By David Adeoye
Gov. Seyi Makinde of Oyo State on Monday said he had sent an Executive Bill to the state House of Assembly, proposing the establishment of Office of the Public Defender.
Makinde made the disclosure while declaring open the 2021 Annual Conference of Nigerian Bar Association – Section on Public Interest and Development Law NBA-SPIDEL in Ibadan.
The governor asserted that his administration had been acting in defence of public interest and making legal aid available to indigent residents of the state.
He said the gesture had further guaranteed the rights of citizens of Oyo state “and delivers on our core mandate on justice reforms.”
The governor described the NBA-SPIDEL conference and others like it as positive additions to the nation, saying that lawyers play crucial roles in shaping national discourse.
He observed that when lawyers got involved in national discussions and debates, “they often bring perspectives that laymen may not have contemplated.
“In the larger society, lawyers play a crucial role in shaping national discourse. For one thing, by virtue of their education, they are better able to understand our laws and constitution and interpret them.
“So, conferences like this one remain a positive addition to our nationhood.” Makinde posited.
The governor, while speaking on the theme of the conference; – ‘The Role of Public Interest in Governance in Nigeria,’ observed that everyone in the country wanted good governance.
“But the methods of achieving it seem to keep eluding us. When it comes to the relationship between public interest and governance, things get even trickier.
“For example, getting the balance right regarding availability of information in the public interest and classified information that should not be in the public domain.
“We are living in an age where people are demanding more from those in authority. Citizens are calling for greater transparency and accountability and they are demanding more inclusiveness.
“I hope that we will have moved several steps closer to finding that balance at the end of your deliberations here during the conference,” he said.
He appreciated the NBA-SPIDEL for bringing the conference to the state and urged the conferees to enjoy the beauty and hospitality of Ibadan.
Earlier, Chairman, NBA-SPIDEL, Prof. Paul Ananaba, who noted that governance in the country was not being done in public interest, urged the nation’s leaders to lead in public interest so as to curb myriads of challenges facing the country.
He also charged NBA members and other dignitaries at the event to speak in the interest of the public.(NAN)