All eyes on Charles Chukwuma Soludo – TrendyNewsReporters
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All eyes on Charles Chukwuma Soludo

After November 6, 2021, the Anambra State governorship election which Charles Chukwuma Soludo, a professor of economics and candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, won convincingly, he did not hide the fact that he would be a man on a mission to make a difference when he assumes office as governor.

Well, now that he has been sworn in as the sixth governor of Anambra State at a low-key ceremony on Thursday, March 17, effectively taking over from Willie Obiano who spent two terms of eight years, Soludo said there was no time to waste. In his inaugural address in Awka, the state capital, he said he was ready to hit the ground running.

My understanding of his body language is that Soludo is not buffing – he means business. I’m excited that a man like Soludo is taking on the mantle of leadership with the promise to promote transparency and accountability in governance and win with the Anambra people.

When you look at what is happening around us today, governance is not driven by any sense of purpose. Politicians generally behave as if they are doing the electorate a favor after voting them into office.

The two dominant parties, the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party, have let Nigerians down. Whereas the PDP spent 16 years as the party in power, the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.)’s regime is in its seventh year – a total of 23 years between both parties.

Why has it been so difficult for our political elite to emplace a transformational agenda and leader at the helm of affairs since 1999? If that were the case, the hardship Nigerians are facing today would have been reduced to the barest minimum.

When we worry about constant blackouts due to the collapse of the national grid, petrol scarcity, expensive cooking gas, aviation fuel, and diesel; the unending strike by university teachers, insecurity, the sickening ‘yahoo yahoo’ malaise, kidnapping, ritual murders, etc, it leads to depression, frustration, despair, social tension, and untimely deaths. Nigerians are helpless and no one is sure what the next bad news will be.

However, we must never allow any mob to speak for us in spite of our present circumstances because a mob has no mind of its own. It will lead to the breakdown of law and order which can spin out of control.

Meanwhile, the APC cannot organise its national convention after several postponements. Is this what leadership is all about? President Buhari, worried that his party was drifting due to a self-inflicted crisis of confidence, was forced to give all the APC governors a marching order to ensure the party’s convention holds on March 26 as planned.

The PDP which appears to be a step ahead of the APC in terms of its housekeeping efforts is also having its own anxious moments. The zone where the 2023 presidential candidate will come from is the major issue and it is giving the leadership of the party sleepless nights.

But that was not the only headache in the party during the last few days. The face-off between Wike of Rivers State and Obaseki of Edo State made front-page headlines about the same time organs of the party began their meetings in Abuja.

A simple and harmless comment by the deputy governor of Edo State, Philip Shaibu, was taken out of context by Wike who provoked the reaction from Obaseki. I want to believe the two governors have settled their differences in the interest of the party and allowed peace to reign.

The national conversation is always about the selfish interests of these politicians and not the rest of us. But why did we vote for them in the first place? You see, if our votes truly count, those we elect every election cycle to serve us will behave differently and act in the public interest.

My view is that if Nigerians come out to vote massively and take the additional step of defending the integrity of their ballot, the story will change leading to the emergence of transformational leaders such as Soludo – that is if the courts do not favor the highest bidders.

Shortly after his election, Soludo set up a transition committee comprising distinguished Nigerians – including those who are not from Anambra State — in business and the professions chaired by Oby Ezekwesili, an economic policy expert and former minister of education.

The selection of members of the committee showed the broadmindedness of Soludo. Every member of the committee was eager to serve without collecting one kobo. He describes the mandate given to him by the Anambra people as the people’s mandate which is very dear to him.

Ezekwesili and her colleagues submitted their report to Soludo which was essentially a road map for good governance, and it was aptly titled, “Action Plan for Good Governance”. The Anambra State governor comes prepared for his new role but it does not mean he will solve all the problems overnight.

Soludo seeks to be different as governor and chief executive of Anambra State. The inauguration ceremony was low-keyed and it did not cost the taxpayers one kobo. “APGA shortlisted me and you voted me as your governor. I’m your chief servant and I will work every day to make you proud,” he declared during his inaugural address.

He gave three reasons why the inauguration was not a celebration in the sense that we understand big events. One, there was no way the inauguration could accommodate everyone who worked for his victory; two, Anambra could not afford the cost of a big-ticket celebration, and three, even if the state could afford to fund the budget, he was not ready to use taxpayers’ revenue to host a big party in the name of the inauguration, what he called a “fleeting fanfare”.

Soludo also said that within one week, he would send the list of his commissioners to the House of Assembly for ratification. He plans to build a prosperous state anchored on his vision of “One Anambra, One people, One Agenda” which he expects volunteers from all walks of life to support. But law and order, according to the governor, was critical as an enabling environment for success in spite of other threats.

Instead of businesses relocating outside Anambra State due to the security situation, Soludo wants non-state actors to lay down their arms and work with his government for a progressive and peaceful Anambra. He added that the conspiracy of silence of the political elite and community leaders must end.

As transformational leaders and table shakers, the Anambra people should prepare for massive disruptions to the existing order – they must understand that there is a new Sheriff in town. Soludo explained that he will not be doing this job alone as he acknowledged his deputy, Dr. Onyekachi Ibezim, who will support him to build a competitive socio-economic order that will come with short-term pains but long-term benefits.

Soludo promised to introduce difficult and unpopular reforms. For example, all revenue touts and motor park mafia have been banned and will no longer engage in illegal collection of taxes that end up in private pockets.

I have no doubt in my mind that Soludo will lead by personal example. His motivation to succeed includes adopting a “Bottom-up Approach” as he moves the Anambra economy away from oil to clean and renewable energy. He kept his promise to drive a vehicle from Innoson Motors as his official car. The same thing will apply to all government officials. There’s no better demonstration of BBB (build back better) than this decision to embark on backward integration.

Interestingly, some of Nigeria’s richest men are industrialists from Anambra State – especially from Nnewi, the industrial city – and they are billionaires in their own right. They include Cletus Ibeto who is from Nnewi and Chairman of the Ibeto Group; Comas Maduka, Chairman of Coscharis Group; Chief Innocent Chukwuma, founder/CEO of Innoson Motors; Chief Gabriel Chukwuma who has interest in sports marketing, real estate and hospitality. He is the brother of Innoson Motors’ boss.

Others are Alexander Okafor, founder/chairman of Chikason Industries, a sprawling conglomerate with operations in oil and gas, mining, and manufacturing; Augustine Ilodibe, a transporter who established the popular Ekene Dili Chukwu Transport; Ifeanyi Ubah who has an investment in oil and gas as well as motor spare parts; Louis Onwugbenu who started the business by selling motor spare parts and later diversified into manufacturing and agriculture, and Obiajulu Uzodike, a foremost cable manufacturer.

I expect these billionaires to join hands with Soludo and implement the “Soludo Solution” – his contract with Ndi Anambra for peace, progress, growth and development of the state. The IPOB uprising, for example, cannot be Soludo’s headache alone. It requires a collaboration of all the key stakeholders in Anambra State to find a lasting solution to the protracted matter.

Anambra State, nicknamed “The Light of the Nation”, has 21 local government areas. Onitsha, the famous trading post for commerce, is the state’s biggest and most populous urban area. The information available at Wikipedia indicates Anambra is rich in natural gas, crude oil, bauxite, and ceramic. It has almost 100% arable land and there are agro-based activities such as fisheries and farming as well as land cultivated for pasturing and animal husbandry.

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