Senator Dino Melaye has revealed that his passion is to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor in Nigeria.
Melaye, a Senator from Kogi state claimed in a recent interview that the middle class in the country had been eroded, and he was trying to bring it back.
See excerpts from the interview below.
Since when have you been a member of the National Assembly?
I became a member of the National Assembly in 2007 when I represented my people at the House of Representatives and I was there for four years. I moved to the Senate in 2015. That has been my case.
How many motions and bills have you presented so far?
To the glory of God, I have over 30 motions, which is unprecedented in the history of the National Assembly. Some of them are landmark motions that have created a lot of opportunities, while billions of naira have been recovered and returned to the government coffers.
Can you mention some of such motions?
I moved the motion on the Treasury Single Account, which has led to the recovery of huge sums from unauthorised sources and taken to the government coffers. Even the percentage that the agency, Remita, was taking was reduced from five per cent to one per cent; and this is a considerable reduction. I moved the motion on MTN (Nigeria) and how trillions of naira, through capital flight, left this country. I moved a lot of motions, including that of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (Babachir Lawal) that led to his eventual suspension and sacking.
Two of the bills have been passed into law while 13 have passed through second reading, which are either waiting for public hearing or third reading. I have another 10 that have crossed first reading and are now at second reading. They include that of facial mutilation (tribal marks) and the one seeking a stateless Nigeria; that instead of having states, which promote disunity or having state of origin, we should have state of residence. The bill is awaiting second reading.
I brought a motion that led to the revolution in the Ministry of Works, which has led to the massive construction of roads in this country. I brought a motion on Nigerian roads and specifically elucidated the road from Kabba (Kogi State) to Ilorin (Kwara State) and that of Kabba to Obajana. The Dangote (Cement) has agreed to start the construction of one of the first concrete roads in Nigeria with the Obajana-Kabba road and the work has started. Also, by the grace of God, my motion got the Kabba-Ilorin road into the budget last year and this year. It is one of the priority roads that the Federal Government is attending to. In fact, the contract for the construction of that road has been ratified by the Federal Executive Council and N21.6bn has been approved for the Kabba-Ilorin road.
Has your perception about lawmakers changed?
The truth of the matter is that my coming to the National Assembly is for service. I am here with a vision and a purpose, which is to make sure that we right the wrongs in the society. Corruption, to me, is the basic cankerworm that is responsible for where we are in this country today. It is the reason why our roads are bad and are now death traps; it is the reason why our hospitals are now mere consulting clinics; it is also the reason why education is so terrible today.
My passion is to make sure that we bridge the gap between the rich and the poor by bringing back the middle class, which has been completely eroded. The only way to do it is to fight corruption to a standstill because without fighting corruption, we cannot get anywhere in this country. I want to be the voice of the voiceless and speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. These are the principles behind my coming to the National Assembly.
You recently authored and published a book on corruption. Why did you venture into writing?
You cannot cure a disease if you don’t diagnose it. You cannot fight corruption without educating people on corruption. Because of my passion to fight corruption, I decided to go into research and put together my experience as an anti-corruption crusader in form of a book that I called ‘Antidote for Corruption’ so that Nigerians can understand the level of corruption. I mentioned names and characters in that book. You cannot ‘restitute’, ameliorate, palliate or correct without exposition.
How acceptable is the book in terms of sale?
As I speak to you, I have sold over 100,000 copies. I travelled recently to Germany and I took 500 copies along with me. I have been called that the copies have been exhausted. I went to Russia with 100 copies. As I speak to you, they’ve all been sold. I sent 1,000 copies to the United Kingdom; they’ve been completely sold. I sent 2,500 copies to five states in (the United States of) America and they are still demanding more. I want to believe that it has been properly received. Within the country here, I have also made huge sales. I am laughing all the way to the bank.
How do you spend your average day?
It is very hectic because I have legislative and family responsibilities to carry out. I also have to attend to my constituents and engage in social activities. So, it is usually a very hectic day. I only have time to rest whenever I am outside this country.
How do you unwind?
I am very sociable; I spend time with people. I have social visitations. I travel when I have the means to. I rest when I have to. I listen to good music when I have the time to. I also play sports when I have the time.
What kind of sports?
I play table tennis, polo, lawn tennis and football. I even played football for my university up to the national level. Whenever I have the time, I still play soccer.
Do you consider your flair for cars as a weakness on your part?
I don’t see it as a weakness. Every human has a passion for something. My passion is collection of automobiles. Some other people’s passion is cocaine. Some other people’s passion is blood; they are so diabolical that they can buy blood for any amount of money. Some other people’s passion is diamond; you can ask Diezani (Alison-Madueke). I love automobiles and I have no regrets about it.