New Telegraph

When some lawyers beat drums of disunity (2)



Last week, we treated this vexed issues. We shall conclude it today. Without mincing words, Mallam El-Rufai’s dis-invitation had nothing to do with his religion or ethnicity, but an angry Bar’s reaction to sustained outcry and outrage by lawyers and well-meaning Nigerians against his flagrant abuse of democratic ideals in the administration of Kaduna State.


It was in response to widespread protests towards the injustice in Kaduna State. These lawyers never raised a finger of protest against these genocidal acts; but are suddenly dripping oceans of lamentation one a mere dis-invitation.


Another lame argument put forward by the ‘El-Rufai army’ is that dis-invitating him offends the principle of fair hearing. This is simply tantamount to being clever by half. El-Rufai was not standing trial before any constitutionally recognized court of record in section 6(5) of the 1999 Constitution, such as to activate section 36 thereof.


The principle of fair hearing though cardinal, only arises in judicial or quasi-judicial hearing. The NBA Conference is not a court of record or a platform for the resolution of legal issues. The NEC was neither debating El-Rufai’s culpability or otherwise; but simply believed that if not quenched early enough, the ruckus over his invitation would distract from the NBA AGM.


The entire ventilation against El-Rufai’s innocuous dis-invitation is tantamount to flogging a dead horse. It amounts to nothing but the Shakespearean lamentation about life, when Macbeth said, “life’s but a walking shadow; a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and funny and signifying nothing” [William Shakespeare; MACBETH, 1623; Act 5, Scene 5, lines 16-27].



Now, let us look at the following horrific graph of the composition of the present government (a mere tip of the iceberg). The common denominator is that they are ALL Northerners and MOSTLY Muslims (with the exception of very negligible Northern Christians).

Yet, Nigeria has not broken up.



The Senate President, Senator Ahmed Ibrahim Lawan, who ranks 3rd in the Order of Precedence after the President and Vice President, and the House of Representatives Deputy Speaker, Hon. Ahmed Idris Wase, are both Northerners and Moslems.




The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice (Dr) Tanko Muhammad, is a Northerner and a Moslem. By order of precedence, he ranks number 5 in Nigeria. The President of the Court of Appeal, Hon. Justice Monica Dongban Mensem, is a Christian Northerner, as is the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Hon. Justice John Tsoho.


The Chief Judge of the FCT High Court, Hon. Justice Ishaq Usman Bello, is a Moslem Northerner, while the President of the National Industrial Court, Hon. Justice Benedict Kanyip, is a Christian Northerner.




The Executive arm of government is headed by President Muhammadu Buhari, a Moslem Northerner who ranks 1st in the Order of Protocol. The A-list Ministers appointed by President Muhammadu woefully failed the Federal Character test, as they control most vital Ministries in our beleaguered country.


Check out the following Ministers (excluding many Ministers-of-State) on the “A” list of Ministries: Minister of Petroleum Resources (President Buhari himself); Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Bashir Salihi Magashi; Minister of Defence; Minister of Police Affairs, Maigari Dingyadi; Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed; Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mohammed Musa Bello; Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono; Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu; Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika; Minister of power, Sale Mamman; Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed; Minister of Communication, Ali Isa Pantami; Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Faruk; Minister of Special Duties,; Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu; Minister of Environment, Muhammad Mahmood; Minister of Police Affairs, Maigari Dingyadi; etc, etc, etc.



Now, let us see the security architecture and key national institutions that drive the country.

They are ALL Northerners and MOSTLLY Moslems (with the exception of very neglible few Northern Christians): Chief of Army Staff; Chief of Air Force; Accountant-General of the Federation; Inspector-General of Police; Directors-General (DG) of the DSS; DG, NIA; DG, DIA; the Acting Chairman of the EFCC (replacing another Northern Muslim, Mr Ibrahim Magu). Indeed, no Southerner, let alone a Christian, has ever headed the EFCC since its establishment by the EFCC (Establishment) Act of 2004.


Let us see more: the National Security Adviser (NSA); Commandant-General, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC); Comptroller-General, Nigerian Customs Service (NCS); Comptroller General, Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS); Comptroller-General, Nigeria Correctional Service (formerly Nigerian Prisons Service); Controller-General, Fire Services of Nigeria; Director-General, NYSC, Shuai buIbrahim; Group Managing Director (GMD); NNPC, Mele Kyari; DG, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Muhammadu Alhaji Muhammed (rtd); Chief of Staff to the President; Personal Physician to the President; Executive Secretary, Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), Abdulkadir Saidu Umar; Managing Director, Federal Mortgage Bank (FMB), Arc. Ahmed Musa Dangiwa; Director General, National Directorate of Employment (NDE), Dr. Nasiru Ladan Mohammed Argungu; Acting Director-General, National Pension Commission (PENCOM), Hajia Aisha Dahir-Umar; Secretary, Federal Character Commission, Mohammed Bello Tukur Esq; Director-General, Federal Capital Development Authority, Engr. Umar Gambo Jibrin;  Director-General, Nigeria Automotive Design and Development Council, Jalani Aliyu; Director- General, National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism, Nura Sani Kangiwa; Director- General, National Commission for Museums and Monuments, Prof. Aba Isa Tijjani; Chairman, Board of Trustees (BoT), Nigeria Police Trust Fund (NPTF), Suleiman Abba, rtd and Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris.



The last time I checked, we are supposed to be operating a Presidential system of government within a federal (not unitary) set-up.

Section 14(1) of the Constitution provides that the “Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be a state based on the principles of democracy and social justice”.


Section 14(3) of the same Constitution is emphatic that “the composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few State or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies.”


See also sections 15(1) and 15(2).




The nepotic and cronystic line of appointment is endless. It is visible in EVERY federal government MDA, where the lingua franca is virtually Hausa.

Is that how to build a united, indivisible and indissoluble country? These appointments make us look like “Northern Republic of Nigeria”; or “Federal Republic of the North”; or “Republic of Northern Nigeria”; or “Nigerian Republic of the North” or “Federal Republic of Northern Nigeria”.


Yet, Nigerians of the over 370 other ethnic groups in Nigeria (according to Prof Onigu Otite in his 1990 book titled, “Ethnic Pluralism and Ethnicity in Nigeria”) have not requested for balkanization, or secession.

They lap it all up. By the way, the same El-Rufai, not minding the religious sensibilities of Christians in Kaduna State, ran on a Moslem-Moslem ticket, in the 2019 Kaduna governorship election with Dr Hadiza Sabuwa Balarabe, from Sanga LGA of Kaduna State.


The Christians did not threaten to break away, or to form “Christian Kaduna State” in the mould of the “aggrieved” lawyers who wanted to form a “New NBA”, along “Northern-Moslem” line.



In saner climes, threats such as the lawyers would have been dismissed with a wave of the hand for being obviously ludicrous and uncalled for. But, this is Nigeria, where anything goes; a country where people place ethnic and religious considerations above reason, logic and facts. Nasir’s dis-invitation had no ethnic or religious undertones whatsoever.


I  also attended the said NEC meeting. The motion for El-Rufai’s dis-invitation was raised by Northerners and mostly propelled by them. Infact, it was Southerners, including respected Pastor Prof Koyinsola Ajayi, SAN (Chairman, the AGC Technical Committee (TCCP) which had invited Nasir, and NBA President, Paul Usoro, that fiercely argued for Nasir’s retention. But, they were greatly outnumbered, and were forced to bow to the wishes of the majority.


This prevalence of majority opinion was democracy in action. No iota of religious or ethnic tone to it. In any event, over 50 other high profile guest Speakers invited to the NBA conference, including President Buhari, were all Northerners and Muslims. El-Rufai was never invited to the said conference as a Muslim or Northerner, but as Governor of Kaduna State. And it was as regards his poor style of governance in that capacity that he was disinvited by the NBA NEC, which had invited him.


The NEC merely did this based on his overwhelming rejection by an angry Bar. The path of whipping up ethnic and religious sentiments in response to Mallam El-Rufai’s dis-invitation is therefore highly divisive, disingenuous and diversionary. Those lawyers that threatened to “form” a “New Nigerian Bar Association” even did cutting and pasting.


There is such a law known as “passing off”. The African Bar Association (ABA) exists, just as the Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU). Some have argued that the “Association of National Accountants of Nigeria” (ANAN), was founded in 1979, in-spite of the existence of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), founded since 1965.


But, ANAN’s split with ICAN was simply professional and ideological; not religious or ethnic. That is why both ICAN and ANAN are populated by all Nigerian Accountants, without reference to their religion or ethnicity. To balkanize the NBA along ethnic and religious lines.


It will further magnify the nation’s existing and troubling fault lines. Other geo-political zones, ethnic Nationalities and professional bodies may come forward and begin to demand for South South Nigeria Medical Association; South West Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (SW-COREN); South East Architects Registration Council of Nigeria (SE-ARCON); Middle Belt Nigerian Medical Association (MB-NMA); Southern Nigeria Navy; Northern Nigeria Air Force; Northern Nigeria Police; Southern Nigerian Civil Service; Northern Nigeria Judiciary; Southern Nigeria Inlands Water Ways; Northern Nigeria Civil Service; Southern Nigeria Railways Authority; South South Nigeria Ports Authority; North East Nigerian National Assembly; North West Nigeria Power Authority; North Central NYSC; South West Nigeria University Commission; South South Nigeria Ports Authority; Middle Belt Central Bank; Northern Nigeria Labour Union; Southern Nigeria Currency; Northern Nigeria Foreign Affairs; etc, etc, etc.



The reason why the world lacks unity, and lies broken and in heaps, is, because man is disunited with himself.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson).




Fellow Nigerians, come along with me every week, to put our heads together on how to make Nigeria a better place. This, always on “The Nigerian Project”, by Chief Mike A. A. Ozekhome, SAN, OFR, FCIArb., Ph. D, LL.D

• Follow me on twitter @ MikeozekhomeSAN

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