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Opinion / Editorial

Theresa May, Melaye and the Leader’s Wife – Reuben Abati

Reuben Abati
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The embroiled feud between Nigerian Senator, Dino Melaye and his Lagos counterpart, Sen. Mrs Oluremi Tinubu has stirred national discourse. Reuben Abati, the Presidential Spokesman in the erstwhile administration of Dr Goodluck Jonathan, reflects on this issue in the opinion piece below.

“You call it innuendo? You try. From the look of things, male members of this National Assembly are convinced that women are sex objects. Is this not the same National Assembly where male chauvinists resisted a Gender Equality Bill? Is it not in this same parliament that supposedly distinguished men stood up to defend marriage to the girl-child? And now you have a Senator threatening to beat up a female colleague, rape, impregnate her and that nothing will happen.

“Have you been to Bourdillon? Or rather I should ask when are you going to Bourdillon?”

“What’s happening?”

“I hear people are paying solidarity visits to the Tinubus to express their dismay over Senator Dino Melaye’s assault on Senator Remi Tinubu, wife of the APC National Leader.”

“Assault?”

“That is precisely what it is. Assault. Sexual harassment. Abuse. Threat of rape. Definite expression of intent to commit adultery and impregnate another man’s wife.”

“I read that story. I still find it difficult to believe that a distinguished Senator would descend to such level. If that is the quality of reasoning among Nigerian parliamentarians, then the country is in more serious trouble than anyone could ever imagine.”

“Dino Melaye has not denied the statements he allegedly made. And the Tinubu camp is on an offensive against him. I read a response saying if he carries out his threat, things will happen.”

“Things should not only happen, I think every member of the National Assembly should undergo a psychiatrist test and a drug test.”

“Ha. You can’t conscript the entire National Assembly to undertake tests that are not required by law. And you can’t jump from something one Senator did to cast innuendo on other lawmakers.”

“You call it innuendo? You try. From the look of things, male members of this National Assembly are convinced that women are sex objects. Is this not the same National Assembly where male chauvinists resisted a Gender Equality Bill? Is it not in this same parliament that supposedly distinguished men stood up to defend marriage to the girl-child? And now you have a Senator threatening to beat up a female colleague, rape, impregnate her and that nothing will happen.”

“The man practically admitted his love of violence and lack of respect for a colleague. That is too much of an insult to the Madam and her husband.”

“I read on Sahara Reporters that he eventually changed his mind, though”

“How?”

“Sahara Reporters says he later told Mrs Tinubu, “F…. you.”

“F…. another man’s wife?”

“Yes. But he said worse. He reportedly said he would not even demean himself by impregnating a Bonga fish, and that he would prefer a robust woman like Senator Stella Oduah.”

“What? The scallywag wants to hold so-so-so-me-thing!”

“He has not denied saying so.”

“But are you sure there isn’t a Nollywood wing in that Senate and some of the members are rehearsing a block-buster home video?”

“Which home video? The altercation took place at a closed-door meeting of the Senate. Mrs Tinubu’s offence was that he criticized Senator Melaye’s contribution to a discussion, and the fellow became enraged. He had to be physically restrained from actually beating up the woman, and proceeding there and then to rape and impregnate her with immediate effect”

“Chei. I wish I were in Asiwaju Tinubu’s shoes…”

“What will you do? You will invite Melaye to a physical combat? Have you seen the guy’s biceps and how heavily built he is? This is not a matter you settle with muscles.”

“Meaning?”

“There are sub-texts. Dino is probably fighting proxy war. His target may not be the woman but her husband. Besides, the guy seems to have quite a reputation for beating up women. Ask his first wife. Ask his second wife.”

“Mrs Tinubu should sue him”

“He will claim privilege. Every communication on the floor of the Senate is privileged.”

“What privilege? That privilege should not cover anyone threatening violence, rape, assault and adultery. What if he was not restrained, he would have slapped Mrs. Tinubu or what? I also find the silence of the Senate leadership in this matter terribly offensive. By now, Senator Melaye should be standing before a Disciplinary Committee.”

“But again, is this whole story possible?”

“What will the Tinubus gain from lying against Melaye?”

“You know, for some reason, I sympathize with that fellow, you know. What he has done, previously and right now, is very much like riding the Tiger. “

“Certain kinds of persons should not be in the National assembly to start with. Is it not from this same National Assembly that the US Embassy named and shamed some lawmakers who went to the US on a sponsored trip to solicit for sex, with one of them almost raping a hotel attendant? This thing called democracy must be protected from women abusers, rapists and adulterers.”

“If this was in the US or the UK, by now, there will be protesters on the streets calling for Melaye’s head and seat. His constituents would have initiated the process of his recall.”

“Have you also not noticed that other female members of the National assembly have not spoken up. They are dangerously silent.”

“That is stupid. Do they want to be beaten up? Raped? And impregnated by violent colleagues? Are they happy that a male colleague is threatening to rape and impregnate?”.

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“To call another man’s wife, Bonga fish. And openly say you prefer that other female Senator as a sex object. That Melaye needs help, I must say. Where is he from?”

“Right now, I wonder what Dino Melaye would have called Theresa May, the new Prime Minister of Britain”

“Do not go there. He wouldn’t dare. The kind of nonsense behaviour that is allowed in the name of lawmaking and leadership in this country is impossible in civilized places. Can you ever imagine any parliamentarian in the UK openly abusing a female colleague and threatening to rape and impregnate her?”

“All these our leaders, they love titles but not the responsibility that comes with high office. Just look at how the British have managed a major transition in the life of their nation, it was all done so decently.”

“Impressive. Classically British. The country is more important than every one.”

“David Cameron leads the country out of the European Union against his personal wish and to economic disaster. He takes responsibility and he steps aside.”

“In Nigeria, he would have stayed on. After all, there was no election. Nobody resigns here. Public office for the average Nigerian is about stomach infrastructure.”

“But in the UK, it is about service. Did you read Cameron’s valedictory speech? Solid. No malice. No regrets. The other week, he was down with rotten eggs on his face, but two days ago, he left office with his head held high. The British system works. When things go wrong, there are ways of dealing with them.”

“We shouldn’t compare apples and oranges. We can talk about lessons, but not to expect the same standards.”

“Look at Theresa May, the new PM. The very day she assumed office, she named her cabinet. She is prepared. She is ready. She is competent. That is how to hit the ground running. Here, State Governors spend a whole year struggling to appoint ordinary commissioners.”

“State Governors? What of…?”

“Meshionu… Alakoba somebody. It is not from my mouth that you will hear about physical, social psychological and existential violence in high places. But look again at what Theresa May has done. She has appointed into her cabinet, the Brexiteers, the same people who wanted Britain out of the EU. She has put together a cabinet that accommodates her rivals to show that she nurses no malice against anyone. Can you imagine Boris Johnson becoming Foreign Secretary?”

“I don’t support that.”

“Sorry, your opinion does not matter. Ko mata, ko muyo.”

“Boris Johnson is an isolationist. And he doesn’t like Africans.”

“He loves Britain, his country. That is what matters.”

“I wish the new Prime Minister well, then. History made. She has Mrs Margaret Thatcher’s record to contend with.”

“No. You miss the point. She will not be judged on the grounds of gender.”

“Don’t fool yourself about that very point. Even in the UK, gender is an issue. Nobody talked about Cameron’s shoes or navy suits, for example. But since Theresa May arrived, there has been so much obsession with her clothes and leopard print kitten heels.”

“But she is lucky she doesn’t have a Dino Melaye around her.”

“Impossible.”

“And nobody will ever threaten to beat her up, rape her or impregnate her.”

“Why are you DinoMelaye-ing Theresa May? Can you stop? This is precisely why a Boris Johnson thinks you people should be kept out of Britain, so that in the long run you don’t pollute the decent space the British created over the centuries.”

“You know, to tell the truth, sometimes I wonder how foreigners manage to relate with us. Can you imagine the President of Nigeria going on a foreign trip, with a Senator who was once accused of rape, or a Governor who was once a crook? The civilized oyinbo people will shake hands, shake their heads also, but privately among themselves, they would wonder if it would not have been better if they didn’t colonize Africa at all.”

“And leave us in our natural, pre-colonial states, eh?. I can’t laugh oh. May be if they didn’t, by now you will be a dreadful dibia in a forest, with 100 wives.”

“And Dino?”

“That one? He will be a deep forest hunter, beating up people’s wives, raping and impregnating them and threatening that nothing will happen to him.”

“Only in Nigeria.”

“ I guess there is a lot more that you can talk about in that manner.”

“Like Abia”

“Really messy out there.”

“A court of law with competent jurisdiction rules, INEC complies, but the politicians insist they have a different opinion, and the entire system gets sucked into a crisis.”

“Don’t go there. You get that kind of situation when everything in a country is so uncertain.”

“But if we lose the courts, what do we have left?”

“We lost the courts already, even the lawyers.”

“In Abia or Abuja?”

“You answer the question yourself”.

“And the video that the US Mission was going to show at the House of Representatives? Did that happen?

“Which video? It didn’t happen.”

“Never mind. The British have just given us an answer. A country must work for its people. That is why Theresa May says her mission is to make Britain work for every one.”

“Nigeria must also work for every one, not a privileged few.”

“Yes. Yes. Yes. We should add that line to the National Anthem.”

“Hmm. Seriously.”


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