The Me­laye-Tin­ubu al­ter­ca­tion

Daily Trust - - OPINION -

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.

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