By Adenike Lucas
The President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki has condemned the mischievous plot to recall Senator Dino Melaye.
Senator Meleye, who emerged as the best senator of the year in 2016, has constantly called out Governor Yahaya Bello for falling to pay the salaries of civil servants in the state.
The lawmaker said it was the reason why the Governor and his appointees were out to get him out of office.
“My only crime is that I am asking that my state government should pay the 17 months salaries of the state workers,” he said. “The governor is spending our money on the pages of newspapers to recall me.”
For a recall, the Electoral Act requires more than half of the persons registered to vote in a member’s constituency alleging their loss of confidence in that member.
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC says it has received 52.3 percent of the 360,098 registered voters needed to trigger the process of the recall of the Kogi West senator.
However there are discrepancies over the valid number of signatories to the petition calling for Senator Melaye’s sack.
Senator Melaye said: “The total score of both valid and invalid vote is 118,000 but my governors and his appointees in four days claimed they got a signature of over 188,000. They got INEC database of registered voters and copied in one writing into a recall register and forged all the signature.”
“As I speak to you over 120 dead certificates issued by the national population commission and these people relations and families have sworn to the affidavit and these certificates have been deposited.
“This orchestration, injustice, lies, malicious manifestation by my governor must not be entertained in a democracy, not because it is Dino Melaye. It could be anybody.”
For a state that has been unable to pay workers for more than 12 months, spending 100 million on the recall process has been slammed by many, including citizens of the state.
Olugbesan Kolawole, who wrote a petition from Lokoja said: “We don’t need any recall in Kogi West. Even if it is going to cost just 100 million not to talk of 1 billion, which will go a long way in saving countless lives of hungry and dying citizens anywhere in Kogi – especially in Kogi West which has been long abandoned by the state government.”
Instead he said: “The money must either be used to pay workers and pensioners or be allocated for developmental projects in Kogi West.”
Mr Kolawole expounded further on the matter by saying that: “What we need is development and not recall. We therefore condemn this expensive demonstration of craziness and by the grace of Almighty God, will do everything in our power to put a halt to it.
Senator Saraki described the plot as a distraction from “important things.”
Speaking on the floor of the Upper Legislative Chamber, the former Governor of Kwara state encouraged the electoral umpire to adhere to the constitutional provision on the exercise.
He said: “As they say, 10 years is no joke in leadership. The deputy president of the senate has explained the processes. Let the process speak for itself.
“I really don’t know why a lot of efforts are being wasted on this issue.
“These efforts should have gone on more important things. Eventually, it must come back here for us to certify whether it is satisfactory.”
Supporting, the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu said: “What is happening in Kogi, in respect of Senator Dino Melaye, as far as this constitution is concerned, it is an exercise in futility. They are just wasting precious time because the constitution is clear on what should happen.
“It is possible that the attorney-general of Kogi state has not advised them properly. If he had done that, I am sure they would have applied their time to more meaningful ventures in the state. The process of recall is the equivalent of impeachment of executive positions.
“To avoid the abuse of impeachment, they made it very strict, provisions and procedures were made on how impeachment can take place. That is why people are not taking that route of removing governors by impeachment.
“In 2010, this parliament amended the constitution regarding section 69. It states that the number of those who are supposed to have requested his (Melaye) recall are supposed to line up somewhere in Kogi, while Melaye and his lawyers and each person would verify their signature.
“When they are done with that, they go back to section 68 which states that the president of the senate receives from the chairman of INEC the recall of the member. They would also present evidence satisfactory to the house. So, they need to come back here and convince each and every one of us that they have done the correct thing. Unless they do that, they cannot even give effect to it. So, why are we wasting our time? Let us move on and allow them to waste their time.”