The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Calabar Branch has urged Nigerians to hold their elected leaders accountable as the nation prepares for the 2023 general elections.
Mr Attah Ochinke, the NBA Chairman and former Attorney-General of Cross River, made the call during a plenary, as part of activities marking the Bar week in Calabar on Thursday.
The theme of the Bar week is: “We, the People: Agenda for National Consensus”.
Ochinke noted that asking leaders to account for their actions was not meddling with constituted authority because the people have the right to know how they are being governed.
“Before now, each time we have elections and the citizens make comments about how the government is being run, it is as if they are criticising constituted authority.
“What Nigerians don’t realise is that it is actually their right as citizens to rise and query government actions. Nigerians need to be more responsive.
“If there is corruption and we point at government officials involved and say you’re wrong, we are doing the right thing.
“So, we the people must participate in democratic governance by standing up to make our point when the occasion demands,” he said.
The NBA chairman said that democracy was not self-enforcing, adding that if people don’t enforce it and stand up to guide it, it would derail.
“We hope to raise the consciousness of the people to understand that the vote they are going to cast in 2023 means they are going to hire people that will conduct their affairs.
“Also, the people we elected into government should realise that they do not own the government because we elected them”, Ochinke said.
He added that with the theme, the association hoped to discuss the rights, positions and to what extent the people should be involved in governance.
Mrs Andem Ewa, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and Chairperson of the organising committee for the 2022 bar week, said that Nigeria’s reality inspired the theme of this year’s event.
She advised people to discuss challenges facing Nigeria and find solutions to bring development.
“We are at that point in our history where we have to interrogate issues that are repeated and have prevented us from moving forward,” she said.