By Nduka Uzuakpundu
This is a season of political anomy; one that has not only proved to a hot to handle for the top policy-makers of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), but also put it in a quandary of some monstrous proportion. The source of all that, which is now much of an embarrassment 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 the word embarrassingly wrong, like an untrained, inexperienced or lazy broadcaster of today’s computer or Internet age! In effect, ‘The Dino Show’ is not a dinosaur and vice versa!
For nearly one year, it appears the PDP – the main opposite party –has been disgracefully silent over an allegation by the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) that one of its most honourable and venerable members, Senator Dino Melaye, who represents Kogi West Senatorial District and his thugs were behind the gun shot which wounded a police operative – Sergeant Danjuma Saliu of 37 Police Mobile Force, who was on duty at a stop-and-search point on Aiyetoro Gbede, Mopa Road in Kogi State, on July 19, 2018.
Since that incident, 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, whose authors are, presumably, agents of the PDP. What is decidedly true about the Melaye saga is that the most honourable, Kogi West senator deserves a sustained, uproarious applause for giving the police so much task as to how best to bring him to book, and for drawing unmerited public attention to himself. Most news editors – in print, broadcast and social media – would attest to the fact that Melaye is at anything, a lead-story material; and it matters less whether the same honourable law-maker, who’s the owner of the copyright of ‘The Dino Show’ is the self-seeking type: an unrepentant character whose irrationality and dishonourable conduct, in his own saga with police has, so far, stubbornly refused an objective explanation.
That may well defend the PDP’s disgraceful silence on the case. To the PDP – a party that has lost its voice and relevance in Nigerian politics, because of its close-to-two-decades-of-maladministration-and-looting-of-the-Nigerian-treasury profile, one that has no rival in the country’s political history – Melaye’s case is a pointer to that of sinking ship. 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. And why not! He has crafted a very good play – ‘The Dino Show’ with very conclusive evidence of the unrepentantly, bushy-haired, famous play-wright’s, Noble Prize-winning contribution to it, especially that aspect that has to do with the police, so that it would attract public attention! Yes, it has, but sadly though, it appears the theatre has, six months on, been empty: nobody appears interested in a play that is unnecessarily – if sickeningly – designed to promote the political agenda of an individual and his party.
Nobody, it’s true, wants to be hired as a crowd that would be bused to the venue of the play. Nobody, besides, wants to be associated with a play that is widely perceived as an unprovoked hostility against the police. Nobody, further, had expected that Melaye, as a most honourable politician of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, would give the police an impression that he’s fraternizing – somewhat dishonourably – with characters that the police consider to be unrepentantly lawless. 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, rather curiously, 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. The saddest aspect of the Melaye ripe-fruit saga, some critics have argued, is that the most honourable senator should not have craved cheap publicity by refusing 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 law-maker – a very honourable law-maker; a senator, better still. As a respected, honourable senator, who is a servant of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and who’s one of the highest paid law-makers in the world, 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 policeman, Saliu.
A law—maker of Melaye’s caliber ought to have known how well to deal with agent of the law, like the police – 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 policeman Saliu was from somewhere close to his convoy, but he knew not who committed such an offence; that, indeed, as a law-abiding law-maker, who had sworn to be peaceful and respectful of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), he couldn’t have been a party to a crime against a policeman, who’s paid-to enforce the law. 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 tell him, ‘You can go for now, but be informed that we may invite you, in future, to answer some questions on this case of a gun shot at policeman Saliu.
And, if, within the distance, a caring and profoundly contrite Melaye offers to take responsibility for the alleged crime, by donating a huge amount of money to the police to take care of wounded Saliu, or even visit the victim at the hospital, that would have made the self-destructive act that is ‘The Dino Show’ unnecessary. If Melaye had gone to town with his kind gesture towards Saliu, the better. If he had hired some reporters to publicize his honouring the invitation from the police and how he comported himself while being bombarded with questions –perhaps, for well over three hours – on the Saliu case, how he answered the questions directly and the generous sum of money he donated to Saliu, all that would have brightened Melaye’s image. Not the irritating and self-destructive case that is the opaque play titled ‘The Dino Show’.
Melaye – and by association, the PDP – would seem to have miscalculated by the drama. His lies along that line have not been proved right by the police. 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 by ‘The Dino Show, the leading character in it – Melaye, himself – appears to have played unnecessarily, for too long, to the gallery.
Up to the play’s denouement, critics say he was “too garrulous, noisy and indefensibly sentimental” such that, he has drew 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 point of disgraceful silence that it could not protest against the police for arresting him. The PDP’s silence – its eminently loud silence – when Melaye ought to have acted honourably – fuels the impression that it’s a party famous for lawlessness The PDP may have succeeded in looting the Nigeria treasury with matchless impunity, but it’s far less certain that it would get safely away with the blemish and pong spurned by ‘The Dino Show’.