Some Nigerians have taken to social media to react to how the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, and some lawmakers engaged themselves in a shouting bout at the joint committee on labour of both chambers of the National Assembly, over the recruitment of 774,000 workers by the Federal Government.

While social media trends seem to suggest that Keyamo acted on behalf of the people for which he is getting credits for his show of courage to confront the lawmakers, Nigerians must understand that the fight was rather of ego trip than of them.

The characters of the major players - Festus Keyamo and Godiya Akwashiki, Chairman of the joint session, should be put into spotlight.

Festus Keyamo, who now enjoys "starboy privilege" and is passing off as an advocate of the masses for this singular display of bravery and courage for daring to insist that the investigative hearing continued in the full glare of the public, cannot be taken seriously. Of course, he has a bit of history in activism; but that's as far as it gets. Everything activism in him has since given way. Many don't even remember he once was a crusader of social justice and civil rights, which earned him the "Lagos lawyer" nametag. Gone were the days! 

He has since sacrificed his conscience for filthy lucre.

He was alleged to have chiefly masterminded the payout to Charlie Boy to discontinue the "Our Mumu Don Do" protest against President Muhammadu Buhari at the prelude of the last elections. It's on record that Charlie Boy, in his phone conversation with Deji Adeyanju, bragged about getting paid off to the tune of hundreds of millions of naira.

That's the character of the "hero of the people", Festus Keyamo.

The character of Godiya Akwashiki, on the other hand, should not amaze the people, for the role he's playing. He courts scandal. In his final lap as Deputy Speaker of the Nasarawa State House of Assembly after having been elected to the Senate, news of his alleged involvement with a married woman surfaced. He was stripped naked and publicly humiliated for allegedly being caught in compromising circumstances with another man's wife.

In saner climes, neither Keyamo nor Akwashiki would be occupying public offices ever again. 

But today, Keyamo is a superstar minister and Akwashiki, a Senator of the Federal Republic, spokesperson for the 9th Senate as well as Chairman Senate Committee on Labour, Employment and Productivity. 

Akwashiki chaired the investigative hearing.

Keyamo, as Minister of State, is charged with the responsibility to recruit 774,000 workers.

Can anything good come out of Nazareth?

Now, putting the melodrama into perspective, Keyamo and Akwashiki, as well as other members of the committee share common identities, party affiliations aside. They interface at committee levels. It is statutory for lawmakers and ministers to interface because of the oversight responsibility of the legislature.

And besides being members of two sides of a bad coin - APC and PDP, most of them meet up in forums, social gatherings and caucus setups. They share common purpose and work together against whatever seeks to tamper with their interests.

So, when some members of the committee shouted at the minister to "stop grandstanding", they understood all the drama, because they belong in the same drama group. They simply told Keyamo to not back out of their agreement to raise their stakes in the recruitment process. Simple.

Keyamo had said, after he was walked out of the committee meeting, that the lawmakers "wanted more than the 15% of the job slots allocated to them". So, the fight was never about the common people but themselves. 

While Keyamo on one hand played to the gallery to prove to himself of having finally exorcised the demon, the self conceited lawmakers simply gloated and commended themselves for standing their grounds against a recalcitrant minister, who wouldn't apologise to them for being "unruly".

The villains of the disgraceful showing are Nigerians as pawns on the chess board. The squabble was never about the common people. Never!

Ade-Adedeji Adeyera writes from Abuja
Twitter: @adeadeyera

 

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