The Very Interesting Interview Sunday Aborisade Had With Dino Melaye
In it, Dino spoke about his recall process, how it is not genuine, how Kogi Governor, Bello will fail and how his constituents love him dearly. My people enjoy!
About 188,000 eligible voters in your senatorial district were reported to have signed a register seeking your recall from the Senate. How do you feel that?
I want to say that those seeking my recall from the Senate are not my constituents. My constituents did not participate in any recall. It is the Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, who is orchestrating the recall. The process is being coordinated by his political appointees and the sole administrators of the seven local government areas in my senatorial district. They sat down in the comfort of their houses, got the registers used by the Independent National Electoral Commission for the 2015 elections, transferred them into a recall sheet and forged signatures (of people). In their desperation to get result for what they want, the names of dead voters have appeared in the recall sheet they submitted to INEC. We have also discovered that wrong voter registration numbers also appeared on the recall sheet. Many of the voters in the original INEC register were accredited using their thumbprints but there were signatures in the recall sheet. The total vote cast in the election that brought me to the senate, both valid and invalid for all the contestants in the Kogi West senatorial district is 111, 000. I scored over 40,000 votes in the election. Continue....
But today, Yahaya Bello’s recall sheet recorded over 188,000 votes. That is over 77,000 above the vote cast in 2015. Even if it is 111,000, I have my people who followed me. I have my family members, I have friends. I have my own people who would not sign the recall sheet. It is ridiculous that Bello can be myopic and intellectually stagnant that he will say that within four days, 188,000 people in my constituency signed the recall sheet. It shows how desperate he is. However, the battle to salvage Kogi State from economic cankerworms and financial scavengers, the battle to get the salaries of workers paid, the battle to get the arrears of pensioners paid; is that of no retreat, no surrender.
INEC received the recall sheet and informed you that it has started the process for your recall. Do you hope to get justice?
We will make sure that INEC carries out thorough forensic investigations into the fake signatures and thumbprints they have on their sheet. I hope that the right thing will be done by INEC and truth shall prevail over falsehood at the end of the day.
But how are you sure that your constituents did not participate in the recall process?
I want to use this medium to appreciate my constituents across the seven local government areas. They have shown me love. They have shown me compassion. Many of them have been engaging in spiritual exercises since this issue started because they are happy and satisfied with my representation both in and outside the National Assembly. I also respect and appreciate them for this. I also appreciate the political elite across the seven local government areas. I appeal to my people to be peaceful and calm. They should be assured that I am going nowhere. My four years and more are guaranteed and Bello will fail.
You alleged that the Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, orchestrated the process to recall you. Can you substantiate that?
I want to boldly say that the recall was orchestrated by the governor. The reason he is doing this is because I have been speaking against his style of governance which is affecting the well-being of the Kogi people especially the innocent workforce in the civil service at the state and local government levels. He made two failed assassination attempts on my life. He did not succeed the first time. He also carried out a second attempt and a life was lost in the process. The governor came out to lie that the person killed was a student. Meanwhile, the deceased is one of his thugs; he was released just few months ago by the Special-Anti Robbery Squad in Abuja. He had earlier been arrested and jailed for beheading a human being. The criminal was killed, while trying to assassinate me at the political gathering and his corpse and rifle were recovered by security agents. The vehicle brought by the assassins loaded with ammunitions that caught fire and eventually got burnt is still with the police.
All the evidences of the ammunitions recovered from the burnt vehicle, are intact with the police. So, the governor has been desperate to eliminate me. The reason for this is that I have been in the vanguard of asking him to pay the salaries of workers and pensioners who have not been paid for over 17 months now. I believe that is wicked, barbaric and satanic because the holy book said a labourer deserves his wage. I do not see any reason the governor will refuse to pay salaries of workers.
But the governor is complaining of paucity of funds.
He is not speaking the truth. He received the two bailouts and the President, Muhammadu Buhari, categorically stated that the money should be used to offset salary arrears of workers. The governor got the first and second bailout but refused to pay. He also got the first tranche of the Paris Club refund, yet he did not pay salaries. He got the second tranche of the Paris Club refund and still refused to pay salaries. He also got N10bn refund from the Federal Government for road construction done by his predecessors, and he could still not pay salaries. The federal allocation to the state has been regular. The local government funds are misappropriated by him because he refused to conduct local government elections for the past one year. Instead, he used the state House of Assembly to illegally ratify the extension of the caretaker committees for another six months despite the fact that their tenure had expired constitutionally.
That is why I have approached the court to say the caretaker committees in Kogi State councils are illegal, and that the governor and his appointees must account for the money that has accrued to the local government councils since he extended the tenure of the chairmen unconstitutionally. The workers whose salaries remained unpaid, have families to feed, most of them have children in schools including institutions of higher learning. Some of them are suffering from diabetes. Some are hypertensive and they are supposed to be on drugs. Many of them have died as a result of their inability to buy drugs. Some even lost their lives in road accidents as a result of their unending trips to Lokoja, the state capital for the numerous screening and verification exercises ordered by the governor.
Is it true you are fighting the governor because he did not allow you to control him on his choice of political appointees especially that of the caretaker committee chairman of Ijumu local government council?
That allegation is fallacious and ridiculous. There is no government in this country that can be controlled. I am a human rights activist so why would I want to control the governor? I have never done contract in my life with any government either at the federal, state or local levels. Anyone with a contrary opinion can come out and challenge me. I am a member of the All Progressives Congress and I fought vigorously to bring success to APC in this country and Kogi State. Therefore, I cannot allow that party to die. At the moment, the governor has completely segregated himself from the Kogi State chapter of the APC. As of now, all the state officials of the party in the state are with me because the governor is no more working with them.
We have 16 out of the 21 local government party chairmen who are with us and not with the governor. He has completely jettisoned the party despite the fact that he and his co-travellers worked against the APC in the 2015 governorship election in the state. As genuine members of the APC, we wanted to separate the party from the governor so that the people of the state will not identify the party with his failure. We don’t want his non-performance to have a negative effect on some of us who still want to used as the instrument of the party to run for elections in the future. About 90 per cent of those who benefitted from his appointments are not from APC. I am the only APC senator today in Kogi State. Politics is all about sharing. I am not talking of sharing money or the resources of the state but the various positions.
But we learnt that you rejected the governor’s choice of a chairman for your local government council.
I told him that Taofeek Isa cannot be the council chairman because we have a tradition in Ijumu Local Government Area for over 40 years. Both our kingship and local government chairmanship positions are rotated and we would not want him to create confusion in the area. We don’t want him to create enmity between the people of the local government area. Isa is from Gbede. It is not the time for Gbede to produce the local government chairman. It is actually the time of Ijumu-Aarin to produce a candidate. We have three sections of Ijumu. We have Ijumu Aarin, Ijumu-Oke and Gbede. Already, Gbede had produced the local government chairman. After then, Ijumu Aarin produced. It is now the turn of Ijumu-Oke. That has been the agreement by our forefathers that had never faltered and the arrangement had allowed peace to reign in Ijumu.
But Bello has gone to pick somebody from Ijumu who is from the same district as me, to be the local government chairman. How can we have a senator and the local government chairman from the same area? Our candidates win elections because we respect the rotational arrangement that we had kept sacrosanct for years. The governor has succeeded in creating confusion and has failed in the provision of welfare for the people and I will continue to agitate on behalf of the people of the state and whether he likes it or not, he must pay the salaries because he had collected the necessary funds that are needed to pay workers’ salaries.
Some of your constituents said they are participating in the recall exercise because you have not represented them well and that you don’t have a constituency project in the last two years. Is this true?
I want you to take a trip to my senatorial district and find out if I have done well or not. Every legislator operates on three cardinal points. The first, the act of representation – that is, making sure that your people get their own fair share of the national cake. The second is the act of lawmaking, through presentation of motions and bills. The third is oversight functions over Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government. By the grace of God, I have done my best in the last two years. I have the highest numbers of motions and bills today in the history of the National Assembly. I was awarded 2016 Senator of the Year and decorated by the Senate President (Bukola Saraki). I did not pick the award from the shelf. It was as a result of the consideration of my legislative input in the senate. I have employed many people from my senatorial district into the federal civil service through lobbying and appealing to people. I also have constituency projects spread across the seven local government areas that make up Kogi-West Senatorial District.
Like blocks of classrooms, town halls and boreholes have been completed with pictures already on the Internet. I have given scholarships to over 1,000 students. I have provided relief items and building materials to victims of natural disasters. We have also carried out lots of empowerment programmes; bought grinding and sewing machines and hairdressing salon items. We have carried out entrepreneurial training skills for youths. Without sounding arrogant, I can beat my chest to say there is no senator in the history of my constituency who has done the type of infrastructural upliftment that I have done. I influenced the award of the Ilorin-Kabba road project contract for N21bn and had been approved by the Federal Executive Council last year. I also influenced the Obajana-Kabba Road which Dangote has started constructing. I already have the bill for the upgrade of the College of Agriculture, Kabba, to a full-fledged university. The bill has been slated for public hearing. So, I have not faltered in representation. The governor and his co-travellers accusing me of poor performance might be speaking under the influence of drugs.
Why did you challenge the recall exercise in court when you know that there is fraud in the process?
When you are dealing with Bello, you will have to be very smart because he believes in commercialising and monetising people’s consciences. A man, who took some members of the Independent National Electoral Commission to his office to carry out double registration, can do anything. In order to keep a check on his undue influence, it is better to approach the court of law so that we will not take it for granted that he would allow a level playing field. If he could influence INEC by conducting illegal voter registration in the comfort of his office, he can do worse things now especially since there is a precedent.
Please LOGIN or REGISTER To Gain Full Access To This Article