This is not about the Nigerian senator Dino Melaye, this is about our nation Nigeria, about the working class, to whom power truly belongs.
There is a provision in the Constitution and in the INEC Electoral Act that permits and stipulates guidelines for the recall of a legislator. Pay attention now – ” If a constituency wants their lawmaker back, it is a fair thing to ask, either because of a grievance or for his security and well-being, it is acceptable and permitted by the extant laws of Nigeria”. The above is a statement of fact.
There shouldn’t be hard feelings, anger, drama, accusations, regrets or desperate moves by all parties involved. The loss is two-sided, the Lawmaker stops representing, and the people lose a good man probably. The mantra should be “…in total submission to the will of the masses!”
The rational problems that would arise, would be around monies spent on campaign, incentives, debts, cost of nomination tickets and other expenses incurred in the process of electioneering. This also, would depend on, for how long the Lawmaker was in office before his people had bigger plans for him, if he had been there for a while, he would have recouped his money. I am not saying that it is an investment per se, but it seems so , especially in Nigeria. Political office has become a sure investment with returns guaranteed for life in certain cases, however that’s discourse for another day. Actually, it is not our problem if there are debts or not, the truth must be said, a very large majority of Nigerians are unaligned, they do not carry the cards of political parties, they only vote for the candidate who they believe is most likely to change their fortunes. Therefore, it is irritating, very irritating that party affairs and squabbles affect the business of governance and discharge of duties as much as they do presently. The cost of a nomination ticket shouldn’t be passed to us or taken from allocations or our taxes. It is a risk that should be undertaken solely by the candidates.
So, even if Sen. Dino Melaye was not vain, had no corruption allegations hanging over him, neither flashy nor self-conceited, never brought disgrace to his people by fighting openly and was not an uncouth reprobate, the people of Kogi West still have the right to recall him. Even if he was extremely nice and homely, had sunk boreholes in every park and market, taught Sunday school, singlehandedly repaired Lokoja – Okene expressway, his people still retain the right to say “Our son, Well done, you have really tried, come home and rest”. Your being there is predicated upon their belief in your suitability for the position you occupy. It is their fundamental right as citizens, the right to choose who should represent them, your tenure depends on their mood – that was the original plan.
If my people wanted me back home, I would actually go back, and reason with the various groups to understand what the decision is hinged upon and thank them if it is irreversible, thank them for the opportunity to serve. However, shopping for a court order suppressing their wish is a slap on their faces, and a slap on the face of every reasonable Nigerian. It is an insult to our sensibilities and it is wise to be in a cautious mood.
Though we agree that Gov. Yahaya Bello played a huge role in sensitizing his people, spurring them to take action, I dare say he didn’t sign those signatures singlehandedly. You can force a horse to the river, but you can’t force it to drink water – we should at least agree that Dino was already out of favour at home. Without sentiments I would say that Dino Melaye has been a national embarrassment, probably supported by the same people clamouring for Evans’ release. His tail is on fire and his contractors rushing back to site to complete his abandoned projects.He now seems to remember he is a steward and not on a vacation. People signed those signatures, humans, people with belief that he should get out of there, or worse still, people with indifference to politics. Now Dino is acting, But too late. He claims the signatories were financially motivated, but he would not be the first person to say this. We have become accustomed to financial inducements on election day in Nigeria, in my home state, though it was obvious who the better candidate was, votes were still sold with the winning party outbidding the opposition in many polling units. It has never been an issue and shouldn’t be an issue in this election ; a recall can be seen as an election in reverse. In spite of these inconsistencies, if there really are, the process is there, described in detail by the Electoral Act, the process is regulatory. Many observers had even expressed reservations on the process being too stringent and made deliberately painstaking in order to protect the legislators who made the laws in the first place.
The constituents didn’t mind, even when the Dep. Sen. President made an asinine statement that the process was “dead on arrival”, how could the wish of the people be dead on arrival? He was largely ignored and condemned by a few people. Nobody thought it was an issue and I wouldn’t have brought it up if not for the intrigues that played thereafter. Dino finally gets a court order, the Judge even with an unlimited number of words available to him chooses to be ambiguous in order to serve both masters. The status quo should be maintained, initially INEC says the status quo is the recall process and would stick to the timetable, then the Senate allegedly reminds the INEC chairman of unsettled scores while TETFUND was under his watch, the books are to be opened. He wants the books closed. He hastily announces that the recall process is suspended immediately. The will of the people not worth his ambition. In saner climes,the only sensible thing to do is resignation. Even if the above isn’t the case, as long as there is a potential clash of interests, the INEC chairman would at least admit that he cannot boast of clear judgement in handling this case. It not a coincidence that the TETFUND issue is coming up at this time.
Now it is not a slap anymore, it is a sucker punch to the people of Kogi West and Nigerians in general. The court says it would hear the case on September 29 after the 90-day window for recall would have elapsed, creating a future legal case on the validity of the process. INEC says they are going to try to vacate the court order. For now the only concrete thing is that the constitutional process of recall has been halted, or discontinued or suppressed or thrown out the window.
Nigerians are in a very bad mood. In the maneuverings that have taken place, the senate are the biggest gainers, their interests are firmly protected. Dino has become the laughing face of everything that is wrong with our legislative houses from state to federal level. Incompetency, non-performance, power-drunkeness, unqualification, stagnating national development, acting as a city of refuge for former public office holders with pending corruption investigations, and recently embroiled in machinations to undermine the acting president. Even more painfully, their upkeep gulps a stunning quarter of national expenditure, a budget funded on deficit and borrowing. It is a common thing to hear Nigerians say they cannot wait for elections, so they would have an opportunity to vote our their legislators. It does not have to be so. If Dino’s recall had sailed smoothly, it would have been a catalyst, precipitating numerous recalls throughout the country. In fact, when Dino’s recall sails through, it will be a catalyst for many other recalls. Many legislators would have sat up and earned a fraction of their lump allowances, thus improving national wellbeing. They know this, that is why they are interested in jeopardizing Dino’s in order to destroy belief in recalling a legislator. This is why Nigerians must wake up at this point and insist that due process be followed and Dino returns to roost. Nigerians should take action against the judiciary being used as a gag when our interests are to be discussed. If the process fails to take Dino home due to the criteria not being satisfied, fair and square,and not because of interference or subversion of the process. If the Senate continually undermines the constitution, they have undermined their legality, therefore they must go, because their existence is based on the sanctity of the Constitution. This time, they have shot themselves in the foot.
Do we really need two Houses? What’s so special in deliberating on a Bill twice? I’m in favour of replacing the Senate with a ceremonial house consisting of our traditional rulers or their representatives. Minimally salaried, it would foster unity and considering that many rulers wield immense authority over their subjects especially in the North, there is greater potential for conflict resolution and solves the question of unfair allocation of senatorial districts.
Since they have shown that they represent their own agenda, this is an opportunity for the masses to seize power. The ball is in our court. Fellow countrymen, I call for a masses coup. We should insist on INEC following due process. The Judiciary cannot overturn the will of the people, not anymore. Adams Oshiomhole’s victory at the Tribunal and at the courts heralded a new era ,seeds of hope were planted, lot of rigged elections were overturned, once again we trusted in the Judiciary. Justice Ayo Salami is long gone, now corruption and legislative insolence is fighting back, so let’s go back to the trenches. We shall begin the process of recalling the many others who have grown too powerful, little gods, impotent, loyal to the party and unconcerned about the masses, we cannot compare our salaries to their allowance, yet we toil morning till night, many of us have extra jobs in order to make end meet, civil servants part timing as drivers and menial workers in the evenings. It is time to forget religion and do the right thing immediately. Nigeria has numerous challenges, the Oct 1st issue threatening to tear the country apart, a solution would not come by force or police action, we need to change how the country is run. The biggest gainer in the present system is still the legislator, who is busy adding allowances to the budget but cannot inquire about the health of the president, the legislator who accepts monies from Oil multinationals to suppress Bills that would eradicate contract staffing and other subtle forms of Neo-colonization. The topics that make us fight at newsstands are never discussed in the Houses. If development was distributed equitably, nobody would feel cheated – in the context of development at least. If the legislators were made to appreciate the fact that they were there based on how we feel about them, they would be eager to please us, they would pass laws that would affect the ordinary Nigerian, they would frequent their constituency offices, they would do anything to maintain their tenancy, carry out careful analysis and selective implementation of the Confab report and act as a genuine check on the Executive.
Only a fool in Nigeria would tell himself that he’s a staunch PDP or APC or any other party member, when these parties have shown that they lack ideology, moral direction nor are concerned with social welfare. They are more like miners during the gold rush who hoped to strike gold and get rich quickly, in this case, the mines are not government coffers, but our ignorance – constantly exploited, our non-chalance – encouraged and allowed to fester like a sore, our religion – used to polarize us, beclouding our common sense. But they all mix freely, Christian, Muslim, Hedonist , ATR, they mix very well and switch sides more readily than football teams at halftime, decamping and returning as the wind returneth in its circuits. But not anymore. The wish of the people must be respected at all times, if Kogi West or any other constituency wants their Legislator home, then he must go home. We must take our destinies in our hands. We are more than them, it’s our mandate. If we allow them thwart this process, it would further strengthen impunity and bring rejoicing to the camp of the Philistines. We brought them into the Chamber, let’s take them out of it.
Being a legislator in Nigeria is not a job.
Written by Osazemwinde Osarenokese Osahenrunmwen.