By Sunny Awhefeada
Festus Keyamo must have joined politics as an idealist with a big dream of how to serve the Nigerian people and liberate them from poverty and ignorance. His antecedents construct the testament of a mind that ranged on the side of the people. His choice of Law as a profession puts him in good stead like Ghandi and his mentor Gani Fawehinmi to be an advocate of the people’s cause. That he did and fought many a battle on behalf of the Nigerian plebeians in the law courts. He also marched with them on the streets whenever it was necessary. When he resolved his choice to join politics he didn’t jump into the bandwagon of the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) with all the gravy that it had to offer. He pitched his tent with Fawehinmi and his National Conscience Party (NCP). He like the other cadres who formed the party had thought of reinventing a conscience for politics in Nigeria. But Nigeria was not ripe for that. The NCP didn’t fly and it got asphyxiated even before Fawehinmi went the way of all mortals.
When the All Progressives Congress (APC) was being formed, Keyamo read the move as an alignment of progressive forces that would rescue Nigeria. Many Nigerians also thought the same about the APC. Keyamo, following the death of Senator Pius Ewherido in 2013, tried to get the APC senatorial ticket, but he was dribbled hands down. He didn’t quit. He kept hope alive and played a key role in the process leading to Buhari’s reelection in 2019. Keyamo was to become the spokesman and face of not just the Buhari campaign, but the regime. He gave a good account of himself although some of us excoriated him for overhyping the Buhari regime despite its monumental failure.
His moment came when he was nominated and eventually appointed as a junior Federal Minister. Keyamo didn’t see the one hundred and nine obstacles ahead of him when he was appointed as a Minister. His enthusiasm and probably the naivety that beclouds idealism blinded him to the one hundred and nine obstacles. The obstacles confronted him last week and they are now standing in his way to serving the Nigerian people. The Nigerian Senate, made up of one hundred and nine sinators, remains a cog in the wheel of Nigeria’s progress. And the one hundred and nine sinators are the one hundred and nine obstacles that Keyamo must cross. The ongoing kerfuffle between the Senate and Keyamo should be seen as a war against the Nigerian people. When the Senate President pronounced in the manner of a stone age despot that whatever had been done to recruit the 774, 000 workers was “null and void”, he was pronouncing the nullification of hope for Nigerian youths who are the envisaged beneficiaries of the programme.
The sinators desperately wanted to hijack the employment and asked that they should discuss hush-hush with Keyamo in the dark recess of their anti-people chamber. Keyamo insisted that the discussion must be in the open so that Nigeria will not be shortchanged. The sinators took umbrage. The sinators’ underhand dealings predate Keyamo’s experience. They wanted to extort N55 Million from Nasiru El Rufai many years ago. They did the same thing to Fabian Osuji and Adenike Grange. Their counterparts in the Lower House, Farouk Lawal and Herman Hembe, at different times extorted Femi Otedola and Aruman Oteh respectively. These are just a few instances that came to light. Many abound that were swallowed up by the cavernous red and green chambers. Nigerian youths must stand with Keyamo on this to secure their economic empowerment. I read some asinine comments somewhere that Keyamo would not bring “something home” if he doesn’t back down. Yes, our politics is steep in such primordial thought about “bring something home.” Chris Ngige, the grandmaster of unacceptable compromises has apologized to the sinators. But he should have done more: go on his knees and cry!
Nigeria is now a country of one day one trouble. The Keyamo vs sinators scenario was still on when news came of the arrest of the “thief catcher” Ibrahim Magu, the now suspended chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Magu is being accused of doing mago mago with recovered loots. His accusers say he was also looting recovered loots! Magu has just confirmed the saying of the elders that only a thief can trace the footprints of a thief. Magu went about his job in a most unprofessional manner. He was too much in the public glare, too garrulous and inelegantly arrogant. He deployed lies, blackmail and media trial and in the end diminished his office.
Magu was supposed to be “catching thieves” he is now being accused of being a thief. It is an ironic case of the hunter now being the hunted. He was arrested on the streets we were told. Those he persecuted, arrested and prosecuted must be having a good laugh now. The Magu incident calls to question the manner of appointments into public office in Nigeria. We are daily inundated with unsavoury stories of abuse of trust in public office. Office holders now see the looting of public funds as their primary objective. Professors, lawyers, doctors, soldiers, policemen, teachers, and not only politicians, are involved in the looting business. So, we are all thieves after all!
Corruption is killing Nigeria. The many failures that we daily lament are the consequences of corruption. Bad roads, failed education and health systems, unemployment, poverty, crime, insecurity, loss of values, electoral malpractice and all the other evils bedeviling Nigeria are the tragic consequences of corruption. We are in for trouble unless we embark on a deliberate turnaround of our conscience and do what is good by it. We must all get involved. We must all sign up for a new alignment for the rebirth of Nigeria. The time to do that is now.