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Sphygmomanometer Dino

By Yinka Odumakin

A man who disciplines his brother from the same womb with a pestle needs not tell his half-brother to run for dear life” -Yoruba proverb.

TWO days before former President Goodluck Jonathan was to handover power to President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015, I had honoured an invitation from Dr. Raymond Dokpesi to a farewell reception by the DAAR Communications for the departing President.

One of my compelling reasons for attending the event was to tell my bosom friend, Oronto Douglas  in the beyond that a faithful friend would do in your post-life exactly what he would do if you were alive.

Oronto was still fresh in the grave as he passed shortly after his boss lost the elections. I watched him in his dying days and still exerting himself at a frenetic level and more productive than many human wastes around the then President. My eyes were misty as I sat on his bed in a London hotel a few weeks before he breathed his last in deep agony as he tried to gather some strength to speak at a Town Hall.

Some days earlier in Nigeria, I had driven him to see a prominent Nigerian in Lagos. As I took him  back to Raddison Blue Hotel,he found it very difficult to come down from the car.I had to wait for about 30 minutes before practically walking him to his room. I have not seen a man with greater inner strength in a failing body than Oronto!

My presence at that event I am sure would have been a great consolation to my friend as I learnt in the course of the night that one very talented artiste  from the Niger Delta Oronto did everything to promote around the world had made a very ridiculous demand on the organizers as an excuse not to perform at the event.

Without being put on notice,I was called to make a few remarks at the dinner event. I said I was glad to be part of the event bidding farewell to a President who was not perfect but was leaving some legacies that  would be challenges to his successor. One of them was his being faithful to his promise that his ambition was not worth the blood of any Nigerian positing that we would harvest a lot of peace if that tradition becomes part of our political culture.

I also pointed out that the departing President was the most abused, insulted and vilified in the history of Nigeria without attendant missing souls or incarcerated citizens on that account. I wished that that level of tolerance would be available for his successor in order to deepen the democratic process in Nigeria.

Three years after that speech, Senator Dino Melaye had become the sphygmomanometer  to gauge the blood pressure of the creeping tyranny that is festering in the polity today.

First let me make it clear that I detest many of Dino’s ways. His exuberance galls just as his display of ostentation turns the belly. But as fairness consists in giving even the devil his due, he is ironically one of the few Senators who make some coherent views on issues of national importance, a sad reflection of how bad things have become in our polity.

In the build -up to the 2015 elections,Dino was always on the podium at APC campaigns making virulent attacks against the then President for which he should have been advised on moderation if there were sufficient statesmen in the top echelon of the then opposition party. I don’t see anybody in the land today making some of those comments against the current President without serious consequences. If in doubt, phone the Edo Senator  who within parliamentary immunity suggested the impeachment  of President Buhari to tell you how he was punched by thugs he claimed were arranged by a top official of Edo State Government. He was waylaid at the Benin Airport  and allegedly hid himself at the VIP lounge for two hours.

However, when Governor Godwin Obaseki arrived at the airport,Senator Matthew  Urhoghide made efforts to escape with the governor’s entourage but with the governor at the front of the VIP lounge, the APC youths pounced at him, removing his cap and hiting him with it.

The Senator returned to the lounge while Governor Obaseki  the Chief Security officer of the state entered his vehicle and zoomed off and the the PDP leaders who were at the airport to honour him with a red carpet reception with the Edo cultural troupe members fled for their dear lives on sighting the the “hard working ” youths.

If you enter the U.S. Holocaust Museum you will see a sign that gives you the 12 early signs of fascism. About  nine are already with us in this country.

  1. *Powerful and continuing nationalism
  2. *Disdain for human rights
  3. *Identification of enemies as a unifying cause
  4. *Rampant sexism
  5. *Controlled mass media
  6. *Obsession with national security
  7. *Religion and government intertwined
  8. *Corporate power protected
  9. *Labour power suppressed
  10. *Disdain for intellectual and the arts
  11. *Obsession with crime and punishment
  12. *Rampant cronyism and corruption

It was heart -rendering seeing how Dino, a sitting Senator was treated like an armed robber last week as the police took him from Abuja to go humble him at the feet of his traducer,Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi;another fellow Dino exhausted all his exuberance to install after the APC Magic illegally raised him to conclude an election he did not start.

We saw an injured Dino in handcuffs after the police claimed he jumped from the window of a moving vehicle. It would be an interesting sight to see the window of a vehicle through which bulky Dino jumped through someday.

Dino has not been the lone harvester of the consequences of his choices.Doctors at the Zankii Hospital where the Senator was first admitted were handcuffed like hardened criminals and taken into detention. Their “crime” was treating somebody the state was after.Even patients and   relatives who happened to be at the right place at the wrong term were carted away by policemen who were said to have stormed the Hospital in over 30 operational vehicles !

Even journalists had their share from the menu of tyranny. They were said to have  risked being shot if they brought out the tools of their trade by the police personnel led by FCT Commissioner of Police,Mr. Sadiq Bello. A BBC’ driver who had conveyed one of their reporters,Miss Dooshima Abu was chained by the policemen!

As I was writing this copy, an Editor friend forwarded to me a write-up by Mr. Emeka Obegolu on how two lawyers from the firm of Rickey Tarfa -Messrs Pius Udo-Inyang and David Amaefula who were carrying out their lawful duties around Dino were arrested and charged to a magistrate court. They were remanded in prison custody.

All these are not happening in Idi Amin’s Uganda but 2018 Nigeria where constitutional rule is being suspended on a daily basis. Some of the things we witness under a supposed democratic rule could not have been contemplated even under military dictatorship in this country.

This is not saying that Dino as a Senator is above the law. If there are allegations against him, he is duty bound to answer them as a citizen of Nigeria. But we must shown indignation at gestapo rule, baring of fangs, excessive use of force, open brigandage and outright tyranny.

When we say no to these,we do it not for Dino but for our liberty as a people. To say we should overlook this because Dino is at the receiving end is a backhand service for impunity. It is all the tonic tyranny needs to blossom in our land.

That so many innocent citizens have become injured in the Dino’s ordeal is a clear signal to us what happens when evil is unchecked.The Noble Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka a few days ago spoke about seeing triumph of evil over good in our land.

He was right on point. Our indifference sustains this ungodly scenario.

When Hitler reigned  over Germany with evil supplanting good as we are witnessing now, there was a prominent Protestant pastor who emerged as an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler and spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps.

Niemöller is today  best remembered for the immortal words that should bring clarity to where we are and the need to reject abuses no matter who is at the receiving end :

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.



Re: Black Wednesday

THANKS for your article on the above subject. If you can recall my response to one of your write-ups in 2017, I noted that President Muhammadu Buhari, PMB, is directly or indirectly sowing the seeds for the disintegration of Nigeria. The goings on in Nigeria today show that we are still under military rule.The tiger will never give up its tigeritude.

What happened in the Senate was a coup against democracy. It is a pity that some Senators supported this coup because of their selfish interest.

When the come comes to become they will be the big losers. The siege on our fragile democracy is getting bigger and hotter since PMB took over the seat of government. It is a pity that many Nigerians forget easily. One of the Vanguard writers warned us in 2014 of what would be our fate if Buhari became the president in 2015.Now the chickens have come home to roost.

Tony Ekwe


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