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Vice President Osinbajo Picks Hole In Nigeria’s Constitution On Principle Of Federal Character

Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo
Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo

“In every successful system in the world, you start by placing people first in order of merit, then you have a percentage for affirmative action, you have a percentage for federal character. You don’t start by saying lets have federal character first, and then merit.”
These were the views of the Nigeria’s Vice President, Professor Yomi Osinbajo when he spoke today in Calabar, Cross River State, at the 10th Year Memorial Anniversary lecture of late Justice Peter Odo Effiong Bassey, which held at the University of Calabar International Conference Centre. The event, with the theme: “Social virtues in the Nigerian Renaissance,” was organized by the P. O. E Bassey Foundation.
Professor Osinbajo insisted that one of the reasons “why we have had a lot of difficulty in getting quality people into government is because we insist first on federal character before we insist on merit. We must start with merit and then go to federal character.”
He was disturbed by what he called misunderstanding of the Federal Character principle  contained in the Nigerian constitution over merit, which he said should not be the first rule.
Saying that the concept of federal character should be observed as an exception to the rule, the Vice President explained that the federal character has succeeded in breeding impunity in the way businesses are run in this country.
Professor Osinbajo said: “when somebody commits an offense, the rule of law kicks in and they face the consequence. The reason why we have the chaos in the past years is because there has been no consequence for wrongful conduct; people get away with anything,” the attitude which he said is now becoming cultural.
He called on Nigerians to respect the rule of law and that the “moral call we must make is that we must accept that at any time, the judgment can come very close to home.”
The Vice President spoke about hard work, integrity and social justice which he said are the other essential principles a country needs to prosper.
According to him, successful nations of the world were built on these sets of values.
“A nation can only advance if it’s values are clear and settled. It is by right behaviour, character and good virtues that a nation grows or develops.
“There is no society that has developed today, wherever that society may be that has not kept to some core values and those values are captured in the words -social virtues or righteousness. There is no nation in the world that has developed that can be considered great, considered successful that has not had to base its ideals and  governance on these principles.”
Vice President Osinbajo who said the late Justice P.O.E Bassey was a professional to the core and an epitome of integrity, commended his children for upholding his good name and virtues.
The Governor of Cross River State, Senator Ben Ayade congratulated the family of the late Justice for upholding his legacy and keeping his memory alive even as the daughter of the late Justice, Professor Ekanem Wokoma said the foundation promotes the law profession and education in general through the award of scholarships and building of libraries among other programmes and projects.
The guest speakers at the occasion, including former Cross River State governor, Donald Duke and former minister of education, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, stressed the need for Nigerians to uphold the rule of law and imbibe positive core values in their daily affairs. They stressed the need for Justice and fairness for all.
Highlight of the event was the  unveiling by the wife of the Vice President, Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo, of the last book that was authored by the late Justice, titled: “The Nigeria Judiciary, the departing glory.” Foreword to the book was written by the Vice President, when he was Attorney-General of Lagos State.
Justice P. O. E. Bassey was the first High Court Judge of the then South Eastern State. He contributed immensely to the foundation for the Cross River State and Akwa Ibom State judiciaries. He died on 27 February 2005.  [myad]

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