BY CHARLES KUMOLU
THE attempt at recalling the lawmaker representing Kogi West Senatorial District in the Senate, Sen Dino Melaye, is such that would remain a reference point in Nigeria’s political space considering the factors that threw it up.
No matter, who the crisis favours at the end, it would definitely leave in its trail a questionable precedent for actors on the political scene.
From the manner it emerged, to the pace with which it is being pursued, the ongoing recall process in Kogi State means different things to different people.
To some, it is a healthy democratic norm as stipulated in Section 69 of the 1999 Constitution, which provided 10 steps on how a senator can be recalled from the Senate.
Many others view it as an attempt allegedly conceived by the executive in the state to push aside, Melaye, who is a fierce critic of the state governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello.
Notwithstanding, the latter seems to have gained ground among analysts, who argued that the dynamics of Nigerian politics are such that could not have easily made a recall process this fast, especially the collection of signatures at the constituency level.
Melaye may have had enemies in the course projecting his convictions on how best the state should be governed, many think that was not enough to have warranted the initiation of a recall process by his opponents.
This argument found relevance in the maxim that a recall process could only be necessitated by discontent on the part of the members of a constituency and not through external prodding.
The duo had enjoyed a healthy relationship as they both worked for the election of President Muhammadu Buhari’s victory in 2015 at different levels.
Though Melaye worked for the Audu/Faleke team, the party leadership’s consensus on Bello as Audu’s successor was supported by the senator.
The senator’s backing of Bello was believed to have provided key support to Bello, whose emergence as Audu’s successor was characterized by controversies.
Expectations that the relationship between the duo would open a new vista in the state, have been dashed by the current crisis which stems from disagreements over the manner the state is being governed.
Melaye, a firebrand, among other things, had accused the governor of not using bailout funds and Paris Club refund for the betterment of the state and its indigenes.
He had on different occasions, lamented that worker and pensioners in the state were not being given the priority they deserve.
Melaye was also irked that the administration is allegedly using local government caretaker committees to siphon the funds.
Enough is enough
He expatiated his grouse thus: “Yahaya Bello collected N20 billion from the federal government as bailout fund, still, he refused to settle workers. He also collected N11 billion from Paris Club refund money. Still, he refused to pay workers and pensioners.
“Children can no longer go to school and tenants can no longer pay for house rent. Enough is enough. The people of Kogi State are tired of this government.
“I will continue to speak the truth for the sake of my people. No amount of intimidation will stop me from fighting for the course of my people.
“I have fought for the rights of the people at the national level. God will not forgive me if I don’t fight for the rights of my people at home.”
At another forum where he launched his new book: Antidotes for Corruption, Melaye regretted supporting the governor.
“If you put him (Wada) alongside Yahaya Bello today, I will vote for Wada. At least, throughout his tenure, we did not agree but he never attempted to assassinate me.’’
It was on this premise that the lawmaker demanded the resignation of the governor, an action observers found not to have been out of context in any democratic setting.
Instructively, the state has witnessed protests as a result of the feud with one leading to the death of three persons at the state capital.
Submission of 188, 580 signatures
The decision to recall the legislator from the Senate which analysts argued was not original to Melaye’s constituents, has got the crisis to its peak. And like Melaye, who accused the governor of funding the recall with N2 billion, not a few think that Bello’s administration was not instrumental to the process.
However, an earlier report by SaturdayVanguard had stated that some appointees of the governor from his Senatorial District were believed to be behind the development which resulted in the submission of 188, 580 signatures in support of the petition for Melaye’s recall.
Though the appointees had reportedly sworn that the governor was not bankrolling the exercise, what seems to be the interest of his camp in the matter, is somehow giving credence to suspicions about the origin of the recall exercise.
Bello’s camp is, however, relentless in its claims that the crisis was not birthed by Melaye’s allegations.
While the promoters of the exercise seem not to be looking back, findings by SaturdayVanguard revealed that Melaye still commands a huge followership in his constituency with many uncomfortable with the turn of events.
This is even more evident from the outpour of solidarity for the Senator by various groups and leaders of Kogi West Senatorial District.
Most of these groups somewhat corroborated claims that the process of collecting signatures was fraught with irregularities occasioned by forgery of signatures.
They were also alarmed that 188,000 signatories were said to have signed the recall paper even when the total vote cast in the last senatorial election was 111,000.
SaturdayVanguard gathered that the combination of these and other factors informed the sympathy most sections of the constituency have for the lawmaker, who is regarded as one of the leading lights in the Senate.
In fact, majority are concerned that some of the senator’s kinsmen are believed to be driving the process, a development that was described as inimical to the interest of Okunland, where Melaye hails from.
The fact that most people, who condemned the exercise hail from Kogi West Senatorial Districts, was found by SaturdayVanguard to have raised so many credibility questions about the whole process.
One of such platforms is Okun Professional Network, OPN, an umbrella group of indigenes of Yoruba speaking áreas of Kogi State.
In a jointly signed statement, OPN said: “We consider it necessary to make this statement as the largest body of professionals of Okun descent worldwide. We are not unaware of the events that have led to the recent events culminating in the recall attempt of our Senator, Dino Melaye. We, therefore, wish to make the following submissions.
“Our position is that the principle of leadership by example must always hold in public service and as such, our conclusions were drawn mostly on this principle. We completely dissociate ourselves and this noble group, OPN, from any attempt to coerce or motivate the people of Kogi West to recall Senator Dino Melaye.
“We wish to call the Senator to give an account of his stewardship with evidence of performance. Lessons should be drawn from these events, public office is not for self-aggrandizement but for service, our leaders should make amends accordingly.
“We agree with our Senator’s call on the government to pay all outstanding salaries, pensions, and allowances in Kogi State immediately without any further delay.”
Similarly, Melaye’s Bunu kinsmen, who were said to be among the signatories to the recall process, denounced being involved.
Mr. Kingsley Mokikan, Leader of Bunu Youth Forum said:”We have waited for them to submit their petition to INEC and thank God they have done just that. We are waiting for the next step from INEC.
“As far as we are concerned as Bunu Youths, we have not at any time appended our signatures to any document regarding the recall of Senator Dino Melaye. We in Bunu don’t destroy the house that we use our hands to build. We voted for Senator Dino and we have no reason whatsoever to recall him.
We have no reason to recall him
“We are ready to testify in any law court under oath that we never signed any document and we are ready to challenge the process in court.
“We have not had it this good in the history of the Nigerian Senate as far as the District is concerned. Sen Dino is doing us proud. His legislative prowess has no match. Presently he has the highest number of Bills and Motions and all these are people-oriented.
“His problems started when he stood up to challenge the non-payment of salaries and pensions as well as the closure of all the higher institutions of learning in the state which no one has been able to question the governor and his aides about.’’
Also making its position on the matter known, Okun Development Initiative, ODI, said: “A recall process premised on the disenchantment of majority of West Kogites with their elected senator is acceptable but what will not be condoned is every delusive attempt by those bent on exerting political leverage to dictate to the majority of Okun people how they should feel about their senator, why and when they should express their displeasure. Okun people and Kogi West, in general, should be allowed to decide the fate of their senator.
The post DINO MELAYE VS GOV BELLO: Between the voice of Jacob, hand of Esua appeared first on Vanguard News.
Source: Vanguard News