The now failed attempt to recall Senator representing Kogi West Senatorial District, Dino Melaye, sparked rumours which suggested Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello was behind it. This allegation has been debunked by the Governor, but according to a report published by the Guardian, “sources” from within the Governor’s circle say that Yahaya Bello had encouraged and mobilized funds for Dino Melaye’s recall.
A spokesperson for the Governor, Petra Onyegbule, in a phone interview with regards to the failure of the recall bid, told Premium Times that the failure of the bid had nothing to do with the Governor’s political future. According to her:
“The governor is not in any way connected to the exercise. That it is going to affect the governor’s political future is a very myopic thinking.”
The campaign to recall Senator Dino Melaye, representing Kogi West Senatorial District, failed permanently on Saturday when electorate in the district failed to show up for the recall exercise conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Only 5% of voters turned out to verify their signatures when at least 51% is required for the exercise to scale through to the next stage.
44 years old Senator Melaye welcomed the news from his hospital bed in Abuja by thanking his constituents for the unwavering and uncompromising trust they reposed in him, saying evil will never triumph over good in the State.
The Senator’s victory has been regarded as a precursor to the 2019 general elections by his supporters and even members of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), who were ordinarily supposed to be in opposition.
Melaye is a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC), but he had recently become a darling of some PDP commentators who see his case as another incident of prosecution of opposition voices within and outside the ruling party.
The Senator was formerly a member of the PDP, under which he was elected into the House of Representatives in April 2007. He later abandoned the party and was elected Senator in 2015 under the APC.
The Guardian’s report which claimed the Governor said he was not taking the failed attempt to recall Senator Melaye lightly and has threatened to sack the aides or coerce them to return the mobilisation funds given to them to facilitate the botched recall, was based on “sources” close to the Governor.
It claims the 555 government appointees from Kabba Local Council who could not get more than 2085 signatures to recall Melaye have been apprehensive of the Governor’s next moves, and that the seven local government administrators in the Senatorial district, who were alleged to be ‘heavily mobilised’ for the recall,’ were at the centre of the exercise. This report also claimed that about N200,000 was earmarked for disbursement to petitioners in each of the 552 polling units where the signatures verification exercise took place with each of the aides mobilised for logistics.
However, the Director General of media and publicity to the governor, Kingsley Fanwo, debunked allegations that the governor was angry over the development and had asked for refund, which he said would have amounted to admitting that the State Government sponsored the recall process.
“It is funny to claim that the state government mobilised people for Melaye’s recall. I am a government official and I was not given a dime for the process so it is blatant falsehood as far as we are concerned.”
Melaye and Bello’s shared history
Senator Dino Melaye and Governor Yahaya Bello share a brief history of political romance, being from the same party, and both being youthful leaders in Kogi State. Senator Dino Melaye supported Governor Yahaya Bello for the latter’s Governorship race in 2015 and emceed his inauguration in January 2016, but the two soon fell out with each other over the state’s staff verification exercise.
The exercise was widely deemed unpopular because it left thousands of workers unpaid for several months. In defence of the exercise, the Governor said it was necessary to winnow out ghost workers and other employment racketeers who constitute a major drain on the state’s already insufficient resources.
Dino Melaye recognised the essence of the policy, but strongly opposed the tactics deployed by the Bello administration. The matter soon became a serious point of political tension between the two, and Dino Melaye believes it is also the basis for his on-going criminal investigations by the police.
The question of Anonymous Sources
Only a handful of journalists have raised concerns over the idea of anonymous sources. While such a Source may be more ready to volunteer information, such information is even more likely to be compromised in terms of truth as anonymity comes with almost no responsibility.
In 2003, before the invasion of Iraq, The New York Times and other major news media in the United States came under heavy criticism for relying too heavily on anonymous sources of information inside the government.
These unknown sources in the government fed New York Times reporter Judith Miller fake stories about Saddam Hussein’s government and these were published, to manipulate public opinion, in 2001 and 2002.
While writing on USA Today, a media house which has itself banned the use of anonymous sources, Al Neuharth, founder of Gannett newspapers, says about anonymous sources
“Editors or news directors who permit their use, are violating their trust.”
Yet in these climes, an anonymous source is not anonymous to everyone as his identity is revealed to Senior Editors and Lawyers of the company. It is not clear if Guardian operates on this standard.