[PUNCH] In this interview with GBENGA ODOGUN, the woman leader of an All Progressives Congress group, Meda Imole, Mrs. Funmilayo Olumodeji, speaks about the recent spat between two senators of the party, Remi Tinubu and Dino Melaye
Who do you think should be blamed in the disagreement between Senators Remi Tinubu and Dino Melaye and why?
The person to blame for the disagreement is Senator Remi Tinubu. Even though we were not at the meeting where the altercation took place and may not know what led to the disagreement or who started it because it was a closed-door meeting, yet I was well briefed on the development. From what I gathered, it was Senator Tinubu in her usual character that started it by hurling insults at Senator Melaye and calling him names. It does not speak well of a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria who is serving her second term. She has clearly deviated from her calling as a representative of the women cause. Where was Remi Tinubu when our girls were being kidnapped, raped, forced into marriage or even killed and thrown into canals? Even, the President’s wife had at one time or the other added her voice, but it is not on record that Senator Tinubu had joined in the struggle for the liberation of womanhood. Today, kerosene sells for N200 a litre; we did not hear her uttering a word about this but instead, she has been busy insulting her colleagues and gathering women by spending millions of naira on them to protest on her behalf.
Don’t you think Senator Tinubu owes Senator Melaye an apology based on all what he said?
Senator Remi Tinubu should be the one to apologise to Senator Melaye within 48 hours. She should apologise for her misdeeds to Melaye. Pointing at a man in the face is considered not proper in Yorubaland. And Senator Tinubu, who is happily married to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, a Yoruba man, a two-term governor of Lagos State, APC leader and a respected elder statesman should know better, having served as the First Lady of Lagos State for two terms. She has been so much exposed. Senator Melaye is also from the Yoruba-speaking part of Kogi State. The Yoruba people value their culture.
But women groups see Melaye’s attack on Remi Tinubu as an attack against the freedom of women. As a group, why are you not worried or offended by Melaye’s conduct?
I am not worried because the women groups you are talking about were not properly briefed and so were acting based on ignorance. Although I was not present at the meeting, I have been properly briefed. What happened was a normal disagreement between colleagues which shouldn’t have resulted in a major crisis, but I was made to understand that it was Senator Remi Tinubu that started calling him names.
Senator Melaye reportedly went to Bourdillon Street, Ikoyi, Lagos boasting that he did not fear the Tinubus and their supporters, what is your comment?
It is a free world, every Nigerian has the freedom to move around without the fear of intimidation or harassment. His going there has not insulted anyone. He is a free man and cannot be prevented from visiting any part of the country.
Senator Tinubu, in a letter addressed to the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, accused Melaye of beating a lawmaker to death, what can you say about the allegation?
I have never heard about it. For me, the allegation is cheap blackmail.
What is your reaction to the call that Melaye should be recalled by the people of his senatorial district?
No, it’s not possible. As an elected senator, if anything goes wrong, his people will call him and speak with him and caution him. No one else apart from his people will do that and we have not done that.
What were the things that Senator Tinubu didn’t do right since the issue came to limelight?
Senator Remi Tinubu should have been humble enough to admit that she was wrong in the first place and apologised to Senator Melaye. Secondly, she shouldn’t have escalated the issue by organising women who were ignorant of the real story to stage protests in her support.
Melaye’s critics have not been fair to him, they heard only one side of the story on which they based their criticism.
What are you expecting from Senator Remi Tinubu’s husband in all this?
As a leader of our great party, I expect him to call all parties for an amicable settlement since they are from the same party.
What would you want Senator Tinubu to do?
I will advise her to consider her position as a happily married woman and a second-term senator to start learning how to be humble while also respecting her colleagues, especially the men.