Sen. Abe was recently honored by the Law Students Association of Nigeria during its 4th National Convention, Grand Dinner and Awards Night 2020 in Abuja
By Kennedy Friday
Sitting there, very late in the night, at the luxurious event hall of the resplendent Zeus Paradise Hotel, Abuja, as Senator Abe walked up to the podium to receive his award, I had many thoughts in my mind, but William Shakespeare’s immortal words in The Merchant of Venice was predominant: “How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world”.
That was last Friday, exactly one week today, during the 4th LAWSAN National Convention 2020 Grand Dinner and Awards Night. Senator Abe, among few prominent Nigerians, was an awardee of Africa’s largest Law Students Association on the night.
Even though he is no longer at the Senate, the enchanting perfume thrown into the air by Abe’s great deeds which found expression in his unprecedented support to young people and law school going graduates from his Senatorial district and Rivers State at large during his eventful time at the upper chamber of our bicameral legislature has endured, and has continued to emit captivating smell like the olfactory composition of an exceptional Nose! It just won’t go away! Not surprisingly, when the executives of LAWSAN national were poring over the names of deserving individuals for their distinguished awards, Senator Abe’s name, unsolicited by the awardee, popped up, for all the good reasons.
Nine years ago, after his first election to the Nigerian Senate, among many public-spirited private initiatives and interventions, Abe instituted an annual support for law school going students from his district.
Every year, based on clearly defined and religiously followed parameters of merit, Abe, on a party-blind schedule, gave out support to a number of deserving law graduates proceeding to law school.
At the end of his glorious and achievements-replete tenure in 2019, over 500 law graduates had benefitted from the scheme.
Of course, Abe’s token support understandably might not have been everything to the beneficiaries at the time, but coming straight from the heart of someone who had to toil and endure anxiety before being able to raise transport fare to Nigerian Law School in Lagos in 1986/87, it was worth every inch, and the beneficiaries accepted the support with gratitude.
And that gratitude is to the frequent astonishment of Senator Magnus Abe at the airports and other public places everywhere he goes in the voices of those who were touched by his modest generosity. “Sir I know that you don’t know me. I was a recipient of your scholarship in so so year”. And this happens ad infinitum!
Like when Senator Abe is accosted at public places by strange faces to regale him with stories of how they got his scholarships in different categories, I also saw that deep, genuine smile on his face when, clad in ash coloured suit, he walked briskly to the stage to receive his distinguished award as “Catalyst of Legal Education” at the glamorous Zeus Paradise hotel a week ago.
The way Abe was excited about his annual law school support—in fact the last edition happened months after he left office as a Senator—I always imputed a species of bias on his part. Why was he so engrossed in this particular support scheme among many he instituted? Of course I found the answer myself. Abe is a brilliant lawyer, and charity, they say, begins at home.
Just as Dele Giwa said that no evil deed done by man against man will go unpunished, I dare add that no good deed done by man to his fellow will go unrewarded. Abe is alive to receive the rewards and acknowledgements that his exertions for public good deserve. Now, more than ever before, we see the wisdom why he chose “putting the people first” as his slogan in the Senate.
Putting the people first in any public platform one is privileged to occupy comes with its own challenges, sacrifices and enormous discomfort, but those who are able to endure the rigors will always have their names written in gold, and joy unspeakable will grace their hearts as eternal testimony.
That was exactly what I saw on the face of Abe seven days ago at the Zeus Paradise Hotel Abuja. Such honour, on such a huge national platform, is an elixir to the soul. There is no question that the best Senator in the history of Rivers South-East deserves all the accolades coming his way. We shall be remembered for the works we have done. Whether it will be positive remembrance like Abe’s is what each of us must choose.