The Dino Melaye recall may have failed, but the senator still has a battle to retain his seat, on his hands.
“I, Professor Ukertor Gabriel Moti, affirm that the information on verification of signatures to the petition for the recall of Senator Dino David Melaye of Kogi West Senatorial District has taken place on this day, 28th day of April 2018, and that the verified signatures is 5.34% of the total number of registered voters in the constituency and has therefore not satisfied a requirement of the law for a referendum,” the INEC chief in charge of the recall process announced.
For the people of Kogi West to have successfully recalled Melaye, more than one half (50% + 1) of the signatories who appended on the recall petition, ought to have shown up for verification.
However, only 18,742 signatories of the total 189,870 showed up on referendum day.
As soon as INEC declared that the verification had failed, Melaye took to Twitter for a victory dance.
“Every lie has an expiry date. Forces of evil will never triumph over forces of light. God is with us. Thank you my people. God bless you all. Thank you for the confidence reposed in me. I will not let you down. I will always stand by the truth and the people at all times. God bless Kogi west”, Melaye wrote.
I wouldn’t be gloating right now if I were Melaye. The senator won the Kogi West senatorial election with 42,621 votes cast. If 18,743 constituents showed up to have you recalled, that’s about half the total number of people who voted you in, now losing confidence in your ability to represent them in Abuja.
Like everywhere else in Nigeria, voter apathy is a thing in Okun, thanks to several socio-economic factors like poverty and distrust in government. It was always going to be a tall order asking people to turn up for verification; especially if there was no ‘stomach infrastructure’ on offer.
Besides, in a recall process, there are no door-to-door campaigns and little sensitization of constituents. If in spite of all of this, over 40 percent of persons who voted you in, turned out to have you recalled, then you should be very worried indeed.
Melaye has also fallen out with the powers that be in the APC. He’s been going against the president and leader of the party, Muhammadu Buhari at every opportunity and is regarded as unstable and badly behaved in APC circles. Only a handful of APC chieftains can stand him these days.
Besides, his antagonist, Governor Yahaya Bello, is an ally and ‘adopted son’ of the president. Melaye will be lucky to get the party’s ticket to return to the senate in the 2019 election, at this rate.
Of course, all of the recall process was steeped in the bitter politics and battle for supremacy in Kogi State. You could also see the invisible hands of Kogi Gov Bello throughout the process. It is debatable if the over 18,000 constituents who turned up at recall booths in Kabba Bunu, Yagba East, Mopa Amuro, Yagba West and Lokoja LGAs, weren’t mobilized or handed some kind of incentive to show up.
The constitution also makes it doubly difficult to recall a lawmaker because ‘lawmakers aren’t supposed to be recalled’. It is why none has ever been recalled in our nation’s history. There was no way Melaye was going to be the first.
However, if we learnt anything from the recall process, it has to be that Bello is steadily plotting Melaye’s fall, one arrest and referendum at a time. Melaye’s power and voting base is gradually being eroded in Kogi West by his governor.
Bello may consider his sinister plot a marathon and not a 100m dash. His end game may just be that Melaye doesn’t return to the senate at all and that the senator loses relevance in the governing party. Bello’s overall plan may just be to wear Melaye out before the next election cycle.
It’s still a long road to travel for Melaye, even though he just dodged the bullet of a recall. It isn't yet uhuru for him and he'd be naive not to know this.
The Ajekun Iya crooner may have won the battle of a recall but even he must know that there’s still the war of retaining his senatorial seat to be fought.