The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo has identified respect for and rewarding merit and consequence for negative actions among critical values a country needs to grow.
The Vice President stated this on Thursday, June, 25 in Calabar, Cross River State, at the 10th Year Memorial Anniversary lecture of late Justice Peter Odo Effiong Bassey, held at the International Conference Centre, University of Calabar.. The event with the theme “Social virtues in the Nigerian Renaissance” was organized by the P. O. E Bassey Foundation.
The Vice President expressed worry over the apparent misunderstanding of the Federal Character principle contained in the Nigerian constitution over merit, which he stressed should not be the first rule, emphasizing that it was an exception to the rule.
“why we’ve 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,” Vice President Osinbajo explained.
“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,” He said.
He also identified the principle of consequence as opposed to impunity as another essential factor for national development, adding that there must be consequence for negative actions and behaviours asserting that people should be punished when they are wrong and not celebrated.
“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,” Prof. Osinbajo noted, lamenting that that such an attitude is now becoming cultural. He charged Nigerians to respect the rule of law saying that the “moral call we must make is that we must accept that at any time that judgement can come very close to home or home.” The Vice President also identified hard work, integrity and social justice as other essential principles a country needs to prosper.
According to him successful nations of the world were built on these sets of values, saying “a nation can only advance if it’s values are clear and settled, adding that 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, ” Prof. Osinbajo said.
Vice President Osinbajo who stated that 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.
Speaking 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. Speaking on behalf of family members, the daughter of the late Justice, Prof. Ekanem Wokoma said the foundation promotes the law profession and education in general by awarding scholarships and building of libraries among other programmes and projects.
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 Nigeria and 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, the last book authored by the late Justice, titled The Nigeria Judiciary, the departing glory, of which its forward, was written by the Vice President, when he was the Attorney-General of Lagos State. The other was the beautiful performance of the Moninkim Dance by the Cross River State Cultural and Heritage Troupe.
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.