By Charles Ibekwe
It is one year already and there is no better time to do a quick review of President Muhammadu Buhari’s one year in office.
This review is coming after I had resisted the itch to join the hundred days in office bandwagon. The other bandwagon I am avoiding is that of those focused on those humongous national issues – anti-terror fight, omnibus anticorruption crusade, and a troubled economy and fuel crisis.
Even dictatorships contend with such issues so the focus should be on those intangibles that truly constitute the gains of collectively having a say in what happens to us, democracy. We could have a robust economy with officials that less corrupt and still not have much say in how these things are arrived at.
Prior to President Bubari resuming office in May of last year impunity was one of those issues that plagued the land. The thing with the impunity brand of impunity that pervaded that era was that we were not even aware of it any longer – it became the norm so people scarcely knew to react to it. A selfish government could have allowed the impunity to remain in place since the populace was scarcely aware of it anyway. But we have seen that culture of rascality degraded to the point where citizens now look more to the law than brigandage to get things done.
The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr Malami Abubakar SAN must be commended in this regard for professionally guiding the government along the path that has allowed it to step away from acts of impunity. The government had acted different from what the expectations would have been under the previous dispensation.
For instance, the several Supreme Court rulings on elections petitions shocked not a few Nigerians who had expected the old order of swinging victory for the ruling party. Interestingly this was not the case. There is wisdom of not threading that path of impunity. The result is the peace that was maintained in areas that would have continued to experience political fireworks.
There is also then the greater freedom of expression to the extent that the venom of the like of Ekiti state governor, Ayo Fayose has not attracted the beer parlour kind of impeachment that would have been the response under a government to which democracy is just a fancy word.
With the leak of the infamous audio tape that detailed how Fayose was rigged into office, a less circumspect chief law officer would have taken poorly thought out action that could precipitate constitutional crises.A not too different approach to the near impasse situation in Kogi state deserves additional accolades.
In this one year, I have also observed the government’s preference for reconciliation as opposed to drawn out litigations that would mean loss of time and resources without guarantee of desirable outcomes. In terms of seeing prosecutions to logical conclusions, the office has shown persistence in shortening the prolonged adjournments that were used to frustrate government cases. The anti-graft agencies have been able to secure convictions with pending cases showing promise of contributing to enriching law enforcement.
These are the kind of change you get when a capable and committed hand like the AGF is on board. It is therefore understandable that in the same space of time he became the target of high politics as those who no longer have the licence to impunity zeroed in on him. If they had their way Mr Abubakar would be out of the government faster than he was brought into it.
It is ironic that the AGF’s achievements are now being twisted to look like crimes. Instead of appreciating his success in steering the Federal Government away from brouhahas the calm approach to issues is being projected as incompetence. As opposed to recognizing mediation efforts as what they are, the ill informed are touting such interventions as cutting deals with corporate companies.
Such accusations could only be coming from people who would rather want the AGF commits gaffes that will constitute distractions to the nation. We would all get distracted while the important things – the building blocks of the structure that will replace impunity are neglected.
For the years ahead, my advice is that Mr Abubakar should deepen this culture of regard for due process. It is these intangibles that Nigerians will one day applaud President Buhari’s government for.
Ibekwe is a public affairs commentator. He wrote from Enugu, Enugu State.