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Anambra 2010 – Is Professor Chukwuma Soludo the Solution?

By Odenigbo Chidi Anyaeche

By Anambra 2010, this author is referring to the gubernatorial election scheduled for February 06, 2010 in Anambra state, Nigeria. And Professor Chukwuma Soludo who until May this year was the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is one of the leading candidates - at least on paper – to occupy the post. Finally by the solution, I am referring to the challenges that will face who eventually occupy the post. For by all measurements, the present government in Anambra state has failed the state and themselves, period: never has one man lost such goodwill due to sheer incompetency occasioned by cerebral limitations. This I have posited in an earlier article as published in: http://nigeriaworld.com/articles/2006/nov/042.html

Having tracked the Professor Soludo's career pathway mostly limited to academia and financial institutions especially at CBN, my initial position was that Professor Soludo may not be solution for the numerous challenges that await who ever gets in power next year. These challenges that I have enumerated in several publications include: a filthy environment that in ungodly for 'cleanliness is next to godliness' – please visit the commercial towns of Onitsha and Nnewi as well as the state capital, Awka. These challenges include decayed and decaying educational infrastructures – please visit Boy's High Schools at Nnobi, Oraifite, Oraukwu, Obosi, Ihiala and their corresponding schools for girls to name a few. That is why the present incumbent is educating his children in London, UK despite his avowed campaign promise. In this 21st Century, the state run university has no website. These challenges further include an atmosphere not conducive for business despite the state been a leading commercial state and the present incumbent parading himself as a trader-businessman – please ask any businessperson operating in the state. Pensioners are still been owed their stipends especially in this credit crunch era – please ask any pensioner you know. Chaos is the order of the day in the state – please visit Onitsha. If Governor Fashola can tame Lagos, why can't Onitsha that is less demanding than Lagos be? The list goes on and on.

Running a state is a different ball game from running CBN. The challenges of both posts are different. With the former you will be dealing with Micro issues whilst with the later, one deals with Macro issues. Being a governor involves dealing with real life situations and real people. It involves dealing with local government chairmen and councillors, dealing with market women. It involves conducting elections into market and motor park unions – Anambra state has over One Hundred Markets and Motor Parks each with its own 'elected' executives. Managing Okada riders and bus drivers are all part of the package of being a governor. Collecting taxes from them are all part of the deal. In a nutshell, being a state governor isn't sexy compared to being the CBN helmsman where the job includes dealing with issues that do not have direct and immediate impact on the citizenry like exchange rate fluctuations, interest rates setting, bank consolidation and managing of excess crude oil account to name a few. At CBN, the professor goes about his business in a private jet with meetings held in sexy cities like London, Zurich, Milan, New York, Bern, Rome, Berlin, Dubai, etc. This is totally different from meeting representatives of Okada riders at Isu-Ofia, Ukpor, Ideani or Enugu-Agidi. At CBN, the professor's clientele are like-minded and highly cerebral individuals from around the globe who comes to a meeting fully prepared and equipped, at Awka his clientele will be mostly civil servants working without a job description and who comes into a meeting without an agenda and ill-equipped. No pen and paper let alone power-point slides and other visual aids.

At CBN, the likes of Breton Woods, IMF, World Bank, African Development Bank and African Finance Corporation are organisations the professor was au fare with. At Awka, he will be dealing with National Union of Road Transport Workers, Afor Nnobi Traders Union, Omambala Elders Association, National Union of Native Doctors, Agulu branch. Nigerian Amalgamated Shrines Association, Okija branch, Kidnappers Initiative, Oba Ofemmili, etc. Is he really up to it?

Then there is the issue of his chosen party, PDP and its antecedent in Nigeria, Igboland and Anambra state in particular. The party has totally failed Nigerians, the Igbo's and Anambrarians in particular. The party cannot boast of any meaningful project fully executed anywhere in Igboland from 1999 to date. Since 2007, the party leader, President Umaru Yar'Adua has not deemed it fit to pay an official visit to Anambra state despite INEC claiming that the people of the state voted for him. This INEC position was re-affirmed by the Supreme Court of Nigeria. President Yar'Adua has visited and slept in Saudi Arabia on countless occasions but has never slept in his own state, Anambra. So is the choice of PDP a good party for the learned professor? Does the learned professor think that Anambrarians will vote for PDP? Or is he relying on his fellow professor's (Maurice Iwu) magical prowess?

These (and others) are issues that made this writer doubt Professor Soludo's ability to govern Anambra state satisfactorily should he see himself in power, one way or the other come 2010 and was about to write an article with the title: 'Anambra 2010 – Professor Chukwuma Soludo Is Not The Solution' until I read his article published Online by THISDAY Newspaper of September 21, 2009 titled – 'Anambra and the road to Dubai' (http://odili.net/news/source/2009/sep/21/202.html). Readers are invited to peruse this article. I make haste to state categorically that no other contestant for the Anambra gubernatorial post in 2010 has published or articulated such a masterpiece of a document anywhere. Hence my singling out the professor as a candidate to observe.

In the said article, the professor shared his dream, his vision and passionately too about the way forward for Anambra state. In this article the professor captured all that is wrong with Anambra state and above all proffered solutions on the way forward. Issues like filthy environment, ill-equipped civil service, non-competitive business environment, lack of strategic planning at the governmental level due to lack of reliable data with its attendant consequences were addressed. Hear the professor:

“It is time to move beyond partisan politics into developmental politics. We must mobilize the best minds from Anambra to draw up a 20-Year Development Plan (2010- 2030). Membership should be drawn from Anambra professionals, representatives of major political parties, churches, NGOs, organized private sector, civil society organizations, labour unions, the academia, traditional rulers, etc. It should be Anambra's Plan, and we hope every successive government will sustain the key planks of the plan. The 'Anambra 2030' should be the long-term plan. To be Anambra's Plan, its preparation must be participatory and involve extensive consultations and public debate.”

From the above paragraph, it is obvious that the professor not only understands the problem of the state but also knows how and where to find the solution. A 20-year plan that is participatory. All hands on deck. Not a Catholic Vs Anglican democracy that is the order of the day now. Not a 255 Million-naira project. But a 20-year plan designed by stakeholders, technocrats, professionals, labour unions, etc to move the state forward. But most importantly, not a plan designed by the professor for the professor as opposed to the present incumbents failed blue-print, a one-man idea, which can best be described as the product of an analytical thought process in a digital age – please visit: http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/view/71403 for more details of this failed blue-print. As can be deduced from the professor's article, the design of the Anambra plan must (emphasis on the word must) be participatory and inclusive.

On the issue of the professor contesting under the abysmal political party, PDP, which ideally should be rejected by Nigerians in general and good people of Anambra state in particular, he has little or no option than to join PDP for it is the only political party of substance in Anambra state, it is the only political party with structure in the state. The present incumbent has very selfishly killed the party of our dreams: APGA. This again is another 255 Million Naira question for him to answer: the demise of APGA. However, His Excellency, Governor Sullivan Chime of Enugu State has shown that it is the man that makes the party and not the other way round. Enugu State is working under Governor Chime's PDP so Anambra State should work under the professor should he sincerely wish to make it work.

In an address by Professor Soludo at the Special Meeting of the Bankers' Committee in Abuja on 6th July 2004, titled - “Consolidating the Nigerian banking industry to meet the development challenges of the 21st century.” He wrote:

“………let me reiterate that the sole objective of these changes is to move the Nigerian economy forward, and to proactively position the banking system to become sound and reliable catalysts of development. Realizing this objective is a daunting task and would require all hands to be on deck.”

The above statement can equally be ascribed to the Anambra State challenge to read –

“………let me reiterate that the sole objective of these changes is to move Anambra state forward, and to proactively position the state to become sound and reliable catalysts of development. Realizing these objectives is a daunting task and would require all hands to be on deck.”

Moving the state forward is a task that must be done for posterity sake. The task is far beyond the intellectually challenged rhetoric of Okwute Ndigbo, Okwute Ndigbo. It is a serious matter that requires both divine intervention and intellectual solution. Perhaps Professor Chukwuma Charles Soludo is the solution. This is for the voters to decide.

Odenigbo Chidi Anyaeche
London
UK.