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Hon. Justice Patricia Mahmoud: Righteousness in the Kano judiciary

By I’shaq Modibbo Kawu

EARLY this week, Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of Kano state, swore in Honourable Justice Patricia Mahmoud as the Acting Chief Judge of Kano State. It was as historic as it was a most deserved appointment. Patricia is the wife of our old comrade, A.B. Mahmoud (SAN), and in her own right one of the genuinely decent and progressive daughters of our country.

Patricia has been part of the progressive movement in our country from the ABU days of the 1970s and she had met her husband in the course of a life of radical engagement for the building of a progressive Nigeria. It was indicative of her progressive life of engagement that she was for many years the Kano State Coordinator of Women in Nigeria (WIN), even as she built her professional career in the Kano state public service, having joined the Ministry of Justice in 1983. She was similarly active in the Association of Women Judges.

State of origin

Patricia’s husband, AB Mahmoud (SAN) was a one-time Solicitor-General and Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice of Kano State. They had met in 1979 at the Nigerian Law School, and were both posted to Rivers state to do their National Service. They eventually got married in 1983.

Now the issue is that Patricia is Idoma from Benue state while AB Mahmoud is Fulani from Kano. On two occasions she had faced discrimination on the basis of her state of origin, which stopped her elevation to the Court of Appeal. She was not able to accede to the superior court because she came from Benue state.

Her case underlined the basic discriminatory challenge which Nigerian women face, on the basis of marriage, especially outside of their states of origin, when they have to compete for positions. Patricia’s case was particularly poignant and her daughter, Zubaida Mahmoud, also a lawyer, had written a most emotional and defiant piece about the discrimination that her mother faced, in March 2014. Zubaida wrote: “My mom is Idoma, from Benue state while my father is Fulani from Kano state. They met in 1979 when they were both at the Nigerian Law School…They got married in 1983 and settled in Kano State. My mom joined the Civil Service that year-worked in the Ministry of Justice. She was appointed a judge of the Kano State High Court in December 1991. She has served Kano State for a period of 31 years, 22 of which as a judge. She has been nominated at least twice for elevation to the bench of the Court of Appeal. But ‘disqualified’ on the basis that she is not an indigene of Kano State and cannot, therefore, be considered under Kano quota”. The reason is that using Federal Character Commission Guidelines, “a married woman shall continue to lay claim to her State of Origin for a purpose of implementation of the Federal Character Formulae at the National Level”. Zubaida went further to expose the absurdity of this position: “This, of course, implies that for my mom to be elevated to the Court of Appeal, she has to be nominated by the Benue State Judiciary, the State she has never served. How will any reasonable person expect them to skip their own judges and nominate her?!” And she was not!

But her elevation by Governor Kwankwaso as the Acting Chief Judge of Kano State rights the wrong done to Honourable Justice Patricia Mahmoud. She eminently deserved her elevation because of her qualification and her human decency. It was also a marker of the progressive propensity of the Kwankwaso administration and the ability of the governor to operate within the long tradition of Kano’s history. In over a thousand years of history, Kano became the cosmopolitan center of trade, culture and learning because of its ability to absorb influences and draw peoples from near and far. Patricia was therefore following an old and very successful historical process; but she didn’t only serve Kano and our country professionally but has been an activist and a progressive intellectual from her days in university and has stayed true to her convictions as a Nigerian patriot.

With Justice Patricia’s elevation as Acting Chief Judge of Kano State, a significant amount of righteousness has been done within the judiciary of Kano state. In the lives of AB Mahmoud and his wife Patricia, we see a practical example of the success of the campaign to build unity across the fault lines of our country. And when man and wife are as progressive and patriotic as they are, the example for nation building is even on a stronger platform. Congratulations our dear sister, friend and comrade, Honourable Justice Patricia Mahmoud, Acting Chief Judge of Kano State!

Gov. Babangida Aliyu’s doctrine of politics

IT was my colleague and friend, Garbadeen Muhammed, who once described the Niger State Governor, Dr. Babangida Aliyu as “the most microphone-addicted governor” in Nigeria. Babangida Aliyu loves to be described as the “Servant Leader”, and as Chairman of the Northern Governors’ Forum, fancies himself as the representative figure of Northern Nigerian political leadership. Unfortunately, our views of individuals won’t be what they describe themselves to be, but what they really are! Babangida Aliyu is a very highly educated individual; that cannot be disputed. But he has not always lived up to the high standards that his education calls forth or the heights of attainment, which made him Chairman of the Northern Governors’ Forum. He is very long on talk but very short on honour or fidelity to principles, thus devaluing his own educational and other attainments.

Campaign committee

Last week, at the inauguration of the Niger State PDP governorship campaign committee, Babangida Aliyu told his audience that: “If you cannot lie, get out of politics. Anything that you are involved in has its own rule. You are in politics to win, win first and let other things follow. Don’t be the one crying out loudest lest you will be the one they will take to court. If you are talking of honesty and morals, go and become an Imam or a pastor. Politics cannot be the way it used to be. The challenges are more now; the variables have changed. Our society is not as grateful as it used to be; the values and morals have gone down. If you want to win, use the modern morality”. The variables have changed certainly, with the types of individuals who run our states especially and our society in general. Individuals like Babangida Aliyu who would openly tell his followers to abandon politics if they cannot be liars. Or characters like Bukola Saraki, who hold the financial resources of states like Kwara in bear-hug, since 2003! It is therefore no wonder that our country is beset with the myriads of problems dogging it today. The leadership recruitment process which threw up the likes of Babangida Aliyu and Bukola Saraki, for example, does tremendous injustice to the Nigerian people! There is a poster making the rounds in Niger State; it has Babangida Aliyu and other PDP candidates surrounding General Muhammadu Buhari, the APC Presidential candidate. Babangida Aliyu and his PDP colleagues are hoping to extract mileage from Buhari’s cult-like followership amongst voters in many parts of Northern Nigeria, including Niger State. That is a practical expression of Babangida Aliyu’s admonition: “If you cannot lie, get out of politics”!

Burkina Faso’s legislative salaries: But did Aminu Tambuwal hear this?

THIS week, members of the Burkina Faso’s interim legislature agreed to take a 50% cut in their monthly salaries. It followed complaints by members of the trade union movement and civil society organizations, that the $3000 monthly salary they earned was too high.

That amount was twenty times higher than the national minimum wage. In response, the legislators accepted a 50% cut in pay. The Vice President of the National Transition Council (CNT), Honore Nombre, said lawmakers had agreed to forfeit a number of benefits initially offered and would now be paid a total of 888, 000 CFA francs ($1, 580) per month instead of 1.7 million CFA francs. According to Nombre: The CNT is conscious that we are as aresult of the people and for the people”.

It is significant that legislators in Burkina Faso accepted to hearken to the demands of society. In Nigeria, from all accounts, the Nigerian Legislature’s budget for 2015 retains all the emoluments that they have always enjoyed.

Not for our legislature any hint of acceptance of some level of sacrifices, in tune with the serious economic situation that Nigeria faces in 2015, given the sharp and disastrous drop in the price of crude oil in the international market.

The creature comfort of members of our legislature must not be touched in any way. The sacrifices for economic survival belong only to the Nigerian working people and the poor! Is Aminu Tambuwal aware of the spirit of sacrifice that is being displayed by his counterparts in Burkina Faso? Why can’t we see such a display of patriotism in the Nigerian setting? Just a patriot’s curious question.

Aminu Tambuwal @ 49

LAST week, Aminu Tambuwal, Speaker, House of Representatives, clocked 49years. Expectedly, Nigerian newspapers raked in tons of money from advertisements from members of the nation’s political nomenclatura, who were congratulating the Speaker on his birthday. Aminu Tambuwal, has certainly become one of the most important politicians in Nigeria today.

This attainment was as a result of incredible political sagacity; team building acumen and ability to stay a step ahead of his adversaries. And in the past few years, at the helm of affairs in the House of Representatives, his team building ability has come to the fore most poignantly as much as his ability to sidestep political booby traps laid by political foes. The fact that he survived the PDP’s anger at his emergence as Speaker was indicative of astute political ability and his staying power must also be located in the ability to keep his colleagues close to his vision of leadership.

When he defected to the opposition APC, he opened a Pandora’s box but has so far survived the long knives trained to injury his position as well as destroy him fatally in the cloak-and-dagger world of Nigerian politics. As things stand today, it is looking most likely, that he will be the next governor of Sokoto State, after the February elections. This amazing young man will still be around for a long time yet, in the unfolding scenarios of Nigerian politics. Happy Birthday Aminu Tambuwal, Speaker, House of Representatives.


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