Wikipedia is the place to have persons defined as they will want to be perceived in relation to their passion, purpose and priority. On this, Festus Keyamo is introduced to the world as a lawyer by profession, Senior Advocate of Nigeria. His passion, purpose and priority were encapsulated in three words: critic, columnist, human rights activist.
The dynamics of states reaching their vision is at the mercy of the Fourth Estate of the realm and the civil society. To the former Keyamo belong as a columnist, spicing his writings with the richness of his critical mind. He was indeed a critic. The latter had the best of him, up in legal battles several times against oppressive policies and high handedness in governments.
In 2008, ferocious Festus made a legal prey of the Federal Government when he took them to court over illegal appointment of Service Chiefs. But between 2008 and now so much has gone under the bridge to quieten our dear Festus. While almost every Nigerian were crying over the illegality of the appointment and tenure extension of service chiefs, Keyamo looked the other way. In 2014, he became an Ambassador of the change Nigeria is presently “enjoying”. By 2018 what lies ahead will need strategic communication and who else but Keyamo fitted the bill. He did so without anyone having a glimpse of this next level of Fulanization.
No nation has ever been built on any one generation or singly on the vision of their founding fathers, except supported by the civil rights activists and the Fourth Estate of the realms. Nation’s dreams will never be guarded by politicians and government officials but by a committed media community and the civil societies. Nations that had great reformers who brought about great change in the society do so because the Media understood such vision, sold it to the people and stood up for it.
We have had many push for success as a nation. The pre-independent Nigeria had such activists, whose efforts were sustained among the masses through the support system the Media provided.
Our freedom from the military, were championed by many captains of the people’s army. Men such as Ken Saro Wiwa who will not sell out their people, but rather put Ogoni agitations in Global perspective at the cost of his life.
The tendency to become oppressive is a challenge of leadership. Babangida was mustering a democratic approach in military uniform and was deft enough to have remained glued to power. But the resistant forces of the people, led by the Senior Advocate of the Masses, the Late Chief Gani Fawehinmi supported by a credible crop of members of the Media principal among whom was Dele Giwa, who though paid the ultimate price. There were also others like him who gave bite to the efforts of the people for freedom.
The mentorship of Gani Fawehinmi gave rise to several leading lights on the stage of activism in Nigeria today. In the twilight of military era in Nigeria, we had such men as Omoyele Sowore who has remained consistently consistent at championing the cause of the Nigerian masses. Festus Keyamo like one destined, joined the people’s chamber in the year of National Deliverance, 1993. So a fruitful life of activism started on the rhythm of societal hope for change.
Two years later like a joinman who has had enough of his carpenter, he proceeded to start his private practice. With many landmark human right cases, he came to limelight. His legal erudition came on hand in the inadvertent allegations of Jagaban’s Certificate Scandal.
Never in the history of activism has anyone been as loud as him. He was in the media for any and every reason always having something to say. Hence Nigerians took him serious, in hope that another Gani Fawehinmi was here. For his efforts, he was forgiven for whatever was responsible for the drama of his parting with the People’s SAM (Senior Advocate of the Masses). But can a leopard change its skin? Keyamo rose to stardom riding on the wings of the people.
The compromise of the Media and the civil societies by politicians are the biggest undoing of our nation state. Civil right movements and activism have become a big business and a once treasured profession of journalism that brought leaders like Lateef Jakande to limelight and made of them peoples’ leader till death, is today a merchandise for the highest bidder.
Festus Keyamo has made a thriving enterprise, out of not just his practice of law, but his strategic communication activism. From the juicy case of Tinubu’s certificate scandal, to holding the referral of EFCC, only to be seen at the table of corruption with men who he once referred in court as accused in financial corruption cases.
There is a great difference between Gani Fawehinmi and Festus Keyamo. Gani’s conscience will have nothing to do with corruption, nor will he share a table with men whose identities are in doubt as looters of the people’s commonwealth. Babangida himself testified to it on a National Television when he affirmed that of all critics of government in Nigeria, Ganiyu Oyesola Fawehinmi stood out! Babangida butressed his point by further confirming that his own Administration offered Fawehinmi the post of Attorney General and Minister of Justice six (6) times, yet Fawehinmi rejected the offers and insisted that Military regimes were an aberration!
Death is an adage. It spoke in Gani Fawehinmi, the lawman and Dele Giwa the Mediaman, that we should be careful of what may become of activism.
Festus Keyamo’s noise with APC was not in vain. He was rewarded with a juicy appointment to serve as junior minister to a man he once accused as a looter and put in the duck.
He couldn’t stay long at “off the mic ministry of Niger Delta”. He would be too loud for Akpabio’s mandate at the ministry. A raging internal politics seconded him to the Ministry of labour and productivity where he had reasons to reinvent the “bull” in him who could still bully members of the National Assembly. But this bull no longer has teeth to bite!
The Festus who walked the streets in protest against bad governance as a student in his university days is now minister of state for labour and productivity when ASSU was on strike for over a year, staff of Polytechnics are beginning theirs and Keyamo’s voice is yet to be heard. His President is on AWOL, on a flimsy medical excuse while Doctors are on strike in Nigeria and Keyamo has nothing to say on the President’s absence nor to Doctors or our patients nation who will suffer the brunt of Doctors strike. Casualisation of worker has take over every sectors under our human rights activist; even the Oil Industry is not spared. Our unemployment rate has risen to 30% under the watch of Keyamo and Ngige. Appointments into juicy parastatals and agencies are allegedly up for sales to the highest bidder, our productivity as a nation is at it’s all time low while Keyamo held sway as minister of state at the ministry of labour and productivity. The passionate lawyer and SAN to whom the #EndSARS generation should look in the day of their affliction for a pro bono service has been overtaken by pleasure.
The mistake of this administration has become to Nigerians, is not to the political class who deliberately packaged incompetence, ineptitude for integrity and handed same to the civil society organizations who got the media merchants men and women to deliver it to the door steps of Nigerians.
At the peak of our preparation for 2023, death has thrown another adage to us in the demise of Yinka Odumakin. That an “Ade oni yeye”, (a jesting Ade) will jump at the opportunity of Odumakin’s demise and turn a mourning visit into Afenifere’s endorsement of an Afenifeibi.
As we slide towards 2023, we must not just be weary of the politicians and their tactics, we must look and examine closely the activities of civil societies and the comprised Media to be sure that the packages they are serving at our doorstep, have not been pirated by the evil geniuses in our political space.
Retired Activists like Festus Keyamo, Adams Oshiomole and others like them must not be allowed to come out of retirement showing zeal of activism and speaking languages of the masses to further their political enterprise. They must be left to whatever their lot and lost they have incured.