I often fantasise about blowing up the PHCN office – to make a political statement of sorts. You see, my I better pass my neighbour generating set is sometimes as undependable as PHCN. Every time mosquitoes begin to terrorise me, I would indulge in elaborate plans to retaliate MEND-style. Sadly, in the stereotypical Yoruba way, I never really get through the logistics and stop at grumbling and mouthing the worst curses and insults I can think of. These days, I also manage to throw in righteous thoughts of using my power to #Select in April, which is far easier than learning how to make bombs. I think I am also worried that I may have Mutallab’s luck. Jail is a bad place – no coffee or ice-cream.
Upon reflection, I am inclined to admit that this – my self-indulgent arsonist fantasies - is one of pressing reasons why lawyers and the legal system will outlive the earth. In addition to making distinctions between ‘contract splitting’ and ‘contract inflation’, the world needs lawyers to protect itself from the ‘desperate wickedness’ of the human mind.
Lawyer-lynching is fashionable these days. People make awful lawyer jokes, bait lawyers and make derogatory comments about our noble profession. Far from mere jealousy, I think these mortals have a severe love-hate thing with us. Despite what they say, these ‘ordinary’ people love the idea of a distinct profession that pulls off an awkward uniform rather elegantly. It is like the perverse pleasure the British ‘commoner’ must feel while paying taxes to keep royalty’s lifestyle luxurious. Nigerians, more especially, love the idea of being ‘connected’ and the legal profession offers an easier route than blue blood.
These are interesting times for the Nigerian judiciary. Cynicism has now become acceptable. Upon deeper scrutiny, however I realise that people still love the idea of a noble Solomon, a righter of wrongs, the wise arbiter who knows all. More so, they like the idea of having a judge listen to them as they tell how devious the ‘other party’ is. It is like seeing a physiologist without having to admit the existence of serious emotional issues. They love the attention they get when the judge writes down their words. They also really like the Millionaire Nigeria-like ‘hot seat’ feeling they get during cross examination.
Nollywood needs the law to get away with lines as ‘I will take you to court’, which comes with the mandatory dramatic slap on the table. Court scenes have also been known to take a fair lengthy of time which could help push a thirty-minute video film to ‘part 2’. Lawyers of course, being the pious lot that we are, have not sent any bills to the industry at this time.
No ‘industry’ loves the law as legislators, though. Since they are supposed to make laws, lawyers justify the allowances our lawmakers pay to themselves. Legislators also carefully write the law in unclear language and create convoluted legal procedures so that lawyers get to challenge these in court, which leads to more laws, and more work. It is a sham, really.
The media needs lawyers. Only statisticians will be able to tell us how many cover pages the hardworking Mr. Keyamo, the illustrious Mr. Falana or the much loved Gani must have helped sell. Lawyers provide the activism or controversy that keeps the newspaper industry thriving. Further, as long as newspapers print headlines with misinterpreted Wikileaks cables, people will sue or at least threaten to. We need lawyers for these cases.
I am sorry to disappoint the supporters of the beautiful first lady but the thing is ‘everyone will die’ – eventually, at least. So, as morbid as it sounds, lawyers are helpful in making this ‘situation’ smoother by writing wills.