For more than a week now the media space has been polluted with a vindictive and fraudulent recall process being orchestrated by the Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello against Dino Melaye, the Senator representing Kogi West Senatorial district in the Senate. It is no longer news that this latest round of drama is the culmination of the frosty relationship that exists between Yahaya Bello and Senator Melaye. We are worried about this embarrassing scenario, especially in the league of democratic Nations.
Yet, looking into the situation from a dispassionate view, one is bound to ask – what is actually the sin of Senator Dino Melaye? Right from when Melaye was in the House of Representatives and up till today, the Senator had always insisted on good governance in Kogi State especially and Nigeria in general. He has thus on different occasions championed anti corruption campaigns as reflected on his sponsored bills and motions in the House of Representatives and the Senate.
What we are seeing today is Dino Melaye’s consistent insistence not to join Yahaya Bello in impoverishing his state of Kogi. It is no secret that since Yahaya Bello became Governor he has plunged his state into one crises or the other in a bid to become the imperial Majesty of Kogi State. This did not stop him from owing the state workers 15 months salaries. Many of the state owned institutions have been closed down in spite of being a beneficiary of the Federal Government’s bail-out funds and also the Paris club refund to states. The Kogi Chapter of Nigeria Labour Congress supported by the NLC Abuja is literally at war with the Government of Kogi State. Kogi State is now adjudged one of the worst governed states in Nigeria. Nothing is working in the state and Dino Melaye and other progressives have vowed never to remain silent in the face of this gross mis-governance.
It is therefore, outrageous that rather than commit himself to revamping his ailing State, Governor Yahaya would devote his entire energy, state resources and time to a futile and fraudulent recall process of Dino Melaye that would further plunge the state into unimaginable debts. Besides, this is a Chief Security Officer of a state who is now the prime architect of insecurity in his own state. Yahaya’s acute sense of insecurity has turned Kogi State to a volatile one as he continues to project his fear unto others.
Analyzing Yahaya Bello’s flawed reign as Kogi State Governor can take 50 chapters of a book covering all the unpalatable ramifications of his totally inglorious term in the saddle. Yet, Yahaya Bello would like to tell us what is in a book simply by looking at its cover. Here is a complete opportunist of a failed Governor who clearly does not understand what democracy is all about. While enjoying perks of the office of a governorship he neither earned nor deserves in any way, he shows absolutely no interest in understanding our constitution and its dictates pertaining to that office and its proper relationship with other arms of government.
If we may ask, “what does Governor Yahaya really want, in the first place?” Perhaps, his desire is that the laws should be amended by the National Assembly so that he can have the sole right to choose those to represent Kogi State in the Senate, House of Representatives, the House of Assembly, Local Government Chairmen and Councilors as well! This may be the only way he can exercise his powers as sole administrator or emperor of a poverty stricken state he has only succeeded in running further aground. While John Maxwell famously held that competence is not a substitute for lack of character, in Yahaya Bello, we have a man who clearly has no character to speak of and exhibits no competence expected of a Governor.
Character is the moral infrastructure any God fearing leader should have. Regardless of the fact that Bello is the chief beneficiary of a mandate he does not in any way deserve, Nigerians will nevertheless, always remember him as the man who lost the APC primaries to the late Governor Audu and whose reaction to that resounding defeat was to start working for the PDP. Does that show character?
Now, let us look at the recall process itself. The process has been faulted as it is constitutionally deficient, illegal and unlawful as the plaintiff has not been given fair hearing in a clear breach of his fundamental human rights. Bello is so committed to denigrating the legislature as a separate, independent and co-equal arm of government that as if to prove the point that he lacks all democratic credentials, he is busy having supporters of Senator Melaye arrested for refusing to be part of the recall exercise.
As such we have a completely illegitimate recall process in which a complete failure of a Governor is trying to sack a federal legislator, something not even a President of Nigeria has ever attempted in the entire history of our nation.
While this desperation by Yahaya Bello is clearly a political vendetta as the rising political profile of Melaye is seen as a threat to his dwindling political fortunes in Kogi, the travesty has however revealed the true character of Bello as a man to be watched carefully. In the first place, it has been revealed that Governor Bello is guilty of double registration with INEC, first in January, 2011 and secondly in May 23, 2017, in Government House, Lokoja. Again, he is believed to have tampered with INEC’s Direct Data capture machines from where he either extracted signatures of some voters while allegedly forging others to sign in a bid to incriminate Melaye.
Very soon, Governor Yahaya Bello would be on his own as prominent Kogi State indigenes and stakeholders are against the recall and are embarrassed by the Governor’s poor understanding of what governance is all about. Also, Bunu people have condemned the plot to recall Dino Melaye. They are exasperated because Dino remains one of the most productive lawmakers with one of the highest number of people oriented bills and motions to his credit in the National Assembly. Such a person deserves respect and not denigration. We are happy that Dino has instituted a suit against his recall and we call on him to sustain the suit filed on his behalf to protect his hard earned integrity and his fundamental human rights.
To understand the spirit that drives Dino Melaye, we have to look at his pedigree and some of his achievements in the National Assembly and to his constituents. Dino Melaye graduated from Ahmadu Bello University with a B.A in Geography. While at ABU he was an active member of the Nigeria Association of Nigeria Students (NANS). He later represented the Kabba/Bunu/Ijumu Federal constituency in the House of Representatives.
After a successful stint in the Federal House, he contested for the Senate position to represent Kogi West Senatorial district, an election that he won. Today, more than 30 undergraduates are enjoying his scholarship while he sunk boreholes in various villages in his constituency. He has also donated drugs worth millions of naira to hospitals and also sustained his widow empowerment programmes.
It is understandable why someone like Yahaya Bello would not like Senator Dino Melaye. Yahaya Bello’sprogrammes are anti people while Dino Melaye is clearly a fighter on the side of the defenseless masses of Kogi State. Melaye’s revolutionary life was sharpened by the lives of world class heroes and icons of freedom and democracy Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Malcom X and Martin Luther King Jnr. His numerous awards are pointers to his avowed goal of repositioning the poor masses of his state to stand against forces of oppression and repression in a poverty ravaged state like Kogi.
As we await the outcome of the ‘comedy of errors’ in which a failed Governor like Yahaya Bello, now apparently seeks a new career as the sacker of legislators, we call on well meaning Nigerians to condemn the misuse of state power while demanding that Bello concentrates on rescuing his sinking state from the political abyss that wants to consume him and his horde of daily bread hatchet men.
We also call upon INEC to distance itself from this charade as the recall process has been discredited right from day one. The latest information is that in a bid to demonize Senator Dino Melaye at all cost, the Kogi State Governor had collected fictitious signatures, some of dead or non-existent persons in a bid to achieve a pre-determined end. If INEC is drawn into this senseless debacle, it will dent the image of INEC to no end. Yahaya Bello is a political leper to be kept at arms length by all men of good sense. Knowing he can never win an election freely and fairly in Kogi State, his antics now remind one of the story of the proverbial chicken which attempts to destroy anything it cannot get.
It is our view that no one should be allowed to hold Kogi State to ransom. Yahaya Bello is not the first Governor of Kogi State and he certainly will not be the last. He should therefore not destroy the state to a level that would make it a laughing stock in Nigeria. He should also realize that putting out another man’s candle does not light his own. As men of reason gather in support of Dino Melaye, we believe that very soon Kogi State will be liberated from the clutches of Governor Yahaya Bello, whose governance style is not only strange but kindergarten.
For the avoidance of doubt, if a lawmaker must be recalled, it must come genuinely from his constituents without outside forces remotely controlling the process with state resources. The constitution does not envisage that a Governor is in a position directly or indirectly to sack a Senator, a Member of the House of Representatives, or even a Member of a State House of Assembly. If Dino is allowed to go, this idea of Governor’s sacking any legislator they disagree with will become a trend and will only spell doom for our democracy.
Yahaya Bello must be stopped, simple.
For: NATIONAL DEMOCRACY WATCH & ADVOCACY GROUP.
ELDER FRED AKPEWE MARTINS OKORO
National Coordinator Secretary