For about two hours, Senator Dino Melaye (APC, Kogi West), turned the floor of the Red Chamber into his palace cum shrine, leaving his colleagues perplexed. Our correspondent reports the scenario.
From all corners, senators were heard shouting: “Babalawo, Kabiyesi and masquerade,” when Senator Dino Melaye walked into the Upper Chamber, last Wednesday, for the day’s legislative activities.
Melaye, who is neither a presiding officer nor a principal officer, came into the chamber together with the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, and principal officers of the Upper Chamber.
Traditionally, the arrival of the Senate President is announced with a shout of “Mr. Senate President,” by the sergeant-at-arms, who is the custodian of the chamber’s symbol of authority, the mace.
With the announcement, all persons in the chamber, including senators, cameramen, clerk of the Senate and his team, journalists and legislative aides are expected to remain standing until the Senate president seats.
In line with this tradition, all the persons in the chamber, on that interesting day, stood up for the arrival of Saraki. Then, behold, came also the Kogi State senator in an unusual dressing. The party walked into the chamber around 10.50am.
Wearing a blue Aso-Oke, with an orange cap knitted with beads, Melaye used white fly-whisks to illuminate his dressing. On his neck, Melaye, who is from Okun speaking part of Kogi State, wore four different beads.
His dressing soon became the talk of the chamber as senators, struggling to have presidential handshake with Saraki, were heard chanting Kabiyesi, Babalawo and masquerade.
It was at this point that general laughter enveloped the chamber. Melaye’s dressing looked synonymous with that of Yoruba chief or priest of Babalawo shrine.
While Saraki was shaking hands with the senators, Melaye used the fly-whisks he held in his right hand to bless the senators by brushing their back with it.
It was after the episode that Melaye went to his seat, situated on same row with former governor of Kano State, Senator Rabiu Musa kwankwaso. From the press gallery, our correspondent saw Kwankwaso ‘staring ‘ at Melaye. Melaye continued with the show until after 20 minutes when he left the chamber.
While leaving the chamber, Melaye turned left, right, looked at his front and back, acknowledging that it was, indeed, his day at the Senate, before departing the chamber, leaving behind his fly-whisks on his seat.
But 30 minutes later, specifically by 11:30am, Melaye returned to the chamber. It was at this point that Senator Peter Nwaboshi (PDP, Delta North) raised point of order, saying: “Melaye was not properly dressed, he dresses like Babalawo.”
Our correspondent reports that Order 56 (13) of the Senate Standing Orders 2015 as amended says: “Senators shall attend the sitting of the Senate properly dressed.”
In his response to Nwaboshi order, Saraki said: “Which part of the dressing are you complaining about? It is noted.”
Few minutes later, Melaye stood up and went towards Nwaboshi’s seat, where he chatted with his colleague.
Throughout the day’s sitting, Melaye did not contribute to any debate as he was busy displaying his royal regalia.
At the end of the sitting, Senator Joshua Dariye (PDP, Plateau Central) went to him. They had a discussion. Later, Melaye used the fly-whisks to touch him on the back and Dariye left.
Melaye is one of the staunch allies of Saraki in the Senate. In fact, he seconded the nomination of Saraki as the Senate president when the 8th Senate was controversially inaugurated on June 9, 2015.