Hon Justice Umar Faruk Abdullahi, a former president of the Court of Appeal was the longest serving president of the appellate Court when he served from 1999-2009. He is a prominent son of the popular Hambali family in Katsina State. In this interview, he identifies poor leadership as the bane of Nigeria’s development just as he advised Nigerians not to mortgage their future in 2019 general elections by compromising their votes with inducements. Excerpts:
Your assessment of leadership of the country and Africa as a continent
Let me start from my country Nigeria. I don’t think politicians even understands the word leadership because of the manner they treat sensitive issues of national importance that will truly make us the giant of Africa. It is disheartening and quite pathetic that our nation since independence till date, is yet to discover the rationale of existence and as a sovereign nation with enormous mineral resources that are endowed to us by nature, that if properly utilized, we will be ranked the most happiest country in the world.
Africa as a continent needs to learn from other prosperous countries to develop our continent. Selfish interest should not override public interest if we must write our name with a golden pen in the map of the world.
Your take on today’s legal profession
This is a very sensitive question that requires wisdom in its response, but I must say without any iota of reservation that a lot needs to be in place to compete with the western world. Talking about standards, I am a member of the National Judicial Council and I can tell you that we are not resting on our oars in ensuring that the ethics of the profession is respected at all times.
Anybody can be called a barrister but we need lawyers who know their job well; who can really stand and speak in defence of the masses because the judiciary remains the last hope of the common man. That your rich father, uncle or mother can afford to pay for an office space doesn’t qualify you to own a chamber. A chamber is not made up of beautiful chairs, television and air condition but a place where the masses can run to for succour.
Your advice for Nigerians that are preparing for 2019 elections
My advice to all Nigerians is that they should get their permanent voters card and exercise their franchise; they should not mortgage their future because of the salt, rice, soap, money and clothes that politicians will give to them, otherwise, they would have sold four years of development because of greed and selfishness.
Once you give your mandate to those money maniacs, they will come in and block your access to them and they won’t pick your calls again till after four years before you hear from them again.