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Dino Melaye: The Making Of A Brand – By Reuben Abati


It is a sign of the times, and a tragedy that the most popular Senator in the Nigerian National Assembly at this moment is not the person who has moved the most impactful motion, not a lawmaker who has proposed a thought-provoking bill, and certainly not any Senator who has given any impressive speech debating a matter of national importance. 

What we get, most of the time, in place of legislative responsibility, prudence, accountability and distinction is burlesque, farce, Japanese-styled Bungaku-Bunraku enactments, a dose of medieval commedia d’ell arte and an enormous supply of Yoruba Alarinjo with a bit of the Akata from Efik and Ibibioland. 

And the star in this comedy of errors that the Nigerian National Assembly has become is a gentleman called Dino Melaye.  

He is the perfect archetype of all that is wrong or right with the Nigerian legislature, a fine representation of contradictory binaries, and a lesson unto the rest of us. 

I am not condemning Dino Melaye. I am in fact just about to say that we created a man like him, just as before him, we needed a Busari Adelakun, and a Lamidi Adedibu to show us the true character of Nigerian politics. 

And to those who think Dino Melaye is something of an aberration, I say to them that Dino Melaye is indeed a true picture of Nigerian politics. He is much smarter and far more politically savvy than those who condemn him. 

His Wikipedia profile announces that his ambition is to be Nigeria’s President someday, maybe he won’t become President, but he may suddenly show up in the future as something close to that high office.  

He is far more Nigerian than those who criticize or condemn him. He knows the system. He plays the system. He has the capacity to beat the system. 

Most people who get to the top in Nigeria beat the system, and when they do so, they flaunt their smartness in the people’s face. 

The pundits write their articles but nothing changes, because a man like Dino Melaye can get a whole Vice Chancellor of a University created under the Act to do his bidding, and a National Assembly to queue up behind him. 

I read one piece in which the writer was wondering how on earth we ended up with a Dino Melaye in the National Assembly: 

A man like that whose brand raises too many questions.  

His school certificate result is not exactly impressive.  

His year of graduation from Ahmadu Bello University has been controversial, even with the sitting Vice Chancellor’s needless testimony. 

Nobody is sure whether a BA or a BSc is the appropriate description of a degree in Geography. 

Dino’s name is allegedly missing in the University’s Graduation Year Brochure, an omission that nobody has been able to explain. 

There is an NYSC group photograph but he is just about the only person not properly dressed. 

Former classmates have confirmed that he was actually a university student and that he graduated, and the Vice Chancellor says he got a Third Class. Third Class!

I have never seen any student so proud of a Third Class like Dino Melaye. 

To celebrate his Third Class he wore to the National Assembly, a Doctoral candidate’s gown, and thus insulted the entire academic establishment. 

I have a Ph.D. gown and the full robes of the Nigerian Academy of Letters, but no form of temporary insanity will make me wear either of both robes to a wedding party. 

Dino Melaye is a Nigerian Senator; nobody should be surprised if one of these days he wears his distinguished borrowed robes to a funeral just to convince everyone that he has a university degree. 

No serious person advertises a Third Class degree, but Dino Melaye says on top of that, he has acquired six additional degrees, including certificates from Harvard and the London School of Economics!

The lesson from this is that the certificates of everyone who aspires to lead Nigeria at any level must be carefully verified henceforth. 

Only God knows how many persons at the highest levels in Nigeria are parading certificates and qualifications that should form the subject of scrutiny. 

A nation that is led by the least educated and the most ignorant of its population is definitely in trouble.

In the United States, a man like Dino Melaye would probably never win an election. His former wife, Tokunbo accused him of battery and domestic violence and showed pictures to prove her point. 

Her short-lived successor made similar claims, spent six months and fled. There was another lady, one of those “man-eating” Nollywood girls who entertained us with her misery and the story of a child and DNA tests.  

If the wives and the baby mamas were wrong, Dino Melaye soon had a tiff with Senator Remi Tinubu and what he said about her menopausal status, we don’t have to repeat.  

He even went to the front of Remi Tinubu’s house in Lagos to pose for a photograph, daring her husband to do his worst. 

Senator Tinubu’s husband, the Jagaban of Borgu, Asiwaju of Lagos, former Governor of Lagos and national leader of the APC knew better. 

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