OP-ED Opinions 

Kyari/Kamerhe: Tale Of Two Chiefs-Of-Staff By Ozodinukwe Okenwa

Kamerhe is the Chief-of-Staff to President Felix  Tshisekedi of Congo-Kinshasa. Few weeks ago CoS Kamerhe was arrested and interrogated over mounting allegation of misappropriation of funds during the hundred days presidential intervention developmental programme. Millions of Dollars was said to have been looted from the funds meant to improve the critical infrastructures in the country. He is currently detained awaiting trial!

The embattled Chief-of-Staff as the National Co-ordinator of the special presidential intervention fund was accused of misapplication of some of the funds to the tune of millions of Dollars. Some foreign contractors and high-profile local officials had been implicated directly or indirectly in the scam.

Kamerhe’s UNC party it was political persecution aimed at thwarting his presidential bid. What is refreshingly interesting democratically in this case is that President  Tshisekedi has refused, despite a plethora of supplications, to intervene to ‘save’ his CoS. He said that justice must follow its due process and run its course. That alone is a plus for him! 

Was fraudulently elected President of a mineral-rich country rendered hopelessly poor over the decades by a combination of factors chief of which is dictatorship and poor leadership. Since Patrice Emery Lumumba was assassinated Congo has known no national peace or development. From one armed rebellion to another Ebola disease to misery his blood is still crying for vengeance!

After the late kleptocrat, Mobutu Sese-Seko, was chased away from power and into exile the late Laurent Kabila took power in a blaze of glory. Few years later he was assassinated in office by a bodyguard named Rashidi! And his son, Joseph, stepped in to fill the presidential vaccum. Joseph Kabila, unlike his late father, proved to be not only corrupt but despotic in his management of power. After postponing the scheduled presidential poll for a year he was forced by a vibrant local and international opposition and civil society groups to organise the election.

Tshisekedi to the presidential Palace to iron out a ‘deal’ aimed at short-changing the real winner of the poll, Martin Fayulu.

Tshisekedi remains President but his powers are effectively emasculated by the Kabila gang. Like President Buhari it took him months to form a cabinet.

Tshisekedi President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria was fraudulently ‘re-elected’ last year even though the vibrant opposition led by Atiku Abubakar failed to prove their case at the Tribunal and up to the Supreme Court. Both Presidents suffer, therefore, from certain legitimacy problem. And they know it.

Tshisekedi, whose immutable principle of battle for the conquest of supreme power had been “le peuple d’abord” (the people first and foremost).

Whilst the son accomplished — albeit fraudulently– what his late dad never achieved from the Mobutu era down to the Kabila father and son President Buhari had desperately sought power at the apex unprepared. The former remains a healthy hard-working democrat and the latter a tyranny-friendly Head of State who ceded power to his late Chief-of-Staff with grave consequencies for Nigerians and Nigeria.

Kamerhe, it would be recalled, was part of the opposition elements that met in Bruxelles, Belgium, months prior to the presidential poll to pull their forces together. Among them were Moise Katumbi, Jean-Pierre Bemba and Martin Fayulu whom they chose to fly the opposition flag in the election. They all agreed to form a united opposition front (Lamuka) but the choice of Fayulu became a divisive factor.

Tshisekedi and Kamerhe soon renounced the accord opting to forge an alliance of their own. It was widely speculated then that Kabila was behind the division in the opposition camp. If not for the division the opposition ably represented by Fayulu would have been in power today.

Kamerhe as his Chief-of-Staff. Now even though there is no official rupture in their political relationship the President and his detained CoS would have a lot to learn from the corruption scandal.

Is found in the institutional judicial systems of their various countries. While the former was a ‘god’, a surrogate ‘President’ the latter is simply a Chief-of-Staff of the President of his country, one unpopularly and controversially elected.

Besides, the judicial system in the Congo works independently post-Kabila with little or no executive meddling or interference. In our miserable ‘fantastically corrupt’ country the late CoS was the lawyer, the law, the law-maker and the law-breaker, all embedded in one!

No judge or court anywhere in the land could have had the courage or power to summon him over any issue, issue an arrest warrant let alone judge him or jail him or his associate for whatever transgression or treasonable act or crime they could have committed against the nation.

The problem with Nigeria lies squarely in what the former US President, Barack Obama, memorably said during his state visit to Ghana some years ago, “Africa needs no strongmen but strong institutions” he had argued philosophically. Of course, Nigeria boasts constitutionally of a strong leader and weak institutions that aid and abet his abuse of power. While the President, no matter how insentient or inept, has power over life and death the institutions of the state wallow in corruption and executive emasculation.

To be sure CoS Kamerhe would ultimately rebound from his current travails, regaining his freedom sooner or later (culpable or innocent) and possibly his position. Mallam Abba Kyari, on the other hand, has been sentenced to perpetual ‘prison’ by COVID-19. 

Here lies the bitter lesson for the living! 

SOC Okenwa

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