In less than six months, Dino Melaye, senator representing Kogi west, has claimed that there have been at least two assassination attempts on his life. He went as far as saying that Yahaya Bello, governor of his state, was responsible for the move on his life.
“There was serious exchange of gun shots between the DSS, policemen and government assassins. DSS I thank you for saving my life after God,” Melaye tweeted on Monday.
While I cannot say who is after Melaye, if anyone is, I can say we have seen this before. When politicians lose their rosy relationship due to their own pecuniary interests, and everything goes sour, we hear stories that are ordinarily none of our business.
Melaye, who was the master of ceremony at the inauguration of Bello as the governor of Kogi state, now holds a position that the same man who he regarded as God’s anointed is now after his life. When God’s anointed is after your life, who do you run to?
Whatever is going on between Bello and Melaye is not really any of my business; what I find rather interesting and worthy of close observation is the hitherto unreachable rung of our national democratic ladder: the recall of a Nigerian lawmaker.
The speculations of Melaye’s recall as a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria made the news sometime in July, 2016 when he got into some verbal altercation with Oluremi Tinubu, senator representing Lagos central. At the time, Melaye had been accused of saying he would beat her up and impregnate her.
The senator later came out to add some insult to the brewing injury, saying he cannot impregnate Tinubu because she had “arrived menopause”.
“Biologically, it is even impossible to impregnate Mrs Tinubu because she has arrived menopause. How can you say you want to beat somebody and at the same time impregnate the person,” Melaye had said.
As the talks of Melaye’s recall went across the country at the time, nothing was done to eventually recall the Ahmadu Bello University graduate.
Gbenga Olorunpomi, special assistant to Kogi governor on electronic media, on Saturday shared photos of constituents in Kogi west queuing up to append their signatures for the recall of Melaye.
“The people of Odo Ape say they no longer want senator Dino Melaye as their representative! See photos of the process. The Dino recall process is alive and well in Kogi west. We just might make history,” he wrote.
This exactly is what I will like our nation’s democracy to see through. Sad, this is being done for political reasons, but we need someone to show us that it is indeed possible to recall a senator in Nigeria, no matter how tedious.
According to section 69 of the 1999 constitution (as amended), a senator or a member of the house of representatives, may be recalled when “there is presented to the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission a petition in that behalf, signed by more than one-half of the persons registered to vote in that member’s constituency alleging their loss of confidence in that member; and the petition is thereafter, in a referendum conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission within ninety days of the date of receipt of the petition, approved by a simple majority of the votes of the persons registered to vote in that member’s constituency.”
For the 2015 elections, there were only 1,379,971 registered voters in the entire Kogi state. The number of registered voters in Kogi west was smaller than this. In the election that saw Melaye defeat Smart Adeyemi, the former had 41,120 votes, while Adeyemi polled 38,148 votes. Following the trend at the time, registered voters can be safely put at about 200,000 persons.
So, if Bello (or whoever is behind this) can get 50 percent (about 100,000) of registered voters in Kogi west to append their signatures on a petition against Melaye, and the petition is passed to INEC, and considered valid, an election (referendum) will be conducted to recall Melaye from the senate.
If a simple majority vote against the self-acclaimed Harvard graduate, he will cease to be a senator of the federal republic. With about 100,000 votes, Dino Melaye too can make history as Nigeria’s first recalled senator. Despite the politics of it all, the process will drive the “fear of the people” into the hearts of our lawmakers that they too can be recalled at any time. Good for democracy.