Friday, February 6, 2015

Who is this Charles Soludo?



Who is this Charles Soludo?

By the grace of God who is the Almighty, all-knowing and the munificent, I and a lot more Nigerians know who Professor Charles Soludo is. I do not want by this questionto denigrate or split hairs with anyone about the erudite and revered prof.He was the one who chairmaned the consolidation of banks during the Obasanjo years. Whenever you listened to him at public fora reel out economic balderdash, you cannot but feel as if you are a rat that a salesman has sold rat poison to. Even though a lot of people hailed that legacy of his as an epoch making one in sanitizing the banks, many people thought that the whole of the exercise was a fraud of monumental proportions – they insinuate that Charles Soludo could have checked the frequency with which banks ran to the capital market for bogus and bloated balance sheets and posted profits that defrauded and deceived a lot of the public at that time. But he did not and nobody understands why. The purpose for which those funds were raised at the Capital Market was not properly spelt out and careful observers say that the blood lines between the regulator and the regulated blurred his lines of vision. These careful observers as well allege that because a lot of the capital declared during the consolidation was false, it led to the control of the merger between First Inland Bank and First Atlantic into certain untoward hands. There are a lot more allegations put forward that even while he was dangling the sword of Damocles of consolidation on the heads of the major chief executives of the major banks, he was hopping into their private jets, and fraternizing with these bank executives. Why were some of these bank CEOs representing him at public functions when any one of his own directors could have done so on his behalf? Were his hands really clean concerning the printing of the polymer notes, and for which he was invited by the EFCC for further clarifications?
Charles Soludo to many of us who are the untutored and unlettered mortals of this country,once came across as a detribalized and apolitical and as somebody who has risen beyond the petty political environment of today. He held on to the position of Central Bank governor likean intellectual par excellence. Therefore, as untutored and as unlettered as I am, when I tried to read his ‘Buhari vrs Jonathan: Beyond the Election’, something revolted in my guts and I couldn’t believe that this was the Charles Soludo that a lot of us had idolized and admired, even though we knew about some of his many lapses as Central Bank governor.That piece of his dripped with innuendoes, sarcastic statements and was laced together with the strings of a vendetta that could only be ascribed to a woman whose husband is seeing other women. I could no longer read that poisonous diatribe because I couldn’t allow that toxic matter pollute my mind further.
It was not difficult to see that there was a sinister motive behind that essay. Most prominent people think that because they can have access to the media, they could just spew forth their brew without being found out. They come out with letters or newspaper articles like Professor Charles and have been found out to have a motive and a hidden assegai in their letters and newspaper articles –recall in the no distant a past that an Olusegun Obasanjo came out with a letter to the president wherein he made many ‘unsubstantiatable’ allegations. On the face of it, the retired general gave everyone the impression that he had the interest and welfare of Nigeria at heart and that was why he went public with that letter. But when we began to dissect and read between the lines, and examine the interpersonal relations between the writer of that letter and the addressee, and that a once chummy relationship had gone sour, it became easy to decode that that letter was a revolver aimed at the recipient of that letter. And so the question that discerning people asked then was this: why did the retired general only begin to write a letter to his former protégé only when things fell apart between them? Why couldn’t he have continued to let his former protégé get the benefit of his counsel in the quietude of their relationship – whether it had gone sour or not? Would he have gone that public and that nasty if there was no frost in their relationship?
In 2009 Charles Soludo left the Central Bank after he concluded his tenure as governor. It was the speculation in the public domain that because of his seeming stellar performance at the Central Bank, and because of the fraternity that he enjoyed with the higher echelon of the ruling party, he would enjoy a roller coaster ride and become the governor of Anambra State. But his hopes were dashed in circumstances that were not clear to the rest of us untutored mortals, but which were laid at the feet of certain individuals who were alleged to have frustrated his ambition to be Anambra State governor – Peter Obi & co. It is my guess that these people seemed to have seen through his smoothness andsubsequently dumped him like hot iron.  About five years after nobody heard from Charles Soludo. The feeling in the public domain was that the professor had gone back to school to put the benefit of his economic expertise to the full benefit of an academic community.
But that turned out, as events have shown, that the Prof all of this while was preparing to cut off a pound of flesh from those whom he perceived as his enemies. He was a wounded snake that has been in hibernation and has been plotting to unleash the full potential of his venom and bitterness on the party he thought he had served so well, and which he assumes had betrayed him. Instead of the school we all thought he would be, he has chosen to fight in the market square of public opinion so as to garner very cheap popularity it seems.If that is the case, that piece and the sequel toit ordinarily portrays Soludo as a cheap politician masquerading as an intellectual.These are no ordinary statements and I hold them dear – nowhere in the world apart from Nigeria would you have CBN governors like a Sanusi and a Soludo run their mouths and be so overtly political like they are doing here.I remember now RL Stevenson’s book, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. In that book, you have a character with a split personalitythat would treat a patient’s sickness by day, and go behind at night to murder that same patient. While in our political environment we have people who are like Soludo and who can use bogey statistics to mess up the minds of people, so do we have very simple-minded people who are ready to be so manipulated by the kind of bogey statistics from the likes of the prof.  We should be very cautious with these characters whose glib tongues can set fire to an already charged atmosphere like ours.

Bob MajiriOghene Etemiku is trustee and secretary of Civil Empowerment and Rule of Law Support Initiative, Abuja.