By Olawoyin Oladeinde
Unlike every human being alive today, Senator Dino Melaye had his own 2019 crossover at about noon on Friday January 4, more than 72 hours after everyone on planet earth had moved into the New Year.
The senator, perhaps bored by the never-ending theatrics of 2018, finally pitied the Nigerian police authorities and surrendered Friday. The police had been at his residence since the last week of 2018, preventing the senator from setting his eyes on the beautiful sun of 2019.
Ceteris paribus, it may not be inappropriate to officially welcome the hardworking senator into the season and wish him a happy new year. Of course it is pointless invoking that Tai Solarin’s clichéd line––‘May your road be rough’––for the senator here. Already, his road this year has not only shown signs that it will be rough, with the way the police have decided to handle his case, we must pray that they do not confiscate the entire road and dump him inside hot waters at the midriff of the year.
Now, when clips of Mr Melaye being hauled into the police headquarters like a sack of garri appeared online Friday afternoon, I could not contain my rage. Right there was a distinguished senator of the Federal Republic––who is unarguably the most vibrant of the lot in the Saraki-led Assembly––being dragged on the floor like a cow on its way to the slaughter slab. And at a point when the entire theatrics reached its cul-de-sac, the distinguished senator indeed mooed like a castrated cow. Disgusting!
Of course, Mr Melaye’s distinguished performance aside, SATIRE SATURDAY has every reasons to be outraged that its favourite choice for 2018 Man of the Year is being humiliated that way. Let’s digress a bit.
Put matter-of-factly, the Buhari government is blind to optics: it embodies the shamelessness the Yoruba in their wisdom and wit would aptly describe in one sentence: “Ko m’oju, ko mora, bii ol*** nla…” Yoruba loses its flavor when translated so it’s pointless doing that. And from the height of the presidency through to the gardener at the State House, this blindness to optics appears like the elixir with which this administration operates. It is why the government and by extension the APC have played both the opposition and the ruling party since it took over power. It is also why it has fumbled through so many needless controversies since 2015. And more recently, it is why an Amina Zakari (said to be President Buhari’s relative) would be appointed to be a part of the umpire, with its attendant controversies, even in an election in which Mr Buhari is arguably the shoo-in. How else do you delegitimize the process and your possible victory at the polls, pray?
Frankly, the government’s lack of concern for optics, to elevate the discourse a little further, is why Mr Melaye’s arrest and prosecution would drag into the campaign season, ostensibly over an alleged offence he committed in the middle of last year, with legitimate political concerns being raised by the opposition. To be sure, even, while nobody should be considered above the law, the manner the police sensationalized the 8-day ‘blockade’ and eventual arrest of the senator smacks of vindictiveness. Legally, it may not be wrong but we can hardly divorce politics from people’s actions around here, considering the amount of energy and theatrics deployed over the case–– at a time when a part of the North-east was burning and officers are reported to be deserting the region. And again, these disturbing concerns, especially if put in the context of this government’s rather poor records in the area of arrest and detention of dissenting voices, are not entirely without basis. One hopes that the worrisome trend would be arrested, pronto.
Now, what does this imbroglio mean for electioneering in Mr Melaye’s native Kogi state, where he is contesting as senator? Already, there are hints that returning to the senate would not be an easy ride for him, given the readiness of his state governor, Yahaya Bello, to have him bite the bullet at the polls. But again, with this arrest and planned prosecution, the government has handed him a strong alibi should he fail to win the election. Again, optics.
But away from optics, SATIRE SATURDAY has this strong belief that Mr Melaye would survive all of these troubles. The man is a tested ‘general’ who has won too many of such battles in the past. House of Reps troubles. ABU certificate scandal. 2018 recall kerfuffle. ‘Invasion’ of his Aiyetoro-Gbede home… etc.
Of course, these feats, plus his survival of other numerous attacks directed at him in the other room and elsewhere, fetched him the much coveted SATIRE SATURDAY 2018 Man of the Year recognition. Initially, before the autumn of the year, the prize swung between the senator and Ekiti’s most innovative governor ever, Ayo Fayose. But the man who elevated provision of ‘Ponmo alata sue-sue’ above construction of schools and roads lost the battle when he met his waterloo in Ekiti and fell into obscurity. He’s been in ‘Sifia pain’ ever since. So Dino remains the last man standing, at least for now. Although given how he mooed at the Police headquarters on Friday, plus the low pitch of his voice when he recited some biblical verses in a video that went viral days earlier, this column is worried about the senator’s confidence level. But all hope isn’t lost––at least not yet.
In Snake in the Monkey’s Shadow, a 1979 Hong Kong martial arts film directed by Cheung Sum, we saw how a fighter defeated another revered fighter using the monkey style of kung fu. Beyond excellent legislative duties, Mr Melaye has shown us that he is a good interpreter of movie scripts. Again, he is amazingly gifted in the martial arts of monkeys––no one survives on a tree for 10 hours without connection with the arboreal species of monkeys. SATIRE SATURDAY therefore hopes that as he faces his present ordeal, Mr Melaye would put those skills into use and not disappoint his teeming fans.
Finally, for standing strong in the middle of 2018 storm, Mr Melaye is this column’s Man of the Year. But sadly, he has not received his plaque. SATIRE SATURDAY therefore pleads with the Inspector General of Police to allow Mr Melaye come forward for recognition. This column assures the IG that the senator will not jump bail.
Will anyone help transmit––no, sorry, ‘transmission’––this to the IGP, please? (Premium Times)
By Olawoyin Oladeinde