Africa & Beyond

From Kampala to Abuja

Prof. Chukwuma Charles Soludo was the former Central Bank of Nigeria Governor who did many great things during his years in the apex bank faced with daunting challenges. He had sought to become the Governor of Anambra State but was denied by political intrigues since he remained, in the reckoning of many Anambra people including yours sincerely, one of the best candidates for the post. He is a world-renowned economist with academic credentials to flaunt! A dashing gentleman with reputation for reforming excellence Soludo gave a very good account of himself in whichever official function he had occupied thus far. From time to time he would release often controversial statements — all tailored towards good governance and prudent economic management of state resources for the general good of the people.

Idi Amin Dada (UN via Library of Congress)
Idi Amin Dada (UN via Library of Congress)

As one unafraid of controversies Soludo was in the news recently as he knocked the stewardship of the former President Goodluck Jonathan in an exclusive interview with “The Interview”. According to him: “Imagine a scenario where a president can order the CBN to create an intervention fund for national stability and CBN literally ‘prints’ say, N3 trillion, and doles it out cash to the Presidency to prosecute an election campaign or for just about anything he fancies. It is a scary thought…We are going down a dangerous path that ruins the economy. I don’t know any other country where such is tolerated, except perhaps what I watched in a movie about Idi Amin and his governor of central bank.” Quintessential Soludo!

A former GEJ Special Adviser, the notorious loquacious Doyin Okupe, had risen in defense of Jonathan arguing that Ebele was a meek President who could not have done such a thing or be compared to the beast of an Amin. Well, there exists a little room for comparison though if one would be fair and analytical. The Nigeria under Okupe’s principal was one nation under fiscal assault, a country abandoned to forces within to ‘devour’ with the ‘leader’ providing no leadership for lack of econo-political knowlegde or courage or both! While Amin was morally-bankrupt, perhaps siezed and enslaved by evil spirits for/from which he needed deliverance, Jonathan gave the impression of someone in total control of his spiritual elements. Sometimes his spiritual engagements with pastors and priests rankled not a few as he wrongfully saw himself and his steep undeserved rise from grass to grace as an uncommon product of the supernatural intervention of the Most High in the natural affairs of men — call it miracle if you like! His ‘obsession’ with the ‘God’ syndrome gave him away as one suffering from some spiritual opium!

Many years ago (still in Nigeria) I had watched the film Soludo was alluding to: “The Rise And Fall Of Idi Amin”. It was a chilling account of how the late Gen. Idi Amin ruled over Ugandans as a brutal dictator who deposited some dead bodies of those he had killed in his refrigerator and actually ate their ‘meat’! The film equally told visually the sexual exploits of Amin and one scene depicted the giant devil-incarnate in a bed with two naked girls making love — stepping down from one ‘horse’ and mounting another in a marathon sexual intercourse that only a he-goat or dog of a man could undertake! In another scene tales were told and motions shown of absolute paranoia, of megalomania, of pomposity, of military bravado, of sheer insanity.

Amin’s libido problem could be comparable only to that of the South African President Jacob Zuma with multiple wives but his lecherous acts while in power had no comparison. He could ‘kidnap’ a naturally-beautiful virgin girl in the middle of official function in the village and drove her down to a near-by jungle and ‘rape’ her — only to return hours later to tell the parents that he was marrying her for she was ‘sweet’ and fresh! His official wife and First Lady was against all these power abuse and she voiced it out by asking Amin in one moment of connubial truth: “How many people have you killed today and how many more will you kill to be satisfied, Amin?” A fidgety Amin (faced with this woman virtue) had no answer to such questions — pricked by no conscience since he possessed none.

Amin was blinded and made mad by power that he metamorphosed into a rather childish and sick psychopath who mixed voodoo, rape, torture, and dancing as tools for governance. He relished in his warped mind and bloated ego as the locals sang his praise during official visits. He played God becoming an ignoramus in a world where more ferocious dictators like Adolph Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Pol Pot and others had fallen, disgraced by their haughtiness and military arrogance. Amin was destined for a memorable fall from power given his cruelty and massacres. In the end just a little military push from neighbouring Tanzania (sanctioned by the then President Julius Nyerere) the regime crumbled and the imbecilic bushman ran away to exile in Saudi Arabia where he died!

Between the late Idi Amin Dada and Goodluck Ebele Jonathan a world of difference could be said to exist. One was a globally-renowned tyrant and the other a democratically-elected President. Both, however, in one way or the other, had abused their presidential brief. While Amin as a cannibal was busy killing whoever he fancied as an enemy and plundering the meagre resources of his poor country GEJ was a praying President who had the fear of God. But two of them did have something in common: the central bank! Idi Amin could wake up one morning, and depending on his mood of the moment, and order the Governor of the apex bank to print more cash or send in millions to the state house with dispatch Ebele, according to Soludo, did the same thing or worse — wittingly or unwittingly.

Jonathan may not have been a savage despot as Amin but he condoned odious corruption and never really knew what to do with state power under his command. Unlike Amin he never expressly sanctioned the killing of anyone but he indirectly killed Nigerians through the perpetration and perpetuation of corrupt practises by his mistresses and high-profile appointees during his reign for which he stands condemned. When Jonathan as President failed to provide weapons to the military with which to fight Boko Haram thereby exposing the soldiers and other Nigerians to slaughter by the terrorist organization he could be held responsible for the thousands of deaths linked to the jihadists. When GEJ failed in his duty to control the way and manner officials corruptibly enrich themselves at the expense of good roads, security of lives and property and provision of basic amenities then he was culpable for many deaths and sufferings associated with the glaring lack of these things money could fix!

Nigeria is not Uganda so GEJ could not have been permitted by circumstances to “Amin-ise” the giant of Africa that is bigger and much greater than his entire bumbling entity. Unlike GEJ Amin was a proud tyrant who chased away foreign interlopers (especially Indians and Asians) and ruled with courage and iron-fist unapologetically. Jonathan exhibited lack of courage in taking hard decisions and was ‘defeated’ by Boko Haram in a terrorism war that humbled him out of Aso Rock. Almost every good trait associated with great leadership was found wanting in the GEJ presidency. Perhaps his ‘shoeless’ background could be blamed but there are no excuses for a remarkable failure in leadership! Otueke should welcome their ‘illustrious’ son, the “ineffectual buffoon”, back home for he is best at home playing pranks and/or ruling over the village than Abuja entrusted with ruling over monsters, crooks and smart alecs.

I had wrongly thought that West Africa has only one replica of Idi Amin in the person of Native Dr, Prof., Alhaji, Chief, Spiritualist Yahya Jammeh of The Gambia. I never knew before now that Nigeria could have produced an Idi Amin (even in his minutest insignificant form or shape). But here we were, saddled with one babbling Amin; one without balls and one who ate fish pepper-soup and cassava bread while the nation was under attack from armed terrorists (Boko Haram) and unarmed terrorists (politicians and businessmen).

In Banjul Jammeh is a god whose words bring down rain and thunder and sunshine! He had claimed he could heal HIV/AIDS and decreed his country into becoming an Islamic state. He kills at will and imprisons anyone whose countenance he dislikes. He is paranoid and brooks no opposition. Whoever is found, in his wild imaginations, to be thinking of any change in government let alone planning a coup d’etat is dead without any judgement whatsoever. In Ecowas summits and other meetings with his fellow Presidents in Africa he always stands out with his dressings and anachronistic views. The Gambia can only be free if Jammeh dtops dead or a foreign troop invade there and remove him by military force.

From Kampala to Abuja is a long journey indeed by sea, land or air. Kampala is not comparable to Abuja in terms of bliss, glamour and razzmatazz. But Abuja, on the other hand, is far from the political stability and quietude of Kampala. While Uganda is enjoying relative dividends of democracy post-Idi Amin under Yoweri Museveni (who fought through the trenches to establish a semblance of democratic order) Nigeria is marching forward under Muhammadu Buhari who won a presidential poll, fair and square, after three unsuccessful attempts. While Museveni could be accused of authoritarian tendencies he is not known to be kleptocratic. Ditto Buhari. Both are strong leaders in their own rights.

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