Former human rights activist, Mr. Festus Keyamo is from Effurun in Uwvie Local Government Area of Delta State. I passed through Effurun on Saturday, July 30, 2022, on my way to Omadino, an Itsekiri town. Keyamo has been in government for seven years. I did not see any positive impact of his being a minister of the Federal Republic in his hometown. The roads are still very deplorable. The traffic by the popular Effurun roundabout snarled as usual. So, I was not surprised, when I saw him on national television last Friday, approving the closure of our universities, since February 14; six months ago. You definitely cannot give what you don’t have. Someone who has no empathy at home, will likely not have sympathy for the weak outside. I will come back to what he said at the interview, presently.
When the history of Nigeria is written from its contraption as a nation in 1914, to the end of this present pseudo-democratic dispensation, the government of President Muhammadu Buhari will go down in history as the most insensitive and pitiably unexciting, I refused, deliberately, to add wickedness to the qualities of the over seven-year old government of the Daura-born retired General. And it will not matter how the promoters of the government and its Hallelujah orchestra would want us to see the Buhari government. In their sub-consciousness, the promoters and the man who heads the comatose government, know that their place in history is on the negative side. No amount of window- dressing, propaganda or advocacy, like the one marshaled by Festus Keyamo last Friday, can change the verdict of history.
Since February 14, 2022, till the moment you are reading this piece, a period of 176 days, ASUU has been on strike. That is half of a year. The strike action, as we all know, was called by the Union because the government refused to honour the valid agreement it willingly entered into with the university lecturers in 2009. From the time the agreement was signed some 13 years ago, only God Himself knows how many times ASUU had gone either on full strike, warning strike, or entered into negotiations with the government. While canvassing for votes in the build-up to the 2015 general election, one of the issues on the front burner, and which the then opposition All Progressive Congress, APC, and its candidate, General Buhari, used to de-market the Goodluck Ebele Jonathan administration, was the issue of ASUU strike. From Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the one, who claimed to have single-handedly installed Buhari, to the very vuvuzela of the opposition party and now a minister in the badly-run government, Lai Mohammed, Nigerians were told once Buhari was sworn in as the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, strike by university teachers and other unions in our tertiary institutions would be a thing of the past. Nigerians believed them and chased Jonathan back to his Otuoke, Bayelsa State country home. Now, the hoi polloi are wiser. Not only has the Buhari government failed to honour the 2009 agreement, it has reneged over and over again, on the new common fronts his government found with ASUU. The cerebral union has been raped over and over again by Buhari and his deceits, such that at a time in history, ASUU went on strike for nine full months. The sad implication of Buhari’s infidelity to ASUU struck me on Tuesday last week when some children returned from their school. One of them announced: “Daddy, I am now a 400 level student o”. I stole a glance at him as we meandered through the barricades mounted on the road by some aggrieved Nigerians, protesting one of the inhumane policies of the government, and asked him about his secondary school classmates, who opted for public universities. His answer got me thinking and I was very sad. Those poor students across the country, who gained admission to the university the same year, are still in their second semester of part one, or first semester of part two! That is what Buhari’s insensitivity has done to the Nigerian children.
Unfortunately, it is the same government that Keyamo went on a national television to defend. For all he cares, ASUU can go on strike till the second coming of the Saviour because the Buhari government would not borrow money to pay them. The “human rights activist” turned politician, asked Nigerian parents to go and beg ASUU instead of appealing to the government to fulfill its agreements with ASUU. Keyamo is not just a lawyer, he wears the Silk as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN. He was noisy in his days in the human rights community. I am sure those who took him as one of them and as a freedom fighter, are in pain now. I am not in the least disturbed because I can differentiate noise from real sound. As a SAN, Keyamo knows the sanctity of agreements. He knows that once you put pen to paper and sign the dotted line, going back on the terms, letters and spirits of the signed document is not only criminal, but equally immoral. But he is in government. I knew almost immediately the Buhari administration began in May 2015 that nobody would be in the administration and retain his or her sanity afterwards. Check all of them Keyamo asked: “Should we go and borrow to pay N1.2trillion yearly? Terrible! What the Urhobo, Delta State-born lawyer asked us is if we expected the government to borrow to get our children back to school. But what he did not tell us or ask us is how much of our patrimony his principal, Buhari, has spent on his interminable medical trips to the United Kingdom. He failed to tell us how much a pint of blood cost in a London hospital, where Buhari once spent 104 days. I take a bet that Keyamo, in his wildest activism, will dare not ask his principal how much airport charges Nigeria paid to keep the Presidential Jet at Heathrow for months, while Buhari was hovering between heaven and earth. What percentage of N1.2 trillion would the Buhari hospital bills, estacodes, Basic Travel Allowances for aides and other ancillary expenditure be?
Keyamo, again, did not take into cognizance that whenever his principal becomes invalid and cabal takes control, the nation loses in trillions of hard currencies. He failed to recognise that our economy would have been a lot better had we been fortunate to have a president who is physically fit, mentally alert and psychologically sensitive. The SAN did not know, or ignored the fact, at that interview, that a town which makes the invalid its king does not prosper because the health of a king determines the prosperity of the town. He is also ignorant of the fact that if the Buhari administration, at its inception, had employed core economists to run the affairs of the nation, our Naira would not have been left to be in its present free fall. Keyamo, in his bid to defend the voodoo economic policies of the Buhari administration, failed to take into account that the N1.2 trillion he bandied as ASUU demand came to that figure because the administration he serves has spent the last seven years and three months blaming others for its lack of focus and directionless policies. He is deliberately ignorant of the fact that he, as a junior Minister of Labour and Employment, and his principal in the ministry, Chris Ngige, whose trainings, dispositions and intellects have no bearing in dealing with a cerebral body like ASUU; hence they keep compounding the issues for an already apathetic government.
Again, Keyamo said: “You cannot allow one sector of the economy to hold you by the jugular and then blackmail you to go and borrow N1.2 trillion for overheads when our total income would be about N6.1 trillion”. What a way to reason! Did it not occur to Keyamo, at that interview, that nobody has held the country “by the jugular” more than the president. Does the senior lawyer need us to tell him that by the lukewarm attitude to the issue of insecurity, banditry, Boko Haram, insurgency and killer herdsmen, the Buhari government under which he serves as a junior minister, has held and still holds Nigerians’ windpipes? If Keyamo thinks ASUU is the one trying to “blackmail you (Nigeria) to go and borrow N1.2 trillion for overheads”, can we ask him who “blackmailed” this government to donate one million US dollars to Afghanistan? ASUU? Was it ASUU that “blackmailed” the Buhari government to lay standard gauge railway to Maradi, Niger Republic, while trains in Nigeria got stuck in the middle of nowhere because of lack of diesel? And if indeed, the government cannot pay ASUU because “you have roads to build, health centres to build, and other sectors to take care of” , as Keyamo argued, can we simply ask him how good is the road to his Effurun home town? How many Federal Government hospitals are in Effurun?
But while Keyamo was at it, dissipating energy to defend his principal, Buhari had a different game. To the shame of Keyamo, his ilk in government and “the-government-is-broke” orchestra, Buhari approved the sum of N1.141 billion for Niger Republic to purchase vehicles for its security personnel! That is a government that has kept our children at home for the last six months because it has no money to pay ASUU. Talk about insensitivity; think about Buhari! I will refer you, dear readers, to my March 8, 2022, piece on this page titled: “Nigeria: The Story Of A Squatter Who Nurses A Pet Dog”. That is what Buhari does. My people say “Eniyan ti a nbo kii bo aja” – he that is living on charity to feed does not rear a dog. Keyamo said Nigeria cannot afford to pay ASUU but his master doled out N1.141 billion of our patrimony to his brothers in Niger Republic. Nigerians daily live at the mercy of bandits and are killed like poultry products yet we are supporting another country to fight insecurity. Have you seen the rickety vehicles the Nigeria Police Force uses? You wish to puke when you read some of the things this administration does. How many patrol vans would Innoson Motors, for instance, have given us with the N1.141billion Buhari’s Father Christmas gift to Niger Republic? When you think of those things, you will come to one conclusion: This government is not just insensitive; it is congenitally wicked!