The Nation (Nigeria)
‘Open grazing is evil, barbaric’
Olatunbosun Samuel Aganun is the new Chairman of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Owo Branch. Ahead of the branch’s annual law week beginning July 21, and the official opening of her Bar Centre built by Ondo State Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN), Aganun shares his thoughts on the theme of the week, resolutions from the Southern governors meeting among other issues with ROBERT EGBE
WHAT is your greatest challenge as chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Owo branch? The outbreak of COVID-19 Pandemic and the recently suspended Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) strike had a great adverse effect on legal practice and it has put lawyers’ finances in shambles. The welfare of our members is my concern and that has been the greatest challenge to me as the chairman of Owo Bar.
How did you manage the young lawyers in your branch during the pandemic and its subsequent lockdown in the country?
We were able to raise some funds through some senior lawyers within and outside our branch and from the branch's account, we gave out palliative in cash and food stuffs to our members. Special consideration was also given to the young lawyers in giving out cash and foodstuff as palliative in our branch during the recent Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria ( JUSUN) strike.
The National Assembly is in the process of amending the 1999 Constitution, but some Nigerians say a new constitution is a better option. What is your view on this?
The call for a new constitution for the country is well thought out. This may be hinged on the poor manner the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) was drafted by the military junta, the inadequacies/ defects therefrom and the attendant injustices. However, I am of the opinion that the 1999 Constitution should be subjected to amendment in reality with the yearnings of the people and the dynamism of the society.
What areas do you think require constitutional amendment?
The only thing that is constant in life is change; as the society changes, the constitution should be subjected to amendments to reflect the reality of human endeavours, for the harmonious co-existence of the various ethnic groups in Nigeria and the welfare of all Nigerians and not just a group of people. The major yearning of majority of Nigerians now is the restructuring of the country to promote justice, equity and fairness for all.
Restructuring means different things to different people. What does it mean to you?
There must be equitable distribution of our common resources, more powers should devolve to the states, the power and resources allotted to the Federal Government must reduce drastically. If the foregoing are entrenched into the sought amendment of the constitution, among other issues, it will be healthy for our polity and economy as a nation.
Southern governors rose from a meeting in Lagos last week calling for, among others, an urgent enactment of anti-open grazing laws by all member states before the end of 2021. What is your take?
I completely align myself with the position of Southern governors that emanated from their meeting. Open grazing is evil and barbaric, it has caused the destruction of many farm produce and loss of many lives in the country. Legislations banning open grazing of animals must be enacted as a matter of urgency and importance.
What is your view on the governors' demand for five per cent derivation fund for oil-producing communities and the rotation of the presidency between the North and the South?
It will be equitable and justifiable to give five per cent derivation to the oil-producing communities considering the hardship and difficult nature of their terrain. I equally agree with the southern governors that the presidency must rotate between the northern and southern parts of Nigeria. It will then be reasonable, fair, just, and equitable for power/ presidency to shift to the South in 2023.
What is the theme of your forthcoming law week and what formed the choice of the topic?
The theme of our 2021 Law Week is ‘Nigeria and the challenge of insecurity: the law and lawyers as panacea.’ It is pertinent to also state that our Bar complex otherwise known as Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu, SAN Bar Complex shall be officially commissioned at the grand finale of our Law Week celebration on July 21, 2021.
Why did you name your law week after Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN)
Apart from the fact that the Governor of Ondo State, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu (SAN), who is our Grand Patron, single-handedly financed the building of the Bar complex, he has done so much for the legal profession and particularly the Bar at the national and local levels.
In what ways?
As President of the NBA, he facilitated the modern NBA Owo Branch and nominated one of our past chairmen as member of Council of Legal Education, and as Governor of Ondo State in his first term, he appointed members of the NBA Owo Branch as Attorney-general and Commissioner for Justice, Chief of Protocol to the Governor and Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Community Development. He has shown tremendous and unprecedented interest in the welfare of our individual members and the Bar as a whole. The cumulative of the foregoing translate to our unequivocal submission that Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu (SAN), is a noble, quintessential and complete Bar man.
Was that why the branch decided to name the Bar Centre after him?
It is pertinent to state that Governor Akeredolu never solicited for the Bar Complex to be named after his humble self. It was a unanimous decision of the entire members of the NBA Owo branch, done on free volition. I must state without fear of contradiction that there are so many factors considered in honouring Arakunrin O.
O. Akeredolu (SAN) with the celebration of our law week to commemorate his 65th Birthday on July 21, 2021. These include and not limited to his remarkable and commendable contributions to the development of the legal profession, Bar and particularly our Owo Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association. His sterling performance as governor of Ondo State through developmental strides, thereby making the masses the gainers of dividends of democracy, changing the narratives in the business of governance and administration of public treasury, unbiased and truthful contributions to national issues as the sitting governor of Ondo State.
What will be the highlight of the Law Week programmes?
We have extended invitation to so many distinguished Nigerians within and outside the legal profession. Some eminent personalities shall be accorded Award of Excellence at the grand finale of NBA Owo 2021 Law Week celebration. Three governors are being considered for the Award of Excellence: HIM (Oba) Babatunde Ogunwusi Ojaja II, (the Ooni of Ife); Retired Honourable Justice Babatunde Adeniran Adejumo, OFR, Retired President of the National Industrial Court); Pastor Segun Olugboyegun, Alayede elect of Ayede Ogbese, Ondo State; Prince Raphael Ajibola Oluyede; Prince (Dr.) Rotimi Ibidapo; and the First Female Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief (Mrs.) Folake Solanke (SAN) and the Secretary to the Ondo State Government, Princess Oladunni Odu are to be accorded Awards of Excellence. The investiture of H.I.M (Oba) Gbadegesin Ajibade Ogunoye III as Royal Patron, Justice B. A. Adejumo (rtd), and Pastor Segun Olugboyegun as Life Patrons will be done at the event. A book in honour of Arakunrin O.O. Akeredolu (SAN) will also be launched. Chief J. K. Gadzama (SAN) a prolific advocate of great repute will be the Guest Lecturer, the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr. Olumide Akpata is the Special Guest of Honour and Chief Akinlola Olujinmi, SAN, former Attorney-general of the Federation will chair the occasion. Many senior lawyers, other top government functionaries, captains of Industry and many traditional rulers are expected to grace the occasion. It is expected that there will be cross fertilisation of ideas and knowledge on legal issues at the event and participants are to benefit immensely from the guest lecturer who is a fountain of knowledge in the legal parlance. It will be a great platform for recreation considering the social activities lined up for the oneweek long celebration, Akeredolu’s 65 years on the surface of the earth with plethora of landmark achievements is worthy of celebration, hence NBA Owo is using the Law Week to celebrate this leading light in the legal profession.
Open grazing has caused the destruction of many farm produce andloss of many lives in the country. Legislations banning open grazing of animals must be enacted as a matter of urgency and importance.‘