This is a season of political anomy; one that has not only proved too a hot to handle for the top policy-makers of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), but also which has put the party in a quandary of some monstrous proportion. The source of all that, to a party that is trying to rebrand itself, is what some political analysts now call ‘The Dino Show’. And, for the avoidance of doubt, it has less to do with the word dinosaur, just in case you are likely to get the pronunciation of the word embarrassingly wrong.
For nearly one year, it appears the PDP – the main opposite party –has been silent over an allegation by the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) against one of its most honourable and venerable members, Senator Dino Melaye, who represents Kogi West Senatorial District.
The police case against Melaye (some writers have alleged that the senator was guilty by association) has been in a very stubborn competition with such other front-page news stories as President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption campaign and fake news. Most news editors would attest to the fact that Melaye is at anything, a lead-story material.
Melaye’s case is a pointer to the fact that guilt induces selective amnesia. At a time so close to the 2019 general elections, the Melaye saga is an irreparable dent to the PDP.
As one writes, it’s quite palpable that Melaye himself might be feeling deserted. He has crafted a very good but sadly it appears the theatre has, six months on, been empty: nobody appears interested in a play that is unnecessarily – if not sickeningly – designed to distract from the political agenda of an individual and his party.
Nobody wants to be hired as a crowd that would be bused to the venue of the play. It appears the PDP propaganda system has failed Melaye in winning public sympathy and choking crowd to ‘The Dino Show’. And the attendant disgraceful silence by the PDP in the case has to do with the fact it has realized that the show was an avoidable tragedy that has been staged in a nude theatre!
But there, the police was applauded for playing well its role of apprehending Melaye after besieging his Abuja residence in a test strength. Melaye refused virtually every peaceful move by the police to hear from him on the allegation of hurting policeman Saliu – even if by association. The critics’ position goes like this: Melaye is a lawmaker and as a respected senator he should have honoured the invitation from the police sent to him through the Clerk of the National Assembly that he should report at the Kogi State headquarters of its command to answer some questions about the harm done to Saliu.
Melaye ought to have known how well to deal with agents of the law, especially when the case against him had to do with a mere allegation of malfeasance. In the run-up to the denouement of ‘The Dino Show’, the same critics have posited, Melaye should have been properly briefed by the PDP or his lawyers that he should honour the police invitation and promptly too.
The truth is that the police couldn’t have detained Melaye as some have feared. At the Kogi State headquarters of the NPF command, Melaye would have argued that yes, it’s likely that the offending or careless shot fired at Saliu was from somewhere close to his convoy, but he knew not who committed such an offence; that, indeed, as a law-abiding lawmaker, he couldn’t have been a party to a crime against a policeman. Melaye’s comportment – his responsible appearance and friendliness towards the police – it could be imagined, in retrospect, would have been so disarming to compel the police in Kogi State to extricate him while investigation continues. There wouldn’t have been any need the last installment of The Dino Show.
Melaye – and by association, the PDP – would seem to have miscalculated by the drama. Nigeria’s may not be as advanced a democracy as that of the United State of America, for instance, where presidents like Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton were once questioned by very strong and incorruptible democratic institutions, the truth, nonetheless, is that Melaye, himself appears to have played unnecessarily, for too long, to the gallery.
Up to the plays denouement, critics say he was “too garrulous, noisy and indefensibly sentimental” such that, he has drawn a bad press to himself and his party; that truly The Dino Show is a failed electoral strategy. It has had the honourable effect of sealing the lips of the PDP to a silence that it could not protest against the police for arresting him. The PDP’s eminently loud silence when Melaye ought to have acted honourably. fuels the impression that it’s far less certain that it would get safely away with the blemish and pong spurned by The Dino Show.
By Nduka Uzuakpundu
Uzuakpundu, a veteran journalist, writes from Lagos