providing his expert input on various legal and constitutional issues. His contributions to the development of Nigeria’s legal system were not only profound, but also instrumental in shaping the nation’s legal landscape.

CHAMPION OF CONSTITUTIONAL REFORMS
Professor Nwabueze was a tireless champion of constitutional reforms in Nigeria. He recognized that the country’s constitutional framework needed to evolve to better address the changing needs and aspirations of its diverse peoples. His passion for a more inclusive, equitable, egalitarian and just society was evident in his unrelenting pursuit of constitutional reforms.

Nwabueze’s advocacy for constitutional reforms often placed him in the role of a constitutional watchdog. He scrutinized proposed constitutional amendments and reforms, ensuring that the fundamental principles of justice, equity, and democracy were upheld. He believed that a well-crafted Constitution was the cornerstone of a just society, and he worked tirelessly to help Nigeria achieve this ideal state.

His role in the struggle for democracy in Nigeria during the military regimes of the 1980s and 1990s was instrumental to major changes. As an outspoken advocate for democratic governance and the rule of law, Nwabueze played a critical role in shaping the political landscape of the country. His unwavering commitment to democratic principles and his determination to see Nigeria transits to a democratic system were at the forefront of his endeavors.

In 1994, Nwabueze co-founded the Constitutional Rights Project (CRP), a non-governmental organization dedicated to the promotion of civil liberties, human rights, and the rule of law. The CRP became a powerful voice for justice and democracy in Nigeria, and Professor Nwabueze’s leadership was a beacon of hope during some of the country’s darkest times.

LEGACY IN LEGAL EDUCATION
While Professor Nwabueze’s contributions to legal scholarship and constitutional reforms were immense and gargantuan, his impact on legal education was equally profound. He was not only a prolific writer, Philosopher and thinker, but also a dedicated educator who inspired a generation of countless students throughout his career.

His teaching style was characterized by a commitment to intellectual rigor and a demand for excellence. Nwabueze believed in challenging his students to think critically and to develop a deep understanding of the law’s principles and applications. His teaching went beyond the classroom; it was a form of mentorship, instilling in his students a sense of responsibility to use their legal knowledge for the betterment of society.

Many of his former students have gone on to become accomplished lawyers, judges, academics, and leaders in various fields of human endeavor. His influence was not limited to the confines of the classroom, but extended to the very fabric of Nigerian society, where his students have played pivotal roles in shaping the legal, political, and social landscape.

In recognition of his contributions to legal education, Nwabueze was honored with numerous awards and accolades. He served as a professor at various institutions, including the University of Nigeria, and the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies. His impact on legal education was far-reaching, making him a pillar of the academic community.

ADVOCATE FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE
Ben Nwabueze’s commitment to social justice extended beyond the legal realm. He was an advocate for equality, human rights, the rule of law and the well-being of all citizens. His involvement in social and political causes reflected his intense dedication to a more just and equitable society.

One of his notable contributions was his works in the area of human rights. Nwabueze was a behind-the-scene voice in the founding of the Civil Liberties Organization (CLO) in Nigeria in 1987, an organization pioneered and co-founded by this writer and others, which is dedicated to the promotion and protection of civil liberties and human rights of Nigerians. Through CLO , he addressed issues of injustice, inequality, and abuse of power, standing up for the marginalized and oppressed.

Throughout his life, he demonstrated a deep concern for the less privileged and a commitment to improving their conditions. His advocacy efforts were not limited to the courtroom, but extended to the streets, where he actively participated in many protests and campaigns for social justice, especially during successive military juntas.

A LIFE OF INTEGRITY
Professor Ben Nwabueze was a man of unblemished integrity and solid character. He held himself to the highest ethical standards and was a role model for those who had the privilege of knowing him or coming across him. His principled approach to life and work was a source of inspiration to many, and his actions consistently demonstrated his commitment to the greater good.

Nwabueze’s integrity extended to his role as a public servant. He was not swayed by political interests or personal gain, but rather, he focused on the welfare and interests of the Nigerian people. His honesty and steadfast dedication to the nation’s well-being earned him respect across political lines and within the international community.

A VISIONARY LEADER
Prof. Nwabueze’s contributions to Nigeria went far beyond the confines of his academic and legal work. He was a visionary leader who sought to shape the nation’s future in a manner that reflected his deep commitment to justice, democracy, and the rule of law.

His vision for Nigeria was one of a united, democratic, and just nation where all citizens had equal opportunities and rights. He recognized the importance of inclusivity and the need for a more equitable distribution of resources and opportunities. His vision, which was rooted in the principles of federalism, constitutionalism, and respect for diversity, remains a source of inspiration for those who seek to build a better Nigeria.

LEGACY AND IMPACT
The Oduah Afo-na-Isagba of Atani’s legacy is immeasurable. His impact on the Nigerian society, the legal community, and the broader field of constitutionalism transcends his lifetime. He will forever be remembered as a beacon of intellectual rigor, a tireless advocate for justice and democracy, and a role model for integrity and ethical conduct.

In the field of law, his contributions will continue to shape the education of future lawyers and Judges and the practice of legal professionals. His writings on constitutional law will remain foundational texts for scholars and practitioners, guiding the evolution of Africa and Nigeria’s constitutional framework for generations to come.

In the realm of constitutional reform, Nwabueze’s vision and advocacy will inspire future generations to work towards a more just, inclusive and equitable society. His passion for a united and democratic Nigeria will continue to influence those who strive for a better nation.

In the broader context of social justice and human rights, his works have left an indelible mark on the struggle for equality, social justice and the protection of civil liberties. His dedication to the welfare of the less privileged will serve as a lasting testament to the power of advocacy in effecting positive change.

PUBLICATIONS
The erudite scholar that he was, Prof. Nwabueze really came into his element in academic research. This saw him producing a prodigious wealth of scholarly works, including over thirty books and treatises with an average of 400 pages, on a diverse range of topics, albeit with a constitutional bent or flavor. He also authored over 200 articles in academic journals, as well as more than 100 keynote lectures in local and international conferences. Prof. Nwabueze’s seminal books on constitutional Law: Constitutionalism, Presidentialism, and Judicialism, earned him the prestigious (and rarely- awarded) distinction, in 1978, of being only the second Nigerian (after Dr. T.O Elias) to be awarded the LL.D doctorate degree laurel, not honoris causa, but based on his solid academic works.

IN THE COURT
However, Prof. Nwabueze no less excelled in courtroom advocacy, as he was often consulted as amicus curiae by all levels of courts in Nigeria and beyond, particularly the apex Court. On each occasion, he was acknowledged and applauded for his profound and unique scholarly insights into the subject matter under discourse. Indeed, he was probably the foremost and pre-eminent living Senior Advocate of Nigeria of letters at his death.

PUBLIC SERVICE
Prof. Nwabueze’s recognition at home was arguably cemented by his appointment by the Babangida administration in the early 1990s, as the Minister of Education and Youth Development. This was in addition to being the Secretary-General (between 1978 and 1984) of the pre-eminent pan-Igbo cultural organization, Ohaneze Ndigbo, an organization he co-founded in 1976, with prominent Igbo sons such as Dr Akani Ibiam, Dr Michael Okpara, Dr K.O. Mbadiwe ( the man of timber and Caliber),Chief Ugochukwu, P.M. Okigbo and Chief Jerome Udoji

The recipient of the prestigious CON National honour and the National Order of Merit (NNOM) was so concerned by the future of the Nigeria Project that, together with the late Chief F.R.A. Williams, SAN, he co-founded the Patriots, a group of eminent elders, who sought to enrich the public space with their advice and opinions when the ship of the Nigerian State sailed perilously and precariously into troubled waters in the wake of the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election.

About a quarter of a century earlier, however, Prof. Nwabueze was reportedly behind the abolition of Nigeria’s historical Federal structure and its replacement by the government of Gen. Aguiyi-Ironsi, with a unitary system. He was said ro have been the silent adviser. This singular act was cited by the leaders of the July 1966 counter-coup as one of their main reasons for sacking Ironsi’s government which counter coup cost him his life. It is said that since then, Nigeria has never really recovered the Federal system of government that it hitherto enjoyed, being now replaced with an unofficial unitary system of government. Whether his alleged participation in the abolition of a federal template for Nigeria is correct or not is left for historians to unearth.

CONCLUSION
In conclusion, I dare say that the passing of Professor Ben Nwabueze is an irreplaceable and irreparable loss to Nigeria, Africa and the world. Arguably no Nigerian – living or dead – matched Prof. Nwabueze’s prodigious output in terms of scholarly legal and academic literature. In this, he was simply awesome. His contributions to legal scholarship, literature, constitutional reforms, education, egalitarianism and social justice were nothing short of extraordinary and phenomenal. His life was a testament to the power of intellect, character, integrity, and unwavering commitment to the betterment of society.
As we remember and celebrate his life and times, let us draw inspiration from his uncommon example. Let us continue the good works he started, striving for justice, human rights, democracy and the rule of law. In honoring his unforgettable memory, we celebrate the values and principles he held dear; and we commit ourselves to the noble pursuit of a better, more just and equitable world. Professor Ben Nwabueze’s legacy will endure as a beacon of hope and an eternal source of inspiration for generations to come. Indeed, an Iroko has fallen. His passage brings to a close an entire chapter of the legal profession. May his great soul rest in peace and in the bosom of the Lord. Amen, Adieu, my hero. Farewell my guardian constitutional lawyer from whom I drew incredible inspiration.

Goodbye, Africa’s foremost constitutional lawyer.

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How Ozekhome Took on FG over Fuel Subsidy Removal 37 Years Ago

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Constitutional Lawyer and human rights advocate, Prof Mike Ozekhome SAN,  has narrated how, 37 years ago, he took on the Federal Government of Nigeria over the removal of fuel subsidy in his continuous and sustained efforts to advocate the interest of every Nigerian and the good of the country.

The narration is presented in the eye of the learned silk as presented below:

MIKE OZEKHOME, A NIGERIAN WHO ALWAYS PEERS INTO THE FUTURE FOR THE GOOD OF THE COUNTRY

As far back as December 29, 1987 (37 years ago), Prof Mike Ozekhome, SAN, CON, OFR, had already taken on the Federal Government of Nigeria on behalf of the Nigerian masses regarding the issue of subsidy removal on petroleum products.

Ozekhome had sued the then military dictator, President Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, joining the then Ahmed Forces Ruling Council (AFRC) and the Attorney General of the Federation, against removal of petroleum subsidy. This is a matter that is still generating ripples across Nigeria till date, as it is the likewire, heart and soul of the Nigerian economy.

Ozekhome had argued that it was a misnomer for government to talk about removing oil or petroleum subsidy since no one can subsidize his God-given natural product. He had posited that the government did not take cognisance of the fact that oil was produced in Nigeria as against the countries copiously cited by the government where oil was supposedly cheaper.

He had also argued that government’s position was akin to a farmer measuring his piece of yam before eating it by comparing its worth or price with what it is sold to people who do not themselves produce yams. He further argued that government’s argument as put forth in the media was not enough to warrant any sudden or gradual withdrawal of petroleum subsidy. The Honourable Justice Idowu Agoro, then of the High Court of Lagos State, disagreed with Ozekhome in his ruling on the preliminary objection filed by late Moshood Adio, the then Director of Civil litigation (later Chief Judge of Oyo State and Justice of the Supreme Court of the Gambia). He struck out the suit on 29th December, 1987. The government through Adio had argued that Ozekhome lacked the locus standi to institute the action; that the action was speculative; and that the court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the case. The court agreed with him and held that no citizen could question or prevent “the merit, desirability or expediency” of anything done or planned to be by the country’s president or the Ahmed Forces Ruling Council (AFRC).

The court also ruled that the decision “whether or not to to remove subsidy on petroleum is a matter within the absolute power of the AFRC which no court could dabble into”. He however, ended by assuring the plaintiff (Ozekhome) that all hope was not lost “since the record of the present military regime showed that it was a listening government”, and that he believed “all shades of opinion would be considered and evaluated before taking a decision on whether or not to remove the subsidy on petroleum”.

That optimism was apparently not shared by the IBB regime as the government went ahead anyway to remove the subsidy and hike prices of petroleum products on four different consecutive occasions -1986- from 20k to 39.5k per litre; 1988, from 39.5k to 42k); 1989, from 42k to 60k; and 1991, from 60k to 70k). These increases in the fuel price per litre triggered mass protests across the streets by Nigerians who kicked against the IMF-dictated economic policy. A littre today sells anything between N620 and N850. Had the then government up to the present one listened, Nigeria would not be in her dire straits today.

Thus, what Prof Ozekhome saw and fought for in 1987 (37 years ago) has come to hunt us ever since and even till date. This is like the case of a motion for return to the old more meaningful and aggregative National Anthem which he had also championed and won by the consensus of the 492 delegates on the 2nd of July, 2014, at the 2014 National Confab. This eventually came to pass ten years later on 28th May, 2024, when President Bola Ahmed Tinubu assented to a bill that returned the old National anthem.

Surely, some patriots sit down, think and plan ahead for the good of the Nigerian nation. Following is the National Concord newspaper report of the story as published on December 30, 1987.

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Democracy Day: Full Text of President Tinubu’s Speech

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President Bola Tinubu on Wednesday addressed Nigerians on Democracy Day for the second time since he assumed office on May 29, 2024.

In his speech, the President honoured heroes of democracy, rallied Nigerians to support his administration’s efforts to strengthen the economy and informed citizens that a bill for a new minimum wage will be sent to the National Assembly soon, among other things.

Read his full speech below:

TEXT OF PRESIDENT BOLA TINUBU’S NATIONAL BROADCAST ON THE 25TH ANNIVERSARY OF UNBROKEN DEMOCRACY IN NIGERIA,

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DEMOCRACY DAY, 12TH JUNE, 2024
ABUJA

My fellow Nigerians, let me begin by congratulating all of us for witnessing the celebration of another Democracy Day today, the twelfth day of June 2024. This year also marks our nation’s 25 years of uninterrupted democratic governance.

On this day, 31 years ago, we entered our rites of passage to becoming a true and enduring democratic society.

Going through this passage was hard and dangerous. During the fateful six years that followed, we fought and struggled for our natural rights as human beings put on this earth by the divine hand of our Creator.

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We lost great heroes and heroines along the way. In this struggle, the winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, Chief MKO Abiola, the most significant symbol of our democratic struggle, his wife, Kudirat, General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, and Pa Alfred Rewane amongst other sacrificed their very lives.

They bravely surrendered their futures, so that our nation might have a better one.

Let us honour the memories of Chief Anthony Enahoro, Chief Abraham Adesanya, Commodore Dan Suleiman, Chief Arthur Nwankwo, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu, Chief Frank Kokori, Chief Bola Ige, Chief Adekunle Ajasin, Chief Ganiyu Dawodu, Chief Ayo Fasanmi, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, Chief Olabiyi Durojaiye, Dr. Beko Ransome-Kuti, Chima Ubani, and others who have transited to the higher realm.

The sacrifices of General Alani Akinrinade, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, Professor Wole Soyinka, Chief Ralph Obioha, Chief Cornelius Adebayo, among many others, should never be forgotten. For at least six years, they bore the pains and difficulties of life in exile.

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While the exiled pro-democracy activists kept the fire burning, their comrades at home sustained the pressure on the military leadership. Among the latter are Olisa Agbakoba, Femi Falana, Abdul Oroh, Senator Shehu Sani, Governor Uba Sani, Chief Olu Falae, and other National Democratic Coalition leaders such as Chief Ayo Adebanjo and Chief Ayo Opadokun.

The sacrifices they made, and the precious gift brought about by their selfless devotion can neither be repaid nor forgotten.

We could not have won the battle against dictatorship without the irrepressible Nigerian journalists who mounted the barricades along with the pro-democracy activists. We celebrate them today, along with their media establishments such as The Punch, Guardian, National Concord, Tribune, The News/Tempo, and TELL Magazines. The undemocratic government of the day proscribed these media establishments and jailed their journalists for standing for free speech and civil liberties and the sanctity of the June 12 elections.

Despite the lethal might of the authoritarian government, what appeared to be high and unyielding walls of dictatorship came tumbling down. The dismal fortress exists no longer.

The power of an idea, the power of the people proved more potent than all the guns, the munitions, and the threats of the strongmen.

The nation exited the yoke of dictatorship in 1999 to become the most populous democracy on African soil, the beacon of democratic self-determination for the black race and one of the largest democracies in the world.

This change stands as a pivotal moment in human history. From this change, we shall never turn, nor shall the annals of mankind’s progress forget the sublime meaning of this great moment.

Today, 25 years later. we celebrate the silver anniversary of our journey in democracy.

We have steadied the course. Democracy is neither a foreign nor abstract concept devoid of real-life meaning for us. Neither can we afford to reduce or minimalize it to being nothing but the mere holding of periodic elections where one candidate and party outdo another.

While elections attract dramatic attention, they are but one aspect of democracy. Democracy is a way of life that encompasses a broad outlook of which elections are but a part. As such, a nation can have elections without being democratic. But a nation cannot be truly democratic without holding elections.

That we have established a tradition of holding transparent, open, and fair elections gives credence to our democratic standing. That we have experienced peaceful transitions of government affirms our democratic temperament.

Fellow Nigerians, true democracy shines its light into the daily lives of the people who live under its nurturing wings. It affords us the freedom and liberty to think as we want, live where we want and pursue whatever legitimate endeavour that suits us.

Democracy does not assume some false or forced unity of opinion. In fact, democracy assumes that conflicting ideas and differing opinions shall be the order of the day. Given the diversity and variety of the human experience, there must be diverse perspectives and viewpoints.

What democracy demands is that we do not resolve differences through force and repression. But we make allowance for the legitimacy of views that differ from our own.

The other forms of government impose against the will of the people, democracy aims to make leaders who conduct themselves as servants of the common good, not as viceroys of the narrow interests of the mighty.

My dear compatriots, Nigeria faced a decision of untold gravity twenty-five years ago: Whether to veer toward a better destination or continue aimlessly in the fog of dictatorship.

We made the right choice then. We must continue with that choice now.

As Nigerians, we must remind ourselves that no matter how complicated democracy may be, it is the best form of governance in the long run. We must also be aware that there are those among us who will try to exploit current challenges to undermine, if not destroy, this democracy for which so much has already been given.

This is the great battle of our day and the major reason we specially celebrate this day as Democracy Day.

The true meaning of this day is not to focus solely on the great deeds of the past that have brought us to this point.

Yes, we pay eternal honour to those who laid down their lives, sacrificing everything to pave the way for the nation.

I stand uniquely placed in this regard. I was among those who took the risk to midwife the birth of our democracy. I am now a direct and obvious beneficiary of the fruits of those historic efforts.

As president of this nation, I am morally and constitutionally bound to preserve this precious form of governance. I vow to do my utmost best to protect your rights, freedoms, and liberties as citizens of Nigeria.

Even more than that, I pledge to do what is necessary to cement democracy as our way of life.

Although the challenges are steep and multiple, I am grateful to lead Nigeria at this moment in her history and point in her democratic journey.

I come before you also to declare that our most important work remains before us. This real test has never been whether we would rise to challenge the slings of misfortune and grievous pain of dictatorship.

The real test is whether we shall lower our guards and fail to defend democracy as the shadow of despotism and its evident physical danger fade.

I say to you here and now that as we celebrate the enshrinement of our political democracy, let us commit ourselves to the fulfilment of its equally important counterpart, the realization of our economic democracy.

I understand the economic difficulties we face as a nation.

Our economy has been in desperate need of reform for decades. It has been unbalanced because it was built on the flawed foundations and over-reliance on revenues from exploitation of oil.

The reforms we have initiated are intended to create a stronger, better foundation for future growth. There is no doubt the reforms have occasioned hardship. I feel your pains. Yet, they are necessary repairs required to fix the economy over the long run so that everyone has access to economic opportunity, fair pay and compensation for his endeavour and labour.

As we continue to reform the economy, I shall always listen to the people and will never turn my back on you.

In this spirit, we have negotiated in good faith and with open arms with organized labour on a new national minimum wage. We shall soon send an Executive Bill to the National Assembly to enshrine what has been agreed upon as part of our law for the next five years or less.

In the face of labour’s call for a national strike, we did not seek to oppress or crack down on the workers as a dictatorial government of the past would have done. We chose the path of cooperation over conflict.

Nobody was arrested or threatened. Instead, the labour leadership was invited to break bread and negotiate toward a good-faith resolution.

Reasoned discussion and principled compromise are hallmarks of democracy. These themselves shall continue to animate my policies and interaction with the constituent parts of our political economy.

I take on this vital task without fear or favour and I commit myself to this work until we have built a Nigeria where no man is oppressed.

In the end, our national greatness will not be achieved by travelling the easy road. It can only be achieved by taking the right one.

The words of the American President Franklin Roosevelt certainly ring true:

“There are many ways of going forward. But only one way of standing still”!

We dare not slumber lest the good things awaiting our immediate future pass us by. We dare not plant our feet in idle standstill in the middle of the intersection of hope and despair.

We know the proper way forward and we shall take it!

The initial rays of a brighter tomorrow now appear on the horizon. An abundant future and our capacity to achieve that future lies within our reach. Democracy and the institutions it begets offer to take us to our profound destination.

Let us board this progressive train together. Together, let us move Nigeria forward.

Let’s continue to keep the fire of democracy burning. Let’s keep the torch lit for generations to come.

May God continue to bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria and preserve our democracy.

I wish us all Happy Democracy Day.

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Dangote Refinery: Akpabio Pledges NASS Protection, Says Dangote Silenced Detractors by Completing Project

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The Senate leadership yesterday described the 650,000bpd Dangote Petroleum Refinery as the 9th wonder of the world but came hard on those who are skeptical of the completion of Dangote Petroleum Refinery describing them as dream killers.

Indeed, the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, who led the leadership of the 10th Senate on a tour of the Refinery in Lagos said detractors of the refinery have all been silenced and that indeed, previous governments have been put to shame with the completion of the project.

He assured that the National Assembly will give it what it takes to protect the project because its one project that Nigeria and indeed Africa should take the ownership and must be protected jealously.

Commending Alhaji Aliko Dangote for completing the construction of the largest single train refinery in the world in a record time, the Senate President said Dangote deserved all the accolades for this feat noting that ordinary residence of Nigeria’s Vice-President could not be completed until after 14 years.

Said he: “They told us in Abuja that Dangote Refinery is farce but we have come here and see for ourselves that the refinery is alive and running. Dangote has put to shame a lot of people. They are wondering how it will be possible for a single individual to accomplish what a whole nation could not accomplish; what 240 million people could not maintain; what a continent could not do and then one person will build 650,000bpd project.

“They keep wondering how one person can succeed where nations have failed; where continent has failed. But Dangote has done it. It is highly commendable. We came to see the refinery because we in the current senate believe in the Nigerian dream. We didn’t come as a doubting Thomas but we came because we believe the project, we came to rekindle the hope of Nigerians and the Nigerian’s can do spirit.”

Senator Akpabio stated that the whole Nigeria couldn’t make refineries function in Kaduna, Pot Harcourt, Warri, but that Dangote and his team have proven that it is possible to dream and achieve it in Nigeria.”
Akpabio said the shame that came with the discovery of oil in Nigeria in 1958 has been removed by Dangote alluding to a report that India does not have oil but his refineries from where the country exports refined products. The inability of the nation to refine its oil has brought untold hardship on Nigerians so much so that Belgian government recently ban the exportation of dirty and condemned fuel to the country to West African country just because we can’t refine our own products.

Describing the refinery as quite unbelievable, Senator Akpabio who was sandwiched by other senators comprising of the Deputy Senate President, Senate Leader, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele and a host of others said the Senate and the entire National Assembly would come up with a robust legislation that would protect the project and others like it.

He stated: “Mr. Dangote, I pity you a lot because even your friends will envy you simply because they will keep wondering how can you succeed when nations, and continents have failed? Now that we have seen for ourselves, we are here to announce our own endorsement of this major project. It is also shocking to see that we produce sufficient fertilisers for Nigeria and enough to be exported.

“As I said we will do our report and we will speak to Mr President to put a stop to fertisliser import to Nigeria. You will hear from us soon.”

Also speaking, Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, enthused that it is a privilege that the refinery happened in “our time, our state and our country. People talk about dreams, but only few can make it happen. Dangote has put Lagos State and the whole of Nigeria on the world map of excellence.

“I am happy the senate came to see for themselves; Dangote was not ready to rest after successfully building the largest cement factory chain in Africa, second largest sugar refinery in the world. With investment like this, I can assure you that we are on the right path to meet the projected GDP of $1trn by 2030.

“You have the key to city, I have given you long time ago and I am happy you are using it very well,” Governor Sanwo-Olu stated.
In his remark, Mr. Dangote explained that the “visit could not have come at a more auspicious time than now just as the organization is in the process of bringing the various units of this complex integrated refining processes on stream, an eagerly awaited move.”

He stated further that the Dangote Refinery “produces a wide range of high-quality petroleum products, including premium motor spirit (petrol), diesel, kerosene, and jet fuel, all meeting the highest international standards (Euro V Grade). The Refinery apart from adding value to our crude oil, will yield 900,000 KTPA of Polypropylene and 36,000 KTPA of Sulphur and carbon black as by products.

“The Refinery will help boost Nigeria’s economic growth, with the creation of thousands of direct and indirect jobs. During the construction stage, it supported over 150,000 jobs, made up of mostly Nigerians. These Nigerians in the process acquired various skills that are still useful in other construction projects.

“The capacity of the refinery is enough to satisfy domestic demands for refined products. The Refinery will export about 50 per cent of its production thereby generating foreign exchange for the country. It will lead to growth in adjacent sectors such as logistics, shipping, engineering, and servicing.

“The Refinery has the requisite capacity to provide energy security both by providing a ready home for our crude and in ensuring steady availability of petroleum products for all. Nigerians will also get to partake in the financial returns once we list the Refinery on the NGX.

“We are thus making an important contribution to this administration’s plan to grow our GDP to $1 trillion.

“Our Group is at the vanguard of job creation and employment generation in Nigeria. We are the biggest employer of labour after the Federal Government. Dangote Cement sustains about 70,000 (Seventy thousand) direct and indirect jobs across Africa, while the Refinery, Petroleum Chemical Complex and Fertiliser will be able to create over 150,000 (One hundred and fifty thousand) direct and indirect jobs.
“We have remained one of the biggest contributors to government coffers as our three subsidiaries, Dangote Cement, Dangote Sugar Refinery and NASCON Allied Industries paid a total of N788.98 billion as tax and N276 billion in VAT in three years.
“We envision in Nigeria the equivalent of Jamnagar in India where crude oil refining is the backbone of specialised industrial zones, transportation networks, and ancillary industries, contributing to the overall industrialisation of the region. Or Saudi Arabia’s Jubail Industrial City, which is also undergirded by large scale petrochemical complexes.

“The Legislature has a great role to play in this. Globally, the Legislature plays a great role in protecting and supporting domestic industry. I am sure that the members of the 10th National Assembly are more than equal to the task. Supporting the Refinery secures the benefits. It will ensure energy security. As co-creators of value, we appreciate and acknowledge your consistent efforts in ensuring the enactment of vital laws promoting a conducive business environment in the nation,” he said.

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