Chidi Amuta’s Tantrums Of A Failed Empress, posted May 21, 2014 onSaharareporters.com was supposed to be a rejoinder to Chidi Amuta’s Rot (Thisday May 16, 2014), a rejoinder I wrote to his The Girls and the Rot, which was published in Thisday of May 14, 2014. But he failed to provide any answers to the numerous questions I posed to him, preferring instead to inflict a further 2500 empty words of flowery sentences on his longsuffering readership. Perhaps the editors of Thisday, of which Dr. Amuta is a longstanding columnist, found his latest tantrums against Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Nigerian Finance Minister, so pedestrian that they decided against glorifying it on their pages. Poor Amuta had no option than to resort to the Internet, to present a perfunctory response.
I welcome his ostrich escape into Internet journalism because, whether or not he likes or appreciates it, I also have access to the medium. This piece, therefore, is to expose the ridiculous extent to which Dr. Amuta is prepared to excel himself in the futile attempt to discredit a Nigerian public official adulated both at home and abroad as a scrupulous achiever of sterling qualities. In his The Girls And The Rot, Amuta made a number of assertions that he did not bother to substantiate with any iota of evidence, whether credible or not.
These were some of his claims:
1. “From the desperate and clueless emptiness of the of the vaults of power in Abuja, it was a pitiable Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the beleaguered Finance Minister of the Jonathan government that was literally groveling and begging for international help to free the missing girls on CNN. What a pity.”
2. “We need help to retrieve our institutions, including unfortunately the Ministry of Finance, from the depths of rot and the vice grip of phenomenal incompetence that has become embarrassing to most decent Nigerians.”
3. “As superlatives go, Jonathan’s is the most inept government in Nigerian history.”
On the wild assertions above, I made the following points: “Chidi Amuta has been a Thisday columnist for over five years. Yet, as a patriotic Nigerian who yearns for the best for our country, not on a single occasion has he, throughout this period, written an introductory sentence on the “rot” and “phenomenal incompetence” in the Federal Ministry of Finance! Why is that so? If this man’s motivation was altruistic, he would support and justify his outlandish claims with citations. Except he holds the attitude that all of his readers are numskulls. He had three quarters of the back page of Thisday to make his point. Yet he found no space to cite one example of the “rot” in the Federal Ministry of Finance. And he found no space to cite one example of the “phenomenal incompetence” in the Federal Ministry of Finance!”
I asked Amuta to explain what was pitiable in Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, joining President Jonathan and Nigeria’s security chiefs to ask for international help to rescue the kidnapped Chibok girls. The CNN clip in which the Finance Minister asked for international assistance was not screened only inside Amuta’s parlour. How come no one else saw the groveling he attributed to Okonjo-Iweala? I asked him to explain how he came by the statement that the Finance Minister was beleaguered.
I asked Amuta to explain his “superlative” experience of Jonathan’s government being the most inept in Nigerian history. Ineptitude is certainly demonstrable, just as groveling and piteousness are.Rather than use his Internet journalistic excursion to broach these questions, Amuta called me a Ghanaian, as if nationals of the West African country are less African than he is! I expected him to cite examples of his Thisday crusade against the official rot and ineptitude he located at the Federal Ministry of Finance. Instead he embarked on a wild goose chase. I expected him to situate in reality his claim that Jonathan was at the head of the most inept government in Nigerian history. But, surprise, surprise, he turned round to celebrate a man he is wont to demonize, using adjectives such as “genteel”, “tolerant” and “commendable” to describe President Jonathan! He even went a further ludicrous step to offer unsolicited counsel to the President on how to retain power in 2015! Why should Amuta’s example of unprecedented presidential ineptitude be entitled to a second term of office?
All these point to lamentable confusion. For instance, I accused Amuta of not using his five years as a Thisday columnist to pursue ends fit for a patriot. He responded by claiming that he has been in journalism, not for five years but for three decades. But those represent 30 wasted years as there is not a single spellbinding journalistic exercise tied to his name all those years. However, a more serious issue has to do with this man’s sense of history. I had not come across Amuta’s name through his 30 years of flaunted journalistic pedigree until October 7, 2010 when I read his Thisday article entitledRunning out of Luck. What I found peculiar in that piece was Amuta’s prescription that Jonathan should learn presidential ropes by watching films on Barack Obama, Paul Kigame and David Cameron! I was at an airport lounge that day, about to catch a flight. I immediately expressed aloud my consternation at such inanity, whereupon another passenger – with whom I since struck a lasting friendship – said he was not surprised. He had been a senior civil servant when Amuta benefitted from a political appointment. It was this passenger’s story that informed a response I wrote on Running Out Of Luck which appeared in Thisday of October 12, 2010. Permit me to quote from that article because the points I made then are even more relevant today. “Yes, Amuta is a Babangida apologist, which is ironic because the man actually started off as a ‘Marxist’! He is the author ofTowards a Sociology of the African Novel (1986) and The Theory of African Literature (1989). These were the books he used to heap Nigerian intellectuals like Chinweizu, Onwuchekwa Jemie, Ihechukwu Madubuike, Charles Nnolim, Sunday Anozie, Wole Soyinka and others together and bludgeon their craft for being capitalist and right wing in orientation. That was when the man never finished a sentence without mouthing such words as “praxis” and ‘dialectics’.
“One day Amuta got hired as the Director of Babangida’s DFRRI in the old Imo State. He performed woefully and sooner got fired. But he left Owerri apparently more plenty than he entered. It was farewell to Marxism for Amuta. The next time he went authoring, he came out with a tome entitled Prince of the Niger: The Babangida Years (1992), which celebrated Ibrahim Babangida as the epitome of political engineering! Soon after, he teamed up with a certain Bala Yunus Mohammed to edit IBB: A Heritage of Reform, Vols 1 & 2, another hagiography.”
The point here is that Amuta’s stint in government was a resounding failure. If he wasn’t deluded, he would recognize the fact and, therefore, live by the dictum that those who live in glass houses should desist from throwing stones. Of course, the world abounds with erstwhile assorted communists, socialists and sundry leftists who backslid and ended up as unrepentant exponents of pseudo-capitalist pretensions. But that does not necessarily prevent them from grounding their discourses on variables that are verifiable. That is why it is so pathetic that, in trying to justify his tag of Dr. Okonjo-Iweala as a “discredited empress” he delved into the realm of speculation! Wrote Amuta: “Since I do not work for the Ministry of Finance, I can make some disclaimers. I did not grant the duty waivers for the importation of Ms Stella Oduah’s armored vehicles. I did not arrive at the computation that Nigeria lost a frightening N1.4 trillion on import waivers in the last three years. I am not the one that could not offer any credible explanation as to the whereabouts of the S49 billion, $12 billion or is it $10 billion of the nation’s oil earnings that former CBN Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi alleged was not accounted for.”
Elementary knowledge of the workings of the Nigerian government should have informed Amuta that government waivers are assigned on sectoral basis, not on individual basis. He merely dragged Princess Oduah’s name into it because the lady neatly falls into the category of those that must be destroyed in order to get at President Jonathan. Who arrived at the computation that “Nigeria lost a frightening N1.4 trillion on import waivers in the last three years”? Is there a single nation on earth in which the granting of waivers is not a factor of economic policy? It there any evidence to show that, in the Nigerian circumstance, the policy of waivers has been abused? Or did Amuta bandy this about in order to generating needless hysteria? How does a rational human being expect credible explanations to the incredible figures of $49 billion, $12 billion and $10 billion thrown around like tennis balls by a sacked Central Bank boss without prudence since shown the door by a resolute administration? What other explanation will be better than the result of the forensic auditing of the accounts since ordered by government on funds Sanusi alleged were missing.
Why is it difficult or impossible for Chidi Amuta and his fellow travellers to wait for the result of this audit. In any case, why is this failed Marxist laying so much premium and lending so much credence on something he acknowledged to be no more than an allegation? The answer is obvious. The attacks on the key pillars of the Jonathan administration are aimed at obliterating the integrity of the President. The attacks have, overall, been puny. The attackers have, essentially, shown themselves to be really and truly discredited ones. One thing is certain. The truth will prevail. But not from John McCain, Hilary Clinton, the New York Times and the Economist of London, to whom Chidi Amuta and his fellow travellers unconscionably and incessantly point to as the harbingers of our redemption.
Onome is a commentator on national developments.