Senator Dino Melaye: Rise and fall of social media king

Dino Melaye

Senator Dino Melaye, finally on 30 November lost his bid to return to the Senate, beaten by his arch rival, Smart Adeyemi of the All Progressives Congress.

In his political career, the ousted senator with one million followers on Twitter, uses the social media as a weapon, fighting political adversaries, especially Governor Yahaya Bello. We share this article by CHINAKA OKORO on Melaye, the social media warrior:

He stands on a black-stripped Persian rug in his glittering sitting room. But some seconds after, he kneels before a glass centre table. He is dressed in a yellow pyjama. On the wall are frames with pictures of his children. A standing white air-conditioning system and a wardrobe are visible. He sings, not Fuji, Juju or Hip-hop but gospel.

“Oh Lord, be magnified,” Senator Dino Melaye sings. Through the song, he seeks forgiveness and closeness to God.

As he sings, he gesticulates with his hands in the air in obedience to the Most High and he rotates modulating his voice as ‘the spirit leads’.

In his latest video where he appears to be penitential, he sings a song by Don Moen entitled ‘Be Magnified’: “Glory be to God! I have made you too small in my eyes, Oh Lord forgive me. I have believed that you are unable to help me. But now oh Lord, I see my…and my heart and soul are so strong. And with my heart and my soul, oh Lord be magnified.

“Be magnified oh Lord, you are highly exalted. And there is nothing you can’t do, my Lord my eyes are on you, oh Lord be thou magnified…”

The video, believed to have been done Monday morning, comes after the bid to stop his return to the Senate by Senator Smart Adeyemi, a former President of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), was put on hold. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared the election inconclusive. A supplementary election will hold later.

With the video, Melaye seems to be saying in all he will give thanks to God. Perhaps he is also believing in God to stop Adeyemi from ‘stealing’ his mandate’.

Before the election, Melaye had done a video describing Adeyemi as his political wife and that he would always triumph over him. He said this the day the Court of Appeal nullified his election as the senator representing Kogi West. In a video where he was being interviewed, he said: “I have said it time and time again and I’m repeating it again, Smart Adeyemi is my political wife.

“I was in APC, I contested against him in PDP, I defeated him. I came to PDP, he went to APC, I defeated him, that is 2-0. We are going back for the third time, it will be a hat-trick. I will score the third goal.” He gesticulated like a man sure of himself on an expensive-looking comfy chair.

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In a video he posted on social media on Saturday, Melaye alleged that all the returning officers in his senatorial district were compromised.

Melaye, who said the exercise fell short of expectation, urged the Independent National Electoral (INEC) ought to declare the exercise inconclusive because the number cancelled votes was higher than the margin between the two leading candidates.

2017 and Ajekun Iya

Adeyemi is not Melaye’s number one foe. No one seems to have inspired him more than Governor Yahaya Bello. The Kogi governor and the senator were allies at the beginning of his administration. It did not take time before they fell out and Melaye released his monster hit, Ajekun iya video in which he declared that he would always defeat the governor in political contests.

(Watch Ajekun Iya video as shared by Seun Okin:

With the video, he declared the governor as too insignificant to challenge him in political battles, vowing to maul him mercilessly. So popular was the video that different remixes of it were done and even Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said the senator had a hit record!

Osinbajo, not known to have time for frivolities, recommended the video to an audience in Lagos. He asked: “Have you heard? Ajekun Iya ni o je.” He sent the audience into laughter.

(Watch Ajekun Iya version:

(Watch the remix of Ajekun Iya:

A week before the election, Melaye, at a campaign rally, said he was finer than the governor, richer than the governor and was better skilled in sexual exploits.

The controversial Senator released a song against Bello in preparation for the November 16 governorship election held on Saturday. Melaye sang the song himself and it is entitled “Kogi Koya… Kogi ko Bello”.

In a video to announce his interest to contest the Kogi State governorship election, he wore brown uniform and black shoe to match. He said: “I have consulted God and there is no difference between you and my God because any time I called you, you answer me.

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“So, before my political elders and fathers and the entire people of Kogi West Senatorial District here, I formally announce my interest to contest the governorship position of Kogi State.”

In another video where he denied gun running, he lambasted Bello. In it, he wore red spots wear, green T-shirt and black cap.

He said: “Make una come hear tory. They say I carry money give thugs make them go buy guns, Olomaje. The venom of a viper cannot do anything to the back of the tortoise. Haba! I don waka.” He drew open his eyes with his two hands and said “ntoo”.

The ‘singing’ Senator released another song to show support for the former Vice-President and presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar.

The song, which mocked the re-election bid of President Muhammadu Buhari, was released just after Atiku launched his campaign policy document entitled ‘Atiku Plan’.

The Kogi lawmaker, in a video posted on his Instagram was heard chanting “I have decided to follow Atiku… I renounce Buhari to vote Atiku.”

Before then, there were many others. In a video immediately after he and 12 others defected to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), he sang: “…I love my PDP, everything dey for PDP…” And there is another one in which he sang: “Udom pass Akpabio, ayaa ya.”

He has been tagged a “singing Senator” because he sings about anything as far as it taunts his political opponents.

Melaye loves the finer things in life. His Instagram profile features pictures of him posing in designer boutiques, wearing bright coloured trainers and tight jeans, or in front of a row of luxury cars.

Melaye has posted videos on social media of himself singing songs taunting the Kogi governor, earning him the nickname of the ‘singing Senator’. The Senator is known for singing songs taunting his political rivals”

He was criticised late last year after making a cameo in a music video of Nigerian rapper Kach. The video for the song, called Dino, features luxury cars, women in underwear, and $100 bills being thrown around. Melaye is also seen stepping out of a sports car, wearing a T-shirt with the word “legend” written on it.

Some Nigerians criticised the senator on social media for the ostentatious display of wealth, particularly at a time when many civil servants in his home state of Kogi were owed several months’ salaries.

The song Dino, named after Dino Melaye, features lyrics such as “100 cars in the parking lot like I’m Dino”.

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The video shows rapper Kach pretending to eat dollar bills, displaying expensive cars, a mansion, jewellery and shoes. In the video, Melaye is seen stepping out of a car, wearing a T-shirt labelled legend.

The senator is well known for his love of luxury cars, champagne and designer clothes, as his Instagram account shows.

Because of this flamboyance, many people took to social media to criticise him. His videos have been described as “poorly scripted political movie… call it Pollywood”. He also has been named “Drama king”.

With over 1 million, three hundred thousand followers of Instagram and over 7,000 posts, he can pass his messages, such as this: “APC scatter scatter, everything jaga jaga, put broom in the air” or “My Toys. My passion Noni! Talk oya talk”.

His brush with the law

He has had many brushes with the law and all have always had dramatic touches. At a point, he had to be taken to an Abuja hospital after ‘jumping out’ of a police van to escape custody. There was a video in which he was arguing with the policemen who had gone to effect his arrest over two members of an armed gang who claimed he was their ‘master’. Kabiru Saidu, also known as Osama, and Nuhu Salisu, nicknamed “Small”, confessed to being involved in a series of kidnappings and armed robberies. Melaye, according to them, supplied them with money and weapons. Of course, he denied the allegation.

The police declared him wanted on a charge of supplying illegal arms and Interpol was urged to arrest him in case he tried to flee the country. This was at a time when his security detail was not removed and he even posted a photo of himself on Instagram shaking the hand of a policeman. He was later arrested at Abuja’s Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport international airport on his way to Morocco. And his men claimed he was pushed out of the vehicle while police were ferrying him to Lokoja for trial.

As a social-media-savvy person, the news of his alleged jump, or push, trended on Twitter for days after that.

Melaye first came to public attention in 2010 when as a member of the House of Representative he was suspended for taking part in a fistfight in the chamber. This was during a move to remove the then House of Representatives Speaker.

Trending for non-political reasons

Melaye has also trended for reasons other than political. At least twice he has been named as the father of kids by celebrities. The first time he was accused of fathering a child outside wedlock was when a Yoruba actress, Bisi Ibidapo-Obe, alleged that he was the father of her daughter. Melaye denied it. Not long ago, he was rumoured to be the father of the child of ex-Big Brother Nigeria star Tboss. He also denied this.

A future in Nollywood

There are also feelers than he has landed his first role as a Nollywood actor. When the movie is released, he is bound to trend as his fans and opponents may debate whether or not he plays the role well.

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