Mr. Fetus Keyamo, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) was recently appointed the spokesperson of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s 2019 re-election campaign. In this interview with Saturday Sun, Keyamo spoke on various issues and accused former President Goodluck Jonathan of dividing the country with religious and tribal sentiments. GODWIN TSA conducted the interview.
You have just been appointed the Director, Strategic Communication for President Buhari’s 2019 election campaign but many people did not see this coming based on your background as an activist. Does this bring an end to Festus Keyamo, the social crusader and activist?
I am an unrepentant, strong and incontestable focused supporter of President Buhari. And you know why? It’s because of his integrity. We are in a situation in this country now that the way the country has been battered economically, we need somebody with integrity to preside over the affairs of the country and revamp it to glory.
If they put two qualities on the floor and asked you to pick only one which is more important to drive the nation now, which one will you pick? Is it health or integrity? You want somebody who is young but without a track record of integrity, nothing to judge him by, coming from nowhere, and you have someone with a proven track record, spoken and attested to by all his colleagues over the years, which one will you pick?
My main motivation is that I have decided that I am not going to sit on the fence. You are correct, people will keep asking, Keyamo, you are known as an activist, so continue to remain neutral. Like Zeburudaya, I say ‘fa! fa, foul’. So I am now the idiot and a fool for so many years who will continue to sit on the fence, who will not come down on one side and try help, criticise the government in certain ways and try and build it to succeed.
I just realised that if I sit on the fence and continue to wait for an utopia government to arrive from heaven, without a stain, I will wait now till billion years and it will not happen. To some of us, in the pursuit of our beliefs, we have gone through a lot. We have been arrested, detained and tried for our beliefs on what we preach and do, so our convictions are not ordinary convictions, but they come from deep within us.
With all sense of modesty, do I look poor, that I need something from any government?
I don’t, it is for the good of my country that I am doing what I am doing. The present government is not the best, it is not a divine arrangement that we think that it is God that sent it down from heaven, it has its flaws, it has made some errors in judgment and certain things, but those errors do not amount to amargeddon.
But people say Nigeria is more divided under Buhari than ever before. What would you say to that?
Who made it happen? It was politics that made it happen and not Buhari. In 2015, you saw that this country was divided by the North/South sentiments and the Christians/ Muslim sentiments. Who made it happen?
In 2015, who used religion to campaign? Certainly not Buhari, he did not go to mosque publicly begging Imams and praying in the Mosque, lying down before Imams to bless him and tell their followers to vote for him. He (Buhari) did not do that, so when you say the country is more divided, is it as a result of him? Certainly no. It was because of the dynamism of the politics that brought him into office; the politics of that time under former President Goodluck Jonathan.
But luckily for us, God is a kind God, because you know what? On 2019, those people who preached evil against the Hausa – Fulani, those who told their people that these people are not good, those who told their people not to vote for Hausa /Fulani people because they have a mentality of born to rule, these are the same people that have zoned their presidential ticket to the North now.
So you know what? They will now go back to the same people that they preached hatred against to undo what they did. They will now see themselves cap in hands, with shame on their faces, they will go back to their people and say, the Hausa/ Fulani are not too bad, let us vote for them. And on that day, their people will question their integrity, but you told us in 2015 that the Hausa/ Fulani are not good people, why did you give your ticket to them now?
As a senior lawyer and also a prosecutor, what is your assessment of the fight against corruption?
There is always room for improvement in all endeavours, that is why we are not perfect human beings.
It is just that the impression that a certain section wants to create the impression that it is a phantom fight, it is selective, fake and not a sincere fight, that is what I take objection to.
The issue of selectiveness is the most immoral and unacceptable argument that I have heard in my entire life. Why do I say so?
What is the point people who push the selective argument are making? The only reasonable deduction I can make from such an argument is that they may be insisting that those who have been caught should be left alone because there are others who have not been touched. To break it down more simply, the argument seems to be like ‘this thief you have caught, let the thief go because one or two others escaped, you have not caught others.’ It is a very immoral position for anybody at all to take.
But having said all of that, except you are one of those people who are saying whatever happens, I will remain a sceptic and have agreed that anything good have been done in the fight against corruption.
If you are not that type of extreme person, looking at it objectively, the fact that we are even talking about it now shows that something is happening that did not happen before.
There is some movement in the corruption corridor, there is some roughing of feathers; the table is shaking and those who are standing on the table are the ones that
are complaining that this table is shaking.
So, beyond the noise, we must accept the fact that something different is happening than what happened before. Let me tell you one barometer you can use to know whether the fight against corruption is going on well or not. There is a very small barometer ad
it is that, once everywhere is quiet, nobody is talking or complaining, the issues are not discussed publicly, everywhere is quiet in terms of people not shouting persecution, selectiveness, once that is going on, you should know that the people in power are stealing something.
They are selling up the interest of the people, that is why they are not complaining.
It is just like when you come to a house where you have a lot of children and the children are not playing or jumping up and down, the place is not scattered, but they are quiet somewhere, you should know that they are all sleeping or eating.
But once there is noise everywhere, you should know that something is happening.
So, once there is noise everywhere in terms of the anti-corruption war, in terms of people accusing each other, saying there is selectiveness, once all that is going on, it is a barometer for you to know that you are touching the tiger by the tail and that is what is going on.
Still on the issue of corruption, there is a looters’ list released by the Federal Government that is generating a lot of controversy. Is this action of the Federal Government justifiable?
I can say yes to that because the list was released in the context of what happened. If I want to take you back, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), without prompting, without any provocation from any quarter and in a desperation to warm themselves back into the hearts of voters in a bid to come back to power in 2019, all of a sudden, from nowhere, said we are sorry, forgive us.
The ruling party, the All Progressives Congress(APC), said no, we need genuine repentance or genuine penitence from the PDP, to say to Nigerians, look, we have done something wrong, this is what we have done, our members have looted the national treasury, please forgive us.
The PDP did not do that, it did not go into details of the wrong it has committed, so the ruling party (APC) says, let us fill the blanks for you. You stole money, we have details that many of your members stole money, so return these monies as a first step towards penitence.
I see sense in that. You stole a car from somebody and you are cruising around town and when you see the person you stole the car from, you will say sorry, I stole your car without returning the car to the owner. You have to first return the car to the person. PDP has to return the stolen money to the national treasury first.
From there, things went totally out of hand. PDP said none of its members stole and that if you have evidence, publish it.
So you expect that you throw this kind of challenge and somebody will not pick it up. It was an invitation from the PDP, so it cannot amount to defamation, because it was a clear invitation from the PDP to come and throw banters.
In response to that challenge, the ruling party say, ok, if that is what you are saying, this is the list of people we have that took money from the national treasury without justification.
The controversy about this is that, they say the cases are in court and some have not been charged. I want to draw a parallel for you. As we are sitting here now, you can see I have a Close Circuit Television (CCTv). If I see somebody here now, incontrovertible evidence, snatch my computer and begin to run,
if I quickly come out to chase him, do I need a court of law to convict that person before I shout ole! Ole!! thief thief! No, I don’t need that because I have evidence that the person stole my computer. So, the government of the day is not just waking up to say the PDP looted the treasury, it has evidence, so, it is in that context that the names were released.
For those who are going to court, when they get there, the law will be espoused and it will enrich our jurisprudence.
But like I said, the question is that, do you need a court order convicting somebody before you can accuse a person of taking what does not belong to him, when you have incontrovertible evidence in your box? My answer is simply no! You don’t need a court conviction, if you do have evidence and there is a need to call that person to order, it is perfectly justified and in order.