By Reno Omokri
The petition by the Minister of State for Labour and Productivity (ironically, he has been a most unproductive minister), Festus Keyamo, to the Department of State Services (DSS), calling for the arrest and prosecution of Peter Obi, the Labour Party Presidential candidate, and his running mate, Senator Datti Baba-Ahmed, is an ill wind that blows no one any good, and his boss, President Buhari, should display leadership by calling him to order.
First of all, nothing Peter Obi has said is inciting, treasonable, or of such a concern that he should be prosecuted. Mr. Obi is usually prudent in his choice of words, and his only major issue is misstating facts, or just outright exaggeration, when he is excited.
But incitement and treason are very out of character for him.
His running mate is another matter. I do agree that his comments describing the future swearing-in of Bola Tinubu as the “end of democracy” in Nigeria are borderline treasonable. But that being said, he is talking of a future event that may become a moot point, depending on the verdict of the courts.
And it is most reckless for Festus Keyamo to raise such an alarm. He works for a man who, in and out of government, has made some of the most treasonous and inciting comments ever by a public official or public figure in Nigeria.
For example, his May 15, 2012 comment as follows: “If what happened in 2011 (alleged rigging) should again happen in 2015, by the grace of God, the dog and the baboon would all be soaked in blood.”
Or then again, his June 3, 2013 comment condemning the military offensive against Boko Haram anti North.
What about his June 2, 2021 genocidal threat against the Igbo, to talk to them in a language that they would understand? A comment so offensive that it was deleted by Twitter?
Or again, his June 10, 2021 “dot in a circle” comment?
The fact is that this administration lacks the moral authority to go after either Mr. Obi, or Senator Baba-Ahmed.
It would be a good time to draw the attention of the Buhari regime to what is happening in India.
The Modi-led government instigated the trial of opposition leader, Rahul Gandhi, who is the son and grandson of former Indian Prime Ministers, for defamation.
He was convicted and sentenced to two years’ imprisonment and lost his Parliamentary seat. But the heat generated by his conviction is causing serious tensions in India.
Protests have broken out, unease has arisen amongst India’s castes (especially the OBCs or other backward castes), and the tension is proving difficult for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party to handle, and has even divided opinions within the BJP.
And instead of focusing on its remarkable economic achievements, India is now focused on Rajiv Gandhi and his Indian National Congress, in a way that is increasing Mr. Gandhi’s popularity.
Is that what the sass mouthing Mr. Keyamo wants for Nigeria?
Even if Buhari is blind to the consequences of entering the rabbit hole that Mr. Keyamo is taking him into, Mr. Tinubu cannot allow himself to be so deluded.
Mr. Keyamo is the spokesperson for his Presidential Campaign Council and is seen by the public to speak for him.
In the unlikely or likely event that he is successful at the Election Petition Tribunals, would he not want to start on a clean slate and unite the country?
Is arresting a major opposition leader the type of opening gambit he wants to start his government with?
Even the existence and public awareness of the petition undermines Nigeria’s democracy and would have an impact on our next Corruption Perception Index and our ranking on The Economist Magazine’s Democracy Index.
And the question the international community would be asking is why would Buhari and Tinubu, who both protested against the Jonathan administration during Occupy Nigeria, and made some ill-advised comments, cannot be as tolerant as the governments they succeeded.
Already, the Southeast feels left out in the cold, and completely shut out of the power dynamics in Nigeria, with the continued detention of Nnamdi Kanu, despite a court judgment ordering his release. And now, Festus Keyamo wants to add insult to injury by calling for Peter Obi’s arrest? Is Nigeria deliberately provoking the Igbo or what?
Nnamdi Kanu and Peter Obi are the most popular Igbo men on planet Earth. And Peter Obi happens to be massively popular beyond the Southeast. With Kanu in detention, the Southeast is under pressure, with one full day being lost to commercial activities every week.
And now, Keyamo wants Peter Obi in jail? If either Buhari or Bola Tinubu tries it, they may end up uniting Southern Nigeria behind Peter Obi, and they do not want that at all. In fact, very, very at all as the late Fela Kuti would say.
Where was the same Keyamo when Sheikh Gumi was consorting with bandits and calling for Nigeria to accede to their demands? Where was he when the All Progressives Congress Majority Leader in the House of Representatives, Honourable (?) Alhassan Ado Garba threatened his constituents to either vote APC or be dealt with?
Buhari needs to call Keyamo to order. He is doing too much. And this much of muchness is not much good to Buhari, to Tinubu, and to the nation.
Right now, Buhari and Tinubu ought to be putting heads together to see how they can coax the Southeast to end the Monday sit at home. They certainly should not be allowing Keyamo to use their heads to deepen the problem by calling for Peter Obi’s arrest!
Nobody knows the spark that can ignite the tension in Nigeria. That is why prudent Nigerians are cautious with their public comments at this critical stage of our nation’s development.
We have seen an incumbent President lose to an opposition. That is one major democratic milestone. Now perhaps, we may soon see the courts, for the first time, having the balls to declare the last Presidential elections null and void and ordering a new one. Nothing is impossible.
As we all wait with bated breath, let us remind the Festus Keyamos of the world that no condition is permanent.
On Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu
I do not know if he actually meant to call Yoruba people “rascals”, or it was a slip of tongue, and he is now trying to walk that back, but I watched the video myself. Let me give Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu the benefit of the doubt. He is an elder statesman and could have been misquoted.
Yes, there were pockets of violence in Lagos during #NigerianElections2023 but they were overblown and over reported. I know of states where people died. Some in the North, but a lot in the South. I just do not want to mention the states, because some people will turn it into a contest, and it will just lead to an argument. However, let me say that in terms of peaceful elections, the Southwest led the way.
Trying to stigmatise the Yoruba, especially the Yoruba of Lagos (you heard me right) in borrowed colours of intolerance for others will not work. In terms of liberalism, accommodation of others, and largeness of heart, we must give it to the Southwest. And this goes even beyond politics and quotidian life.
Even spiritually, the Yoruba are ahead of the rest of us, in a sense.
The conduct of the Yoruba is a credit to both major religions in Nigeria. Look at the way Yoruba Muslims behave. They make Islam look so cool and appealing. And then look at Yoruba Christians. RCCG, Winners, Deeper life. The clash between Catholics and Anglicans that happen elsewhere is absent in Yorubaland.
Their live and let live worldview is a study in peaceful coexistence. The Yoruba understand and manage diversity so well. If we all had such an outlook, Nigeria’s state would be far better than where she is today.
Carry your mother in her old age, just as she carried you during your pregnancy and infancy. Carry her financially. And emotionally. Respect her in her twilight years. Don’t use a sweet voice to talk to your girlfriend or wife, and use a harsh voice on your mother! If there is only one woman that can die for you, that person is your mother. Yet, you are telling a girl you have known for less than a year you will die for her. Die now! She will move on to the next romantic. After God’s Love, it is mother’s love. Honour your mother!