By James Ogunjimi
When I saw the announcement of Kogi West Senator, Dino Melaye’s new book, The Antidotes for Corruption, two quotes came to mind. The first one by Winston Churchill: “History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.” The second one, by Julian Barnes: “History is that certainty produced at the point where the imperfections of memory meet the inadequacies of documentation.”
History is not necessarily the truth, it is what the person who documented it say it is. Forget the mild protests and daily name-calling on social and print media, history will be kind to the Kogi West Senator because he is writing it. His book will sit in libraries, be used as manuals in anti-corruption speeches, texts from his book will be extracted when theses are being written and like that, the mild protests and name-calling will become tiny blips slapped with the tag of ‘unconfirmed accusations’ under the controversy page on Wikipedia and just like that, the Dino that coming generations will know will be the Dino that fought corruption to a standstill using his NGO, an act for which he was arrested and was nearly killed by assassins. He will be remembered as the lion-hearted and controversial Senator who stood up against attempts by the executive arm of government to turn the Senate into its lapdog and who almost lost his life because of that.
The real Dino, the one that beat his wife blueblack, that fought like a tout on the floor of the House where his cloth was torn, the one that used his anti-corruption NGO as a front to leech himself to power, the one that threatened to rape a female Senator on the floor of the House, the one that raised irresponsibility and pettiness to a whole new level with his comical activities in the House and his walk on Bourdillon, the Dino that led Senators of like mind and character in solidarity to the trial of the Senate President on his asset declaration case at the CBT. That Dino will never be heard about. That will be a Dino that lived on social media, on the lips of ‘haters’, ‘enemies’ and ‘those who hated the work the Senate was doing’.
The revelation of Senator Melaye’s book pushed forward a question that has always been asked, the question of why we write. Why did Dino Melaye write? Why did Obasanjo write? Why did Elrufai write about the Accidental Public Servant? Why do we write? Some write to ascribe to themselves greatness the world will not ascribe to them. Others write because they want what will be read after they are gone to reflect them in a better light than that of the life they lived. And why do we write? Why do we write about people who try to rewrite history simply because they can afford to pay ghostwriters to skew history’s perspective in their favour? Why do we wail even when we know our voice may never count?
We write because we do not want these books that are rewriting history, ascribing fake greatness and nonexistent morality to people who want to pay their way into history’s good books to be the only available authority. We write because we do not want the writings available to the coming generation to be the ones written by those whose aims are to rewrite history in their own favor. We write because when history will be remembered, we do not want Obasanjo’s My Watch to be the only thing available or El-rufai’s The Accidental Public Servant or Dino Melaye’s Antidotes for Corruption to be the only references available to people. We write because we want to provide writings that set the records straight as opposed to the books where the authors jerked off to the idea of the new identities given to them by their ghostwriters and political lapdogs. We write because we owe tomorrow the truth, no matter how much today loves lies.