Gov. Seyi Makinde

The Executive Governor of Oyo State, Engr Seyi Makinde has declared the readiness of his administration to defend public interest and make legal aid accountable to indigent citizens.

Gov. Seyi Makinde

Governor Seyi Makinde made the disclosure while speaking at the 2021 Nigerian Bar Association- Section of Public Interest and Development Law (NBA-SPIDEL) Annual Conference, with the theme: ‘The Role of Public Interest in Governance in Nigeria,’ at Jogor Event Centre, Ring Road, Ibadan.

He said: “Our Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Prof Oyelowo Oyewo, transmitted an executive bill to the Oyo State House of Assembly proposing the establishment of the Office of the Public Defender.

“I am happy to report that this process was finalised in record time. This further guarantees the rights of citizens of Oyo State and delivers on our core mandate on justice reforms.

“As we continue to engage in these important conversations, the citizenry is given a chance to better understand the issues at stake and the role they must play in achieving the level of development that we all look forward to in this country”, he said.

Makinde also urged legal minds to help unravel and create the right balance between availability of information in the public interest and classified information that should not be in the public domain.

Makinde while speaking on the theme of the conference, noted that although many people want good governance, the methods of achieving it seem to keep eluding the country.

He lamented that, even when it comes to the relationship between public interest and governance, things get even trickier.

He said: “Let me take a few moments to talk about the theme of this conference – The Role of Public Interest in Governance in Nigeria. Today in Nigeria, everyone wants good governance. But the methods of achieving it seem to keep eluding us. When it comes to the relationship between public interest and governance, things get even trickier.

“For example, getting the balance right regarding availability of information in the public interest and classified information that should not be in the public domain. We are living in an age where people are demanding more from those in authority.

“Citizens are calling for greater transparency and accountability, and they are demanding more inclusiveness. I hope that we would have moved several steps closer to finding that balance at the end of your deliberations.

“I have also had the opportunity to look at the themes and sub-themes of some of the sessions. I must say that they have been well chosen to put good governance in Nigeria on the front burner of national discourse.”

President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) OlumideAkpata in his address, noted that the country is going through a lot of challenges, saying that the NBA is concerned about the deteriorating state of insecurity, gradual monopoly of the Nigerian state over use of force and arms.

“From the North, East, South and West, we are faced with clear and threat to sovereign integrity of Nigeria in a manner unprecedented.

“All over the country, it is as if government could no longer provide security for the country.”

Akpata lamented that the country has become beleaguered and desperately yearning for enthronement of good governance .

He said this is what the conference is trying to achieve.

The Chairman, NBA-SPIDEL Conference ,Prof Paul Ananaba ,SAN, in his welcome address said the difference between Nigeria and many countries we admire is public interest.

He said the disregard to eminent role which public interest ought to play in governance is the bane of pitiable condition the country had found herself.

According to Ananaba, public interest has siblings like patriotism, national interest, selflessness, country first among others.

He said the match to nationhood may be a mirage without public interest taking a centre stage.

“When public interest in enthroned, corruption, nepotism and other vices will flee away. When we fight corruption without public interest, the result will be minimis.”

Ananaba stressed that public interest is one of the various mechanisms that can enhance change in both public and private life.

“Checks will be in place through public opinion and court decisions that reform legal rules, enforce existing laws and articulate public norms”, he added.

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