Nigeria is a land of the miraculous. With or without God, all things wonderful, whacky, and weird are possible. More miracles occur in Nigerian politics than they do inside millions of synagogues that litter Nigerian streets. If you live outside of Nigeria, make sure you don’t die until you visit the country. My beautiful nation is a fecund land where the milk and honey of the miraculous flow without end. I am not faintly enthralled scribbling about Dino Melaye; the lawmaker representing Kogi West in the Nigerian Senate. I have heard about his exploits at the Ahmadu Bello University where he has sturdily defended his study of Geography. Dino’s story is a good movie script even for America’s Hollywood.
Dino is boisterous. Sometimes, he cracks me up with his flailing antics. He flunked flat in his High School final examination. So, what? I flunked my first attempt too. I was not just as lucky to secure a plum spot in a Nigerian university with a failing grade. My parents weren’t that connected to big men who made such nausea happen. More than that, I am from the South-West, not from the North. There has never been any special treatment for my kind of breed in Nigeria. I had to get it straight before moving on to greater exploits. I had to sweat blood to become what I have become; whatever it now is. Many of us from the South-West; albeit, the entire South, had to. Our children will also have to. It is a generational have-to.
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Our honourable senator found his way into the study halls of ABU with flunked test results. If that is the cream of people ABU fantasises nourishing; it’s none of my business.
What is new in Nigeria? Once upon a time, a man was behind bars; and from seclusion, he won an election into the Nigerian Senate. A man in jail can run for office in Nigeria and win. Another guy in the same Senate was reportedly convicted abroad for drug-dealing. His party and people were privies; he ran for election and won. He is a senator in Nigeria today. A wanted man serving in a body that makes laws for 170 million people? Different kinds of human beings in the Nigerian Senate; can you believe that?
Today, a man in serious corruption infraction presides over the body. Bukola Saraki has succeeded running rings around President Muhammadu Buhari. Saraki has more loyalists both in the House and Senate than does President Buhari. Even some men who serve at the pleasure of Mr. President genuflect before Saraki. Dino’s braggadocios and blusters are driven by the stout stand-by Saraki accords him. As long as Saraki is Senate President, Dino will be Dino!
Saraki and Dino co-run the Senate with ex-governors who once depleted their states to the red while serving. Some of the ex-governors built hospitals worth billions of dollars from where they cannot seek care for a broken toe-nail. They enjoy retirement benefits for life for doing nothing but sleazing and mooching off the back of hungry and poor Nigerians. This Senate is not only sinning; it is sickening and sick. Can a sick Senate heal a dying nation?
Anyone who thinks for a nanosecond that Dino is the only rhino in the attack on decency and orderliness in the present political arrangement in Nigeria must be on opium. In my father’s country, there are many DINOS. Both the Senate and the House of Representatives may be full of men and women who do not possess the credentials they boast and brag about.
If there ever will be an audit of credentials in our governors’ mansions and Houses of Assembly, there will be a tsunami. Artisans with no qualifying schooling experiences are Speakers in our Houses of Assembly. Militants with elementary school credentials are Majority Leaders in others. Herdsmen whose birth places and credentials are not verified are writing laws and budgets for many Nigerian states. Illiterates and unlettered rule and make laws for the lettered and learned. In Nigeria, you may have to be a lawbreaker to become a lawmaker. And these lawbreaker-lawmakers who took oaths to serve Nigeria may not have an understanding what they swore to.
Democracy has become a mockery in a land full of clowns and men with crowns. I never imagined Nigeria will be in this state of emergency when we chanted hoarse for change in 2015. Very many rules, laws and regulations which emanate from our legislature are self-serving and self-deceiving. A nation in self-deception is heading into self-destruction. Lawmakers who are jumping up and down defending Dino may be defending themselves against the day of judgment that’s about to come because their credentials and creed lack credibility. If they can succeed squelching this one against their friend, they have killed two birds with one stone.
Very many men in Nigeria’s political leadership are not who they say they are. That saddens me. The certificate saga rumbling in the Senate is not the illness by itself; it is a symptom of deeper trouble Nigeria is in today. There is a pattern of fraud, corruption, gangsterism and profligacy across the land. Will Nigeria ever get it right?
Did Dino Melaye err? We may never get a straight answer. Big men in error are never penalised in Nigeria. A politician may be a forger of certificates, a robber of the treasury, a padder of budgets or a cutter of grass; if he is big, or connected to a big man, he will not go to jail. Big men rarely go to jail in Nigeria, and they do, they can speedily obtain a ‘black market’ bail even after conviction as a former Adamawa governor did last week; little people frequently do. Big men don’t lose their jobs for work-related offences, little men who know no men do for the thinnest infraction.
Did Dino know that a day such as this will ever come? Did he ever think that the world will be discussing his uncertified and uncertifiable certificate? No! Dino didn’t know! I am sure Dino didn’t care. Big men always get away with “murder”. Nigeria!!! A country so blessed, so bountiful, so buoyant, yet so bruised and battered by brutish bandits! Before I conclude, let this be ingrained in your memory; after all the hues and cries; after all the hollers and howls; and after all the slams and whams on his person and politics; Dino Melaye will remain a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.