There was drama on Wednesday in the Senate as the Senator representing Kogi West Senatorial District, Dino Melaye, announced his tactical defection from All Progressives Congress (APC) to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
APC and PDP senators appeared to have been caught unawares by Melaye’s announcement.
Although Melaye did not mention ‘defection’, he requested Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, to quickly assign him a seat on the side of the minority PDP.
The embattled Kogi West senator who appeared in Senate chamber clutching a walking stick and wearing neck brace claimed that he was no longer comfortable sitting on the side of APC senators.
Melaye said, “Mr. President I want to seek your indulgence, you will call in the sergeant-at-arms to look for a comfortable sit for me on the other side of the divide.”
“Mr. President, because of the trauma I went through and I am still going through, I want to seek your indulgence that you will call on the sergeant-at-arm to look for a comfortable seat for me on this side (pointing at PDP row) of the divide because I am no longer comfortable sitting here.
“So I want to ask Mr. President that you mandate the sergeant-at-arms tomorrow to look for a seat for me on this other divide of the chamber. And that before you do that today, through help of my walking stick, I will take a comfortable seat close to Papa General Senator David Mark, pending when you get me a comfortable seat on this side.
“I want to thank you very much and say no retreat, no surrender.”
Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan and Chief Whip, Olusola Adeyeye struggled to ensure that Melaye did not cross the Isle to the PDP side.
Lawan went the extra mile to even offer his seat to Melaye if that would make him comfortable.
Adeyeye said allowing Melaye to move to the PDP side the way the Kogi Senator wanted it would plant disorder in the chamber.
Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, said that what Melaye was looking for was welfare and comfort.
Ekweremadu who read relevant sections of the constitution noted that Melaye should be allowed to sit where he would be comfortable as doing otherwise would not be in his interest.
Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, cited privileges of senators and declared that PDP senators were not complaing.
He welcomed Melaye to the PDP side and assured him of his absolute comfort.
Other PDP senators who joined the fray rushed to the APC side to escort Melaye to their side.
Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki in his ruling said, “As he said, we all thank God for his life. Let me on his behalf and on behalf of all of us thank those that gave all the supports during the difficult times and travails he has been through.
“We as members of the National Assembly have always shown that whatever happens to one happens to all.
“I appreciate you all for all the supports and we would continue to speak with one voice and be there for each other.
“The last point I just want to comment, Senator Dino, you made a request which I can’t see the reasons why you now want to sit elsewhere.
“Is it due to your injury or what? As far as I am concerned Senator Dino, I still know you with that seat. I take note of your request and I take note of your comments.”
Melaye also recounted his ordeal in the hand of the police while he was detained over alleged gun running.
He claimed that the police attempted to kill him “through the application of a chemical substance and secondly by injection.”
“They actually came with an injection to inject me but God intervened. And to Him alone be the glory forever and ever,” he said.
Melaye said, “Mr. President, my very respected colleagues, I am in your midst today alive by the grace of God. I am a manifestation of the declaration that there is God.
“I want to start by appreciating God, the Supreme controller of the universe for manifesting that though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil.
“I want to specially acknowledge the Nigerian Senate under the capable leadership of the irremovable President of the Nigerian Senate. I want to thank you for your love, concern for speaking for me and for defending the cause of democracy.
“My President, my respected colleagues, I doff my hat.
“Mr. President, I will not also conclude my appreciation without appreciating the indefatigable and indomitable Speaker of the House of Representatives and indeed the House of Representatives members. I thank them immensely and sincerely for showing that an injury to one is an injury to all.
“I particularly thank my constituents, men of honour of Kogi West Senatorial District not only for showing love, praying for me, but for defending my mandate that when I couldn’t fight for myself, when I couldn’t speak for myself, they fought for me, they spoke for me and they stood for me, especially during the failed recall exercise orchestrated by the Governor of Kogi State.
“I thank them immensely and I appreciate them and I pray the almighty God will continue to protect everyone from that senatorial district.
“I indeed I thank Kogites and specially also appreciate the Peoples Democratic Party for making statements during my recall exercise and asking everyone to stay back. Politics have been shown not to be individualistic but to be about issues and purpose.
“So, to the National Chairman of PDP, and indeed the Executive of the Peoples Democratic Party in Kogi State, I salute you! I salute you!! I salute you!!!
“I want to thank Nigerians in general for showing me uncommon love, for showing me that they can stand by the truth at all times. I think Nigerians! I thank Nigerians!! I thank Nigerians!!! And I cannot stop thanking Nigerians.
“When I went through the social media, when I saw the kind of support I got from Nigerians, then I am propelled, encouraged to continue to do only those things that will promote the integrity and prosperity of this country.
“I want to say I am alive because God defended me. But I want to say that the Nigerian police attempted to kill me twice. One, through the application of a chemical substance and the second time through injection.
“They actually came with an injection to inject me but God intervened. And to Him alone be the glory forever and ever.
“And that is why I quote this part of the Holy Book that “He who sits in the sacred place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the almighty.
“I thank the Almighty God for being alive and I want to promise Nigerians that because of the love I have seen, I will not derail. I will stand by the truth. No amount of intimidation, harassment, arrest, name-calling, blackmail planted will detract my attention from championing this cause.
“The battle to salvage this country from financial scavengers and economic cankerworm is a battle of no retreat, no surrender.
“We must salvage this country together. We have no other country to call our own but this country. So, I want to say as I get better, my voice gets better, it will become better. And I shall not cease to continue to ask questions where necessary.
“Mr. President, once again, I thank you. I thank you for your show of love, show of comradeship, I thank you for everything you have done and say in your own life and that of my colleagues, afflictions shall not arise the second time.
“But I want to conclude that by saying that we must not allow this to discourage us or get us disenchanted. We must be emboldened to ask questions.
“The Executive cannot cow the legislature. We must be bold at all times and speak truth. Like I have always said, ‘if you speak the truth, you die; If you lie, you die. It is better to speak the truth and die,” Melaye stated.
Akpabio’s attempt to ask Saraki to compel Senator Hope Uzodinma (Imo West) to move to APC side failed.
Akpabio said that Uzodinma who participated actively in APC congresses should move to APC.
Saraki overruled him.
Insiders said that Melaye’s defection to PDP might have opened the floodgate of defections in the Senate.