Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State has described the conduct of the presidential primaries of the All Progressives Congress as a model for democracy in Africa.
Fashola spoke on Friday night at a State Dinner held in honour of the immediate past Chief Judge of Lagos State, retired Justice Ayotunde Phillips, and the incumbent Chief Judge, Justice Olufunmilayo Atilade.
He said that the primaries, which was won by retired Major General Muhhammadu Buhari, was free, fair and credible.
He said: “As we celebrate these women, we are also sending out a statement to the whole of our nation that in this state and in this city, our integrity is more valuable to us than all of our personal lives.
“We are building a country that our children will be proud to inherit from us and that one day they can look back and say thank you for helping us build this country.
“From this city, we have sent a strong message about the politics that we will also play.
“If I am not mistaken, our gubernatorial primaries had the largest number of aspirants but we conducted it without rancour.
“None of the candidates who contested has come out to say that the primaries were rigged or that there were more voters than those who were accredited.
“A candidate has emerged and we are moving on.
“From Lagos, against all the odds, we played host in the last 48 hours to a party’s national convention and primaries that were a model for democracy for the whole of Africa.
“They are very strong statements that we are sending out that we can live by example.
“They are statements that make us stand tall.”
Fashola commended the honourees, who are children of the late Justice James Williams, for their contributions to the advancement of the justice sector.
He announced that the National Judicial Council had approved the appointment of three more judges for the state barely a month after four others were inaugurated.
Ade Ipaye, the Lagos State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, said the succession of Phillips by Atilade was historic.
Ipaye said: “It is a first that sisters will succeed each other as chief judge in the history of the judiciary in Nigeria.”
Other speakers, including Justice Bode Rhodes-Vivour of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, and Alex Mouka, the Chairman of the Lagos State branch of the Nigerian Bar Association, also lauded the sisters.
In her response, Phillips said her achievements during her two-year tenure as chief judge was the result of the cooperation given to her by all stakeholders in the justice sector.
She said: “I pray for my sister who has taken over from me, that she will do 10 times better than I did because that is how the Lagos State Judiciary will continue to improve.”
On her part, Atilade said her administration would be focused on improving the justice delivery system.
She therefore sued for more cooperation between the judiciary and the other arms of government to achieve the objective.