With the declaration of Senator Dino Melaye to contest in the November 16, 2019 Kogi State Governorship election, the incumbent Governor Yahaya Bello should know that his second reelection isn’t going to be a smooth ride.
Dino Melaye is one of the lawmakers at the National Assembly representing Kogi West Senatorial District and one of the most controversial Nigerian politicians who exploited controversies to gain political power.
Melaye has only signified his interest to contest under the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP). If he emerges as PDP flagbearer, he will go head-to-head with his bitter rival and incumbent governor of the state, Yahaya Bello who is presently a member of All Progressive Congress (APC).
That’s if the ruling APC fields Bello as its candidate. His candidacy has been an issue within APC secretariat in Abuja because of not impressive performance.
But the decision of Melaye to join the race makes it very interesting considering the allegedly bad representation Mr. Bello has given APC in the state.
Some of them include late payment of salary, non-payment of gratuity, total disregard to the traditional institutions among others.
Bello was also accused of choosing Aso Rock as his second home instead of bringing good governance to the people of Kogi who voted for his party in 2015.
Bello was a lucky governor as he wasn’t the original contender of the 2015 governorship election in the state.
He was picked after Abubakar Audu died on November 22, 2015, it’s obvious Audu was going to win the election.
Due to the dilemma created by his sudden death the runner up of the party’s primary elections, Yahaya Bello, was chosen as the candidate to replace him. He’s been accused of misusing the lucky mandate transferred to him.
On the other hand, Melaye’s political history will be incomplete without some of his political and certificate scandals.
Some of them include his claim that he graduated from Harvard’s University, Kennedy School for Educational Leadership and London School of Economics and Political Science; both institutions refuted his claim.
He had also been arrested severally by security operatives for criminal charges. Someone said Melaye spent more days in police custody than he did on the floor of the National Assembly in 2018.
However, his political challenges, certificate scandals and controversies seemed to have made him win more sympathy at the just concluded 2019 National Assembly when he defeated the candidate of APC, Senator Smart Adeyemi. Adeyemi was the former National President of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ).
With his political antecedent since his entry into the Upper Legislative Chamber, Dino Melaye has a 55% chance of winning the governorship election.
First, while Melaye’s personality and lots of other Nigerian politicians may not the ideal in a country where things are done the way it should, he’s known to have come to the rescue of the Kogi people at the time of need, most especially when APC led the people down.
One of such instance is the delivery of 1,280 bags of rice as parts of the relief materials he donated to the civil servants in the state in October 2017.
“I’m happy to report to you that my colleagues in the Senate have immediately responded by donating bags of rice and other essential items to the workers in order to cushion the biting effects of non-payment of their salaries by the Kogi State government,” The Punch quoted him as saying in 2017.
That singular act contributed to his success at the February 23 National Assembly election despite the powerful forces from Abuja that worked against him.
Another factor to consider is the fact that Dino Melaye has never lost an election since 2015 against the candidate of APC.
In 2015 as the PDP senatorial candidate, he defeated an incumbent APC senator Smart Adeyemi at the time. He later dumped PDP to join APC but the political upheaval as 2019 gathered momentum he went back to his former party (PDP).
Again, he defeated Adeyemi at the polls even as he had little time to campaign as DSS officials were constantly arresting him for questioning.
Sometimes in April 2019, he revealed the Federal Allocation Governor Bello received from the Federal Government.
The revelation further exposed the governor as using state resources for personal use in a state that was unable to pay salaries of government workers.
The video has also sent a powerful signal to the national leadership of APC.
It was gathered that APC may not present him as its flagbearer and the governor is said to be preparing another soft landing for himself in another party in case APC refused to give him the governorship ticket.
Though it may be tasking to unseat an incumbent, the gradual acceptance of PDP in Kogi during the 2019 general elections shows that Governor Bello will have to get to the field to solicit the support of people who accused him of deserting them.
Recalled that Melaye delivered his senatorial district which comprised seven local government areas (Ijumu, Kabba-Bunu, Koton Karfe, Lokoja, Mopa-Muro, Yagba East, and Yagba West) to PDP during the presidential election.
While APC scored 75, 717 votes, PDP had 79, 650 votes. This is going to play a major role as the state prepares for November governorship election.
Seeing the possibility of Melaye threatening the chances of APC in Kogi, the party over the last few weeks has released several videos showing the extravagant lifestyle of the PDP senator.
But it seems controversies have worked better for Melaye than anyone else in Kogi State. Politically, it means Yahaya Bello has a daunting task ahead of him.