Editors’ note: The writer, Buchi Obichie, opines that events of Sunday, April 29, when the people of Kogi West Senatorial District refused to recall Dino Melaye, shows that the nation’s political landscape is changing. She points out that the will of the people cannot always be subverted or subdued, and expressed optimism that things may just be different in 2019 if this will prevails, as it did in Kogi!
I woke up on Sunday, April 29, to the headline: “Dino Melaye’s recall attempt fails as INEC verifies only 5.34 percent of signatories” and my heart skipped a bit. The gist was that the recall process witnessed a low turnout as only 5.34% of the 351,146 registered voters in the Kogi west senatorial district showed up.
I was joyful; not because I have any affinity for the character in question – personally, I think most of our politicians are the same – but then, my emotions stemmed from the fact that the people of the state had taken a stand.
Before the exercise was conducted, there were already allegations that names of people who did not agree with the recall, had been compiled, and signatures affixed. Some even alleged that names of deceased persons had been included as well! So, Sunday was the chance to prove or disprove those allegations; and the citizens made their true feelings known.
In various polling units, only a handful of people could be seen. The Cable reported that no single person had been attended to, as at 12:35pm, at Polling Unit 21, Ward B. At that unit, the INEC staff were pictured sitting idly; in some others, they were asleep! At the Ayere/Arimah Ward, less than 60 people, out of about 846, said yes to the recall. I heard that at a certain unit, only two people allegedly showed up…not to vote yes, but to question how their names had made it to the list in the first place!
See, Nigerians are not as politically docile and subservient as they appear to be sometimes; and it seems like with each administration of squalor and failed promises, citizens have gotten wiser.
To me, it seems like the battle to recall Dino from the Senate was not about his constituents, but more personal – between him and certain person(s) whose feathers he had ruffled.
There is no denying the fact that Dino Melaye is a troublemaker and rabble-rouser. At some points, he has even acted like a thug. As a woman, I cringed when he had the fight with Senator Oluremi Tinubu, and made off-color remarks about her. And according to the details of other personal matters splashed across the internet, the senator has not had a very stellar persona so far.
Despite this however, he has shown that as a politician in this present dispensation, he is not afraid to speak out against authority; and that seems to have been the root of his recent travails.
I am not from Kogi, and I do not know how well Dino has worked for his constituents – I reckon not so much; I mean, there is a difference between constructing a ‘culvert’ and a constructing a ‘bridge’ – however, with Sunday’s results, the people showed that they would not be used as pawns to settle scores on the chessboard of feuding overlords! And for that, I applaud them.
If this is a democratic dispensation as we claim, then there should be no reason why people should be ‘witch-hunted’ because of their opinions. I mean, if a man makes a claim, instead of conjuring all sorts against him, there should be an objective, transparent investigation into the matter; at the end of which, appropriate action can be taken. If the allegations prove true, then amends can be made to undo the wrongdoing and get things back on the right track. And if the allegations prove false, then the individual who made them would then explain himself.
But a disregard of this healthy process would make it seem like the person accused is subverting justice because he has something to hide. And it looks like this is what happened in Kogi; where Dino went after his chief executive, and all hell broke loose.
But then, Sunday happened!
So, where does Dino go from here? Well, he is not out of the woods yet, and I do not think this would be the end of his travails. I think there’s more to come; afterall, he still has the case of alleged gun-running to answer to, and is presently in custody of the Police, as per a Kogi Magistrate Court's ruling. And as sure as daylight breaks out after dawn, Dino would certainly say more things to offend people in future - if he makes it through this criminal allegation!
However, when it comes to his political career, the man’s fate should be determined by his people – constituents – and that’s that!
So Dino Melaye overwhelmingly escaped recall; but his story is not just a ‘victory’ for the Kogi people, but one for Nigerians as well. On a wider scale, the events of that fateful day have given me some measure of optimism and hope about 2019. Based on past antecedents in our country’s history, I still tread with caution; however, for some reason, it seems like our electoral landscape is shifting in the right direction – albeit very slowly.
There is such a thing as ‘the will of the people’; and Sunday’s events showed me that this will cannot always be subverted or subdued! So as 2019 approaches, i think power 'may' just have returned to the people...or maybe not?
This opinion piece was written by Buchi Obichie.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the editorial policy of NAIJ.com.
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