By Chukwuemeka Otuchikere
Senator Dino Melaye (SDM) is a character that many will say epitomizes the dream of the Nigerian youth. He has had a meteoritic rise to the top of the Nigerian political and social pyramid. Many think his political career is threatened as twice in a row he lost elections in the last five years. First, he lost his seat in the senate in 2019 and more recently he lost the primaries of his People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for key into the Kogi State governors’ lodge.
SDM has handled his depreciating political fortunes with equanimity, and has embraced his role with the Atiku Presidential bid with the enthusiasm of a man whose resurgence may hinge on Atiku’s success at the polls. While Dino Melaye got a lot of youth following on social media, he was not followed for any profound political ideology or deep social reengineering campaign, many followed him for his flashy display of opulence and his fancy cars, fashion and drama. He may be quite an internet sensation until the emergence of the ‘real deal’ Mr. Peter Obi who, by all standards maybe classified as a social media rock star. What is more, Obi is also a candidate in the forthcoming presidential contest. It is understandable that Dino Melaye is jittery as Obi’s movement keeps growing like a tsunami across the Nigerian landscape.
A recent video released by SDM has only gone further to expose the fact that Peter Obi is an ongoing concern to all the major contenders in the presidential contest. Dino Malaye tried to appeal to Peter Obi to carry over his 2023 presidential ambition to another auspicious time in the future. SDM sounded so unconvincing even to himself that a time in his broadcast he could not help laughing at the ludicrousness of his own counsel. Peter Obi is much older than General Yakubu Gowon when he ruled Nigeria between 1966 and 1970, Obi is an accomplished businessman, a two-term former governor and fast forward to 2022, SDM an ex-senator tells him to wait until he is deemed to have matured.
It is such an affront and speaks to this belief by some professional politicians within the ruling elite that an Igbo presidential candidature may be premature in year 2023. This thinking is against the background that as at 1979, an Alex Ekwueme was vice-president of Nigeria some forty-three years ago. One begins to wonder how we as Nigerians got to this era of trying to paint the Igbo as a political novice to an extent that another presidential contender, Alhaji Rabiu Kwankwaso described them as bottom enders. Indeed perception is everything, in the era of cash and carry democracy as we have now, the southeast may fare poorly because it is against their cultural belief to sell their franchise for pittance.
Melaye, alluded to the fact that a man in far out Katsina may not trust an Igbo man. I could not believe that a politician of the calibre of Senator Dino Melaye who, many believe, may have a more cosmopolitan view to such issues is now voicing and promoting such absurdity. So, why would a Katsina man expect an Igbo man to trust him and cannot return such reciprocity? The Igbo voted overwhelmingly for late Umaru Yar’Adua when the same PDP announced to members that he was the standard bearer in the 2007 elections. It beggars answers why in 2022 PDP can conspire against the southeast telling them that they cannot be trusted with the presidency. To some of us, that was the ultimate betrayal for a zone that had put their faith and political destiny in the PDP, to the extent that other regions scorned them that they had all their eggs in one basket.
The behavior of PDP exposes the fact that the political elite is Nigeria’s greatest problem. They are the ones that use, tribe and religion to keep the electorate divided. PDP has further demonstrated a lack of clearcut ideological difference from the other political associations. They threw away the party’s constitution as regards to zoning to please a few individuals while thinking they can take the support of party supporters for granted. The famous law of physics states that ‘action and reaction are opposite and equal’. This clearly demonstrates that every action comes with consequences. Every impactful earthquake always starts with insignificant tremors.
Melaye and PDP while grasping at every straw in sight is now advocating for gerontocracy SDM says that the time is not ripe for Mr. Peter Obi who at sixty-one years of age can be considered to be at the prime of his political prowess. Why Senator Dino Melaye should be rooting for a much older Atiku Abubakar is not much of mystery given that SDM has always latched on to one political strongman or the other. While it is now obvious that the average Nigerian politician is always thinking of self first and the people last. Therefore, it is not strange to see a relatively young SDM campaigning for the emergence of Atiku Abubakar even when majority of Nigerian youths favour a Peter Obi candidature. Unfortunately, Dino Malaye’s appeal for the youths to look in the direction of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is not yielding the desired result as most of the young people think Atiku Abubakar belongs to that generation that has not only failed the youths, but are determined to perpetrate themselves in perpetuity. This generation obviously resonates with Peter Obi’s campaign mantra of rebuilding the nation in a much inclusive manner where production will be the focus rather than consumption and sharing.
The calculus of PDP’s presidential miscalculation is apparent as incipient dissenting opinions seem to be brewing across the party structure. Before now, at the national and regional levels, the PDP has consistently harvested southeast votes and by inference Igbo bulk votes over the years. The current reality is that this southeast constituency may not be overtly persuaded to deliver her votes to the party again not with PDP’s shoddy treatment of her ambition to aim for the highest office in the land in 2023.
PDP’s failure to reciprocate this expression of faith and goodwill from the Igbo nation is already reverberating with signs of ominous consequences going into the 2023 polls.
The PDP in their selfish and self-centered interest of trying to yield to the egoistic needs of men with oversized egos are ready to sacrifice their traditional voting blocks.
Dino Melaye’s halfhearted attempt to mend whatever is left of ‘the umbrella’ is akin to a fire fighter trying to put out a wild bush fire with a hand fan; this is while Peter Obi’s political movement keep advancing like a raging avalanche.
Otuchikere, a social commentator & consultant, wrote from Calabar.