By: Philip Agbese
Do some people actually thinking the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is worried about criticism and embarrassment? This question is borne out the fact that some groups, notable among them is the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL), were asking the President to sack the Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF, and Minister of Justice, Mr. Malami Abubakar SAN “to save his government and the country from further embarrassment and criticisms”.
At a time the country is acutely feeling the pinch from years of successive leadership-sanctioned theft of national resources and the populace hurting from learning to live in an economy that is not powered by corruption, the demand for Mr. Malami Abubakar’s sack is comical to the point of offering comic relief. Comic relief, because in the midst of the nil tolerance for corruption by the government and amply endorsed by the populace, it is humorous to find that there are sleazebags who think they can alter the course of the anti-corruption crusade by maligning a key figure in the march against graft.
It is equally mirth inducing that Mr Abubakar’s detractors thought the best strategy of getting at him was to attempt using instances in which he refused to be overreaching in building a case against before his boss, whose programme and agenda he has repeatedly demonstrated the commitment to implement to the letter. From the way the campaign to unseat him are being prosecuted, one is left with the impression that some people miss those past odious days of impunity when the AGFs were the ones engineering violation of laws. The violation in these not too distant pasts included but limited to encouraging the Federal Government to flagrantly decide what court injunctions to obey; the constitution being short-circuited to unseat governors that are not friends with the centres even if it means using seven out of 23 lawmakers convened in a hotel; and mostly by the AGF to step in and ensure the trial of those beholden to the government collapses or are delayed indefinitely.
By now those who think they can rubbish a good work would have chanced across the post going viral on Facebook. To paraphrase the post, people need to be aware that the ex-NIMASA boss, Raymond Omatseye, who was sentenced to five years in prison in Lagos is staunch All Progressives Congress, APC member who contested for the Delta South Senatorial election on the party’s platform. Same way the APC does not know party members when it comes to corruption in line with the thinking of its leader, President Buhari, Abubakar does not know part members too. Those who thought he should have waded in to quash the trial of the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT should realise by now that no interference would come from the AGF.
If Abubakar has distanced himself from muddling the anti-corruption fight he should be commended even more for not dragging the country into avoidable tiffs that would have added nothing to the growth of our democracy. If anything, those acts of brigandage only drew back the nation’s democracy when they were committed. Take for instance Kogi state where the expectations were that the AGF would intervene in a sentimentally desired way only for those with those views to be disappointed. They may be disappointed but the reality is that the state is not burning today as doomsday seers have predicted – someone did his job right here and the state remains intact. Even further efforts at aggravating or precipitating crises in that state have been avoided.
It also appears that those against Mr Abubakar are disappointed he did not do enough to hound down those they perceived as opposed to the APC, or at least that is the impression created in their letters and petitions. But what manner of person would the AGF be if he works on the basis of fanatical party loyalty that does not differentiate national interest from political desperation, the same evil the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, was infamous for? Is anything wrong with doing the right thing, building systems and setting good precedents that would outlive the office holder?
Would these characters have preferred that the AGF plunges Ekiti state into political crisis to get rid of the governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose – even it means only four state lawmakers sitting at a suya joint are the ones impeaching him because of his dim-witted tantrums against the government at the centre? Is the expectation that Mr Abubakar should have run Mr. Nyesom Wike out of Rivers state as governor for repeatedly giving the APC bloodied nose at the polls? Or are they really that desperately to throw the rebellious Senate leadership into Kuje Prison for daring the party? If the thoughts of those behind those spurious letters and petitions were expecting that these posers should have been answered in the affirmative in their favour then they are on the wrong bus heading opposite direction of their desired destination.
The AGF can easily be told to disregard the antics of those after his job out of their sense of perceived hurt. Unfortunately, this will not be enough. If there is anything to learn from their history it is that they will alter their attack strategies over time, they will intensify and diversify the attacks, they will recruit more misguided minds to broaden their circle of hate, they will attempt to confuse the government of the day and will ultimately try to turn the nation’s entire population against their quarry.
If Nigerians, including President Buhari, fall for this trick then the anti-corruption fight would be over. No matter how fantastic a replacement would be, the spectre of the dark power bloc behind the paid groups floating the petition would be simply too much to counter. They’ll hold the threat of trumped up allegations over that office holder to do their bidding, same way they are trying with Abubakar, who has been strong and patriotic enough not to budge.
Nigerians do not want the anti-corruption and the zero-impunity era to end neither should the AGF so he must not give up this fight. His position is one that transcends party, ethnic or religious loyalty – being a creation of the constitution. He must therefore hold on tight as this fight is not about him but about the future of Nigeria and whether impunity can be reinstated or not.
Agbese is National Coordinator, Stand Up Nigeria and based in the United Kingdom.