The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi has revealed why he accepted to serve in the cabinet of President Bola Tinubu.
According to the legal luminary, he accepted to serve in the administration of President Tinubu in order to contribute his quota to the progress and development of the country.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria who said he was surprised by his nomination as a minister because he did not lobby for it, added that the time had come for the professionals and technocrats in the country not to leave the business of governance alone to the politicians but join the fray to make a change
Fagbemi spoke in Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti state capital at the weekend when he was hosted to a reception by members of the Emmanuel Chambers led by the leader and founder of the Afe Babalola University, Aare Afe Babalola, SAN.
The event was attended by top lawyers in the country including Chief Akin Olujimi, SAN ; Chief Niyi Akintola,SAN ; Adebayo Adenipekun,SAN and the national secretary of the All Progressives Congress, Senator Ajibola Bashiru.
The minister, who was the second lawyer from the chambers to be made Attorney General of the Federation after Chief Akin Olujimi, explained that he was already collating views and ideas of stakeholders towards having a blueprint for the nation’s justice system in line with the agenda of the president for the country.
While commending his colleagues and friends for organizing the reception, he stated that the contributions of Afe Babalola to his success and achievement in the legal profession were immeasurable and unmatched, promising not to disappoint the chambers in his new role.
According to him, “ I did not submit any application nor lobby to be made the minister. I know a lot of people have been insinuating and I can say that I don’t know anything about the ministerial nomination. The president told me that, ‘ don’t allow anyone to deceive you, I want you that is why I appointed you. In fact, I did not have a CV as of the time I was nominated because I have never needed it in my life and when I got to the DSS , they were surprised I didn’t have a prepared CV.
“ I have accepted this responsibility and all I need is your advice. We cannot all be saying the way they(Politicians) have been doing it we don’t like it , then you leave them. I am not a politician but we should be there to make a change in our country.
“ Getting to a position is not the issue but maintaining the status of such a position is the issue and that is why I said it is a challenge because I know hopes are high. As I mentioned earlier, you don’t just come out and say this is what I will do, you must also follow up with how you will do it. And that is why all the critical stakeholders are being engaged to have their inputs, harmonize their views, then come out with what I will call a blueprint, in line with the Mr President’s Renewed hope agenda.”
On the call for a transformation of the country by speakers at the event, Fagbemi emphasized the need for the three tiers of government to collaborate and bring ideas together for the effective growth and development of the nation.
“ The issue of transformation of the country is not a one man business. People make the mistake of thinking that it belongs to the federal government alone, that is not correct. The correct position is to appreciate the fact that Nigeria is a federation and when you talk about a federation, each segment has to man its post.
“ In order to have any meaningful impact, progress and development, you need to engage each of these tiers of government to be on the same page and sing from the same hymn so that we can all present what I will call comprehensive development or progress in the nation,” he said.
Speaking, the ABUAD founder, Afe Babalola eulogized the achievements of Fagbemi in the legal profession since he joined his Emmanuel chambers in 1985 as corps member and conferred with the rank of SAN at the age of 37.
He called on the new Attorney general to use his office to engineer the needed change in the political system in the country with a new constitution , which he said would help the nation survive its current challenges across major sectors.
The renowned lawyer said, “ I know Lateef Fagbemi, he is an uncommon man doing uncommon things and achieving uncommon results. He is a pride to the chambers because he had learnt how to turn things around.
“ While the government may be studying the situation, the truth is that Nigerians are becoming more and more impatient. The age long adage is that we should not treat leprosy with the drugs meant for scabies. I repeat that what we need is a New Constitution.
“ I believe that with his experience , Lateef Fagbemi can turn things around and build a new Nigeria through a new constitution under which politics shall no longer be regarded as a transactional business.”
On his part, the Ekiti state governor, Biodun Oyebanji who hailed Babalola for the achievements recorded by his chambers in the legal profession by producing two Attorneys General, urged the minister to remain committed in upholding the principle of justice, fairness and the rule of law in the country.