The Melaye-Tinubu altercation
At a time when the country is grappling with the spate of incontinences from the National Assembly, a new instance of avoidable indiscretion during an executive (secret) session of the Senate has surfaced. In the course of Senate deliberations behind closed doors on the court trial of its leaders for alleged forgery of Senate rules, Senators Remi Tinubu and Dino Melaye reportedly engaged in an altercation during which indecorous words were exchanged.
According to the complaint by Mrs. Tinubu, Melaye threatened to debase her womanhood, a statement totally unbecoming of a senior public officer. Melaye on his own has stoutly denied descending to the use of such language on his colleague, at least not in the context it was generally presented. Although the event occurred behind closed doors, it gained national due to the leaked accounts of witnesses and Mrs. Tinubu’s complaint. Melaye has since earned very bad press from the altercation because he used some more very indecorous words at a press conference in relation to Mrs. Tinubu. Given his very controversial public conduct since the days of the Ettehgate affair, Melaye cannot expect much understanding from Nigerians on this matter. As for Mrs Tinubu, if she did use the words that Melaye said she used, then that was also very indecorous.
It is significant that the face-off has even degenerated into a proxy fight whereby various interests and groups are now lining up behind the combatants and are taking the fight beyond the confines of the National Assembly to other parts of the country. Meanwhile even the fight between Melaye and Tinubu qualifies in many ways as a proxy war of its own. Their fight started when Melaye moved during the closed door session that the Senators who reported the case of alleged forgery to the police should be suspended in accordance with the rules of the Senate. Tinubu reportedly shouted him down and, according to Melaye, called him a thug and a dog. For his staunch support for embattled President of the Senate Bukola Saraki, Melaye stands in the firing line of the anti Saraki group in the All Progressives Congress (APC) among whom is APC National Leader Senator Bola Tinubu, husband of Senator Remi Tinubu. The bad blood between the two senators was therefore not surprising, nor was it a surprise that the scene reopened deep fault lines between the two Senate APC factions.
The Senate has not given this matter the attention it deserves. It has since gone on its annual recess without as much as giving it attention. Nigerians may therefore have to wait until when the Senate resumes in late September to see the next round of the contest, except one party throws in the towel. In a proper context the issue goes beyond whatever gladiatorial prowess the two Senators may boast of and are ready to display either in secret or in public. Rather the Melaye-Tinubu affair coalesces with other past and recent incidents of indiscretion of the federal legislators, to accentuate a gradual descent of the National Assembly into a moral morass. This development bothers well-meaning Nigerians and can only worsen the legislators’ already poor public image.
A disturbing dimension of the issue is the infestation of the National Assembly with the internal problems of the APC, thereby distracting it from paying full attention to its own challenges. There are many burning issues before the National Assembly that should have engaged their attention all year round, which so far have been relegated to the background in preference for relatively mundane matters. This situation has been responsible for the state of arrested development currently imposed on the country and for which the citizenry remain in distress.
Nigerians therefore expect the Senate do the needful with respect to the Melaye-Tinubu affair and free itself to address other more critical issues for which it was established.