What you need to know about Nigerian Senator Dino Melaye’s historic recall

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The submission of a petition, backed by 188,000+ signatures, representing 52.3 percent of registered voters in the Kogi West constituency to INEC, marks a historic escalation of the process leading towards the recall of a member of the Nigerian parliament.  This time Senator Dino Melaye.

This is the first time section 69 of the 1999 constitution will be pushed this far. Before now it has been just hot air and threats. I never thought it was possible for the electorate to utilise the strength of the constitution. But here we are.

Section 69 specifies 2 activities that can culminate in the recall or sack of a member of the national assembly by members of his constituency.

1. Submission of a petition to the chairperson of INEC, backed by signatures of more than 50% of registered voters in the constituency alleging a loss of confidence in that Senator or Representative.

2. INEC will within 3 months of receiving the petition conduct a referendum. A simple majority is all that is needed.

The constitution does not require registered voters who signed the petition to come verify and validate their signatures. That is for INEC. So all INEC needs to do is compare the signatures on the petition to that on their register of voters in that constituency.

In this case, INEC has 90 days, starting from yesterday when the petition was submitted, to carry this out and conduct a simple “yes “or “no” vote and just a simple majority is needed to decide the votes. Meaning if on the day INEC decides to hold the referendum, if it, hopefully, gets to that, If only 11 people show up, and say 6 vote “yes”, and 5 vote “no”, Dino Melaye will automatically cease to be a member of the 8th Assembly, and INEC will conduct a new election to fill the vacancy.

There are certain things already happening that need to be addressed.

Dino and other stakeholders coming on social media to claim the signatures are fake is like pouring water on a greasy surface. It won’t hold. If Dino feels approaching a court to stop the process will help, he should go ahead and do it. Social media posts won’t do jack.

If this recall succeeds, it will burst open a dam. A dam of electorates who now see that recalling members of the NASS is actually doable. A new army of voters with more power than they realized they had in 2015.

Also, if this recall succeeds, it will birth more a powerful governor, because if we are being honest, we know who “encouraged” the Kogi West Senatorial district electorate to start and see this process to this point.

A successful recall might force members of the National Assembly to re-strategize. Their political lives could depend on it. It might also make the National Assembly get jittery and consider amending section 69, considering according to Senator Olujimi from Ekiti, during an attempt by the Senate to amend the CCB/CCT Act in the heat of Bukola Saraki’s trial, “If you don’t assist your neighbour when his house is burning, it will extend to yours.”

Nigeria and the whole world are watching to see how INEC deals with this. It is a first for it, it is a first for us all. It is obvious that INEC Chairman Mahmoud Yakubu will be faced with pressure from within, but how handles this challenge will be documented. We watch with bated breath.

Will the embattled Senator Dino survive this new challenge, like the others he has managed to? or will the voters in Kogi West, with their now weaponized PVCs, take power back because it belongs to them?

By the 3rd week of Sept, we will know.

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