By Charles Ibekwe
The name Abubakar Malami indeed rings a bell and resonates with different meanings to different people. But one thing is certain; he is a man with guts and one that is not afraid to put issues in proper perspective.
I have long reminisced about how Abubakar Malami has been able to carry out his duties as the minister of Justice and attorney general of the federation in a country as ballistic as ours. As the Attorney General of the Federation, ordinarily, the spotlight is on you regarding the interpretation of the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The office is not for the lily-livered; it is also not for a less intellect because of the intricacies abounding the spirit and the latter of the Constitution. The Nigerian situation is a peculiar one that requires the best of the best to navigate the complexities and intricacies inherent in our legal system.
I took out time to assess the various interventions of the Justice Ministry under Abubakar Malami. All I could say is that we have an attorney general that is brave and not afraid to speak truth to power . However, it must be stated that his stance regarding the interpretation of the Constitution and the rule of law has been nothing but audacious.
His grasp of issues is legendary, and this has in most times, been construed in the negative. In all of the attendant uproar, there has never been a time when his sense of judgment was faulted or punctured by a superior argument. The reason is not far-fetched because Abubakar Malami indeed connotes courage and one whose interest has essentially remained the country’s interest.
Like him or hate him, compromising on national concerns are not one of his attributes. You might not like his approach, but you can’t also rule out the substance of his approach in the sense that a great deal of emphasis is placed on the provisions as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Little wonder why he has been honoured for his unbiased patriotic service to his fatherland? Abubakar Malami (SAN) has distinguished himself as a plain-speaking man. His tacitly or explicitly expressed body language has always been in tandem with his belief that Nigeria’s unity is unshakeable.
Unequivocally, Malami’s allegiance is to the generality of the Nigerian people as the Chief legal adviser to the government and minister for Justice – he has lived up to President Muhammadu Buhari’s legacy on contemporary issues of succession and national unity in Nigeria.
In retrospect, Malami has carried on gleefully to the admiration of his detractors in building national cohesion for growth and prosperity. Malami’s knowledge of the legal system and political party constitution has also helped the Buhari-led government and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) record numerous achievements that could have stalled government activities and thrown governance into chaos.
The Attorney-General has proved his mettle, and he has continued to secure many wins for the Buhari-led administration. Also worthy of note is Malami’s commitment towards ending the multidimensional crisis facing the Lake Chad Basin states through collaborative efforts with relevant agencies. Malami keeping true to his words of ensuring that probity and accountability as the hallmark of this administration has disclosed during the presentation of the final forensic audit report of the Niger Delta Commission (NDDC) that the Federal Government approved N6 trillion for the NDDC in 18 years while the bulk of these funds meant for the development of the region was diverted into private pockets. The AGF has assured the people of Niger Delta that their welfare and socioeconomic inclusion was a priority for the government.
As the Chief Law Officer of the federation, the AGF is responsible for advising the government on legal matters and representing the government on such issues. And this much he has carried on since his appointment. Therefore, there is no doubt whatsoever regarding the commitment of the AGF towards the total adherence to the spirit and the letters of the Constitution. Please permit me to add that in ensuring the above stated, he is bound to make friends and enemies.
The irony is that he made more enemies than friends because he has remained firm in his resolve to stand on the side of the truth. In my considered opinion, that is an attribute of a patriot. Indeed Abubakar Malami has displayed that patriotism is the feeling of love, devotion, and sense of attachment to the country and alliance with other citizens who share the same sentiment to create a feeling of oneness.
Let me share an example in history; in 1934, President Franklyn Roosevelt was a thorn in the flesh for industrial big wigs in the USA. There was a plot to stage a coup and create a fascist government. Men approached a twice decorated Major General Smedley Butler to help with the coup stating that he would be their leader. This patriotic general spilt the beans came out in the open, and gave evidence. He could have cooperated with them and could have easily replaced the president. Complete loyalty to his country makes a person a true patriotic one.
This is indeed the Abubakar Malami example. He has been a thorn in the flesh of those that want to interpret the Constitution in their language, those who wish to utilize the legal system in Nigeria to their advantage. But they could not succeed because we have in an AGF a patriot who would not condescend to the scheming of shenanigans to exploit the country.
We are also talking about the quintessential AGF, whose coordination of the Justice ministry in Nigeria has been roundly applauded. Little wonder why no fewer than seventy-nine organizations and corporate bodies have conferred an honour award for patriotic service, humanitarian intervention, and nation-building to the AGF in 2021?
Suppose this is not a testament to the AGF selflessness and relentless commitment to the public interest, the rule of law and dispassionate approach to dispensation and administration of Justice in the country. In that case, I don’t know what else to call it.
The AGF has ensured collaborations with agencies and organs of government towards issues that require attention. For example, with the increasing need to ensure prompt and effective management of the government’s legislative agenda, the AGF worked with the leadership of the National Assembly to set up a joint coordinating committee for the review of bills. The committee aimed to avoid delays in responses to bills proactively and to ensure prompt assent to bills that improve the economy and address security and infrastructure challenges.
The list is endless and a manifestation of the true spirit of patriotism. The AGF may not know that he has succeeded in writing his name in the sands of time. This is despite concerted efforts at blackmail by a few disgruntled who have been frustrated so far by the reforms introduced in the legal system in the country that protects the constitutional rights of citizens, maintaining the independence of the judiciary, reinforcing confidence in Legal Institutions to effect greater social Justice for all.
Ibekwe is a public affairs commentator writing from Enugu.