Ochereome Nnanna: The one-sided crucifixion of Dino Melaye

The legislative arm of gov-ernment all over the world is often a theatre of the absurd. I recall one of these ugly episodes, and incidentally, Dino Melaye was a principal actor in it as a member of the House of Representatives. On June 21, 2010, a faction of the House which styled itself as “Progressives”, had raised a motion for the impeachment of the then Speaker, Hon Dimeji Bankole over some contract issues.

What made this session special was that a 75-strong delegation of students of City Royal Secondary School, Abuja, were in the public gallery to witness how laws were made in Nigeria. They saw more than an eyeful! Melaye distinguished himself in the ensuing fracas. He came out of it with his clothes torn to shreds. But he smiled it off as if it was no big deal.

In my article entitled: “They fought while the kids watched” (June 28, 2010), I described Melaye as “loquacious, cantankerous and cheap”. There was never a fight in the legislative chamber that he did not feature in as a principal figure. One of them, which took place on October 17, 2007, led to the death of Hon Aminu Safana, a medical doctor from Katsina. Like Melaye, Safana was fighting to stave off the impeachment of the first female Speaker of the House of Representatives, Patricia Olubunmi Etteh, a friend of the self-styled “Life Leader” of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, former President Olusegun Obasanjo whom he imposed on the House.

Melaye fought to prevent Etteh’s impeachment. But Etteh was impeached and he lost his privileged position. Melaye fought to ensure that Bankole was impeached as a retaliation. The plot failed, and Bankole ensured he was cashiered from the House. So, Dino Melaye has a towering track record of legislative hooliganism. But, how did he manage to come back, this time, as a Senator (an obvious political promotion)?

The answer is simple: He joined the newly-formed All Progressives Congress, APC, and became a “progressive”. He also transformed into an “activist”, often renting crowds of young, unemployed people in Abuja, dressing them up in branded T-shirts and carrying out one demonstration or the other, usually against the government of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan. He was seen as a useful tool in the plot to oust Jonathan, a job he did so well that he was given the party’s ticket for Kogi West to the Senate. None of the noisemakers who have been mobbing him of recent saw anything wrong in this individual then.

It was not until the elected senators and members of the House of Representatives gathered in Abuja on June 9 last year when APC had taken the reins of power, that Melaye now became “bad” in the eyes of the noise orchestra. He was strongly in support of his colleagues, Senator Bukola Saraki and Deputy, Senator Ike Ekweremadu’s occupation of the seats of Senate President and Deputy, respectively.

These were the choices of majority of the senators for those positions, but not those of some APC leaders, particularly President Muhammadu Buhari and Bola Tinubu. The latter were (and still are) determined to dethrone Saraki and Ekweremadu through all possible means, including the use of the Judiciary (since they don’t have enough senators to get them impeached). Melaye, as usual, is ready to fight and die for Saraki and Ekweremadu, Saraki being the main force behind his getting elected into the Senate after being chased out of the House of Reps.

This is the first leg of the politics leading to the drama of July 12, 2016 between Melaye and Senator Remi Tinubu, the wife of Bola Tinubu, the main man who plots Saraki and Ekweremadu’s downfall. Now, the Remi Tinubu angle.

The noise orchestra mobbing Melaye has conevniently forgotten that this bull in the china shop did not just start raging for nothing. He was rubbed the wrong way. An agent provocatuer appears to be the role that Senator Remi Tinubu has taken up for herself, not being exactly a hot-shot legislator in the mould of the Senator Khairat Gwadabe, Senator Joy Emordi, Senator Chris Anyanwu and other female amazons of our prestigious Red Chamber.

As the First Lady of Lagos State between 1999 and 2007, Mrs Tinubu was a model of womanly virtue and for many, the pleasant face of the Tinubu persona. I never knew her to be involved in any scandalous situation, and I never saw her as a material for the Senate or any political office for that matter. But her husband, a former Senator himself, managed to get her elected, having chosen to stay back and man the family’s political stable. Those who wondered what value Remi was going to add did not have a long wait. On March 12, 2015, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, a keen political rival of the Tinubus back in Lagos, came to the Senate for confirmation as Minister.

The video of how Senator Remi Tinubu tried to embarrass Obanikoro is still available in the Internet if you care to check it out. So, when she called Dino a “thug” (or was it “dog”) it was in her normal line of provoking her husband’s political enemies. Obanikoro did not bother to give her back in kind because his interest was in getting cleared for minister. But Dino would have none of it. If he was a “dog”, then he would do to Remi Tinubu things dogs do. If he was a “thug” then he would do to her what thugs do. That was the essential Dino you and I knew, even before he became a holy “progressive”. So, it was: You “Remi” me, I “Dino” you, man no go vex.

If you joined the noise orchestra to castigate Dino without caring that Remi started the storm, check youself.

These two “distinguished” APC senators belong to two sides of the same coin in terms of legislative nuisance.


Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija

This article was first published on Vanguard

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