By Nehru Odeh
Chimamanda Adichie, award-winning writer and author of bestselling novels such as Half of a Yellow Sun and Americanah has said peace can thrive in Nigeria if there is justice, fairness and rule of law and Nigerians engage in self-criticism, while holding their leaders accountable. She also said Nigeria is in disarray and in dire need of resurrection.
She made this statement against the backdrop of the security and economic challenges the country is currently facing while giving the keynote address at the ongoing Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association at Eko Hotel and Suites in Lagos. The theme of the conference scheduled to hold from 19 to 26 August 2022 is Bold Transitions.
“As long as we refuse to untangle the knot of injustice, peace cannot thrive. If we don’t talk about it, we fail to hold leaders accountable and we turn what should be transparent systems into ugly opaque cults.
“My experience made me think there’s something dead in us, in our society; a death of self-awareness and ability for self-criticism.
“There’s need for resurrection. We cannot avoid self-criticism but criticise the government. We cannot hide our own institutional failure while demanding transparency from the government,” she noted.
The public intellectual and feminist also said things are getting harder by the day and Nigerians do not have enough leaders to look up to.
“Nigeria is disarray. Things are hard and getting harder by the day. We can’t be safe when there is no role of law. Nigerians are starve of heroes to look up to. Late Dora Akunyili and Gani Gawehimmi were heroes that Nigerians looked up to before now. Unfortunately that era has gone. I believe that NBA is in a position to give the nation, heroes that we can look up to the lead the nation.”
Adichie, while acknowledging the fact that she has been called troublesome because she speaks truth to power. also said it was important for everyone to speak out against injustice and tyranny even if they were called troublemakers, adding that a bold transition must embrace audacity and innovation.
“They have called me troublesome. Although, it is never enjoyable to be called troublesome. I never set out to provoke for its sake. But I refuse to silence myself for the fear of what I might inadvertently provoke. It has always been important to me to say what I believe, to call out injustice.
Adichie also said tyranny has many faces and comes in various forms. “Federal and state security dragging journalists to prison is tyranny. A journalist ill-treating his domestic staff is tyranny. The rape of young boys and girls is also tyranny. It is tyranny when state governments do not pay pensioners until they slump and die as broken people. The physical harassment of lawyers and some judges is tyranny. The use of the law by some people to oppress the poor people is tyranny.”
In her closing remarks, she advocated for a judicial system that is free of corruption and called on the NBA to leverage on technology in judicial process and the administration of justice in the country.
“Nigerians are disillusioned because they know of the decline of professionalism in some sections of the legal profession. As the NBA continues to fight the abuse of power, it must also look inward not to be corrupted,” she maintained.
Notable personalities at the Annual General Conference included former Vice President and presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar; former Anambra State Governor and Presidential candidate, of Labour Party, Peter Obi; Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki; Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong; Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Alogba Kazeem and past presidents of the NBA.