Dahiru Maishanu, IBMS,BBA, MBA,(The Hague University of Professional Education)
The Attorney General, Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami is undoubtedly, the most traduced among his colleagues in the Cabinet of President Muhammadu Buhari. It has been an unrelenting volley of attacks from different foes and interests with divergent reasons but convergent motives and goals of bringing him down.
I’m not unaware of the expected backlash of reactions and character assassinations that will follow this piece but, as usual, the path has been crossed several times before and therefore not a an issue.
It began from the moment of his making the list of ministerial nominees way back in 2015 and it looked like he could be assigned the prestigious and critical portfolio of Attorney General, Minister of Justice. Multiple acts and strategies to scuttle his becoming the nation’s Chief Law Officer were hatched and played out especially by those cliques in the legal profession with the view that the office must always be occupied by one of their own. At the end of the day, the apprehension and fears of these groups were confirmed when President Muhammadu Buhari named Abubakar Malami, then, a mere fourty-eight-year-old, as his Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation.
By his appointment, Malami was making history as the youngest to occupy that office since the dawn of the 4th Republic and, the very first, ever, from the Northwest geopolitical zone. It was like breaking a jinx, an unsettling radical departure from a seeming established tradition. Call it a taboo in the perception of some people. As it was, the appointment was a cause for celebration among friends and well-wishers and conversely, in some quarters, it was saddening and humbling.
The path to the coveted office was not less strewed with impediments erected by forces from within. That is, talking of party chieftains in the same APC as himself, and those from his home state of Kebbi. In the calculations of some of certain gladiators in the APC household who had regarded themselves as the godfathers in the game, the seeming meteoric rising trajectory of a political “neophyte” was a disconcerting threat to the status quo.
The bad blood generated by Malami’s appointment was expectedly, very pronounced in Kebbi state where a coterie of a group had held sway, virtually unchallenged, on the political turf in the preceding years. It was a jolting anathema that an appointee to the exalted position in the Federal Cabinet, Minister of Justice for that matter, was made without their anointing. A sampler into the powers and clout of the self-appointed Kebbi Political kingmakers could be seen when a few years back, they arm-twisted President Goodluck Jonathan to drop a ministerial nominee he had made from the state!
The other strand of those that have been at dagger drawn against Abubakar Malami are those not happy with him on account of his longstanding and unalloyed loyalty to President Muhammadu Buhari. Of all those that are today chorusing and brandishing credentials of their loyalty to PMB, very few of the lot can compare themselves with the Minister of Justice in terms of steadfastness and sincerity of purpose.
Starting from the days of the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, when it was somewhat of a political misadventure even, suicidal, to stick out one’s neck for Muhammadu Buhari, Malami was there all the way as one of the Young Turks holding high the banner of the battle in the front line, unfazed. At the point of the merger with the other political parties, he was one of the CPC arrowheads in the intricate discussions that birthed the All-Progressives Congress, APC. A brilliant and an astute legal practitioner who, at a relatively young age, earned the prestigious title of Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, he represented the CPC in the panel that drafted the APC constitution. Talk of a befitting reward for outstanding loyalty, and Abubakar Malami will be adjudged, as having eminently qualified for all the laurels so far bestowed on him by an appreciative, discerning President Buhari. That is of course, where the plagues of malice, vendetta and covetousness are not allowed to distort perceptions.
Those uncomfortable with the good fortunes of Abubakar Malami continued with their machinations even when he had assumed office as the Minister of Justice. Hatchet men and Man Fridays were hired as petitioners and hack writers for character assassination and mudslinging. Fantastic, whimsical and out rightly puerile, infantile allegations of financial misdemeanors were made and orchestrated in the mass media. Such unfounded and baseless fairytales were never substantiated or, buttressed with empirical facts and so, they fell flat on the face.
Similarly, the purveyors of the campaign of calumny failed in their other objectives of tainting the mutual confidence and trust between him and the President. Even more frustrating and disappointing is the failure to affect the capacity of the Attorney-General in the performance of his duty of guiding the President on the path of the rule of law. To those who will want to portray PMB as suffering the hang-over of his military background, Abubakar Malami has been an object of hate and contempt because, he has all the way deftly and successfully ensured that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari will be going down in the nation’s recent history, as the one that has most adhered to the rule of law, legality and constitutionality. This phase of the battle has since thawed apparently, because, Malami has proved formidable and unassailable.
The lingering facet of the brickbats against Malami, are the ones from the stumps of the political warlords back in Kebbi State. There, they have been hatching plans on strategies of clipping his wings thereby preventing his kite from soaring in the calculations for the political game plans of 2023. This is based on the rumoured ambition of the Minister of Justice to become the next occupant of the Kebbi Government House after Atiku Bagudu. In their usual old game of sharing political offices as spoils of war, they have shared among themselves, the slots of the Governor, Speaker, and those for elections into the various legislative houses. In the context of their plans, one of their leaders is being projected to become the next President of the Senate in the event of the triumph of a particular Presidential aspirant on the platform of the APC from the South-West of the country.
Given as it is, the political currents in Kebbi State are not blowing in their favour. As Chinua Achebe would put it, the falcon can no longer the falconer because, ‘things fall apart, the center cannot hold’. In Kebbi State, it is apparent that the time of the old warhorses seems to be over! And for Abubakar Malami, as a Hausa adage puts it, ‘Zakaran da Allah ya nufa zai yi chara, ko ana mazur ko ana shaho, sai ya yi, Meaning, a child of destiny will get to his destination in spite of the conspiracies, machinations and obstacles put on the way by detractors. Or, as my Christian friends will put it, this one too, ‘will come to pass’.