Only 5.34% of the total number of registered voters in Kogi West showed up to verify their signatures for the process of recalling their Senator, the distinguished Dino Melaye.
After all the hope. Despite all the noise.
In announcing that the process could, for the low turnout, not proceed according to the requirements of the law, Professor Ukertor Gabriel Moti, the INEC man in-charge added another page to Nigeria’s democratic experiment. It is not, obviously, the seismic, sensational one that would have stirred more news headlines (and plenty filings in court) today. Yet, the failure of the Melaye recall will be historic:
For all of his irksomeness and negative publicity, there was never the real conviction in public discourse that this was a process organically initiated by the people of Kogi West. This was not ‘We The People’ speaking, many observed, but a game amidst a political war. The people of Kogi West were only being used as pawns to deliver a punch in a power play.
The prevailing wisdom is that the state governor, Yahaya Bello, has been the mastermind, allegedly fuelled by the financial muscle of the state’s treasury. Some reports put Mr Bello’s investment into humiliating his rival Melaye at about N5 billion, same governor who borrows to pay owed months of salaries but reportedly donated N2 million to masquerades. In the aftermath of the recall’s failure, the governor, through a statement by an aide, distanced himself from the genesis of the process, a move that will hardly sell giving how late it has come. The governor’s spokesperson, Petra Onyegbule, went as far as deriding suggestions that the failure of the recall will have a consequence on Mr Bello’s gubernatorial future.
So that, on paper, this should be read as a ‘no Victor, no vanquished’ event. But everyone knows such a battle, giving how it was made to play out, can hardly be without repercussions for the images of some of the Dramatis personae. Combined with the reports of his ‘near-death’ experience with the Nigeria Police wanting to take him to Lokoja last week, the failed recall gives Mr Melaye a badge of honour that, however without merit it appears to be, has been earned. The five percent (within whose rights it was to wish to recall Melaye) raised hopes that, maybe for the first time, evidence will be shown that there should be nothing ‘distinguished’ ascribed to a Nigerian Senator, but they have fallen short by far.
Mr Melaye retains his title and his office. And with both, the privilege to drive many more crazy from the comfort of his ‘Gucci’ and with his video man ready to record a new single.
It remains to be seen how the failed recall will affect elections in 2019 which are now less than 300 days away. Much more money will be spent to trump the ridiculous figures allegedly wasted over the past eight months. Unless a miraculous reconciliation of both men happens, it will most certainly generate a spectacle of attrition that will serve as a microcosm of the infighting prevalent at various levels of the All Progressives Congress. The Kano version of the theatre will be either of Shehu Sani and Nasir El Rufai ensuring the other does not remain in their position by Democracy day. Mr Sani, like Melaye, is in the camp that regularly throws pot shots at the presidency, making him and other Senators in general the target of the animosity of sealed-up Buharists like Mallam El-Rufai. It is a battle line that seems irrevocably drawn, but will probably be managed just to push Buhari over the line in February.
How much of a part Mr Melaye will be disposed to play in that is anyone’s guess, especially if he feels (as he must now do) that he has his people firmly behind him.