Alexandra McMillan
Fri, Jul 14, 2023 10:05 AM

Strengthening Nigerian Democracy: The Role of Strong Institutions

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Strengthening Nigerian Democracy: The Role of Strong Institutions
Stakeholders at the 2023 Annual Lecture of the National Association of Judicial Correspondents (NAJUC) have called on President Bola Tinubu to prioritize the establishment of strong, well-funded institutions over strong individuals. They emphasized the critical role of a robust judiciary, a free press, and the need for well-funded institutions in strengthening Nigerian democracy. This article explores their perspectives and the key issues raised during the event.

Lagos – In the pursuit of a stronger and more vibrant Nigerian democracy, key stakeholders across legal and media spectrums have called on President Bola Tinubu to prioritize the establishment of strong, well-funded institutions rather than relying solely on strong individuals. These perspectives were shared during the 2023 Annual Lecture of the National Association of Judicial Correspondents (NAJUC) held at the Muson Centre in Lagos.

The speakers at the event, including Retired Justice Taiwo O. Taiwo, Mr. Adetunji Oyeyipo (SAN), Mr. Abiodun Olatunji (SAN), and Mr. Lekan Otunfodunrin, a former editor of The Nation newspaper, emphasized the indispensable roles of a robust judiciary and a free press, along with the need for well-funded institutions.

Mr. Olatunji, the guest speaker, underscored the significance of a strong judiciary in a democratic system. He highlighted several crucial issues that need to be addressed to ensure the independence and strength of the judiciary. These include merit-based appointments of judges, guaranteeing their security of tenure, establishing and reinforcing state judicial councils, improving the welfare of judicial officers, and maintaining judicial financial autonomy. Mr. Olatunji also stressed the need to end any form of intimidation of judges.

Justice Taiwo echoed these sentiments, highlighting the inadequate remuneration for retired federal judges as a pressing concern. He disclosed that his total pension as a retired justice falls below N500,000, which is insufficient to meet his needs in the current challenging economic climate. Justice Taiwo further emphasized the symbiotic relationship between the judiciary and the media in terms of disseminating information and upholding the constitutional provision for freedom of information. He recognized the vital role of journalists in enabling the government to gauge public sentiment and urged governments to pay attention to the people's concerns.

Mr. Oyeyipo stressed that the judiciary is indispensable for constitutional democracy, stating that democracy cannot exist without a strong and independent judiciary. Mr. Otunfodunrin highlighted the importance of the executive branch understanding the principle of separation of powers, as it is a crucial distinction between a democratic system and a military regime.

During the event, NAJUC Chairman Peter Fowoyo highlighted the constitutional responsibilities of key sectors and urged the judiciary and security agencies to enhance their performance.

This collective perspective from the stakeholders serves as a reminder that the strength of Nigerian democracy lies not in the hands of strong men alone, but rather in the establishment of strong, well-funded institutions. A robust and independent judiciary, along with a free press, are essential components that safeguard the democratic values enshrined in the Nigerian constitution.

The call for merit-based appointments, security of tenure, improved welfare, and financial autonomy for judicial officers underscores the need to ensure the judiciary remains free from external influences, allowing judges to make unbiased and fair decisions.

Furthermore, recognizing the symbiotic relationship between the judiciary and the media highlights the importance of an informed citizenry. Journalists have a crucial role in upholding the constitutional provision for freedom of information and providing a platform for public sentiment.

In conclusion, as Nigeria moves towards a new era of leadership, the establishment of strong institutions should be prioritized. President Bola Tinubu has an opportunity to build on the foundations of democracy by bolstering the judiciary, nurturing a free press, and ensuring institutions are well-funded. By doing so, Nigeria can continue its journey towards becoming a democratic society that fosters justice, transparency, and the overall well-being of its citizens.

Source of content: OOO News 2023-07-14 News

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