“Life is weird. You can go from being strangers to being friends, to being more than friends to being practically strangers”.
The above is from an anonymous sage who seems to had captured Mallam Nasir El-Rufai plight ever before now in the hands of leadership of the Nigerian Bar Association who apparently are acting based on misguided opinions.
When the story broke yesterday that the NBA had withdrawn the invitation already forwarded to his Excellency, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, on the ground of petitions from fewer members who had threatened not to attend the forthcoming virtual AGC, I almost did not believe the message came from NBA.
The fact that celebrations from certain quarters had immediately followed the said withdrawal made me feel there is more to this issue than meets the eyes.
I actually belong to a particular platform where some had argued earlier before the withdrawal that El-Rufai be given the opportunity to give his own account of the happenings in Southern Kaduna and others opposed the submission.
However from the way the arguments had swung back and forth before the wisest counsel prevailed, it was obvious those who had been opposed to the invitation must have woken up from the wrong side of the bed. If not, how else will you explain why legal luminaries could decide to shut out a person alleged to have been responsible for a wrong without offering him the opportunity to defend himself.
Will it be too much to have asked for that from lawyers who ought to be the vanguard for the rule of law to which hearing from the other side is key?
What is news in this panorama is not about the uninformed withdrawal by the leadership of the NBA but the personality that was targeted for the dictatorial decision.
The best excuse for the leadership of NBA for this unpopular decision that has generated counter propositions from a class of unbiased members of the NBA could be that the decision was taken accidentally because of the need to play to the gallery.
Any excuse other than this cannot be said to be coming from a legal mind wearing the right binoculars for balancing social conflicting interests.
Before now, the article that emanated from the ex-while Chairman of Ikorodu NBA branch had rocked the waves of our social media wherein the renowned activist, Mr Bayo Akinlade had tried to make the trustees of the NBA see why approving about 80 (eighty) million naira for a virtual conference will be another calculated attempt to squander the resources of the association against the backdrop of the pandemic that has almost kicked out many a lawyer from the mainstream practice. Thus, readers as well as good wishing members of the NBA had been expecting a reversal of the stated humongous figure earmarked among other things for virtual entertainment. Many had seen this as an affront to lawyers who had to toil day and night to meet up with their financial commitments to NBA and the reversal could not be less expected.
Contrary to the expectation, the news broke yesterday that the NBA trustees had approved N80,000,000 for the virtual conference (perhaps because it will take aliens from outer space to fix the platform and cater for logistics for the preparations of the conference) and in the same breath withdrew the invitation of el-Rufai.
To these wisest gentlemen of the bar, squandering the hard earned money of the dues payers is a welcome development but what should be deemed abominable is the invitation of his Excellency, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai to the virtual conference. What a lopsided assessment!
If the leadership of NBA could weaponize sentiments beclouded with self serving petitions written in the ink of discord with an emblem of disunity, what do we expect of the general members of the public who are prone to tearing one another apart at the slightest chances releasing the wolves beneath their human skin in the name of politics and religion?
Has NBA fared better? “No” is the answer! In fact the reverse is the case as the body of literati have not only allowed itself to be used to serve the wishes of some aggrieved lawyers but also caught in the act with naked incivility, and promoting the rule of law by withdrawing El-Rufai invitation is more than counterproductive.
Charles Dickens was quoted to have reasoned as follows: “If there were no bad people, there would be no good lawyers. Riding on the horse of this comical but true quotation, one will wonder how stopping El-Rufai from giving his defence (speech) can change the negative narrative about his personality vis-a-vis his handling of the crisis rocking some of the regions under his governance of which Southern Kaduna is included.
In other words, if truly the Governor has in the opinion of the NBA been standing idle while his people are massacred and that makes him a bad person, shouldn’t the “good lawyers” be ready to make him see reasons he is a bad person by giving him audience in the first place? Are these lawyers not the custodians of our laws from whom so much is expected? Why are they now standing logic on its head? Or their own knowledge of the law is as reflected by the saying accredited to Martin Luther King Jr that “It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and that’s pretty important”? Can’t we benefit more from the erudition of the leadership of this association beyond this mere appeal to the gallery? If we must give life to the words of Marcus Tulius Cicero, then “the safety of the people shall be the highest law”!
What has happened to our understanding of the perspective of Roscoe Pound on the functions of law as “an instrument of social engineering”? Will we not be shying away from the truth by staying away from El-Rufai who is ordinarily expected to continue with the reality (as rejected by our own prism) of the happenings in Southern Kaduna so as to balance the various, conflicting interests within and without that community?
Obviously, our leaders must be ready to purge themselves of primodial sentiments if they ever wish to help solve the problem in Nigeria. You do not cut your nose to spite your face. That’s the wisdom of our elders. NBA should be ready to apologise to the Governor for its disrespectful disposition pivoted on misguided fulcrums.
If many of our leaders with these misgivings were to sit where the Governor is sitting today, perhaps the whole of our Nigeria, our beloved country, would have erupted in unmitigated fire fuelled by unguarded speeches promoted by sheer hatred and intolerance. If El-Rufai is not popular among us because of his bluntness, that’s understandable (but not excusable) because the feeling of rigidity makes people inflexible. After all, it is said that people sitting on hand chairs are more uncompromising in the negotiation as feeling a rough surface often causes in people and a sense of the complexity of human relationship.
If in fact, we are ready to accommodate one another we may not be where we are as a people.
The same El-Rufai coming under our hammer of damnation was the same person many of us had applauded for his doggedness and uprightness while acting in his capacity as the Minister of the FCT for bringing sanity to that region among other laudable achievements in the field of politics. What has now changes the narrative?
Indeed, nothing has changed about his personality, he remains unperturbed in the face of sentimental upheavals and understand his job so well that he does not surrender to nepotism in whatever guises. What then is his offence?
Is he not the same man who eventually brought military and police bases to Kaduna for the safety of everyone after the citizens had waited for about 40 years almost in vain? Hasn’t he demonstrated enough that all animals are equal in his own kingdom by enrolling his child in a public school while none of his counterpart governors is bold enough to toll the same path? Has he not shown during his tenure that terrorism cannot breathe while he is the Governor by prosecuting a misguided group causing anarchy all in the name of Islam?
Again, nothing has changed save that some aggrieved persons have only deemed it fit to rewrite his story in filthy proses. His open fight against banditry by refusing to negotiate and or oil the palms of certain cabals whose aim is to be unduly enriched in the state on account of the crisis, perhaps, has pitted him against some unwary individuals. On this note, to openly support the withdrawal of his invitation by NBA on the ground that he hated Southern Kaduna because the regions majorly populated by Christians and that he refused to pick a Christian deputy during his campaign is to reduce humanity to insanity. What happens in other states where both governors and deputies are Christians? Are those governors also demonized for this reason?
Also, if the withdrawal of his invitation is premised on the excuse that he does not respect the rule of law, by which yardsticks have we measured the qualifications of our past President, Olusegun Obasanjo and Governor Wike both of whom made the list of invited guests depspite the very fabrics of their political garments are embroidered in high handedness and impunity?
Yes, el- Rufai , may not be a saint, but he deserves as much respect as any person that may have been invited as guest speakers are accorded.
To this extent, the boycott of the AGC being invoked by MURIC and some other NBA branches in the North is justifiable; while adulation greeting the soar withdrawal must be nipped in the bud. It’s unreasonable to throw stones while you live in a glass house.
On the whole, if there is any person or authority trampling upon the rule of law at this moment, it is unmistakeably the leadership of the NBA.
Mr Muyiwa Adeleke, Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Communications was therefore right to have noticed as follows:
“It bears nothing that in its response to pressure, the NBA has signaled an unfortunate embrace of injustice, unfairness, absence of fair hearing and total disregard for the rule of law”.
There may be no better way of advising the leadership of NBA to tread with caution than by ending this write up with an apt quote from an anonymous author:
“Holding anger is a poison. It eats you from the inside. We think that hating is a weapon that attacks the person who harmed us. But hatred is a curved blade. And the harm we do, we do to ourselves.”
A. O. Makinde, Esq. writes from Lekki-Ajah and the opinion held in this write up is entirely his.