Professionalism In Public Office: Weighty and Solemn Considerations of Muiz Banire, SAN, 


    By Olasupo Shasore

    Fiery political rhetoric and principled yet outspoken positions of public policy on Lagos affairs and Nigeria’s democracy will always interest both the lawyer and the historian in me. But when I first read his treatment of Documentation and Perfection of Security in Nigeria (published by University of Lagos Faculty of Law as far back as 1997) the difficulty I could have had in reconciling the two well-known aspects of Muiz Banire easily disappeared.

    Therefore, it was with extreme delight that I learnt of the President’s nomination of Dr Muiz Adeyemi Banire SAN as the Chairman, Board of Directors of Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).

    Owing to the importance of certain positions in government, statute sometimes requires the confirmation of the appointment by the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The chairman of AMCON is one such position.

    S10 of the AMCON Act states: ‘The board shall consist of the following members to be appointed by the President subject to the confirmation of the senate-

    (a)     A part time Chairman …..’

    In the United States where Nigeria has borrowed this practice of giving the senate such powers, nominations are checked primarily for the knowledge and qualifications of the nominee. Similarly, by convention, the Senate’s “proper role” is given a narrow construction; i.e. the Senate is obliged to confirm the appointment unless the nominee is manifestly lacking in character and competence. The power to without confirmation is both weighty and solemn. Weighty because to withhold it countermands a presidential ‘appointment’ already communicated to the public and solemn because to confirm a Presidential appointee is to confirm confidence in mandate of the people whose will is expressed in the senators and the presidency alike.

    An irresistible cliché comes to mind with respect to Banire and AMCON Chair – ‘a round peg in a round hole’ With a Ph.D. in Property Law from the University of Lagos where his often-cited thesis titled ‘Evolving an Alternative Legal Framework for Land Management in Nigeria’ was very well received, and an LL.M (Master of Laws) Degree from the same institution, where he and a select few were close followers of Professor Jelilli Omotola, SAN in the complex study of Secured Credit Transactions. One of the present leaders of thought in this area is the erudite Professor I.O Smith SAN who also doubles as the Chairman of Eko Foundation amongst other roles.

    For general interest a secured transaction is a loan or a credit transaction in which the lender acquires a security interest in collateral owned by the borrower and is entitled to foreclose on or repossess the collateral in the event of the borrower’s default. A most apposite knowledge base for any AMCON leader and perhaps for the first time in history we now have a chairman of AMCON with specialised knowledge.

    The historian in me rears it’s head again we must not forget that  in 2009 Nigeria was under the knock on effect of a world financial crisis of non performing loan assets, prompting the federal government of Nigeria to inject liquidity to buy the assets of some banks who could not respond to the market. This is how AMCON was birthed with the stellar cooperation of the third Assembly.

    Nigeria desperately needs a well functioning credit- to -business system; banking confidence with assured collateral structures to buoy the economy at all times a board complementing an excellent management is a sine qua non to this objective.

    Having interacted with Banire the professional in politics and professional in public office when we served in the same cabinet from 2007 to 2011 I have a good measure of his asset worth to the public sector. He was Lagos State Commissioner for Environment at the time. Prior to that he had served as Commissioner for Transport from August 2000 to May 2007 and Commissioner for Special Duties for one year from August 1999.

    Dr. Banire was invited to the inner bar and conferred with the rank and distinction Senior Advocate of Nigeria in 2015, where he holds much respect, serving on several committees of the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria and the National Judicial Council.

    I find him eminently suited for the role of continuing as chair to guide the board of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria in its stated purpose of efficiently resolving the non-performing credit assets of banks in Nigeria. A huge task and highly important mission at this time.

    We ultimately must encourage and conduct ourselves with more professionalism in our polity. Professionalism calls not just for more professionals in politics -even though this is very much desired- but also the use of public power for passionate good performance of public offices and the development the nation.

    Shasore is a lawyer, Senior Advocate of Nigeria and Chair/ Director of ANFANI Foundation a social enterprise committed to community development