Going by his perennial theatrics and tantrums, Senator Dino Melaye is like a comic relief -an inclusion of humorous character, scene or witty dialogue meant to relieve tension in a serious literary work, particularly those that are tragic in content. Law making is a serious business, and nations all over the world have realised how important legislators are, hence, they are not bogged down by tenure limitation as often the case with elected officials with executive powers.
Lawmakers are like old wine -the older, the better. However, in Nigeria, some lawmakers are not good enough to be councillors going by their performances during plenary sessions. They are seen but are never heard. These dormant butterflies only wake up from their trance during voice vote. But Melaye is quite active. He doesn’t belong to the class of ‘bench warmers’ except that most of the times, his vociferous contributions on the floor of the Senate are akin to what Baba Fryo, the famous Ajegunle singer, refers to as ‘Notice me’ in one of his albums. Senator Dino Melaye joined the growing list of top Nigerian politicians who got enmeshed in certificate scandal last year bordering on whether the dandy and controversial senator actually graduated from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, or not.
Those who raised the issue wondered how the senator’s name got missing on the graduation brochure where the names and departments of all the graduates were listed in the year Dino graduated. My position then was that this might not be enough to say the distinguished senator who represents Kogi State at the Upper Chamber did not graduate from the school. The vice chancellor of the ABU later cleared the air that the senator actually graduated from the university.
Even at that, some felt the unresolved discrepancies in Melaye’s name deserved a better attention beyond the VC’s confirmation. But the claim by the senator that he also graduated from the Harvard University and the London School of Economics and Political Science is still competing among lies from the pit of hell. The VC’s lifeline saved the day for the senator. And he did a video to mock his ‘detractors’.
An important issue that bordered on the senator’s integrity and reputation deserved a better response beyond the ‘ntor’ video that could be understood if it was done by a pupil who just won a fight with another pupil over a toy. The distinguished senator capped his ‘Awada kerikeri’ (jesters’ circle) by appearing in the academic gown of the ABU at the floor of the senate to prove that he actually graduated from the school.
I knew long ago that the hood doesn’t make a monk. After all, people borrow academic gowns and take pictures with them. This does not in any way make them graduates. The senator was in the news again in April when the police accused him of allegedly jumping off a moving vehicle at Area One Roundabout, Garki, in an attempt to prevent the police from taking him to Lokoja, Kogi State, where the police planned to parade him alongside six others for alleged gunrunning and criminal conspiracy.
Some men suspected to be loyalists of the senator in two Hilux vans had allegedly double- crossed the police van taking the senator to Kogi.Melaye had before the incident been accused of snatching his passport from one of the immigration officers who had arrested him at the Nnamdi Azikwe Airport, Abuja, while trying to travel to Morrocco. I had expressed doubt that the police’s claim was a ploy meant to give a dog a bad name in other to hang it. It is hard to believe that a distinguished senator would do what we see in ‘James Bond’ films.
I knew better when I saw the video of the senator sitting on the floor and threatening to kill himself and put the policemen in trouble. The threat was an empty one from a senator who knows how to enjoy life and is never tired of displaying his stupendous wealth on social media for people to see the number of wonders on wheels in his garage and tastefully furnished rooms and living room. Rich men are always afraid of the inevitable.
Melaye had last week claimed that he was allegedly kidnapped by some gunmen in Abuja on his way to Kogi to appear before a court to answer charges bordering on alleged gunrunning in Lokoja but was prevented from doing so by some busybody gun-wielding men. His younger brother was the harbinger of the news. He informed the Bayelsa senator, Ben Murray- Bruce, of the plight of his brother who was determined to clear his name in court. The senator went on his Twitter handle to break the news.
There was apprehension among Melaye’s colleagues. Some even vowed not to leave their fortified fortresses. The kidnappers might be on the prowl. There was palpable fear. If Melaye was kidnapped, who’s next? Some of them had asked themselves this rhetorical question. The senator’s kidnap was well reported in the media the next day. But while others were worried, ‘omo’ Melaye was not.
He must have seen how protagonists who found themselves in similar situations escaped and it was time to put into practice what he had seen in movies over the years. It was miraculous escape for the Kogi West representative at the senate. After 11 gruesome hours in the “wilderness”, the distinguished senator shamed his detractors. It will be nice to see another ‘ntor’ video from the senator to shame his kidnappers.
Even if the infamous kidnap kingpin, Evans, had organised the kidnap, distinguished actor Melaye would still have escaped the way he did. This was how the senator narrated his miraculous escape: “I jumped into the bush, and I started running. They pursued me and I was able to out manoeuvre them and climbed a tree. “I was on top of the three when I saw them run past looking frantically for me. When they didn’t find me, they also ran back.” The senator should have taken his incredulous story to pupils in primary schools. In their childhood innocence, they will accept it hook, line and sinker. The children will even want to know if the senator was wearing his ‘Power Ranger’-like costume. Children love cartoons and they have seen ‘Power Ranger’ perform many wonders in his cartoons to their admiration.
They will be happy that what they have seen in cartoons and fictional films has been replicated by a non-fictional character like Melaye. It will interest them to know more about the method Melaye used to escape from kidnappers. It is in the nature of children to be inquisitive. But for adults, Melaye’s story will not sell. Most adults had concluded that truth is far from the senator’s narrative. Some already jokingly said: ‘it was Dino that kidnapped Melaye.’ Yet to some, it was a case of Dino was kidnapped and Melaye released him.
The poorest film director in the Nigerian Nollywood movie scene will write a better script than Melaye’s that was poorly scripted. The senator in one of his posts thanked ‘Nigerians for praying’ for him. If Nigerians indeed prayed for him while the ‘kidnap’ drama lasted, over half of them would have withdrawn their prayers after the senator narrated how he ran in the bush of wilderness and hid on a tree for 11 hours. The senator must have heard the idiom: ‘to cry wolf’, which means to ‘raise false alarm.’ But there’s a fable behind the idiom.
The tale concerns a shepherd boy who repeatedly raised a false alarm by tricking nearby villagers into thinking wolves are attacking his flock. Out of compassion, any time the boys raised the alarm, the villagers usually rushed towards his direction only to be disappointed that there was no wolf around. He did this repeatedly until the villagers agreed to ignore him. On a particular day, he raised the alarm again. The villagers decided to mind their business.
They concluded that falsehood was part of the boy’s make up. He had lost his reputation. Unfortunately for him, there was actually a wolf. He cried repeatedly for help but nobody came out. The wolf ate his sheep. In another later version of the fable, the wolf also ate the boy. Like most fables, the didactic lesson is obvious. The Greek version of the fable states that: “this shows how liars are rewarded: even if they tell the truth, no one believes them”.
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