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Nigeria: Afe Babalola canvasses for qualitative legal education

Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Afe Babalola (SAN)  warns law teachers to brace up to the challenges of ensuring qualitative legal education in the country.

Speaking at a one -day roundtable conference on the Nigerian Constitution, organised by the National Association of Law Teachers (NALT) Wednesday in Abuja .Chief Babalola, represented by a former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Chief Akin Olujinmi (SAN) said the quality of law education was falling in the country.

He urged law teachers in the nation’s universities to be up and doing in enhancing conducive environment that will promote improved education in the country.

While pointing out that the declining standard of education in the country also extends to law education, Olujimi called on the Federal Government and well-meaning Nigerians to contribute to the funding of education generally in the country.

The members of NALT also resolved after a debate that it was imperative that the 1999 amended constitution should receive the assent of President Goodluck Jonathan.

NALT said that a presidential assent to the amended constitution would guarantee a free and fair exercise in the 2011 general elections.

Eminent lawyers such as Prof. Ben Nwabueze, Chief Richard Akinjide and Chief Olisa Agbakoba, all Senior Advocates of Nigeria, among others, had earlier blazed the trail in the advocacy of presidential assent to the constitution as amended.

The body, further stressed the need for a clear cut procedure to amend Nigeria’s constitution by the National Assembly, adding that it was time the Federal Government restructured the Nigerian federation to reflect the ideals of true federalism.

The President of NALT and Dean, Faculty of Law, Kogi State University, Anyingba, Professor Allswell Osini Muzan, said the conference was necessary in order to adopt an agenda and to critically analyse and assess Nigerian constitutional experience.

According to Muzan, time has come for law teachers to put heads together to aid the process of “fashioning out a robust intellectual discourse, in the manner of Publius, the future of our constitutional existence as a nation, for ourselves and posterity.

“How do we get started? We must commence by taking a critical look at dispositive sections of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999.”

It was resolved that, “the present harmonized constitutional amendment should be assented to by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria so as to ensure a hitch-free 2011 election. The issues raised at the roundtable are quite genuine and relevant to the on-going amendment of the 1999 constitution and should be well articulated by NALT.”

Apart from restructuring of Nigerian Federalism, NALT also called on the authorities to revisit the power sharing in the Federation adding that Federal legislative powers have resulted into a perversion of the doctrine of covering the field.

The Law teachers group said there was the need to also introduce true Federalism in the Judicial Arm of government in Nigeria.

It said, “There is the need to make local government system more autonomous and reduce the overbearing powers of the Federal Government on States and local governments in Nigeria…There is the need to revisit the provision of the constitution on naturalization and registration to make it less burdensome and remove whatever discrimination against women. There is also the need to include the National Industrial Court as a superior court of Record in Section 6 of the 1999 constitution.”