From the turbulent build-up to its equally contentious 30th election on Thursday, August 28, 2020, we knew something was amiss. There was a big gulf, yes, but not irreparable.
Sure, that signalled that the hitherto “unbreakable” Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) was in a huge mess. Worse still, it was heading for the rocks.
The principal characters were very much aware that all was not well. They pretended it was irremediable. And they kept their fragile fingers crossed, watching as the situation deteriorated. In the process, they all got their fingers and the whole hands badly burnt.
But we never ever envisaged it would wear the toga of restructuring. We were never prepared for that. Not even in our distant minds. Yet, God obliges us on a platter of gold. See how He works wonders!
There is nobody He cannot use to achieve His purpose. He knows what we need. And at the appropriate time, He gives to us.
This God is awesome. He is God of possibilities. Nothing is difficult for Him either. That has been established since creation. He can do and undo all at the same time. The Holy Book testified as much in Matthew 19, 26: “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
We did not think even remotely that the restructuring intensely hated by the North would come our way so effortlessly. And to make everything more beautiful, the restructuring the North dreads so much is starting from them. What a delightful irony!
We are eternally grateful to these ultra-radical lawyers from the North. They are bold and daring. Once they make up their minds, they remain unstoppable.
They demonstrated that aptly on that Thursday. Their arrowheads are Kaduna-based Nuhu Ibrahim and Abdulbasit Suleiman. That, perhaps, explains their action.
It did not start today or even yesterday. They must have been burning the midnight candle for a while now. And these came in several colours, shades and shapes.
They took uncanny exception to how Governor Nasir El-Rufai was allegedly mishandled by the NBA. The controversy that enmeshed his dis-invitation by the NBA was the timely tonic they needed. And they made maximum use of the rare chance.
How did the NBA find itself in shambles? How did it come this low? How did it arrive in this unhealthy situation?
You see, El-Rufai was to be NBA’s guest at its virtual meeting. But this was later jettisoned in the dying minute. Ibrahim and Suleiman would want none of that. And they did not mince or mix words about their disappointment.
They yelled, shouted, cried and protested. But their message was lost on their colleagues. NBA went ahead and shut its door against the governor.
Promptly, the aggrieved lawyers brought to the fore their game plan. They claimed they had the backing of other lawyers in the North. With this perceived assurance, they unveiled their agenda. New Nigerian Bar Association (NNBA) is it!
They contended: “The NBA NEC…failed to uphold the fundamental principles of fair hearing…on the allegations against El-Rufai.”
The governor was said to have committed gross human rights abuses. They used the serial killings in Southern Kaduna as case studies. The conveners did not buy into this. They cried out loud and clear. They meant serious business:
“Members of this association (NNBA) have commenced consultations with very senior lawyers of Northern Nigeria extraction and those practising therein with the view to constituting the trustees and for the purpose of fixing date for the formal inauguration of the association.”
Their future plan: “You are, however, to be further informed that work is in progress with regards to all the nitty-gritty of the formation of an association such as this to which we shall keep you updated.”
On Friday, August 28, 2020, they did a follow-up. They made their threat real.They took their case to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami. He is a northerner like them:
“The formation of the new association became imperative and expedient, especially flowing from the activities, disposition and, most recently, the decision of the NBA-NEC, which apparently failed to take into consideration our national interests and particularly do not promote the unity of our indissoluble country, Nigeria.”
We can pick some useful messages from this. The plan for NNBA has been on long before now. It appears deep-rooted and well planned. It could not have been a spontaneous reaction to alleged shoddy treatment of El-Rufai. No. It is far from it.
It is the North’s way of restructuring; and we heartily welcome it with open mind. This never struck them. We have absolutely nothing against it.
What they masterminded and midwifed secretly came out in the open. And it did so without caution. That showed the hard stuff they are made of.
Unknown to them, they did not realise they were doing us a lot of good. This “patriotic” action is commendable. That move is the masterstroke needed at this critical period of our national life.
You know what, the conveners just thrust on our laps restructuring almost without asking for it. And we are extremely glad they did. It is good for the political health of the nation. We are getting there faster than expected.
This is divine intervention, nothing more. This God is good. See how He uses El-Rufai to kick-start restructuring. The good deed is done. And it is a damn perfect deal.
Paul confirmed this in Romans 4:17b, “The God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.” Further in Romans 8:28, he said: “…in all things God works for the good of those who love Him…”
God has the unlimited capacity to work through anyone. He demonstrated that in the northern lawyers. Things are beginning to fall into pleasant places for us. And it is good tidings.
NNBA is a pilot scheme by the North; we are elated. It is their right to associate, dis-associate and differ. It only gives teeth to the vexed issue of restructuring.
And there is no best way to start than the legal industry. We pray this should not stop. It should be encouraged to go full circle. It must be allowed to permeate other sectors of our national life.
That is the real and genuine restructuring we are sincerely clamouring for. It is our own home-grown initiative. And it must survive and thrive well.
Who is afraid of the northern lawyers anyway? Let them have their NNBA all to themselves. Let them have it even in the armed forces, police, customs, immigration, et al.
The more the merrier. So? Let the beat go on.