Abike pretty
by on June 2, 2021
Even if the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, does not consider himself to be prejudiced, his recent behaviour and conduct showed otherwise. All humans show signs of implicit bias-unconscious bigotries that power our actions. An implicit bias is an unconscious association, belief, or mindset towards any social group.
The fact that Malami made undesirable and impractical statements does not mean that he is necessarily bigoted or inclined to discriminate against the Southern people. It simply means that at that time, his brain was working in a way that makes such generalisations discriminatory in output. As a result of implicit biases, people may often attribute certain qualities or characteristics to all members of a particular group, a phenomenon known as stereotyping.
Unintentional bias on the part of Malami could have influenced the way he treated certain religious and ethnic groups especially as it relates to southerners. Most of us are unaware that we hold such biases, which can unknowingly contribute to statements or actions of prejudice and inequalities.
His bias became very explicit when in a disproportionate way he showed more favour towards the Fulani and cows, leaving himself to be regarded as a closed-minded, prejudicial, or an unfair Minister of Justice.
It is important to understand that one’s implicit bias can become an explicit bias, and this happens when one becomes consciously aware of the prejudices and beliefs one possess.
That is, they surface in your conscious mind, leading you to choose whether to act on or against them. This is where Malami got into big trouble.
As the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Malami tried to fault the ban on open grazing by some state governments, asserting it violates the constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of movement. As I recall, freedom of movement is for human beings, and not for cattle or lions.
During an interview granted Channels Television, while condemning the recent resolution of Southern governors, who banned open grazing, in one of his troubling responses, Malami compared open grazing by the Fulani with the selling of motor spare parts in Northern Nigeria, asking how Nigerians will react if Northern governors also ban those who sell spare parts in the North.
For many in Nigeria, this way of talking was a veiled reference to the Igbo of southeastern descent, who dominate in trading motor spare parts. These words are directly wrapped with stereotypical judgements and, negatively affect his own capacity to be seen as an objective and impartial judicial officer.
Malami’s assumptions about a social group in the South and generalising it to all Southerners as informed in his language, specific attitude, and actions although in subtle ways, make him look like a tribal arbitrator.
The fact that he appeared engrossed in evoking ethnic/regional descriptions that are particular to one tribal social group makes him seen as a tribalist. Due to his explicit and implicit biases, he looks like an Attorney General who is with unconscious ethnic biases, overt tribal biases, unethical manners, and a force of fear to persons who are not of his ethnic and religious experiences.
He is now seen as a Minister of Justice who pushes unequal treatment based on ethnic, religious, and commercial affiliations. An Attorney General who ethnically profiles a certain social group in Nigeria, especially when a chief arbitrator of the people and the justice system is supposed to be neutral in ethnic and regional disputes and remains an enforcer of the rules of the game equally while ensuring that he is always in service of all people.
An Attorney General cannot be seen as siding with the business of cattle and prejudicial to motor spare parts trading, just because each business invokes different tribal customs. He cannot be viewed through his public statements as one taking actions that are so plainly ideological, so nakedly tribalistic and deeply inappropriate for Nigeria’s chief law enforc ement officer. He cannot be seen as an Attorney General who because of unconscious and explicit biases supports rampant illegality such as destroying of farms, trespassing, killings, and raping due to the menace of open grazing of cows.
I have had indirect professional contact with Malami who from my way of reasoning is a person of professional diversity and progressive values, and a believer in a free society. He and others could gain from some training on this issue.
So, I will suggest that next time, he should focus on seeing people as individuals, not tribes. Rather than focusing on stereotypes to define people or what they do for a living, he should spend time considering them on a more personal, individual level. He should work on consciously changing his stereotypes.
He should take time to pause and reflect. To reduce spontaneous reactions; he should take time to reflect on potential biases and replace them with positive or neutral examples of the stereotyped group. Next time, if he recognises that his response to a certain tribe or persons might be rooted in biases or stereotypes, he needs to try to consciously adjust his response, especially on TV.
He must remember, as long as he is in that position as the chief law enforcement officer, and the Minister of Justice for Nigeria, and the central public servant of the people, he should lead with fairness and impartial administration of justice on behalf of the Nigerian people.
Prof. Oshodi, an American-based police/prison scientist and forensic psychologist, wrote in via Jos5930458@aol.com
By Punch Editorial
Tags: agf malami
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