The Minister of State for Labour and Productivity, Festus Keyamo, on Saturday, explained how he acquired a house in the United States, in the wake of angry reactions to his recent online video clip showing him in the house.

Mr Keyamo shared a 14-seconds-long video clip on 20 April showing him in a white hoodie and sneakers in front of an apartment. He jogged along the walkway that partitioned the well-manicured lawns in front of the house into green squares.

The video ended with the minister turning his head back as he set the hood on his head, thumped up towards the camera, and continued jogging in short steps.

The minister, who also served as a spokesperson for president-elect Bola Tinubu’s campaign organisation during the 2023 presidential election, captioned the video to show that he was trying to keep fit while enjoying his vacation.

The video attracted criticisms with many questioning the source of the funding for the acquisition of the property. Many of the critics deplored it as the usual practice of Nigerian public officers being quick to rush abroad where security and clean environment is more guaranteed.

Mr Keyamo, in another tweet on Saturday, said he posted the video as bait to his critics, whom he described as “folks of low moral standards”.

“Two days ago, I decided to bait the horde of sore losers at the last elections with a video of my vacation in ONE OF MY PROPERTIES abroad as I did a light workout. Expectedly, they fell so terribly for the bait,” he wrote.

He said he acquired a number of assets, including the one shown in the video, with proceeds of his legal practice and wise investments in real estate of over 30 years.

“So, I had a good laugh when I saw the trending issues regarding just one of my properties in the US. It is even very laughable to think that after active, high-profile practice of law culminating in my privilege as a member of the Inner Bar (together with being an International Arbitrator) and thoughtful investments in real estate spanning over 30 years, I cannot afford such a relatively modest property,” the minister wrote.

‘I made money to buy houses before becoming minister’
Mr Keyamo said he had made enough money to purchase the properties long before his appointment as a minister.

He recalled how he first made the first declaration of his foreign accounts after his appointment into the board of the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC).

He narrated how he intimated the relevant government agencies of his intention to repatriate the funds from the foreign accounts and his later decision to buy properties with the funds. He gave indication that all the assets were duly declared to Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), the statutory body empowered to receive public officers’ assets declaration forms.

“By letters dated March 6, 2019 (long before I was appointed a Minister and immediately I was appointed a Board member of the NDIC), and in line with our Constitution, I wrote to the relevant government agencies, informing them of the closure of my foreign account(s) and the repatriation of my funds to the country, being some savings I had made as a private legal practitioner and a property investor over decades.

“The numbers of those accounts, both abroad and in Nigeria were clearly stated in those letters. Those foreign funds were lying in my accounts until my appointment as a Minister later in 2019 and formed part of my assets declaration.

“In 2021, I again wrote to the relevant agencies (by letters dated January 22, 2021), informing them of the movement of those funds out of the country to purchase a property as a better investment decision, instead of the funds lying idly in the account whilst I am in public office,” the minister said.

He added that the letters were duly acknowledged, and that he followed up with the heads of the said agencies via Whatsapp chats the same day, informing them of the delivery of the letters and the contents of the letters.

“…the acknowledged copies of those letters and those chats and replies are still on my phone, showing the dates of those chats,” he said.

‘I’m being underrated’
Mr Keyamo also said the unsavory reactions to his video clip showed that he was being underrated. He said this was made possible because of the low-profile he kept.

“Understandably, some people seem to underrate us because we live a simple, modest life and we are not given to ostentatious displays of wealth and the vanities of life like some people do. Lol,” he said.

He said the critics whom he described as “haters” should brace themselves for more of such videos as the apartment he showed “is about the CHEAPEST of my several properties.”

“Those who are VERY CLOSE to me over the years know exactly what I am talking about. My flourishing and manned law Chambers (whilst I am away on national assignment) and my real estate investments are still far more financially profitable than serving my country. Ours is a labour of love to my country. My Assets Declaration is there for all to see. (Again, this is verifiable.),” the minister stated.

‘My law firm more financial profitable to me than ministerial position’
Mr Keyamo also said his law firm was more financially profitable than his ministerial appointment.

“My flourishing and manned law Chambers (whilst I am away on national assignment) and my real estate investments are still far more financially profitable than serving my country.

“Ours is a labour of love to my country. My Assets Declaration is there for all to see. (Again, this is verifiable.),” Mr Keyamo wrote.

He added, “Some of us don’t need Government funds or patronage to get by. Whatever we do and whoever we support is out of our deep convictions. And yes, we have worked our socks off in the last 30 years!”