The Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, has advocated Alternative Resolution as a panacea for various shades of tension and crisis bedeviling the country.
He also said the Senate would continue to support every organisation that preached peace and provided workable modalities to ensure that Nigerians live in peace with one another to fast-track the nation’s progress.
Ekweremadu spoke when he received the Governing Council of the Institute of Chartered Mediators and Conciliators, which paid a working visit to him at the National Assembly on the fringes of the weekend.
He said the nation was passing through a very difficult phase of rough relationships on many fronts and needed the services of trained professionals in Alternative Dispute Resolution, ADR.
“I am sure you are aware of the growing ethnic tensions all over the country- tension between the herdsmen and farmers, tension between different communities in different parts of the country, which we have to resolve, not through the right of might, but through some alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.
“We believe that these are not matters the courts can easily and effectively deal with. They require alternative means of dispute resolution”, he told the mediators.
The Senator called on the Institute of Mediators and Conciliators to deploy its resources, intellect, and skills to ensuring that some of the tensions were dealt with effectively, noting that the Senate was ready to work with the Institute and its likes in promoting ethnic, religious, economic, and political harmony and justice.
He added: “The upper legislative chamber also has a standing committee dealing with pubic petitions. So, for us in the Senate, we receive and deal with petitions from our constituencies in a non-judicial manner, but through a kind of mediation and conciliation to ensure that disputes are resolved and justice is done in a way that leaves parties involved satisfied. So, we are on the same page with you and I believe we can work together in this regard.”
While assuring them of the willingness of the Senate to pass legislations that strengthen ADR in the country, Ekweremadu, however, stressed the need for collaboration among various ADR practitioners and organisations in the country for a more effective and harmonized legislation.
“I observed that there are also other organisations, such the Nigerian Institute of Chartered Arbitrators, that appear to be doing exactly what you do. You need to find a way to liaise with one another so that there can be a harmonised legal architecture for alternative dispute resolution in the country rather than separate legislation for each separate organisations” he advised.
Earlier in his address, the leader of the delegation and President, Institute of Chartered Mediators and Conciliators, Mr. Emeka Obegolu, said the Institute was at the National Assembly to canvass support for the Bill for an Act for the Establishment of the Nigerian Institute of Chartered Mediators and Conciliators.
He said although the Bill was passed by the 7th National Assembly, it was, unfortunately, not assented to by former President Goodluck Jonathan. He, therefore, pressed for “a little push to help the bill become an Act” to boost its work.
He said the Institute boasts of over 6,000 members, consisting of Fellows, Associates, and Members, and was also working in the North East of Nigeria where it had trained 56 community stakeholders on mediation and communal dispute resolution.
Mr. Emeka added that the Institute, which was conducting its 116th regular training, was working with the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to explore electoral dispute mediation, while it had additionally set up the Ogun State court-connected Multi-door Court, working with the government of the State and its judiciary.