Melaye and His Controversial Book

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After putting those who claimed he had no university degree to shame, controversial Kogi senator, Dino Melaye has now written a book on how to ‎fight corruption. Yekini Jimoh who attended the book presentation reports

‎ The Chairman Senate Committee on the Federal Capital Territory and senator representing Kogi West Senatorial district of Kogi State, Dino Melaye, has ones again added another feather to his cap by writing a book titled ‘Antidotes for Corruption: The Nigerian Story’.

In his book, Melaye listed the names of some people he believed are corrupt. Known for not shying away from controversies, Melaye said he expected over 1000 law suits from those he listed as corrupt. He seems to have forgotten the well established priniple of law; that an accused person remains innocent until his guilt has been proved and convicted by a court of law.

Nevertheless, observers consider his decision to write a book on the vexed issue of corruption as a bold step and an indication that the senator despite his controversial way of life, can also engage in intellectual work.

The book launch, which took place at the Shehu Yar’ Adua Centre, Abuja was graced by eminent personalities.

One of the highlights at the book presentation was the ovation that accompanied the arrival of the wife of the immediate past president, Mrs. Patience Jonathan. As she arrived, the audience applauded shouting ‘mama peace, mama peace’.

The Secretary Planning Committee of the book launch, Mr. Babatunde Faniyan in his welcome speech said when Dino first made it clear to him that he wanted to write a book of up to 800 pages he shrugged off the idea thinking it was a mere wishful thought. He said: “In fact I was right there with him when he started from the scratch. Basically he put his thoughts into words and spoke into a tape recorder which was subsequently transcribed, typed out and edited.”

According to him, sometimes Dino would go quiet for months. He said: “At a time, we would not communicate for a while and other matters of life would take precedence. Then suddenly we would be back to the business of this book.”

He explained that there was so much to be examined on the topic which Dino chose to write on adding that the book “barely scratched the surface, as it builds up its focus on the besieged Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“The ancient historic origins are contemplated upon. The various identifiable types, the destructive consequences, institutionalised and systematic corruption with impunity. The western influence of corruption practices, the battle against it, the challenges, hindrances, the insecurity it has managed to create, and the consequences on good governance that we are currently suffering from,” he stressed.

The Chief Host of the occasion, Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki while delivering his speech said the first day Dino informed him that he was going to write a book he wondered if he would be able to because of his restlessness but was shocked when he told him that he was ready to launch the book he told him about sometimes ago.

Saraki said he was proud of Dino for publishing the book. He however disagreed with the author’s position that the people have come to accept corruption as a way of life.

Saraki said Nigeria and the people had not accepted corruption as a normal way of life. He said: “We recognise it as a problem and we are determined to make a break with our past and live by different rules. And, to borrow from the title of the book that we are launching today, that we are determined to find antidotes for this disease that has almost rendered our country prostrate.

“Talking about antidotes, I am convinced that we must return to that very basic medical axiom that prevention is better than cure. Perhaps, the reason our fight against corruption has met with rather limited success is that we appeared to have favoured punishment over deterrence.

“The problem with that approach however, is that the justice system in any democracy is primarily inclined to protect the fundamental rights of citizens.

“Therefore, it continues to presume every accused as innocent until proven guilty. Most often, it is difficult to establish guilt beyond all reasonable doubts as required by our law. It requires months, if not years of painstaking investigations.

“It requires anti-corruption agents and agencies that are truly independent and manifestly insulated from political interference and manipulation. We must admit that we are still far from meeting these standards,”he said.

The Senate President said that because anti-corruption agencies were under pressure to justify their existence and show that they were working, they often tended to prefer the show over the substances.

He added that while the show might provide momentary excitement or even elicit public applause, it did not substitute for painstaking investigation that could guarantee convictions.

“We must review our approaches in favour of building systems that make it a lot more difficult to carry out corrupt acts or to find a safe haven for corruption proceeds within our borders. In doing this, we must continue to strengthen accountability, significantly limit discretion in public spending, and promote greater openness,” he stressed.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara in his address, called for institutional reforms that would make it hard for people to engage in corrupt acts.

He warned that the country might end up “punishing corruption but not fighting corruption” if institutions were not strengthened to deal with the menace, arguing that only strong institutions could fight corruption in the country.

“The motivation is always there for corruption, but now why it is important, it is not just about fighting the old corrupt system.

“Really, if we must make progress, our focus should be to replace the old order that was corrupt with a new order that makes corruption near impossible to take place.”

Dogara acknowledged that Melaye’s book would be followed by an avalanche of criticism, adding that, “Dino himself is a combination of so many things.”

“He is highly opinionated, often pugnacious. So, obviously, he will be a magnet for opinionated criticism as well, he will not escape that,” he said.

Another eminent person who spoke at the occasion was the former Speaker House of Representatives, Rt. Hon Umar Ghali Umar Na’abba. He described Dino as a controversial person and said that everything about him was controversial.

He mentioned that what also made the book controversial was because the author chose to name some corrupt people in the book.

He commended Melaye for a job well done adding that the book intended to expose corruption in the society.

Melaye in his remarks, said corruption remained endemic in Nigeria, adding that he was duped in the course of writing the book.

He therefore thanked those who came to honour him at the book launch as over N27 million naira was realised after the book’s presentation.

Other eminent personalities at the occasion were the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, the reprsentative of Aliko Dangote, who launched the book at the occasion with the sum of N10 million naira, the Minister for Labour and Productivity, Senator Chris Ngege, Minister for Federal Caital Territory, Mallam Muhammad Musa Bello, members of the National Assembly, former governor of Kogi State, Captain Idris Wada and his former deputy, Yomi Awoniyi, as well as friends and associates of the author.

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Talking about antidotes, I am convinced that we must return to that very basic medical axiom that prevention is better than cure. Perhaps, the reason our fight against corruption has met with rather limited success is that we appeared to have favoured punishment over deterrence.

We must review our approaches in favour of building systems that make it a lot more difficult to carry out corrupt acts or to find a safe haven for corruption proceeds within our borders. In doing this, we must continue to strengthen accountability, significantly limit discretion in public spending, and promote greater openness