Two lawmakers butt heads and engage in a war of words on the floor of the upper legislative chamber. One is the controversial Senator representing Kogi West Senatorial district, while the other is the lawmaker representing Lagos Central and wife of the equally controversial former governor of Lagos State and National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu. The feuding senators belong to the same party, but have been able to get their colleagues, fellow party members, other politicians and the general public divided on whom to queue behind.
I will not be dwelling on the cause of the rift between Senator Dino Melaye and Senator Remi Tinubu. How the former has a reputation for being a rabble-rouser who takes pride in denigrating the female folk and has allegedly carved quite a niche for himself as a misogynist of sorts, while the other seems to have forgotten her place as a highly placed woman whom many look up to. The show of shame they exhibited among their colleagues is a reflection of the quality of leaders Nigerians elect to serve them time and time again. Leaders who metamorphose into albatrosses as soon as they get what they want – power. It’s a cross we have chosen to bear with as much dignity as we can muster.
There are varying opinions from different quarters regarding who was wrong or right and how Melaye should have known better than to exchange words with a woman, especially one in the position and clout of Tinubu. Melaye goofed and he goofed big time they insist. They even remind us that Senator Tinubu is much older than her Kogi State counterpart, and so even on that basis alone he should have deferred to her. The Dino Melaye proponents absolutely differ in their opinion. According to them, this is not the first time Mrs Tinubu will be going toe-to-toe with a colleague on the floor of the hallowed chambers. She takes undue advantage of her husband’s immense influence in political circles, and must realise not everyone will a catch cold when the Tinubu’s sneeze.
A number of women rights groups in the South West protested against Melaye on Monday, and by Tuesday, another group of women under the aegis of “Kogi Women Support Dino” threw their weight behind Dino, insisting that his Lagos Central colleague owes their representative an apology for calling him a thug and a dog. It’s unbelievable, really. Do the women on both sides of the divide really think the lawmakers are incapable of fighting their own battles? Or that Mrs Tinubu’s husband who remains a political giant and undoubtedly has the ears of the present administration is handicapped in a matter involving his significant other? And if these women claim that their decision to protest was beyond the altercation between the two, but a response based on their antecedents and their organisation’s stance against any form of abuse, especially against women, then they would be economical with the truth.
Just last week, Eunice Elisha, a female evangelist in Abuja was hacked to death in the most gruesome manner. No women rights group or non-governmental organisation took to the streets to demand that government do its utmost best to ensure that the perpetrators of the dastardly act are brought to book. In the same way, the case of 74-year old Bridget Agbahime who was also beaten and killed by a mob in Kano also comes to mind. While these may be regarded as religious attacks, the fact remains that the heinous crimes were committed against women. None of the groups who have expressed indignation about Melaye vs Tinubu matter deemed it necessary to protest the killing of Eunice or Bridget among many others.
Everyday, women suffer various forms of abuse ranging from verbal to emotional to physical. Young girls and children are subjected to physical and sexual abuse. Incest is on the increase. Yet, there are not nearly enough women rights groups taking up their matter. Instead, they unashamedly rise up to take sides in matters involving the rich. It’s amazing how we daily refuse to get our priorities right; always putting the cart before the horse and expect that our many issues would magically vanish into thin air. It’s hard to argue with anyone who suggests that these hitherto anonymous groups were rented to put up a charade before the entire nation as it beats the imagination that with the enormity of issues that bedevil our society, a row between two legislators is what a group of mothers and grandmothers would find worthy to protest about.
One wonders how long Nigerians will continue to sell their conscience for instant gratification. How will these women feel when they see Melaye and Tinubu sharing a joke and hugging out their little misunderstanding at an event in the near future? Oh, you can be sure it’s going to happen. The common man continues to shoot himself in the foot time and again. When are we going to learn that the average politician never really mean anything they say or do?
Remi Tinubu and Dino Melaye will be fine. They belong to the upper echelon of society. They are in the infinitesimal category of the super privileged whose generations yet unborn will probably know no financial lack. They are part of those who live in plenty of abundance in the midst of overwhelming poverty. It makes little sense to lose sleep or shout oneself hoarse in an argument over people who have little or nothing to worry about and probably decided to flex some dormant muscles due to boredom. And so, the pockets of protests and counter-protests carried out by these groups is quite laughable. Laughable but annoying.
After all the threats and counter-threats, accusations and counter-accusations, our honourable legislators will move on and keep receiving the humongous sum they receive as salaries and allowances even if they never initiate or support any bill.
You and I should worry about ourselves and what we will eat tomorrow.