Not until after the April 28, 2018 failed recall exercise instigated against him by his political opponents, who enjoy privileged political offices, not a few Nigerians believed Dino Melaye, the colourful politician from Kogi state and Senator representing Kogi West in the Senate, could survive the trap set for him.
The cup passing over him did not also come as a surprise to many, who know the man called Dino Melaye. He is a cat with nine lives and a perfect interpretation of the popular cliche – one with God is a majority.
The surprising aspect of Melaye’s travails is the fact that he emerged victorious even while in police detention. Although this scenario had played out before in 2007 when the then Chief of Staff to Abia Governor Orji Uzor Kalu, Theodore Orji, won the state’s governorship election while remanded in prison. Also, erstwhile deputy governor of Osun state, Iyiola Omisore, also won Ife senatorial seat of the state while in detention.
Melaye’s case is however unique as it is different from the two scenerios above. While Orji and Omisore’s victories were facilitated by powers that-be in their respective states at that time, Melaye’s attempted recall was apparently instigated by the government of his native Kogi state. So, the odds were against him.
It will be recaled that only 18,742 signatories, representing a paltry 5.34 per cent out of the 189,870 signatories to the fictitious petition for Melaye’s recall, were verified by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Saturday, April 28, 2018 when the verification exercise held.
In spite of scalling the recall hurdle, he is still facing politically-motivated trials in Abuja and Lokoja. The state government in Lokoja and the Nigeria Police both have an axe to grind with Melaye. The reasons are not far-fetched. The Senator is an exceptionally fearless critic, who does not suffer fools gladly.
Consequently, he has decided to return home to his people for appreciation of the Almighty God. Also, some of the numerous projects he directly undertook or facilitated will be commissioned for the glory of God and the beneficial use of the people of Kogi West.
These constituency projects include construction of feeder roads in various communities, rehabilitation of schools and building new classroms, electification projects, skills acquisition centres, motorised bole holes, and the first -ever built untral-modern Constituency Office in Nigeria, among others.
From Wednesday, July 18 to Friday, July 20, the commissioning of projects will take place while Saturday, July 21 will be the grand finale with a thanksgiving service slated for Atiku Square in his hometown of Aiyetoro Gbede, Kogi state.
In this dispensation, only few political office holders can rub shoulders with their constituents. Melaye is one of them because he has delivered his campaign promises, hence the calls on him to contest the Kogi governorship seat come 2019.
Alas! On Wednesday or thereabout, arsonists struck around the Lokoja axis of the senatorial district and vandalised some of the school projects while burning down of a block of two classrooms. However, this will in no way deter the man Dino Melaye as all the programmes and events slated for the appreciation tour of Kogi West will go as planned.
As the Kogi Home Boy and strongman of Kogi politics returns home to appreciate God and his people for their support, it is therefore important that his political opponents reflect on the import of Melaye’s gesture and bond with his people and accept him for who he is – a man of the people and a factor in Kogi politics.
– Gbadebo writes from Abuja