By Solomon Ayado
Although the much anticipated 2019 general elections are still ahead, the political gimmicks, the clever maneuverings and above all, the treachery that ha’s already Playing out in Kogi state is more obvious than can best be imagined.
No one is sure what is really happening in the political sphere of Kogi State. Virtually all the political heavy weights have begun what appears like fighting to the finish. None of them want to take the back seat.
Unfortunately, the overall development of the state which, ordinarily should be the major concern of the political gladiators is suddenly thrown to the backyard. Like the proverbial saying that when two elephants fight, the grass suffers, this is exactly the situation with the teeming masses in Kogi. Hunger and frustration have flashed into their bare faces following the unresolved disagreement of the political actors.
The present Yahaya Bello-led All Progressives Congress (APC) administration has received bashings from men of the opposition and some indigenes of the state, no thanks to the dissonance of the major political leaders.
While the Senator for Kogi West, Dino Melaye, is relentless posing a matured baby that cannot be curdled by an inexperienced mother, Governor Bello at the other hand, is posturing a family head whose bestowal cannot be challenged by any family member, no matter how well experienced, wealthy or influential. As such, the battle line is drawn and no one is privy to when the imbroglio will reach the terminal.
In retrospect of the political rivalry among politicians in Kogi, especially between Senator Melaye and Governor Bello, one can categorically adduce that the duo are washing their dirty linen in public.
Not long ago, Melaye had accused Bello of detailing assassins after him to not just attack him for any scare but to permanently eliminate his life. But Bello quickly denied the allegation, insisting that he was too big to layoff his administrative responsibilities to pursue attacks on any member of his state.
As if the matter was put to rest, a scandalous allegation of the governor’s double voter registration at INEC suddenly emerged. Many loyalists from the governor’s camp suggested the dent must have been propelled by Dino as a fight back strategy.
On Saturday, June 10, 2017 a process to recall Senator Dino Melaye kicked off in Kogi West senatorial district within the seven LGAs-Koton Karfe, Lokoja, Kabba/Bunu, Ijumu, Mopa Amuro, Yagba East and Yagba. Scores of constituents queued to sign the petition on Melaye’s recall from the Senate. It was gathered that there was a large turn out as the people took turns with their voter’s card to sign the register.
To many pundits who are abreast with the political development of Kogi state, there is a perception that the commencement for the recall of Dino may not be unconnected to the vendetta moves of the governor.
This, they posit would be one among the many measures by the governor to silent Dino and to further pin his political bubbles that are fast coasting towards exploding in 2019. But alongside, the recent outburst by Senator Smart Adeyemi who Dino unseated, is also considered yet another garner towards the influence of a recall as commenced by the constituents.
Apart from a perceived gang up by Dino’s kinsmen, it is said that Melaye has committed several other political sins that have made it pretty difficult for anyone to clearly depict where his predicament is emanating, or it be the consequences of his actions. Besides Dino’s alleged assault on Senator Oluremi Tinibu, his insistence on EFCC chairman Magu’s rejection and sack, removal of senate leader Ali Ndume, alignment and visit to former Military Head of State, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (rtd) as well as being the arrow head of Hameed Ali, CG custom’s hurdles are many, among others. The recall is just a tip of the iceberg.
Just yesterday, Monday, June 12, there was a deadly attack at the Kogi State Polytechnic gate, Lokoja, where the lawmaker was holding a protest against non-payment of salaries by the state government.
The protest which began at about 11:00 am turned bloody when unknown gunmen invaded the venue, shooting sporadically. No fewer than five persons were wounded during a shootout while one died on the spot. But Melaye escaped unhurt.
Of course, the provision on the power to recall is one of the innovations of the 1999 Constitution. However, the implementation of this constitutional provision in the country has encountered several daunting challenges and abuses. As it is, no successful case of recall has so far been recorded in Nigeria and if it finally happens, it will be history breaking. Elsewhere, like America, there are several instances of recall of elected officials.
According to records, a recall is initiated when sufficient voters sign a petition because a representative is not properly discharging their responsibilities.Such an elective official is called back with the written request of specific number of voters. The stipulations are that more than half of the registered voters in the Senator’s senatorial district write, sign and send a petition to the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC alleging their loss of confidence. The petition must be signed, and arranged according to polling units, wards, LGAs and constituency before on receipt, INEC would notify the Senator sought to be recalled and further issue a public notice or announcement stating the date, time and location of the verification of signatures to the petition.
The electoral body would verify the signatures to the petition at the designation and signatories must be individuals who appear on the voters’ register and a referendum would be conducted if more than one half (50% + 1) of the signatories are verified. But INEC must write to the petitioners stating that the minimum requirements for a referendum were not met, if the number verified is less than one half of the registered voters in that constituency, the petition will therefore be dismissed. After all, a referendum is conducted within 90 days of receipt of the petition if the minimum requirements for a referendum are met-referendum will be a simple yes or no vote on whether the Senator should be recalled, decided by simple majority of the votes.If majority of the voters in the constituency vote ‘yes’ the Chairman of the INEC will send a Certificate of Recall to the Senate President to effect the recall and the Senate President will show affected senator the way out of the Senate.
Based on the past records, no one is sure whether the move to recall Senator Dino Melaye would succeed hence history have not shown any successful implementation of any referendum in the country.
However, Melaye is insistent that Governor Bello is behind his recall, describing it as a mere joke. The Senator has alleged that Bello had spent over N1bn to execute the ongoing process by his constituents to recall him.
The post read, “Yahaya Bello: on recall of Dino Melaye, he is shooting the moon and boxing the air. Spending over N1bn tax payers’ money on an unproductive venture when salaries and pensions have not been paid is wicked. I will continue to defend the poor and the defenseless masses of Kogi State. If I die, I die. We must rescue the state.”
But Governor Bello has quickly denied Melaye’s claim. Bello spoke through his special assistant on New Media, Mr. Gbenga Olorunponmi.
“The recent developments in Kogi West Senatorial District are strictly an issue for the good people of that zone, and the senator is well aware of that. He has nothing to fear from (Bello) the Kogi State Government but he should know that he owes his constituents a duty to serve them. They are his masters and he should heed them.”
The question on the lips of many is that when will the political quagmire in Kogi state come to a finish? the recall of Senator Dino Melaye succeed? Can heads roll if it attains success? will the alleged double voter registration of Governor Yahaya Bello finally consumes him? Only time will tell.