First, it needs be backgrounded that Nigerians have always treated those holding public offices, from time immemorial, cynically. I refer to the First Republic through the various military juntas till now, the Fourth Republic. Show me a public office holder who is beloved by the generality of the people, and I will tell you he is one in a million.
Whatever reasons for the age-long cynicism, no one can adequately capture it. The reasons are as varied and diverse as they come; some justifiable, most non-justifiable especially given the fact that many members of the public do not get to know the real reasons public office holders take a particular action.
Fact is, especially in this clime, holding an elective or appointive position is a thankless job. A lot of the times, a public office holder only gets commended after he must have died. That’s when you get to read about the good deeds of his while in office. It is unbelievable that as much as a section of the public wants Nigerians to believe the late Military Head of State, General Sani Abacha, was a complete evil man, there are informed men and women who believe, even till today, that Abacha did well during his reign to keep the economy of Nigeria going despite the multifarious economic sanctions on the country.
A classic pointer, in this case, is the late Abba Kyari, immediate past chief of staff to President Muhammadu Buhari. Who would have known, taking into cognisance relentless adversarial media campaign against him while in office and alive, that he was a detribalised Nigerian who was committed to serving his principal and by extension, Nigeria, for the benefit of all? For all the acidic media bashing, Buhari stuck with Kyari until he succumbed to COVID-19. The president must have seen some noble stuff in Kyari. God rest his soul.
There is another current public office holder who has been suffering from virulent media attack and campaigns of calumny since he was appointed in 2015. Yet, the president has stuck with him. The inference deducible from this is that he must be doing something really good in the eyes of the man on whose behalf he acts to have appointed him and even reappointed him in 2019, against all odds. That man is Abubakar Malami (SAN)” the attorney general of the federation and minister of justice.
Truth be told, if Malami were not made of a sterner stuff, he might have quit the Buhari administration considering the enormity of the mindless and dispiriting allegations levelled against him from all corners. Perhaps he is staying put because he feels there is a greater service he is rendering to his principal in order for him to fulfil his promises to Nigerians than the unceasing assaults on his person and even sometimes professional competence.
Well, there must be something the minister of justice and attorney-general of the federation, which a lot of the times pits him against the public. In all of these, Malami has remained unperturbed, taking all the insults in his stride. With all the missiles daily hurled at him, Malami, from Kebbi State, who has stuck with Buhari since the days of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), keeps carrying on unperturbed, sailing on undistractedly as he delivers his mandate bequeathed him by the president.
If taciturnity is a quality of leadership that yields result, then this quality has placed Malami in reference of those who trudge on even when distracting missiles are hurled at them. He has remained stoic, focused and unfazed even in the face of unmitigated onslaught. Naturally, the arbiter who is more like an eye of the law is never a friend to the people, he offends sensibility, step on toes and come viciously as a spoiler to those on the wrong side of the law. He is a man to be loved and hated by interests defined in switching pendulum.
In all honesty, and in appreciation of the sensitivity of what their portfolio entails, virtually every minister of justice will always be maligned by those on the wrong side of the law using their proxies and agents in the traditional media and the social media enclave. Show me one former minister of justice in this country who was not maligned while in office, at least, since 1999 I am yet to see any. Malami’s era won’t be different.
Luckily for Malami, the learned silk has a principal who has always believed in him right from the days they were in the CPC together. That has not changed till today and that’s a massive fillip for the minster to keep going and doing the best he can in his service to our fatherland.
Would posterity be kind to this arbiter of the Nigerian Justice System who has in his kitty the justice system reform, prison decongestion, recovery of looted funds, post COVID-19 Justice system plans, laid down steps to address Sexual and Gender-Based Violence and same time chose to blew the whistle of corruption within? Only time shall tell.