A friend, a Nigerian, from the US just called to draw my attention to the comments made the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, on why Sambo Dasuki cannot be released by the Federal Government despite having been granted bail by a court of competent jurisdiction. In fact several courts have granted Dasuki bail in his over 3 years of detention.
Abubakar Malami, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria was reported by PremiumTimes to have explained that Dasuki cannot be released because of the gravity of his offence. That his offence is against Nigerians collectively and so the Federal Government has weighed the gravity of his offence, they have found out that his offence is so heavy and gruesome and thus he cannot be released even though a court of competent jurisdiction has granted him bail.
My friend asked “Barrister is that how it is done? Is the AG right?”
I laughed. Of course that’s not how it is done. With the greatest respect to the Learned AG, what he is saying is arrant hogwash. There is no shred of law in this country that supports and sustains such a position.
Many persons have concluded that the present AG is not an intelligent man. But I disagree. The AG is an intelligent man. He knows that what he is saying about Dasuki’s bail and release is not legally tenable.
The federal or any other government for that matter does not have the powers to cherry pick the decisions of the court they are going to obey. The government has no powers to vary a court decision. The best they can do is to appeal the said decision. Why did they take him to court in the first place if they are not prepared to abide by the decision the court will give? You took a man to court on allegations that he committed grievous crimes, the court says he can enjoy some freedom pending the determination of the case and you say you won’t obey it? Is he no longer innocent until proven guilty? So you have already concluded he is guilty? Then I think taking him to court is just a painful caressing of the emotions of an unfortunate nation.
Well, the AG knows all these. Every lawyer and even law students know this. Any government that sits in judgement over the judgment of a court has become the patron saint of global despotism.
But if I’m so sure the AG knows all these and that he is an intelligent man then why did he say otherwise? I will tell you why.
The AG, like many government appointees, is a victim of a socio-political culture that glorifies loyalty over competence. What is always considered in Nigeria when an appointment is to be made into the political class is loyalty not competence. So if there is a vacancy to fill in the cabinet, the major question to be asked and answered is “Is he loyal?” not “Is he competent?”
So when a person is appointed into office, every action he takes is to prove his loyalty not his competence; even if he is competent. This explains why you will see a very brilliant professional you use to know go on TV and start speaking total balderdash, and you will sit down watching the person and be wondering: “No be this man so? When did he become this ignorant?” Calm down. He is not ignorant. He is just being loyal. He knows that if he says anything wise in that interview, wisdom will practically “kee” him that day.
It’s not that loyalty is a bad thing. Far from it. Every Governor or President in the world expects loyalty and rightly so. But the Nigerian brand of loyalty sees the leader as an alpha and omega who can do no wrong and even supreme to the laws of the land. Anyone who disagrees with him is a demon that should be destroyed. I don’t think that you should criticize a boss publicly. But I don’t also think that you should disobey the laws of the land to please a boss. If he is demanding that you do that, resign. It is sad to deliberately sound ignorant and unintelligent in a bid to impress your boss.
The Nigerian political bosses don’t care about competence. They want you to be loyal. Every step you take, every word you speak must reek of loyalty otherwise you will be axed. Culturally, in our clime, once you are older or in a position of authority, then you know it all. You become a fountain of knowledge and everyone around you must do your bidding without question. But since in reality, nobody knows it all, we see assistants of these leaders acting and talking like ignoramuses just to support an apparently dumb move of their principals. We are all victims of a culture we have refused to investigate and overhaul.
The saddest thing is when I see young people being taught how to exercise loyalty but never how to exercise competence. Look around you, you will see young people being taught how to rent crowds and organize welcome parties for political leaders but no one is teaching them how to read and analyze a budget. Young people are being taught how to beat drums, sing, dance and lift up banners in loyalty but no one is teaching them how to manage simple projects. Young people are learning how to mouth the unending titles of political leaders but they are not learning how to give a decent campaign speech.
So, what do we have? A culture that sacrifice competence on the altar of loyalty. A people high on loyalty but low on competence. A nation that punishes brilliance but rewards loyalty. That is why in the US you can see the Attorney General disagree with his President. You can see an appointee resign out of principles. But here, no way. It’s like immediately they get appointed they cease to have principles; so whatever their principal wants become their principle. They will suddenly believe in it and make all sorts of argument to defend it without even the slightest guilt that they are contradicting an earlier stance or reputation for intelligence.
There is a point where I usually end my articles. When I get to that point I just know I have said all there is about that topic, but right now that point isn’t just coming. There is still so much to say but I need to stop. Maybe las las we will be alright.
First Baba Isa (FBI) is a Legal Practitioner and writes from Abuja.
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