Now that the Nigerian Bar Association is set to elect a new President to pilot the affairs of the most populous Bar Association in Africa, it is very important for all lawyers to participate with all sense of sincerity and responsibility to the bar and country. This is because Lawyers are being perceived as aiding and abetting all kinds of corrupt practices in Nigeria.
There is a general suspicion of foul play in the justice system, but this I believe can change with the right leadership from the NBA and that is why it should matter a great deal who leads our Bar.
I first met AB Mahmoud in June 2011 shortly after being accepted to work as an Intern in his Abuja office of Dikko & Mahmoud and from that moment I found a mentor. Firstly, I was fascinated by the prompt response I got when I submitted an application to intern with this Legal Luminary without going through any friend or family member, as is usually the case in Nigeria. Secondly, I was greatly challenged working closely with his team even as an intern. I remember vividly when he asked me to contribute to discussions in a case strategy meeting. AB asked, “What do you think of this Ibrahim?” I replied “Sir I am just an Intern” and he said, “That is exactly why your voice matters and you are not always going to be an Intern. You should see yourself as a Lawyer already.” This episode particularly gave me a sense of belonging and inspired me greatly. That was indeed a boost in my journey to becoming a Lawyer. Upon being called to the Bar in 2013, the first person I rushed to see was AB and all I asked for at the meeting was an opportunity to join his team again, which he gladly accepted. I began my training as a Lawyer with AB. It has been an unusual journey. Even my peers would testify that we got a different kind of training at our firm and I began to wonder what was really special about this training. I then realized the openness, sincerity and passion with which AB always took us through every task /case. I saw a very skilled, well experienced yet highly understated Lawyer in AB. Everyone had great things to say about this gentleman then everything made sense to me.
My most important moment with AB was when he asked if he could join my friend Mohammed Bello- Malabu and I to brunch at our favourite Salamander Cafe in Abuja and we gladly accepted even though surprised at his interest to hang out with us. We invited him and he did show up wearing a white kaftan and hat. It was an unusual appearance as we always saw him in suit. It felt for a moment like breakfast with my father. We placed our orders and began to chat about Abuja and moving back home but of course Mohammed and I were still surprised at why he joined us. Then the moment we were all waiting for came as AB began to talk about the firm. He said to us: “I want to rebuild the firm to meet up with the changing demands of our time and I want you guys to contribute to this” looking straight into our eyes and my immediate response was to ask if he was actually being serious. He then spoke about the need to inspire the next generation of Lawyers, which is something very important to him. In his words, we need to grow our practice and profession having young people like you in mind. This was greatly inspiring to say the least. We told all our friends and family about our “refreshing” Brunch with the Boss. Then we started the journey of rebuilding and rebranding the firm for the future. He challenged us to work harder, we and other young lawyers within the firm worked closely on the most important cases and it didn’t matter how young we were as long as we could deliver. He took us everywhere to meet every client no matter how highly placed and it has been a very rewarding and impacting journey.
I am writing this not to talk about how much of a “cool guy” AB Mahmoud is, but because I have come to realise that my encounter with AB is rather symbolic. Our encounter represents the idea that someone cares about the next generation of lawyers and commits to it in the ways that matter and make lasting impact. It represents the idea that any young Lawyer could be given an opportunity to grow in an unusual way. It represents the idea of #ABraveNewBar with every young Lawyer having the best possible start. AB is a total gentleman and a man of integrity whose antecedents bear him witness. He rose to become the Attorney General of Kano State from State Pupil Counsel and attained the rank of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria in 2001. Many Lawyers have gained enormously from his mentorship and still continue to learn from this Legal Luminary.
We should all look to AB Mahmoud’s leadership of the Nigerian Bar Association at this very crucial time for the Bar and entire justice system.
Ibrahim Adamu Abdullahi