By Innocent Okon
He struck as a stormy petrel. No pedigree, no track record of accomplishments, only a mentor the nation idolised and respected. The personality he identified with and the cause they shared at the risk of their career and personal comfort was the magic wand that connected them to the masses.
While alive, Gani, as the Nigerian Press presented him, allowed Keyamo, then under his professional tutelage, to share the limelight with him in the pursuit of justice and accountable governance.
After cutting his professional teeth in Gani’s Law firm, independent Keyamo maintained the steam in the struggle for social justice and good governance. When death took away Gani, unsuspecting less privileged Nigerians saw in Keyamo a hope of continuity. To millions of them, a cloned Gani has come in a younger vibrant frame, garnished with good looks! And he didn’t disappoint in the incipient years of his service to the masses!
Like his mentor, he was traversing the country to handle pro bono briefs at his discomfort and health of his bank accounts.
When Bola Ige, Olusegun Obasanjo’s first Attorney General and Minister of Justice, was killed in his home, Keyamo came up with leads he wanted the investigating state apparatchik to work on. That pursuit cost him many nights in detention! Trust the Lagos/Ibadan arm of the national media, Keyamo became the toast of the media and a must-consult commentator on public affairs. At a point, he even became a guest columnist in some national publications.
Then success came calling! Young Keyamo captured klieg lights and professional success with the conferment of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) title after nine good attempts! Keyamo, SAN, now began handling briefs for the anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), and the journey into the lucrative Establishment circles begun!
Many were shocked when he was appointed the Director of Communication in the Buhari campaign council in 2019! His pedigree never supported conservative products like Buhari. When he accepted the job, he betrayed all he was known and cherished for as a social activist.
Same year, he was rewarded with a Ministerial appointment which was not of cabinet rank in status. Again, Keyamo accepted and dutifully served in two Ministries in that capacity. First in the Ministry of Niger Delta, and later in the Ministry of Employment, Labour & Productivity.
From his body language and public comments during his tenure, he enjoyed the job, and of course the perquisites of office!
Now that his tenure is about to be rolled into history books, Keyamo has recovered his long lost strident voice of activism.
At a valedictory session at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, last week, in the presence of his Principal, Buhari, Keyamo started on a note of gratitude, but ended with an indictment of a grave constitutional breach, which he ‘graciously’ tolerated for four years!
He copiously cited germane sections of the Nigerian constitution, which create Ministerial offices without any proviso for subordinate Ministers. He even went further to recommend how this “aberration “could be remedied. What a brilliant chap!
He had enjoyed the “unconstitutional” office while it lasted, but advocates for “correction” now that the autopilot revolving door is beckoning on him to take his exit.
Why didn’t Keyamo, SAN, follow the footsteps of Senator Udo Udoma, who turned down a Ministerial appointment of the same status in 1999? Why keep mute and appropriate the benefits of extra constitutional public office for many years?
My deductions here are two fold. One is that Keyamo wants to adopt a populist route to reconnect with his estranged civil activist groups now that the party seems to be over. The other bait is to offer the incoming BAT Presidency a radical take off point which he must be credited as the initiator and advocate! The reward sure must come with another plum appointment. What an adroit skill and manner to apply for a new job!
Okon, a journalist and lawyer, lives, in Uyo