Dino Melaye: Not ‘distinguished’, but a damn good senator - Kehinde Ogunwumiju

Hmmm! How did you arrive at the conclusion that Dino Melaye is an Idiot?

Yes he is dramatic. He is flamboyant. He is theatrical. His dress sense is loud. He is brash and may not be described as 'distinguished'.

The essence of representation at the National Assembly is that a person from your senatorial district or federal constituency speaks out on your behalf and influences the passage of policies or laws to favour and protect you.

My Senator has not moved one motion. Neither has he sponsored a bill on the floor. I'm from Ondo state. He is distinguished though. Very very distinguished. A mature dresser. Calm. Speaks fantastic English. Instead of causing 'trouble' on the floor of the Senate, he is always quiet or asleep. Other times, he can't even be bothered to attend plenary as he is overseas resting or chilling at a 5star hotel in Abuja. He doesn't have a good voice so he doesn't sing or dance. He doesn't have video performances he circulates. He's just the best.

On the other hand, one of the Senators from Kogi State is an activist. He has sponsored several bills in this Senate. I recall that when the CG of Customs threatened to force all Nigerians to pay import duties afresh in respect of cars they bought from dealers who had or should have already settled such duties but did not adequately do so due to lapses or connivance of the same customs officers, that Senator moved a motion on the floor of the Senate to stop such oppressive policy.

I recall that when the fuel subsidy payments were shrouded in mystery, this same Senator moved a motion to expose such corruption. Same thing he did in respect of the security situation. I recall he was one of those who first raised alarm on the floor of the Senate in respect of the herdsmen killing which increased vigorously after the inauguration of this regime.

It was he who drew our attention to the anomalies in the first budget proposed by this executive in late 2015 which had ridiculous entries such as N290m for a gate house, which had to be hurriedly withdrawn and which led to the sack of several officials in the budget office.

Same thing he did when there was controversy in respect of double charges for issuing number plates.

He has intervened and spoken severally in matters which actually concern and affect the average Nigerian.

He has one of the highest attendance of plenary and committee sittings in the NASS even though there are many of his distinguished colleagues who only manage to fulfil the legal minimum attendance requirement and there are some others who never attend but ask their colleagues to fill the attendance register on their behalf.

For me, he saved me the stress of filing a personal action against the Nigerian Customs when they had issued a directive that we should all go and re-assess our cars to know whether we paid adequate duties and then pay the outstanding when these cars were actually cleared by the customs..

What about his activism towards the resuscitation of Ajaokuta Steel Mills?

But this Senator's private life is not so 'distinguished'. He loves exotic cars. He loves his women. He loves to sing and dance. He taunts his opponents while doing what he loves. He can be a rabble rouser when he wants to pass across his message. All these do not affect me negatively or positively. Neither do these have any effect on his constituents. I can imagine that they voted him to perform on the floor of the house. I don't believe that they were concerned about his personal life when they voted for him.

Nigeria is a diverse nation of nearly 200m people. We can't all be the same. We can't all be conformist. Some of us must be loud or radical or flamboyant. This may not necessarily mean we are bad.

Just like law practice we have advocates who are not so dramatic or loquacious but are as effective or even more effective than the likes of persons like my distinguished friends and egbons Festus Keyamo SAN, Femi Falana SAN etc.

It is my view that in terms of his core responsibility as a legislator representing his people, Dino has acquitted himself.

I wish my Senator and Rep were half as active as he is on the floor of the NASS..

Sorry for the long missive but guys, before we continue condemning Dino, how many of us even know the names of our Senators? Try to think of how many bills they have sponsored or motions they have moved. In what way have their contributions on the floor of the NASS contributed to your wellbeing as their constituent? Are they really better than or as good as Dino simply because they are more 'distinguished' in temperament, dressing, carriage and speech?

 

  • Kehinde Ogunwumiju is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN)

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