Has the theatrical mudslinging between Dino Melaye and Yahaya Bello become an international circus? It hasn’t, so the Senator wants to make it one.
On Monday evening, Mr Melaye posted images (on Instagram) of letters supposedly sent by him to the offices of the American Ambassador to Nigeria, as well as to those of the British, Canadian and French High Commissioners. Mr Melaye also wrote to the Country Head of Amnesty International, the UNDP resident representative and to the Acting Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission. All of the letters were dated 19th March 2018. The images do not show the full content of the letters beyond the first pages where he outlines his role in the Senate as “vocal in [his] contributions” and that he does not spare his governor with respect to governance in Kogi state.
Senator Dino, whose “aje ku iya” frolics have become part of his public resonance, has been involved in a feud with Mr Bello virtually since 2015. Dino has repeatedly affirmed that the governor is the sponsor of the campaign to recall him to the state even as INEC has fixed the timeline to begin the process. He has also alleged threats to his life, famously crying foul when the Inspector General of Police announced the relief of VIP protection from politicians (before it was later reversed).
But while a new “single” released last week was addressed to promise Bello an impending doom, Dino has turned up the alarm on his own personal safety by seeking intervention from representatives of foreign governments in the country. It is a move rather unconventional and strange for a Senator serving in his country, who is neither a refugee nor illegal immigrant, and who is also a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress and is the Chairman of the Senate Committee on the Federal Capital Territory.
So is Melaye’s SOS to these embassies an indirect charge to President Buhari, the man actually responsible for safety and security?
Senator Melaye’s life is probably no more threatened than residents of Port Harcourt who breathe and sleep daily under thick clouds of toxic soot are, nor farmers and residents everywhere in the Middle Belt. However, the opportunity to draw international attention to his juvenile scuffles with his rival by claiming to be endangered is apparently not out-of-bounds for the subcommittee Chairman on Publicity. (Remember he is a Havard and London School of Economics “graduate”).
Yahaya Bello is known to frequent the Villa in Abuja, to the point of nausea for many commentators. If the impression is that the President is friends with Mr Bello, then Melaye – who is closely tied with a Senate leadership that has had it frosty with the presidency – looks somewhat out of favour at the Villa. In other words, Dino’s message to the world is that his president is his enemy’s friend and so will not listen to him.
It remains to be seen how the embassies will respond. All four letters as posted on Instagram bear signatures saying they were received, apparently by staff of the embassies at their Abuja offices. Whether they actually send them up to Dino’s intended destination and if they ring up Buhari in his defence will be another matter. Whatever happens, the letters in themselves are a statement by the APC senator in the faith he places in foreign powers to provide him “protection” vis-à-vis the support he expects from his own president and party leader.