‘The state is captive to vested interests.” –Sanusi Lamido Sanusi
After all the political braggadocio and tragic comedy experiences that trailed his bid to return to the Senate in the just concluded Kogi West Senatorial election, Dino Melaye finally lost to his arch-rival, Smart Adeyemi, candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Dino and Adeyemi have both contested and occupied the seat for Kogi West in the Senate for 12 years. Adeyemi was first elected Senator in 2007 and served for eight years till 2015. Melaye replaced Adeyemi at the Senate after the 2015 election.
Their rivalry again came to the fore during the 2019 election after which Dino was declared the winner until the tribunal and Supreme Court declared the election as null and void while ordering the INEC to conduct a new election for the office.
INEC said Adeyemi polled a total of 88,373 votes to defeat Dino who polled 62,133 votes in the re-run election that took place on November 16.
Dino, who is the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), said that the election was a charade, describing the results as “magic”, insisting that “anyone congratulating Adeyemi for the election amounts to congratulating an armed robber after a robbery operation.”
At a press conference in Abuja, last week, Dino accused Adeyemi and the Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello of using violence, intimidation, and inducement to frustrate the electorate in areas where he was popular.
Since the announcement of the result, both candidates have been embroiled in a war of words as they fight dirty in media platforms.
Dino, who described Adeyemi as his ‘political wife’ did not chew back his words despite the fact Adeyemi has been sworn-in on Wednesday.
He had insisted that “Adeyemi remains my political wife. I won the election.”
Dino said he remains superior to Adeyemi on all fronts.
The former lawmaker said he sponsored over 200 bills during his four-year stay at the Senate compared to Adeyemi, who was there for eight years.
Adeyemi, on the other hand, said it is a shame that “an individual like Dino Melaye became a Senator in Nigeria.”
According to him, “I have a proven track record before I joined politics. Dino is just a thug on the streets of Abuja who joined politics and became a senator through corrupt means, flaunting exotic cars at the detriment of the people”.
He declared that by the latest defeat at the rerun election, Dino has become his political house-boy.
As things stand, the 9th Assembly will be sailing with vintage Dino missing in action, unless, the court decides otherwise.
The story of Dino is perhaps that of an eclectic personality that seamlessly navigated his way through the world of activism, patronage, and politics, capturing the minds of Nigerians with his actions, and sometimes inaction.
As a lawmaker, Dino has been perceived as one that has pushed his destiny through sheer resilience, determination, perseverance, courage and some time with brute force.
From a mere student agitator to higher activism and to the Green Chambers before stepping up to the Red Chambers, Dino, hate him or like him, has remained fascinating, sometimes enigmatic.
He became the unofficial defender of Patricia Etteh, Speaker of the House of Representatives then, taking the bullets for her when most lawmakers, even some of her friends in the chamber, deserted her during her impeachment brouhaha.
By the time Etteh had vacated her position, it was a Dino that was left at the mercy of his colleagues and to reclaim his legitimacy as an honourable member, he had to employ different surviving mechanisms, including fighting physically.
In one of these infamous outings, Dino was reduced to nakedness as every piece of clothing on him was shredded in rags. And this followed with eight months suspension from the House.
As a Senator in the 8th Assembly, Dino became more daring than ever. With the unpopular emergence of Senator Bukola Saraki as Senate President as against the wishes of his party, Dino assumed the position of a defender, attacker, and striker for Saraki. He was firing from all cylinders. No one was spared in his protection of Saraki’s territorial dynasty as he played the undertaker.
So daring and impulsive was Dino that he almost beat up Senator Remi Tinubu, wife of the National leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, threatening to put her in the family way.
From every corner, Dino was perceived to be fighting everyone, including the police, sometimes to seek for justice, sometimes to create entertainment as a fun-loving man.
At a point during one of his arrests, he jumped out of a moving police van, at another point you found him recording and dancing to his music that he posted on social media platforms.
There was what perhaps seemed like a hilarious drama when it was reported that Dino on one occasion had to climb a tree to save himself from kidnappers.
So notorious was his fight that he did not spare even President Mohammadu Buhari.
It is believed that during the 2018 Budget presentation, Dino was alleged to have led the booing gang that jeered and humiliated President Buhari.
Some political watchers say he bit more than he could chew with some of his actions that put him on the watch-list of those to be decapitated politically.
It is believed in some quarters that his gutter fight engagement with his governor, Yahaya Bello, another young man with pulsating energy to fight dirty, was his greatest undoing.
The question is: Can Dino stage a comeback politically?
Perhaps, Abdullahi Haruna, Public affairs commentator, captured it best: “Take a bet, the Dino Melaye I know, a perilously intelligent, an uncommon fighter defined in sheer doggedness will bounce back again. He has defined an impenetrable template of survival. I dare to say that Dino has broken the ceiling of limitations”.
Dino Melaye was born on January 1, 1974. He attended Command and Air Force Secondary School, Kaduna for his secondary school education. Dino graduated from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria where he studied geography in 2000. He later studied law and has attended various training at different institutions outside the country.