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Prof. Chukwuma Soludo: Re-education and the making of a governor

By Emeka Chiakwelu

The former executive governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Professor Chukwuma Charles Soludo just won the primary election or was nominated as a concord candidate for governorship election for Anambra State, Nigeria under the auspices of People's Democratic Party (PDP).

Professor Soludo a trained economist is academically brilliant; a first class intellectual with a superior mind. He attended one of the most prestigious Nigerian universities, University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Soludo is a core professional expert in the field of macroeconomics. "He obtained his three degrees and then professorship at the University of Nigeria in Nsukka, Enugu State. He graduated with a First Class Honors degree in 1984, a M.Sc. Economics in 1987, and a Ph.D. in 1989, winning prizes for the best student at all three levels. He has been trained and involved in research, teaching and auditing in such disciplines as the multi-country macro econometric modeling, techniques of computable general equilibrium modeling, survey methodology and panel data econometrics, among others. Soludo studied and taught these courses at many Universities, including Oxford, Cambridge and Warwick. He has co-authored, co-edited and authored about ten books on this subject matter."

His middle name - Charles has been silenced and parked since the African enlightenment of Soludo, which I believed happened after becoming the governor of Central Bank of Nigeria.

Professor Soludo came into the limelight in May 29, 2004 when he was appointed the executive governor of Nigeria's apex bank by the former president of Nigeria, Mr. Olusegun Obasanjo. His governorship tenure at central bank of Nigeria elapsed in May 29, 2009. He was not reappointed by the current President Umaru Yar'Adua.

Credibility
Apart from the financial management of banking system in Nigeria, the prime duty of governor of Central Bank of Nigeria is to guide and direct the monetary affairs of the nation by the utilization of the monetary policy at his disposal. Professor Soludo came to the job with an utmost discipline and vision grounded on financial and economic empirical fundamentals that he utilized to reshape and rebuilt Nigeria's chaotic and declining banking sector.

He initiated and became the chief architect of a comprehensive reform: Prof. Soludo championed and implemented the banking reform which involves massive consolidation of the banking sector. The transformation of the financial houses combated profligacy and ushered in a sound banking system. He also did a great job on taming and controlling inflation that has become a detrimental force on the economic and financial landscape.

Shortly after his reforms, affirmative results commenced to pour in. The Banker Magazine, an arm of the Financial Times Group released its world renowned Top 1000 World Banks ranking for 2006 and on the list were nine Nigerian Banks: First Bank, Union Bank, Zenith International Bank, IBTC Chartered Bank, Intercontinental Bank, Spring Bank, GT Bank, First Inland and Oceanic Bank.

According to the magazine, the increase in the number of Nigerian banks in this global 1,000 listing is "due to the consolidation that has taken place in the banking sector in Nigeria since 1st January 2006 and the creation of larger banking institutions with a minimum capital requirement of N25 billion." Although (Maybe) Soludo inability or failure to keep an eye on some of the big Nigerian Banks have left many of the consolidated banks now charged with corruption and abuse of banking principles. These banks are currently under investigation by the new CBN boss Mr Sanusi Lamido Sanusi. The outcome of this investigation will certainly affect and may even complicate how Professor Soludo moves forward in his quest for the governorship mansion in Awka.

In a statement released, The Bankers magazine said the "object of the survey is to show the banks' soundness in relation to the Basel requirement of a minimum Tier 1 capital on risk-weighted assets of 4 per cent, and a minimum ratio of capital to risk-weighted assets of 8 per cent." Professor Soludo deserved the limelight he received because the reform was his brainchild.

Also during his tenure, the rate of exchange of the Nigerian naira to the United States dollar merged at both the official and parallel (black) markets for the first time in 20 years. The currency exchanged at N129 to $1 and N128.6 to $1 at the black and official markets respectively. Prof. Soludo, then Governor of central bank of Nigeria said, "We are happy to have rebound the trend where the official market used to chase the black market but now it is the black market chasing the official market."

Shortcomings
Soludo nearly perfect record during his tenure maybe scratched by the new revelation and investigation by the new CBN chieftain Mr. Sanusi Lamido Sanusi that exposed the corruption on the banking system especially the unpaid debt owned to many banks that ultimately led to the liquidation of five major banks. Professor Soludo in order to regain his dignity and credibility on this issue has to disclose to Nigerians what happened - what he knew and when he knows it. But the observers cannot accuse him or hold to a perception that he knew something or did anything wrong pending the outcome of the investigation. Whatever the case might be, he can still be counted as one of the best CBN chiefs.

Although his excellent application of monetary policy helped to controlled inflation but it failed to reduce unemployment. The issue of employment is probably has little to do with his office.

Re-education
To be a successful politician, Professor Soludo cannot afford to be too professorial but pragmatic, energetic with common sense approach to problems and challenges of leadership. The challenges faced by a governor of a state are different from that of CBN boss and university professor. But it is not mutually exclusive or unique for that matter. Problem solving requires a level of intellectual tenability and approach that a sound education can make accessible. With high analytical mind the task of governing can be less problematic, if not less intricate.

As a CEO of a state you must know how to conduct and meander around daily challenges of the position including the undeniable godfathers and sycophants. Nigerian politics is complex and Anambra State is more complex with its intractable problems of kidnapping, violence and blackmailing. Soludo must engineer his mind in order to be capable to confront these problems. The personality composite of Onitsha-main-market-trader, street smart and Wall Street managerial ability are condiments needed for governance in Anambra State. A true leader must seek the support and solace from the populace and endeavor to be a true servant of his fellow citizens.

When (if) Soludo makes it to the Awka statehouse and delivers to the needs of his people. He will not only win the hearts and minds of citizens of Anambra state, but Nigeria as well. With that Prof. Chukwuma Soludo ambition will be limitless.


Emeka Chiakwelu is the Principal Policy Strategist at Afripol . Africa Political and Economic Strategic Center (Afripol) is foremost a public policy center whose fundamental objective is to broaden the parameters of public policy debates in Africa. To advocate, promote and encourage free enterprise, democracy, human rights, conflict resolutions, transparency and probity in Africa. www.afripol.org

Development / Ghana / Africa / Modernghana.com