NBA: cost of throwing the first stone


On Nasir El-Rufai, the tempestuous Kaduna governor, the Paul Usoro-led Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) executive threw the first stone.

Flush with holy anger, it had hoped to earn full plaudits, from its moral high horse: a bristling, no-nonsense crusader corps of southern Kaduna lives matter (SKLM), to borrow from that current global rave: Black Lives Matter (BLM) .

It probably did, from the lobby that goaded it to act.  That lobby, and their media allies, gloated over El-Rufai’s dis-invitation to speak at NBA’s 60th annual conference show.

But from a counter lobby, what it got was a vicious pelt of smelly eggs, as a segment of its northern stakeholders fumed.  Enter, the New Nigerian Bar Association (NNBA).

Alas!  NBA found it was no less corporately flawed as El-Rufai allegedly is, judging from the strafing anti-El-Rufai memo, signed by Silas Joseph Onu and Chidi Anslem Odinkalu, two top lawyers but no especial friend of the governor, that sparked it all.

Talk of rashly throwing the first stone!

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But the NNBA threat could just be fore-cat’s paw, in the severe, prolonged intra-NBA hurricane to come; with many angered at the electoral process that shot Paul Usoro (SAN) to power — a subject of legal dispute still, even after the silk has served out his term.

Poor Olumide Akpata!  The SAN-giant slayer’s own election controversies, coupled with Usoro’s office-parting El-Rufai storm, have gifted Akpata a poisoned chalice!

Now, aside from NNBA, there are also whispers of a South West Bar break-away faction, which not a few have sardonically dubbed Amotekun Bar Association (ABA)! Perhaps, when a putative Bar Association of Nigeria (BAN) dawns, Akpata’s NBA would realize BAN could well ban its monopoly — every pun intended!

To be sure, jumping to El-Rufai’s defence is no pleasure, given his divisive persona.  Yet, his fate can’t be tied to the near-eternal cauldron that has been southern Kaduna.

To do that is to continue the flawed strategy of scapegoating extant leaders of that troubled clime, of which El-Rufai is latest.  But if that didn’t extinguish the cauldron in the past, it won’t do it now.

So, what is needed is radical re-thinking, on the southern Kaduna question.  But more on that presently.  Now, back to the governor.

Nasir El-Rufai hails and nails himself, in one total package: his brilliance hails him, his petulance nails him.

READ ALSO:El-Rufai: Why we broke away from NBA to form NNBA –Ibrahim, leader of splinter group

His friends beam at his brilliance, particularly in El-Rufai’s unfazed duels with uppity southerners, spiritual and temporal: sectional snobs and ethnic chauvinists, who tend to posture, with a final swagger, that every northerner is a dummy.  His foes bark at his petulance, particularly irate southerners, and their southern Kaduna kith-and-kin in faith, who bristle at why the mercurial Hell (sorry, El)-Rufai won’t lay down to be bullied and slaughtered by anyone.

Still, both El-Rufai traits show the human in the man, though the jury is out, as on any controversial figure, on how the man mainly weighs on society — good or bad.

Talking of controversy and divisiveness, even with the ringing denunciation of the Onu/ Odinkalu memo, little separates El-Rufai from Rivers’ Governor Nyesom Wike, who most times speaks, not with the air of projecting superior logic, but as a gubernatorial braggart that damn well loves the sound of his voice!

Indeed, the gory harvest of lives and limbs at election seasons, since Wike became an active player in Rivers, should make the governor (even if for vicarious liability) an eternal pariah in NBA and allied human rights business, though Wike is himself a lawyer, and a member of the Body of Benchers.

That Wike cut the Usoro NBA mustard, and El-Rufai did not, has left the Olumide Akpata NBA fending off not-so-illegitimate charges of first, hypocrisy;  and then, southern domination, simply because the southern lawyers lobby boast tremendous media savvy, that could bully, intimidate and subdue.

That is about the long-and-short of the NNBA cause.  That poor Akpata had gathered NBA northern hierarchs, to re-pledge allegiance, does not take away that slur.

Ironically, that media domination — or lack of it — appears a crucial link, that has continued to fuel the southern Kaduna tragedy.

For eons in southern Kaduna, the Fulani (“voiceless” in the dominant southern media) have clashed with the area’s non-Muslim, Christian or African faith adherents (“voiceless” in the Muslim-dominant northern order).

The result has been the serious seasonal spurt of needless blood.  That is not about to stop, unless backers, of both blocs, think less as antagonists, and more as community.

The grim fact is that on both sides, there are no saints.  But aplenty, there are victims, tragic mutual canon-fodders, seasonally despatched by mutual drivers of mayhem, to teach the other side stiff, gory lessons.

Besides, the mutual hate and loathing, across the murderous aisle, have erected a cynical cover for free-wheeling, vicious crimes, pouncing on the vulnerable, cocksure all would be blamed on the Fulani-natives crises.

No doubt: the southern media, taking the southern Kaduna non-Muslim natives as hopeless underdogs, has always clambered to their cause.  That fits pat into Christian vs Muslim/indigene vs settler narratives, that rather resonate with the South.

But both narratives are galvanized by thick conspiracy theories of brutal rogue deep state players, allegedly arming the Fulani; and goading them to alleged southern Kaduna genocide, who the southern lobbies make it their bounden duty to stop.

So, each time they clash, the Fulani quietly cry to their alleged high rogue backers, while the other side cock sympathetic ears for the sure southern media thunderclap, and legal activists’ bellow to follow; no matter who the aggressor is.

After, both sides lick their wounds and build up to fight another day — and the mutual loathing and destruction continue.

Breaking this bloody cycle needs taking out the enforcers on both sides.  Sadly, that appears beyond the ken of about everyone, as every partisan-supporter appears viscerally wired to the conflict.  The umpteenth victims? The folks that live in the area.

Once upon a time, Kaduna State appeared a roaring inferno: a permanent hot bed of northern host vs southern settler riots. But then came Ahmed Markarfi (Kaduna governor, 1999-2007) who fixed the problem and left lasting peace.

Governor El-Rufai should ponder his own legacy, and essay a similar deal for southern Kaduna.  That would be tough.  But it would be a fantastic legacy.

Olumide Akpata, new NBA president, has a no less pressing chore: to re-make whole, the poisoned chalice Paul Usoro handed him.

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But clearly it’s high time El-Rufai, NBA, the media and other stakeholders banded together on southern Kaduna: to save precious lives, across the warring divide.

That is how all southern Kaduna lives can really matter.

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