Charles Chukwuma Soludo
BY UZOR MAXIM UZOATU
Now that the erudite former Central Bank Governor, Professor Chukwuma Charles Soludo, is the odds-on favourite to become the next governor of Anambra State, I am in deep fear over a sin I committed against him in the past.
I oppressed him when he was still in secondary school and I was what was then called an auxiliary teacher. Back in my secondary school days, I was seen as something of a rebel, earning bad nicknames such as “Anarchy”, or “Young Dimka” – after that drunken “dawn-to-dusk” coup-plotter named Buka Musa Suka Dimka.
While other students were excited about getting into the university, I was more interested in starting my revolutionary activities in the manner of Che Guevera.
God sort of answered my prayers when the school certificate results for the year, 1977, otherwise known as “Expo 77”, were delayed for a long time such that entering the university became impossible because I could not have gone to Nsukka, where I had won an admission, without a school certificate to show.
Of course I had no occult powers to foresee that one can even become a president without any certificate. There was talk by my parents for me to do higher school studies at Christ the King College (CKC), Onitsha where I had lived in the staff quarters all through my primary school years with my uncle, Job Okwuoma Aginam, who was a teacher in the elite school.
I had other ideas. I felt I could actualize my revolutionary drive by taking up a post as an auxiliary teacher on N96-per-month salary.
Incidentally the education ministry in the state then was under the charge of my future father-in-law, Chief Innocent E. Ofor, whose daughter I would marry many years later. I camped in his Savage Crescent, GRA Enugu home to get the auxiliary teacher job and was posted to the newly-minted school in my hometown, Umuchu High School, just a stone’s throw from the Uzoatu family compound.
The school was actually established that year and had only Class One students.
I had my mother’s mobylette to cruise around town with, and I caused such a stir that after a paltry six months the school principal threatened to revoke my appointment if I did not carry my antics to the university.
All the students instantly took to the new Che Guevera in town. Even as the brand new school could only boast of its pioneer class it competed in every sphere with all the major schools in the state that had the full complement of classes and teachers.
In football matches, you may see the teacher playing as a student. Soccer mercenaries were hired from far-flung places such as Enugu and Aba; this way, soccer stars like Ndubuisi Ajomiwe and the late Benjy Okorogu played for the school when they were not registered students!
Don’t ask me about the morality of this enterprise! As Bertolt Brecht, the great German playwright and socialist would say, don’t speak to me of morality but of its victims.
I served as a self-appointed games-master, as opposed to the actual games-master Jide Ezeani who earned the monetary allowances. I took the school’s champion table tennis player, Victor Ibe, alias “Action”, to the Aguata divisional championships.
His opponent happened to be a certain Charles Soludo from Uga Boys High School. There was something familiar in the lad because he was a native of Isuofia, my mother’s hometown, and my maternal cousins, Dr Arthur-Martins and Dr Obijiofor Aginam, had told me of his brilliant activities in the town’s student union.
Even as I had some sympathy for Soludo in the tennis contest, I had the extra motivation to make my student win because I was the last person to hold the title as the table tennis champion of the selfsame zone!
But for the fact that I had left school, I was the defending champion, and all the top divisional sports officials knew and hailed me. I desperately wanted my boy to win the title back for me.
t was decided that the table tennis match-up will be decided over the best of five sets. My boy easily won the first set. He equally took the second set, but I could use my trained eyes to see that Soludo was coming on strongly.
I decided to act fast. I said that the game was over since Soludo had nothing more to offer.
It was quite remarkable that Soludo protested, insisting that the next game must be won by my boy before the contest could be over.
There was a kind of stalemate, and the officials who of course bonded with me as the former champion had to appeal to me in the end.
That was how I decided to end my oppression as a teacher over the protesting student Soludo!
As fate would have it, Soludo won the next three games on the trot to take the match and the title!
Having experienced this come-from-behind victory of Soludo, I am keenly waiting with bated breath to see him win the Anambra State governorship polls, especially now that the Supreme Court can appoint a governor with the finality of bad arithmetic!
Now if Soludo wants to oppress me back in retaliation on winning the Anambra governorship, I will as a “Nwadiani” report him to the Isuofia Town Union!
-Uzor Maxim Uzoatu, poet, writer, journalist, writes from Lagos