Is Dino Melaye A Human Rights Activist? By Abubakar Usman
In recent times Dino Melaye has divided opinion, as well as perception, among users of Twitter, the social media platform that is fast becoming the favorite place where Nigerians vent their frustrations against the clueless President Goodluck Jonathan. While some consider him an icon of change especially in the new Nigeria, many are not so impressed with this so-called “transformed” Melaye. He is still perceived as no different from politicians who has fallen out of favour and lost out of the power equation in the corrupt People’s Democratic Party-led government and have suddenly taken on “the opposition” mantra to salvage what is left of his dying political relevance. Melaye’s perceptions on Twitter are clearly depicted by a mosaic of praise and insult by users at the slightest opportunity.
Besides this mixed opinions begs the question; what/who does Dino Melaye truly represents? The profile on his twitter handle @ Dino_Melaye will have us believe he’s an Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, Chieftain, former member of the House of Representatives and a
human rights activist. While I may not dispute the first two items, the human right activist claim is one I strongly doubt and seek answers to. Melaye is not even an activist, let alone a human right activist.
An activist as I understand is one who practices activism with an aim to change the way society functions with regard to specific social issues. Activism as described by Wikipedia is the intentional efforts to bring about social, political, economic, or environmental change. Intentional efforts here could include protests and rallies against particular social issues, boycotts, writing letters, to mention a few.
However, this does not constitute the whole concept of activism but an aspect. “True activism starts much closer to home; It starts when you decide to live a self-reliant life,” according to Gary Levy. “It starts when you decide that you will depend on nobody but yourself for your personal safety and survival. And it continues as you begin to pare down the excess in order to live minimally; learning to embrace life for the bounty at hand versus the covetous bounty of your neighbor.”
Looking at all the above, does Dino Melaye qualify to be an activist? Let’s assume he does, I bet it doesn’t automatically make a human rights activist.
For those who don’t know, human right activists are simply people who expose the violations of the rights of others and campaign for redress. Such rights may include those of specific groups like children, religious or racial groups. Human rights activist on their own or with others take action to “ensure the promotion and protection of the human rights of all.” What matters is not who they are but what they do. Human rights defenders take peaceful action and believe in equal rights for all. Can any of these be attributed to Melaye? Your answers are as good as mine. Dino Melaye is a man who I know was very vocal during his time in the House. But this is nothing to be proud of after all as a member of the National Assembly, you are simply paid lots of money to talk, 95 percent of which is total crap.
Melaya was very popular for his role as the self-styled leader of the Progressive members of the House. While defending Patricia Etteh, the ex-Speaker of the House, who was rightly exposed for trying to award herself contracts for renovations that were not needed, he fought, literally fought, to expose her successor, Dimeji Bankole, in a N9 billion corruption scandal that earned him a suspension and, most fatally, political enemies that will see to his downfall. To the average Nigerian, Melaye did well by standing up against the corrupt House leader but the underlying truth remains glaring. He only sounded the anti-corruption alarm after being schemed out of the usual loot sharing.
Melaye failed to secure a return to the House after his bid was truncated by powerful enemies inside the PDP, forcing his exit to the All Nigerian Peoples Party where he lost his re-election to the PDP candidate. Off he went again to the ACN, where he now claims to be a chieftain.
The concern here is not what Melaye did with his political career but what he is trying to do in his “new career” as the human rights activist he claims to be. In January, he jumped on the anti-fuel subsidy protest and now he has being on Twitter waging an anti-corruption campaign against the government. But the question is would he have done all these if he were to be a member of the House and in the good books of the PDP hierarchy? Does being an anti-corruption critic on Twitter or marching against the fuel subsidy removal qualify him as a human rights activist? After all Boko Haram too “helped” the protests. The militant sect didn’t fire a single shot, or even a blast, but that doesn’t rank them among activists either. Taking to activism seems to be the favorite past time of Nigerian politicians after losing out in the political arena and no longer benefit from the largesse of corruption they enjoyed while they held sway in government.
What are the human rights activities Dino Melaye engaged in as an individual? What meaningful bill did he propose or sponsor to address social injustice on Nigerians as a member of the House? Melaye fought tooth and nail to get reinstated back to the House after his suspension. At one of his unscheduled appearance in the Chambers after his suspension, he was quoted to have said he came to physically engage Speaker Bankole in a fight to ensure he returns to the House. Did he employ any of these when the salaries of teachers were not paid due to industrial actions? Did he raise an eyebrow during the impasse that greeted the implementation of the minimum wage as against the millions he pocketed in allowances and estacodes? These are all issues a human rights activist is supposed to agitate for.
These are all clear and verifiable points I have raised here. But in the case I am wrong or proved wrong, I ask this question: Is Dino Melaye a Human Rights Activist?
Share your thoughts please.
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