50 HEARTY CHEERS TO A PROVEN PERFORMER AND MAN OF COURAGE

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By: Chris Omoaghe

Nigeria’s history has been laced with struggles to evolve a workable society,  where according to the words of the second stanza of the National anthem “peace and justice shall reign.

This struggle began during the colonial era when the founding fathers insisted on independence for Nigeria against a reluctant and hesitant colonial government that argued against the capacity of Nigerians to manage self rule.

Then came the first republic, civil war and the resistance to decades of military rule in Nigeria, which reached its peak during the Babangida and Abacha juntas of the 1980s and 90s.

The onslaught this time as against the colonialists was spearheaded by the student movement, labour movement, civil society, and the media.  

One prominent young Nigerian who made his voice of opposition to the military was a certain “Festus Keyamo” beginning from his days as a law student in the then Bendel State University, now Ambrose Alli University,  Ekpoma and his time in the Chambers of the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi as a young silk.

In keeping to the principle that “eternal vigilance is the price of freedom”, Keyamo would continue his struggle even during the early days of democratic rule, courageously taking up highly controversial and landmark cases some dare not entertain.

This meant that,  as happened during the dark days of military rule,  Keyamo found himself being arrested and detained severally for his constant activism in protecting Human rights and justice.

Keyamo would go on to become counsel to the leader of the Niger-Delta Peoples’ Volunteer Force, Mujaheed Dokubo-Asari in his trial for treasonable felony, lead counsel in the treason trial of the leader of the Movement For The Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), Chief Ralph Uwazuruike and other MASSOB leaders as well as counsel in the brutal murder of Elder Statesman, Chief Bola Ige.

It was his case against the Federal Government that settled the issue of the need for Senate confirmation of Service Chiefs’ appointment, where the court agreed with him in a landmark judgment.

He has, despite countless threats to his life,  represented the government, as EFCC counsel, in several cases of corruption against high profile individuals which has also led to convictions.

Festus Keyamo’s sojourn into politics has given the art of politicking a new face,  as he broke the stereotype of the professional politician without any career outside of the nocturnal sharing of state resources.  

He would serve as a spokesperson to the campaign of President Muhammadu Buhari campaign of 2015, successfully projecting the brand and person of President Buhari to the Nigerian people.

As Festus reaches the key milestone of the Golden age,  I wish him the very best of the years ahead and look forward to continuing to reap from his immense contribution to building a better Nigeria for generations yet unborn.  

The struggle for a better Nigeria continues,  but with men of intellectual sagacity and pragmatic approach to issues of governance,  we believe the future is indeed bright.  Happy birthday once again to a patriot par excellence.

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