Saturday, September 5, 2015
Some African Leaders Don’t Care About Their People
By Bakampa Brian Baryaguma
[Dip. Law (First Class)–LDC; PG Cert. Oil & Gas–Mak; LLB (Hons)–Mak]
The essence of leadership is service to those one leads. Yes, leaders must be servants of their people. That is why, for instance, Jesus Christ taught that the master must first and foremost be the servant of those under him or her. I am therefore, irked by leaders who pay little or no regard for their own people. Leaders at the embassy of the Republic of the Sudan in Kampala are such mindless leaders.
There is a Sudanese national called Abdullah Mohammad, who is currently detained at the Central Police Station (CPS) in Kampala, Uganda, for close to two months now. Before being transferred to CPS, Mr Abdullah was detained at Kabalagala Police Station for about three months. He is very sick, coughs terribly at night, and was on drip recently. He has no known relatives in Uganda, and so, unlike other detainees, nobody visits him to bring him food or other necessities, and to comfort him, at least psychologically. He now lives at the mercy of police and other visitors at CPS, who feed and treat him.
Unfortunately, I haven’t had opportunity to interview him to get in-depth information from him about his predicament because of language barrier. He hardly knows English, only speaks Arabic fluently, and yet I don’t know Arabic at all. The little information I acquired about him was obtained from police personnel and members of the public at the CPS. Nevertheless, it is reliable.
But from what I gather, Mr Abdullah did not necessarily commit a crime, except that he is accused of entering and staying in Uganda illegally, without valid documents, for which reason he should be deported from Uganda, back to his home country, the Republic of the Sudan. Surprisingly, nothing much was done to deport him, until I came in, gravely concerned by his dire situation, and my pan-African spirit. I told him that I would contact his embassy to help him, and he agreed.
Thus, on 28 August, 2015, at about 12:30 pm, I approached the Sudanese embassy, informed the officers there that their citizen was languishing in prison at CPS. I asked for someone to go with at the police station to meet Mr Abdullah. At about 2:30 pm, I was shown to Mr Ehab Ibrahim Salim, a diplomat at the embassy, with whom I went to CPS, in an official embassy vehicle, to meet Mr Abdullah. Mr Salim was accompanied by his driver, also a Sudanese, but whose name I didn’t get.
At CPS, Mr Salim and his driver met Mr Abdullah, greeted and spoke in Arabic, and seemed to know one another well, given the pleasant smiles, warm handshake, and brief but cordial conversation they had. In fact, one of the police officers asked Mr Salim whether he knew Mr Abdullah, and the former said, ‘Yes, I know this man.’
Thereafter, we proceeded to meet the police officers handling Mr Abdullah’s file. It was agreed as follows: that Mr Abdullah should be deported back to Sudan; that the embassy would facilitate his deportation, by getting him an air ticket; that the embassy would reimburse the police’s expenses on his feeding and medical treatment; that they would reimburse my expenses on handling and following up his case; that immigration officials should be contacted to forward his file to CPS for clearance as deported (and in fact they were called upon and responded positively); and that Mr Abdullah would be driven to Entebbe Airport on 31 August, 2015, at 10 am, for deportation to his home country, Sudan. At this stage, we were all impressed by the Sudanese embassy officials sense of seriousness, and regard for their roles and duties especially, the fact that they readily responded to our calls for them to come to the rescue of their needy citizen. Little did we know that we would soon be in for a rude shock of disappointment owing to their insensitivity and inconsideration.
Since then, Mr Ehab Ibrahim Salim, his driver, and other embassy officials have avoided us, and negated their responsibility to ensure the deportation of their citizen, Mr Abdullah. They dodge scheduled meetings, fix sham appointments, and ignore mine and police’s calls. They basically don’t want to meet or talk to us anymore. In so doing, they have deserted their own citizen, leaving him at the mercy of God, and strangers at CPS. In short, they have denied Mr Abdullah the consular services that he is ordinarily entitled to as a citizen of the Republic of the Sudan. A citizen is at all times entitled to the assistance and protection of his or her country whenever need arises.
One therefore, wonders why the Sudanese embassy in Kampala exists in the first place, if its officials cannot come to the rescue of their own that is in distress. Is the embassy just an employment centre for the ambassador and other officials? Your guess is as good as mine. To my mind, such conduct is highly unethical, unprofessional, and definitely a contravention of diplomatic duties and/or responsibilities. Someone suggested that the reason why they initially showed serious interest in Mr Abdullah is because they thought that he was of high public standing like an important state or social official or a person wanted for some political crimes back in Sudan, but when they found that he is literally a no body, they chose to abandon him. I am tempted to buy into this idea. If at all it is true, then it would be absurd, because every citizen should matter.
Hence, I call upon all Sudanese authorities here in Uganda, the Republic of Sudan itself, and everywhere to pick interest in this matter, in liaison with all relevant authorities in Uganda. President Omar Al-Bashir, in power since 1989, should particularly intervene, lest one of his subjects dies helplessly in alien territory, yet his government is well aware of the subject’s predicament. This would be very embarrassing to the Sudanese people as a whole.
Here in Africa, and indeed elsewhere in the world, leaders carry hefty and prestigious titles – excellencies, majesties, honourables, lords and ladies, sirs, madams, and so on. But let it be known that these titles don’t mean much, if they cannot be brought to aid or assist the people in whose name they are had and carried. Certainly, there is nothing excellent, majestic, or honourable in being mindless and condescending of one’s own people. Like Professor Stephen Adei said, leadership is action; the rest is cost and effect.