Some constituents of Kogi West have finally decided that they have had enough of their indecorous, showboating senator, Dino Melaye.
If social media commentary is anything to go by, lots of Nigerians arrived at that point a while ago. However, most Nigerians have no power to do anything about it. The only people constitutionally empowered to send Melaye packing from the Senate are the people who put him there in the first place – the good constituents of Kogi West.
Now some of them are ready to do it.
What’s their grouse with the senator? There is the official line and the unofficial line. The official line is that:
1. He has been in the senate for two years but still doesn’t have a constituency office in his senatorial zone.
2. He has not initiated any project in the constituency after two years.
3. He is notorious for a continuous flow of irresponsible utterances which embarrassed the constituency.
4. He is enmeshed in a pending certificate scandal.
5. His source of wealth is questionable to them and “certainly not the model we wish our youth to emulate.”
6. Melaye is “an electoral fraud and has been caught on audio offering a judicial officer money to decide an electoral matter in his favour.”
The unofficial reason for the move to recall him is that Melaye has become a thorn in the side of the Kogo state governor, Yahaya Bello, who belongs to the same All Progressives Congress (APC) party as Melaye. The senator has upped his attacks against the governor in the last six months, recently calling for Bello’s resignation.
Melaye is also in a running battle with the sole administrator of Ijumu Local Government Council, Alhaji Taofiq Isah. Ijumu is one of seven local government areas that make up Kogi West. Melaye recently accused Isah of attempting to assassinate him. The case is currently before a court.
Hundreds of Melaye’s constituents in the seven local councils of Ijumu, Kabba/Bunu, Lokoja, Kogi, Mopa/Amuro, Yagba West and Yagba East, have already penned their names in support of Melaye’s recall.
But there’s a reason why no federal lawmaker in Nigeria has been successfully recalled in 18 years of democracy in Nigeria. It’s definitely not because they have all been models of good conduct and legislative efficiency.
It’s the law. Right now, the law has ensured that it is easier to jog from Sokoto to Bayelsa than to recall a lawmaker.
Consider the process it would take to recall a senator according to Section 69 of the 1999 constitution:
– More than half of the registered voters in the Senator’s senatorial district (in this case, Kogi West) will write, sign and send a petition to the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC alleging their loss of confidence in the senator. The petition must be signed and arranged according to polling units, wards, Local Government Areas, and constituency.
Note that this is where the people of Kogi West currently are. We don’t have exact figures for the number of registered voters in Kogi West, but they number in hundreds of thousands. For instance, the number of votes recorded in the 2011 elections in Kogi West was about 130,000. Note that the figure above represents those who actually voted, whereas the people of Kogi West need more than half of those registered in the INEC roll.
– If they manage to get the required numbers in Step 1 above, then INEC would notify Melaye that it has received a petition for his recall. INEC would issue a public notice or announcement stating the date, time and location of the verification of signatures to the petition. Every single one of the hundreds of thousands of petitioners will be verified by INEC to ensure that they are individuals who appear on the voters’ register.
– After doing this, INEC will conduct a referendum, a public vote in which the constituents of Kogi West will vote YES or NO on whether they want Melaye out. The referendum will be held not later than 90 days afterwards. If a simple majority of voters vote YES, then Melaye goes home. If they vote NO, then they are stuck with him.
– If it gets to the point where they say YES, then INEC will send a Certificate of Recall to the Senate President to effect the recall.
Anyway, Melaye’s opponents are just mobilizing for stage 1 now. Still a long way to go.
Meanwhile, the embattled senator has reacted to the moves to recall him. He accused the state governor Bello of “shooting the moon and boxing the air.”
“Spending over one billion naira tax payers’ money on an unproductive venture, when salaries and pensions have not been paid is wicked. I will continue to defend the poor and defenseless masses of Kogi State. If I die I die. We must rescue the state,” Melaye said.