Dino Melaye, Nigeria’s Drama King

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Senator Dino Melaye is Nigeria’s drama king. He’s a master of din and theatrics. Sometimes, he steps out like a Hollywood gangster all dressed for a Lagos owambe party that never ends.

Chains hanging over his neck, bangles on his wrist, baggy trousers, plus-size polo shirt and a big glittering footwear often defines him when he’s outside the Red Chamber.

Melaye, tall, huge and ebony of complexion, represents Kogi West Senatorial District in the National Assembly. Many see him as one that courts trouble. Others say he’s the kind of character Nigeria needs in a hallowed chamber peopled by some unrepentant taciturn fellows.

Say what you wish of him, Melaye does not give a damn even when damned. When he wins any of the several battles that often come his way by design or stroke of ill fate, he weighs in with a musical skit – posts it on social media with all the flourish, style and candour of a wannabe songster.

In Kogi, he’s at loggerheads with his governor, Yahaya Bello. Bello, the man who grabbed the governor’s seat like a champions league trophy from the late Abubakar Audu has sworn to deal with Dino. They were like siamese twins when the governor faced many obstacles to mount the seat in those heady days. At every fora, Dino leapt to his defense like a presidential spokesman. He stood by him through thick and thin. To him, Bello was the best thing to happen to Kogi since noodles.

But that glowing union would soon crumble. Both men, from friends, turned foes. One desired and pushed for the downfall of the other. They could no longer agree nor see eye to eye. It became a classic case of the proverbial cat and mouse relationship. Kogi became too hot for Melaye courtesy of the opportunistic Governor Bello. In Abuja and social media, Melaye made it a point of duty to censure every policy of Bello. When Dino attended Senator Godswill Akpabio’s Constituency Briefing/Empowerment Programme in Ikot Ekpene sometime last year, fascinated by the way Governor Udom was consistent with payment of workers’ salaries, an enraged Dino took a swipe at his governor for failing woefully in this regard. As a way of turning a new leaf, he advised that his state governor, Yahaya Bello, should take a trip to Akwa Ibom and get some useful tips from Gov. Udom.

At the Red Chamber, though of APC, his loyalty, like that of many others is doubtful. He fraternises with members of the opposition PDP more than his broom brothers. Little wonder he’s always present at any function organized by a PDP man even when most of his own party men are absent for fear of sanction or backlash.

When Buhari oversteps his bounds or scores an own goal, Melaye takes no prisoners. With characteristic rage and deployment of dashing boldness, he hits the president where it pains without batting an eyelid. When APC took power at the centre, Dino was one of the persons that fought the powers that be to install Saraki as Senate president and Ekweremadu as deputy. Since then, his relationship with Aso Rock has been frosty.

They see him as one that joined forces with the opposition to disobey and betray his party by handing the levers of the nation’s top legislative house to a wily Bukola Saraki and longest serving deputy Senate president, Ike Ekweremadu. But the Kogi man does not care a hoot so long as he remains in the good books and graces of Saraki.

Dino has always been a controversial man. Time was when he was accused of not having a school certificate. To proof his detractors wrong, he told a keen public that he graduated from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and that, in fact, he has seven degrees one of which he claimed was from Harvard. Not done, he stormed plenary with his ceremonial graduation gown to drive home his claim. Senators were stunned. Nigerians watched in awe. But Dino relished the melodrama as he pranced into the Red Chamber with magisterial swagger.

He had an ugly spat with Senator Remi Tinubu and former President Goodluck Jonathan was not spared of Dino’s acidic tongue. He accused the then Otu Oke shoeless chap of scoring an A1 in corruption and several other putdowns he made on that administration.

Dino’s tongue spares no one. Longest serving acting EFCC boss, Ibrahim Magu has heard from the senator. Melaye also hit out at British trained ‘phonetic’ Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun whom he accused of being incompetent. He once described Minister of Budget and National Planning, Sen. Udo Udoma as a round peg in a square hole. Dino, again, accused CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele of incompetence owing to the fall in the value of Naira. When Abdulrahman Maina was reinstated to the Civil Service, Melaye described those working for Buhari as”caterpillars and cankerworms”.

Dino’s troubles doesn’t start and end in public circles. At home, his first wife, Tokunbo with whom he has three children are said to have separated. She accused Melaye of beating and pointing a gun to her head during a domestic squabble. He reportedly picked a new wife, Alero Falope. The romance, it was learnt, lasted for six months. Dino is currently without a known woman as wife hence a huge vacancy exist there!

His recent travails with security operatives is another sore point in Dino’s troubled political odyssey where he reportedly jumped off a moving police van on hearing that it was headed for Lokoja, the Kogi State capital (instead of Abuja) where he claims his life is under threat. He reportedly sustained injuries from that ‘unsenatorial’ histrionic and ended up in the hospital.

At the hospital, while in pains, his hands were still handcuffed (as we all saw in a picture) by the police who are insisting he must submit himself for interrogation over allegations of gunrunning. While there, INEC announced that his recall process from the Senate has revved into life. But the signature verification exercise of his constituents which took place last Saturday fell short of the 51 percent required to take the process to the next level. Victory for Melaye? So it seems; Dino rarely loses a battle.

From his days in the Lower Chamber, he always almost came out unruffled by his several ‘katakata’. Now that he has seemingly secured his senatorial seat from those he claims are enemies of progress, is it safe to say that we have seen and heard the last of Dino Melaye’s unending controversies?

The answer, certainly, is in the womb of time!

– Kenneth Jude, a Public Affairs Analyst, writes from Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.

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