Festus Egwarewa Adeniyi Keyamo, SAN, is a lawyer and politician who is now the Minister of State for Labour and Employment. He was appointed a Minister in July, 2019 after successfully leading the second term campaign of President Muhammadu Buhari as the Director of Strategic Communications. He was first assigned to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs as Minister of State, after which he was redeployed to his present position owing to his versatility. This gentleman was a guest on City People Instagram live chat with Publisher, SEYE KEHINDE, and he reveals a lot about Buhari’s government and how they are planning to create jobs for thousands of Nigerians. Enjoy the excerpts below.
How do you compare your former portfolio when you were in Niger Delta affair as minister of state and now?
It was an interesting place. I settled down there quickly before the president took me to where he needed me more. I like the place very much because it has to do with my people. I was excited because I wanted to help my people. This present portfolio is also exciting because it has to do with the entire country, but I find this a bit more challenging.
When you accepted to be a minister, there were lots of attacks, how did you take all of that?
For those who criticised me for coming into government to serve, I think they are very myopic to the extent that they don’t know the history of activism in Nigeria. Every single social activist in the history of Nigeria has attempted to get into public office. What that means is that public office is the ultimate arena for activism. Fela tried to get into public office; he tried to be president. Soyinka tried to be president. Gani Fawehim tried to be president. Almost all the activist lawyers have tried to be governor. So, why is Keyamo be different? Those who are criticising are perhaps the minor voices and guess what? Those who were criticising, they aren’t criticising because they see the government as bad. They criticised because they also wanted to get into government. I know them. I have seen it all in this country. No human being can come and speak about Nigeria to me, I will just smile because I have been everywhere. On struggle for the realisation of June 12, I went to jail. In fighting military, I was charged. In fighting for democracy I was charged. I was brought up by the two most rugged and principled characters in this country. These are Gani Fawehinmi and Buhari. These two had been my bosses. This is the two bosses I have had. When you see some of these people criticising in the day, they call me back at 12 at night. There was a musician recently who came out to criticise me that I have forgotten the masses, he sent messages on my phone when he was begging to be part of Buhari’s campaign. He was practically begging. And because he couldn’t get anything, he went online and started to criticise.
Tell us a bit about how the late Gani Fawehinmi shaped you.
Gani was one of the greatest mentors I can ever have and one of the greatest mentors you can ever have. As a young man, he teaches you to be focused. I joined him at age 23. At that age, when some of our friends closed from work, they would take their girlfriends out on a date, but we would be at work building the future. We would stay in the chamber for almost 12 hours every day, especially during the June 12 crisis the military goons were arresting Nigerians. At that age, you become very serious about life. He teaches you to direct all your energy to your goal and the most important is that he taught integrity. And one of his greatest principles is that, you must keep standing by your principle once you know you are on the right path even if you are standing alone.