By Idris Mohammed
On August 21th, the Nigerian Bar Association sent a letter to the Governor of Kaduna state, Mallam Nasiru El Rufai indicating his withdrawal as NBA2020 Conference Speaker. The governor is billed to speak on the topic “who is a Nigerian? The letter generated a lot of controversy from different angles of the country especially among the Nigerians that were spending significant time on social media expressing their views on national issues of interest.
According to the NBA President, the invitation was withdrawn from the governor following a petition by some lawyers under the aegis of Open Bar Initiative following rising killings in southern kaduna & disobedience to court orders
Well, writing on this kind of issue ends up with different interpretations, no wonder sometimes I find it very disturbing and difficult to press my keyboards on any stuff that may generate comments if not anger to many people, especially those that are not in line with the author`s stand. Permit me to clarify this to you that I am neither a supporter of Mallam Nasiru El-Rufai nor his sympathizer. In fact, I have issues with some of his strict and anti-masses policies but we have no option than voice out our opinion especially on any issue capable of downsizing democracy, human rights and the rule of law in the country.
Let me start with this, the NBA as an association has the right to invite or withdraw invitation to anybody in their program because they are the organizers of the program and therefore has the sole right to select the guests for the program.
Be that as it may, I have personally not seen anything wrong in Inviting someone to a program and withdrawing same. What makes the issue create unnecessary attention among the general members of the public is the issue of allegations table against the governor in relation to rising cases of attacks in southern kaduna. Though the NBA President stated that, the withdrawal of the governor`s invitation has nothing to do with religion or ethnicity.
Whatever he said, the majority will find it very offensive especially those that hold the opinion that the association approach is very poor and uncalled for, the association has failed to give the governor a fair hearing which is one of the Cadinal principal of rule of law in the country. The governor is presumed innocent of the said allegations till any court pronounces him as guilty, the views and opinions of some members in association shouldn’t be the basis to withdraw such invitation unless the association plan it.
This is just like teenagers prank we had back in university days that you send your party invitations to some people and still give words to bouncers not to allow them to gain in just to humiliate them at the entrance then you later apologize to them the following. NBA apologizing to him simply means that the association is not convinced withdrawing the invite was right or affirming my thought on the above mentioned issues
There are a lot of conspiracies surrounding the matter, religious and tribal champions are busy giving the incidence different interpretations and inclinations everywhere but I perceived the whole melodrama ensued between NBA and Elrufai as part of the 2023 political game. If not for a political reason, why will the NBA allow other speakers like Wike and Obasanjo? Are they saying they have history of obeying court order?
If NBA is concern on the killings of innocent people in southern Kaduna, they will not have entitled the theme of the conference“ Am I a Nigerian-A debate on National Identity, instead, they should have opted for The Indigeneship-Citizenship Conundrum” to make fool out of him. It will be a very good avenue for people to dig deep by asking unhidden agenda and questions some people think about him. This will also pave way for them to understand why the Governor has issues with Southern Kaduna leaders, but the association denied all these opportunities for the members and general public just because of the interest of insignificant few among them.
Now their attitude towards him in creating a different narrative among the fragile country
s ethno-religious population, a significant number of the population are turning the saga as an issue of ethno-religious sentiment. Though El-Rufais presence in the conference will not benefit common Nigerian with anything but will definitely bring out different stories especially on the current crisis in the state.
In addition, NBA reactions to such kind of issue that has coloration of religious background is nothing but fuelling the disintegration among the major religions in the country especially now that everything in Nigeria one must put religious and tribal sentiments for such things to attract attention.
Moreover,the NBA has directed the Muslim lawyer to nominate another Muslim governor to speak in the event. This has indicated that,NBA and their sponsors have an axe to grind with el-rufai. The NBA which is the body of learned should have become a rallying point and unifying factor has derailed from this simple core objectives. What a shame!
A lot of negative narrations is going on daily in Nigeria from Mailafia`s allegations to another, all these will not let us understand the major challenges that facing the country like issue of insecurity, poor democratic governance, abject poverty and unemployment that become the order of the day in the country
Nigerians should be conscious of the issues that can castigate one another and lead us to unnecessary conflict that may result in loss of lives and destruction of property, the activities of few unpatriotic individuals and organizations that usually use unhidden agenda and conspiracies to divide us for their personal interest.
Idris Mohammed is a Democratic Governance Enthusiast & Public Affairs Analyst writes from Funtua