Senator Dino Melaye who represents Kogi West in Nigeria’s Senate, doesn’t do contrition.
So it was quite startling when he referred to himself as a failure at the Osasu Show symposium in Abuja last Friday.
“Unfortunately, we the leaders, myself inclusive, have failed this nation and have failed the younger generation — myself inclusive. The reason why we are where we are today is because there is disconnect between leadership and followership”.
For once, Melaye is right.
It may have been an understatement to label himself and other political leaders of Nigeria 'failures', but we’ll take it.
Like other members of the political class in Nigeria, Melaye is a problem.
For years, Nigerians have endured his ilk because there’s really nowhere else to go from here but rock bottom. Nigerians have had to endure poor, corrupt leadership in a country where money politics trumps all else.
You can't contest an election around here if you've not got bags of money to throw around. So, the good ones stay out of politics while those who have absolutely nothing to offer but ill-gotten wealth, take center stage.
In another moment of self-flagellation, Melaye said; “If we don’t take care of the poor, a time will come when the poor will take care of themselves, and how are they going to take care of themselves? It is already happening. There was no kidnapping before, today, kidnapping, from my own poor, myopic definition is redistribution of ill-gotten wealth.
“What we should fix is democracy; democracy is government of the people, by the people and for the people. What we have is greediocracy; government of the greedy by the greedy, for the greedy.
“We the leaders want to win elections at all cost, so we spend money to win elections. The followership also is greedy, they accept money to vote. So, head or tail, there is a need for attitudinal change and this is affecting everything.
“Today, we are talking about the recovery of our economy, we are talking about poverty and how to fight it. The only way to fight poverty is for we the leaders to build trust among the people.
"How do you build trust? Today, if there is a policy statement banning the use of generators everywhere including the presidential Villa, when there is no light or electricity in there should be no electricity in
“When there is no light in Lugbe, there should be no light anywhere; the citizens will develop confidence.
“When I was a member of the House of Reps, I moved a motion that sons and daughters of all political office holders, or all politically exposed persons, from councillors to president should attend public school, that motion was not seconded; it died.
“If the son of the Governor, senator is attending public schools, he will fix the school. So the issue of poverty is self-created".
Truer words haven't been spoken.
He sure knows the problem, but like the rest, he won't lift a finger to fix the problem.
A week after his public confession, Melaye showed up at the Notting Hill Carnival in the UK. As he mounted the stage to address the crowd, boos rang out. Even his Ajekun Iya rendition couldn't save his a**.
“Ole…Ole…” some sections of the crowd yelled at the senator. “Ole” is Yoruba for common thief.
Melaye has had a horrible couple of days even by his own standards.
Derided at home and scorned abroad. He's come full circle.
The problem though is that there are so many Melayes in Nigeria--getting rid of them all will take some doing. Someday, we hope they all come out, say their confessions and get off the stage.