Thanks you Barrister Chuma Mbonu, for that kind introduction.
I am glad to be here and it is my singular honour and privilege to represent His Excellency, Mr. Peter Obi (CON) at this dinner — an innovative idea that represents a tradition of excellence, nobility, elegance and conviviality. His Excellency had intended to be physically present, but is unavoidably absent due to the exigencies of his state functions.
If I took a photograph of this august event and emailed it different parts of this country, very few would believe that this is happening in Awka. Civilized occasions like this are not supposed to happen here in Anambra. As such, I feel privileged to be present in such a very cultured gathering.
I gather that this is the second Annual Anambra State Judiciary Dinner – may you have many more. I thank the Chief Judge Peter Nnanna Chukwudi Umeadi for his vision. I also thank our keynote speaker, Hon. Justice John Ajet Nasam of Ghana for his well rendered and illuminating lecture.
On behalf of His Excellency, Gov. Peter Obi, I congratulate the Anambra Judiciary for work you do and for the seamless corporation between the three arms of our government. We take nothing for granted.
For its part, the Executive Branch is doing its utmost to deliver the dividends of good governance through the Anambra State Integrated development Strategy (ANIDS) Programme.
With exactly one year to go, the Peter Obi administration continues to push ahead with public policies and projects that promote good governance and an enabling environment. We are not relenting in our service delivery to Anambra people. The evidence is there for all to see.
We (Anambra State) remain at this juncture:
(1) The State with the highest Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the nation outside the oil sector;
(2) We can, in keeping with acceptable international standards sustain our monthly recurrent expenses for 3 months without recourse to federal allocations from Abuja; and
(3) As per long-term and sustainable planning, we have a cumulative investment totaling some $100 billion.
These achievements which are directly related purposeful leadership and the transparent and prudent management of our resources are noteworthy, considering that we are not the most richly endowed state in Nigeria. Indeed, under Gov. Obi we in Anambra State manage our lean resources shrewdly. As a government we are committed to pursuing the proper means and ends of good governance.
We therefore value highly what the Anambra State Judiciary is doing. We appreciate your positive and proactive role and collective effort at the expeditious disposal of cases before you despite the overload of your various dockets.
We in the Executive Branch support fully the desire to appoint more Judges so as to ease your burden. Recently, we work very hard at getting 12 new judges appointed, but in the end, got only five brilliant persons. We congratulate them.
While we acknowledge the challenges the Judiciary face, we know there is more to be done, to enhance the bond of performance between the three arms of government. Indeed, there is more to be done – especially in areas where delayed cases might impinge on our revenue mobilization and specifically, internally generated revenue (IGR) efforts. We do not ask for preferential rulings in favour of the government, but for expeditious rulings in all such cases. There is no gainsaying that we need the resources to carry out our statutory functions.
In the same vein, the courts remain the last resort for the aggrieved. And while I am not privileged to be a lawyer, to my mind, I subscribe fully to the notion that justice delayed, is justice denied. So, we will continue to exhort you to do your utmost in matters within your remit.
For our part, we will continue to support the judiciary within our limited resources. We remain committed to ensuring that the Anambra Judiciary ranks high and compare favourably with those of the 35 other states. We remain of the view that given the unique role of judges, you must be shielded from the temptations of our warped societal values and vagaries of our politics. I wish therefore to announce here that we have completed the building of the Judges Quarters in Onitsha and stand ready to hand them over.
In closing, let me underline the unfettered commitment of H. E. Gov. Peter Obi to assisting the judiciary fulfill its constitutional mandate. Similarly, I feel compelled to touch once amore on the bond of performance that must exist between the three arms of the government to arrive at the much needed synergy that yields good governance and dividends of democracy.
Permit me to end these brief remarks on a personal observation and note. We are all too familiar with our national political terrain. So, I must advocate, without prejudice to merit, that we need to fast track the appointment of younger, brighter and competent Anambra lawyers to the bench with a view to getting them to the Superior Courts earlier. This task must not be taken lightly.
In closing, I wish you all well, and God willing, I hope I will be invited back to the next dinner on 21 March 2014. Thank you all and God bless you. [End]