‘Dino Melaye will do anything for money if the pay is right from a willing paymaster,’ a friend, Mohammed, who is familiar with Dino’s antics right from his school days in Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, once said disappointedly about this latter day activist .
Since losing out in his bid to continue his legislative journey in the House of Representatives, Dino has suddenly found a goldmine in the world of civil society business. For him, a vindictive anti-corruption crusade is the sure path towards sustaining a dwindling financial fortune. In the last one year, Otunba Dino (as he wants to be fondly called), has selectively pursued a shameful campaign against targeted PDP stalwarts holding key positions in Jonathan’s government to justify why Bola Tinubu must finance his Senatorial ambition for Kogi West ahead 2015.
By history and antecedents, does Dino have any moral justification or any good conscience left in him to fight corruption? Sadly, this man known for patronizing pharmacies at night for sex-enhancing drugs, is very gifted in seizing the moment, exploring loopholes and cashing in on existing frictions to negotiate a deal with a paymaster that is ready to play the ball in his supposed anti-corruption crusade. Guess his target this time around: Governor Rotimi Amaechi, who has been secretly dolling out hundreds of millions to fight and discredit anything that is of the Jonathan’s administration. The Rivers State governor, gave the Deputy Senate President of National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) the sum of N29 million to mobilize students against the Jonathan’s administration recently. He has been fingered as secretly financing the ASUU struggle. About two months ago, he gathered some willing members of the Civil Society from all over the country in Port Hacourt, for a paid protest. Hundreds of millions of naira was sunk in that aborted operation.
Dino has been able to identify a spendthrift in Amaechi, hence looking for when it is right to have his own share of Rivers money. Unfortunately, the raging controversy over the car deal in the Ministry of Aviation has provided that sure link for Dino to hit yet another jackpot. Dino is fully aware that Stella Oduah has stepped on many toes in the ongoing reform of the aviation industry. It is on good authority that he once told a confidant that two individuals, Amaechi and Wale Babalakin would be good targets to make cool cash off. Both men, who certainly have deep pockets, are direct and indirect victims of the aviation reform. Dino is very much abreast of the impasse generated by the grounded airline belonging to Rivers State government for violating aviation rules and Babalakin running battle with FAAN, an agency of the aviation ministry. He knows all these and has been looking for that money-spinning moment to do some abracadabra. Stepping on toes is usually one of the biggest challenges of carrying out a reform in any sector. Certainly, no reformist will find it easy to make a change in any sector with entrenched interests from some members of the political class or business cabals. Aside the alleged Aviation cars scandal, Stella Oduah still has many battles to contend with. The protest being organized by Dino Melaye and cronies against Oduah is certainly one of those battles. For those that will be joining Dino to do this protest, kindly demand for a fair share of money sent in dollar denomination by Gov. Amaechi through his Chief of Staff, Tony. The cash was delivered 9pm on Tuesday (N72 Million in first installment), while the balance of N38 Million will be paid on Thursday. The agreement is for the protest to be sustained for three days. Wednesday – Federal Secretariat, Thursday – National Assembly and Friday – at a yet to be determined location in Lagos State.
Dino is full of tricks, so while he will be praying for security agencies to scuttle the planned protest, there is every tendency that he will be using a front to contact Wale Babalakin to key into this protest against Oduah by bringing out cash to ‘kill a common enemy’. Certainly this is a good moment for Dino to further make his empty noise and enjoy some cool millions. It is quite unfortunate that the car issue which should be thoroughly investigated to guard against witch-hunting has come at this time that the country is witnessing a massive turn around. However, it is expected that irrespective of the gang-up against the Aviation Minister or any of the agency, nothing should stop them from doing the right thing. Reforms come with pain, but the end certainly will justify the need.
Placing Dino side by side with his own history, one could only pity his obsession for dirty money. He was at the fore front of the Ettehgate scandal in the House of Representatives. He fought that futile battle to protect his pocket and chairmanship seat of a lucrative committee. The same man is today sermonizing about corruption. If Dino is serious about the fight against corruption and not motivated by money and politics, let him take to the streets to protest the Lekki scandal and Lagos government’ purchase of armoured cars. The recent buy–back of the Lekki Concession rights is unarguably the biggest scandal ever perpetuated by a state governor. A deal by Fashola to settle Tinubu for 2015 election money. Yet Dino, his other twitter activists and Lagos critics will pretend not to know. The Lagos State government is reported to have bought three armoured cars for N600 millions, yet the likes of Dino and Femi Falana, SAN, will never ask questions from all these. Nigerians are fully aware of their antics. The only man that has remained impartial even in death is late Chief Gani Fawehinmi of the blessed memory. It is very sad.
With the likes of Dino Melaye, the fight against corruption has been totally compromised and is now a lucrative venture. The current noise by Dino is just a storm in a teacup. President Goodluck Jonathan is quite aware that this is part of an organized set up to pull him down. Those funding this campaign against Oduah know that she worked tirelessly for Jonathan’s emergence in 2011 and may be strategically involved for 2015. The battle is on, but for Dino, he should be conscious of the future of his children. Certainly this struggle is money making venture for people like Dino and by extension, a conspiracy beyond aviation car deal saga.
* Ahmed, a public commentator writes from Abuja