Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Jean-Jacques Bouya MP: The banker of President Denis Sassou(Profile)

Jean-Jacques Bouya MP: - He is a Member of Parliament for the Tchikapika electoral constituency. Tchikapika sub district and village, is situated some 23km from Oyo.  And Oyo, in itself is a district, with its district capital having the same name.  Mr Jean-Jacques Bouya is also minister delegate at the Presidency of the Republic in charge of Major Public Works and in Congo, the major public works ministry is known as Ministere des Grand Travaux. His appointment to this strategic post was the handy work of another nephew of the President, Edgard Nguesso. The idea behind the creation of what is called today in Congo as Grand Travaux was inspired by a similar institution created in Ivory Coast under late Ivorian president, Felix Houphouet Boigny. In Ivory Coast, the equivalent of the Congolese Grand Travaux is known as BNETD or Bureau National d’Etude Techniques et du Development , which was created by a July 1964 presidential decree[i].  The creation of  Grand Travaux, a specialized body, directly attached to the office of the President shows at least that, in spite violently making a second come back to power in 1997, Denis Sassou Nguesso wanted to improve on his  calamitous  past experience as head of state. That is, from 1979 to 1992.

Transformed Congo

Hence the appointment of someone, whom he thought, could help him achieve his goal to leave Congo with infrastructure that could contribute in making her to become a major social and economic player within the sub region and also on the continent. Denis Sassou Nguesso may have veered away from his original plans for his country and the sub region in term of economic and social angles development, for he had promised in his 1997 book to make Congo a paradise of Democracy. But he has instead made Congo a hell of dictatorship with seedy practices of corruption and nepotism. His promises are synonymous to that of his predecessor, Pascal Lissouba. It should be recalled that, Pascal Lissouba promised to make Congo a little Switzerland in Africa, but at the end, he left Congo a little Yugoslavia in Africa.   Today, Denis Sassou Nguesso bans or suspends internet, he does not like free press, arrest his opponents and has in one word, transformed Congo into a dictatorship but, that doesn’t remove the fact that, he has carried out major infrastructural projects that has changed Congo and that will be of benefit to the country long after he has left power or as it is now evident, when he dies in power.  

For all what he has done in term of infrastructural development, had Denis Sassou Nguesso not opted to become second Robert Mugabe, Paul Biya or Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, he would have been feted in Congo and around the continent as a great statesman. But unfortunately, Denis Sassou Nguesso has disappointed even me who used to be his fan. He has become a cheap dictator, whose legacy would be trampled upon and forgotten just like that of his neighbor, late Field Marshal Mobutu.  Those said or written, Jean-Jacques Bouya is a pilot by profession and also a nephew to the President of the Republic. Mr Bouya is known by his detractors and even by some of his admirers as “Pepe Kale” because of his imposing height akin to that of the late DRC musician. And because of the post that he is manning, he has become one of the richest men in Congo. Whether people like it or not, history will note that, Jean-Jacques Bouya is the one through whom, President Denis Sassou Nguesso has earned some degree of respects amongst ordinary Congolese. He is perhaps the best political appointment that Denis Sassou Nguesso has ever made since he came back to power in 1997. For Jean-Jacques Bouya is different from other members of the ruling Nguesso clan. He is hard working and is not the show and tell type of his cousins.

His successes

His only traits of show and tell or display of financial and political power is his motorcade, which has sirens blaring,  whenever he leaves his house located in Nkombo-Matari north of Brazzaville for the office in heart of the Business District of Brazzaville. The blaring sirens are noticed whenever he leaves office en-route for his house. Besides that, he is a very simple and accessible man, who easily answers phone calls.  Jean-Jacques Bouya MP , like any other human being, certainly has his weaknesses, but one thing that can’t be denied about  him is that, he deserved to be credited for laying the groundwork for almost all the major infrastructural  constructions, currently taking placing around the country such as: bridges, roads, hospitals and hydro-electric dams. If today a 533km macadamized road has been constructed, linking Pointe Noire, the port city and commercial hub of the country with Brazzaville, the political and administrative capital, it is thanks to Jean-Jacques Bouya. Since Congo’s independence from France in 1960, both cities have never been linked with a macadamized road. The only link was by rail or by air.

It is a major success. But if the road construction project was handled by any other member of the ruling Nguesso family or the many corrupt friends of the president of the Republic, that project won’t have ever seen the light of day. Elsewhere, it is normal for such projects to be initiated and completed, but in Congo under Denis Sassou Nguesso, it is almost impossible to see projects starts and gets finish. Hence, the Pointe Noire –Brazzaville road is a feat to be credited to Jean-Jacques Bouya and also to President Denis Sassou, for having for once, not listened to rumors and blackmail directed toward his savior of a nephew. For one weak point with President Denis Sassou Nguesso is that, he gives or listens to rumors and slanders. But Jean Jacques Bouya has proven that, projects, no matter how great and large they might be, when they start, they must be completed. 

 Lack of accountability

Jean-Jacques Bouya has done well, however some might point to the fact that, in the entire massive infrastructural construction spree in the country, there is no accountability in what he does, for he reports directly to his uncle. Besides the questions on accountability, some Congolese and specialists in the areas also questions the viability of some of the infrastructural projects, which he carries out and which is normal. As for Jean-Jacques Bouya, he is of the opinion that, all projects launched are viable because Congo had nothing to show in term of infrastructure.  Having raised all those points one can’t deny that, Congo under the second violent coming of Denis Sassou Nguesso has changed.  It has modern airports, stadia, hospitals and for the first time in its history, the far north that is forested is connected to the coast. And the architect of this change is Jean Jacques Bouya. Hence he is called the redeemer of Denis Sassou Nguesso. It must be said that, before, Denis Sassou Nguesso had never successfully achieved such major construction spree, until he appointed his nephew to coordinate the infrastructural revival of a country that is rich in oil and having a tiny population, who are paradoxically living in abject poverty. The wealth of the country is in the hands of a happy few members of the ruling Nguesso family with their well connected friends.  This last point has not changed, for Congo remains an unequal society where corruption is rift.

As for Jean-Jacques Bouya, whatever the short comings or criticisms leveled against him, honesty requires that, praise should be given to him for having proven that, it is possible to do things correctly in a country with endemic corruption. And the paradox is that, the decried corruption and laissez faire attitude are almost always carried out by the very parents and family members of the President of the Republic. For Denis Sassou Nguesso has instituted a culture of impunity within his large family and also amongst his friends and people gravitating around his children. While Jean-Jacques Bouya might be accused of being corrupt, he is, as already mentioned, very different from most Congolese, especially some members of the ruling Nguesso family, who have before him had the same position, but were unable to achieve what he has done in Congo in a span of a decade. The founded reproaches being made against him nonetheless are that, most of the projects embarked upon are not well executed and also that, the feasibility studies are  either opaque with little or  no accountability given to the public on the real cost of projects. Then there are the social and environmental aspects of most of the major infrastructural projects that seems to have been largely neglected.

The Imbolou hydro-electric dam fiasco

Some experts’ claims that, the Imbolou hydro electric dam is an example of a project carried out with proper studies of it viability or the social and environmental impact. Hence those experts claim it has failed in generating sufficient energy to stop Congo’s reliance on the Inga dam in the DRC and the Imbolou has created environmental degradation around Imbolou. He may have failed with other projects, but in my opinion, his greatest fiasco is the Imbolou hydro electric dam, located north of the capital. It was expected that, upon its completion, it will end the endemic load shading in the capital. It has been a monumental flop. Power supply in Brazzaville is still erratic. Furthermore, some specialists blame him for neglecting the much more viable Sounda dam, which it is claim has far more greater generating capacity and would have partially or wholly solve the problem of erratic power supply in the country. These same specialists are of the opinion that, the Imbolou hydro electric dam was constructed because of geostrategic reason, since it is located in the north of the capital. While Sounda dam was abandoned because it is located in the south of Congo.


Jean-Jacques Bouya is also accused of being too close to China and some have even gone the extra mile of accusing him of having mortgaged the country to the Chinese. There are even some who claim that, he has some secret financial dealings with Chinese in particular the China Exim Bank. While others adds that, he is the financial straw man of his uncle of a President, hence their mutual love for China. May I stress here on that, it was difficult to corroborate any of those floated claims because nobody was willing to speak. But one thing is certain, he is an unapologetic Sinophile and without the President of the Republic putting some breaks, he would have awarded all infrastructural projects in Congo to the Chinese. The other nationals that he seems to like when it comes to the award of contracts are the Brazilians.  The reason according to Jean-Jacques Bouya, is simple, Brazilians and their company in Congo, Andrade Gutierrez, knows how to work or knows best how to construct roads in Congo because, Congo seems to have the same topography with Brazil. While the soft spoken Bouya, variously known as the redeemer of Denis Sassou Nguesso or the builder of modern Congo, is busy building the infrastructure of the country, he is also laying the foundation for his political ambitions. He has like is Cousin Jean Dominique Okemba, been able to influence appointments of people close to him at strategic posts in the country. It is reported that, it is thanks to his influence that, Mrs. Catherine Embondzo Lipiti was appointed minister for the integration in development and promotion of Women. Prior to her appointment as minister, Mrs. Catherine Embondzo Lipiti was secretary general at the Ministry of Major Public Works or Grand Travaux. She has been a success.

Appointment of Serge Bouya

However where he has failed woefully, as he had done with his Imbolou hydro electric dam project,  is having made his younger brother, Serge Bouya to be appointed deputy managing Director of the Pointe Noire Autonomous Ports. Pointe Noire is located on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean and it is the largest city and economic capital of Congo. And its deep sea port is reported by Bollore Africa Logistics, the concessioners or managers of the port to be one of the best in West Africa. For large vessels with the capacity of carrying 7 thousand containers can berth there without any difficulties. It was a scandal of monumental proportion to have Serge Bouya, a pathological failure to be appointed as deputy director of such as vital port. For Serge Bouya, a former MP for Ouenze is an embodiment of mediocrity and his appointment was the manifestation of crass nepotism of the Sassou Nguesso regime. It demonstrated in broad daylight that, in Congo under Denis Sassou Nguesso incompetent people are given post that, they don’t deserve, simply because they are connected to the ruling Nguesso family. The younger brother of Jean-Jacques Bouya by name Serge Bouya can hardly express himself in French after spending years at the Marien Ngouabi University. His appointment is exactly what and why Congolese having hated the ruling Nguesso family.

Potential successor

Jean-Jacques Bouya is today because of his wealth and also the connections that his wealth has bought and brought for him become a potential successor to his uncle. For all the Nguessos, because of wealth and political powers from their father and uncle wants or are all aspiring to govern Congo. But the racing track to succeed President Denis Sassou Nguesso is already crowded by his own family members, especially the son of his uncle, Denis Christel Sassou Nguesso and many other nephews of his uncle. Mr Bouya’s greatest rival for the succession of their uncle is Jean Dominique Okemba. Sadly, although the entire family is ganging up against Jean Dominique Okemba, the President may have already chosen him (Jean Dominique Okemba) to succeed him. In addition, Jean Dominique Okemba has the civilian and military network at his service and he is capable of destabilizing Jean-Jacques Bouya at all times. But between Jean–Jacques Bouya and Jean Dominique Okemba, the one who can or who has something positive to show to Congolese, is the first. The second, rightly or wrongly, is more often than not, associated with everything that is negative with the rule of Denis Sassou Nguesso. Jean Jacques Bouya may have the credit of having contributed in changing Congo in term of infrastructure and he also have lot of money, but, he doesn’t have the political and security apparatus to backup his ambition, if he has one. The banker of President Denis Sassou Nguesso as a person has no future politically in Congo after Denis Sassou Nguesso, but with his amassed wealth, he could become a formidable kingmaker of a sort, should he decides to.

[i] http://www.bnetd.ci/bnetd/historique

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