One Appointment Too Many for Our Festus Keyamo 

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By Chief Ojike John Akiri

There is this unassailable truism that the dancer can ordinarily not see his back and therefore may never be the right judge for the displayed choreography, no matter the level of self-confidence he or she may exude. That assignment belongs to the spectators in the performance arena. They are the ones to announce with approximate precision, the dexterous prowess or otherwise of the dancer on stage.

So it is ,  that by his posturing and utterances  on  burning national issues these past years, Festus Keyamo has forged for himself the enthralling image of the  voice of the voiceless and the  defender of  the oppressed  in the nostalgic mold of our much-loved  Gani Fawehinmi  of blessed memory. Briefly put, the masses have in the inner recesses of their subconscious, begun seeing Keyamo as their new Gani Fawehinmi. You would recall that Gani was awarded the honorary, though legally non-existent SAM (Senior Advocate of the Masses), by the people themselves, following what they perceived as the inherent injustice in the snailish pace of the Legal Privileges Council in actualizing his SAN conferment.  However, contrary to the fate of the late iconic human rights activist, the teeming masses have been quite delighted at the meteoric rise of Festus Keyamo, who is already adorned in the silky apurtenances of the honoured and privileged cast of Senior Advocates of Nigeria.

But I am not quite sure that Keyamo realizes the moral burden he shoulders in the minds of a sizeable majority of the Nigerian populace and particularly the downtrodden. It is so, because nobody would go to the radio or newspapers to announce such feelings. But make no mistake about it, Keyamo is generally  perceived, whether rightly or wrongly as the undeclared successor of the late human rights activist Fawehinmi, the altruistic   advocate and lawyer  of  the oppressed.  Deduced from this standpoint, nobody would expect the people’s own Keyamo to compromise, in any manner whatsoever, on issues that hinge on untainted truth and natural justice.

Then  came this appointment for Festus Keyamo, from Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, the apparently  “irreplaceable” and constant  choice of President Buhari for the “sensitive”  position of   Director General of  his  2019 presidential campaigns organisation, that  he has been chosen as the official spokesman for the  organisation. I am even thinking that the DG himself should have rather incorporated that function into his own schedule, to avoid any cacophonous babel on issues of policy enunciation.  Keyamo’s teeming admirers wondered what the reaction of their new “Gani” would be on this rather conflictual responsibility that has all the trappings of a poisoned chalice. The Holy writ cautions that no man should entertain the illusion of wanting to simultaneously worship the living God and mammon.  In other words, can any man be spokesman for Buhari’s re-election machinery and still remain spokesman for the trampled and nameless masses of this country?

Coincidentally, the masses are at this moment eagerly awaiting answers to a barrage of questions agitating their minds. Can Keyamo still speak for them?
Let’s quickly take a sampler of the flurry of such worrisome issues:
There was the much-trumpeted and eagerly awaited list of treasury looters. The former Governor of Sokoto State, Alhaji Bafarawa, and a member of the APC inner caucus at early inception, had revealed that all the former PDP governors that crossed over to APC before the 2015 general elections, were expected to pay N100m each, in order to inherit the coalesced structures of the “coat of many colours” that was the nascent APC. If this was not treasury looting, could someone volunteer a more acceptable definition? You can now understand better why our amiable National Chairman of the golden era PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, declared in a recent publication, that Buhari was undoubtedly elected with looted funds- QED.

As we all know, there is now a new secretary to the Government of Federation, because the former occupant of that position had preferred to grow fat on the misery and untold hardship of his kith and kin chased away from their homes by the sadistic and mindless Boko Haram. The IDPs now constitute their make-shift homes and temporary solace. But the dismissed SGF conveniently jettisoned the well-scripted procedures for general procurement, and awarded the juicy contracts to his companies, before a patriotic whistle-blower alerted the nation. Now, not only that the name of the indicted SGF was omitted in the famous list, but LAI Mohammed is yet to tell us in unequivocal terms, how much he had fraudulently siphoned. He too is a deservedly mentionable treasury looter. Not so?
We also recall that it was widely reported that the boss of the DSS, his wife and “devoted security man” were watching over ware-housed billions of Naira in assorted currencies somewhere in Lagos.  Have they now found the AIE in usual audit parlance that validates such unorthodox practice? Please remind me if I am wrong, because I did not see this man’s name in the list of special treasury looters.

Furthermore, there was this case of criminal effrontery whereby some politicians were aided by highly placed insiders to break into the sacred vaults of the Enugu High Court’s Probate registry to remove a fellow citizen’s ultra-confidential and sacred will, which they replaced with a photocopy. The will was   “mangled” and distorted with further injection of imaginary properties, for maximum damaging effect. This fake document now formed the basis of disparaging  petitions forwarded  to the EFCC and the Sahara Reporters, the media outfit of our newest  “Presidential aspirant”  Omoyele Sowore.  Sowore and his men, perhaps for quick and cheap popularity, have carved for themselves the irresponsible niche of reporting unverified innuendoes against innocent citizens.   I am aware that there are lawyers sufficiently imbued with an acute sense of self-worth and fear of God that would not accept just every brief for filthy lucre. They first ask probing questions to isolate genuine petitions and grouses, from sheer baseless and diabolical plots that brim with crass vengeance. Again the EFCC as a clearing house should be thorough enough to differentiate between genuine petitions on perpetrated corruption, and the machinations of dubious politicians with dare-devil plots to destroy their real or imaginary enemies.

In my class of elementary biology decades of years ago, I learnt of three modes of feeding in the animal kingdom: there are the herbivores, the omnivores and the carnivores. Where have we read that even the omnivorous snakes may feed exclusively on only Naira notes Otherwise, some suffering Nigerians might as well voluntarily prefer to metamorphose into snakes. Nigerians have the right to know who those human snakes are, in this current regime. They too are treasury looters or are they not?

 And who says that corruption must only be perceived in the context of misappropriation of Naira and Kobo. All the members of what the political scientists may wish to qualify as constituting the kitchen cabinet of the Federal Government are either from Daura or neighbouring northern states: the Attorney General, the Minister of Defence, the Minister of Interior, the Security Adviser, the CSO, the Director SSS and even the current replacement for the removed SFG, are all from the north. Our President is the substantive Minister of Petroleum Resources, while a Daura neighbour reports directly to him as the MD of the NNPC. Our Minister of State for Petroleum  Resources, holder of a first class degree in Law, is a mere equational appendage on petroleum matters.

Let me disclose to my readers the real source of my inspiration in doing this article. Barrister Festus Keyamo had gone to Awka to represent one of his clients in the much publicized case of killings that erupted not too long ago at St Philip’s Catholic Church Awka. And as usual, it was time for him to address a Press Conference on the matter, after the court session. But unknown to him, there was right there seated among the attendees at the Conference a terribly disappointed former admirer of Keyamo as the perceived   “people’s lawyer.” This man by name Bobby Uzochukwu, suddenly stood up unusually in course of the Conference and loudly remonstrated on the failed expectations of Keyamo’s “Ganistic” credentials. Why must he now choose to abandon the masses in preference for Buhari’s naira-spinning campaign spokesmanship? He hurled at him unprintable abuses and was menacingly moving closer to Keyamo when he quickly scampered into a waiting vehicle and sped off. The masses have been badly let down! This is a clear demonstration that there is still some glimmer of hope for this country. Imagine what this country would become in future, if we could count just ten Uzochukwus in every State capital of the Federation. There are innumerable Bobby Uzochukwus lamenting and wailing their abandonment by Keyamo, for the speculatively more lucrative Spokesmanship for Buhari’s second term bid.

Without sounding unnecessarily alarmist, should Buhari not gracefully bow out to devote more time to his failing health, instead of listening to ABN –like cabals who see him first from the selfish periscope of a MILK COW. Must we be seen to be re-enacting the embarrassing scenario of a sick President Abdulaziz Bouteflika of Algeria receiving his foreign counterparts confined to wheel chair owing to deteriorating health condition, or yet the classical case of a Robert Mugabe who at approximately 90 years had resolutely determined with all intents and purposes to die in office, before the army stepped in to rescue hapless Zimbabweans.
In conclusion, I would strongly advise Barrister Keyamo SAN, that trying to retain his new post as  Spokesman for Buhari’s come-back  machinery, and still  attempting to satisfy the down-trodden in their yearnings to hear him speak out for them, would  tantamount to what a favourite Columnist of mine, would describe as the “fantasy of idealistic perversion”.

–Chief OJ AKIRI is a one-time Lecturer in Scientific French at the Rivers State University and a former Director-General in the R/S Ministry of Information and Culture.