By Joe Anatune

It may be two years away from the 2021 governorship election fireworks in Anambra State, but early signs indicate that the major players have started stirring. Why not? Anambra has proved to be a state that does not respect party platforms when it comes to deciding whom they want to serve or lead them. We saw this much during the last general elections. Against this background, the gladiators are beginning to test the waters; even if subtly, at least at the moment.

It sure promises to be one hell of a fight as to who succeeds Gov Willie Obiano at Agu Awka. For now, we know of a few likely contestants, who, although they are yet to make any public pronouncements, are all but confirmed players in the coming game.

One of them is the accomplished former Central Bank Governor, Prof Chukwuma Soludo, who celebrates his this Sunday. I invite you to read this piece by one of his apostles.

Yes, and this is my birthday wish and prayer for Prof. Chukwuma Soludo as he adds another year today, Sunday, 28th July, 2019. I belong to several Anambra and Ndigbo professional associations and wish to share some views and sentiments I gather from some of these groups. My apologies to Soludo if he feels embarrassed by this article. At the ripe age of 59 and with so much skills, experience, wisdom and excellent health, millions of his supporters and admirers around the world pray for many more decades of service to humanity. We pray particularly that he listens to our calls and pleadings that he must offer himself to serve Ndi Anambra. He has served Nigeria, Africa, and the world and they may still want him but Anambra and Ndigbo need him now. After living in Ethiopia, UK, and USA and traveling to 45 other countries as an itinerant scholar and consultant to 20 international organizations and serving Nigeria meritoriously, Ndi Anambra believe it is time to have their own back.

The Financial Times of London, Euromoney, etc., declared him the best Governor of Central Bank in Africa and the world in 2005, 2006 and 2007 and even recently the New Africa Magazine profiled him as one of the 100 most influential Africans. Nigeria has recognized him with the third highest National Honour (CFR). Some believe that he should run for presidency in 2023 since, according to them, the position should be zoned to the South East. But an overwhelming majority of Ndi Anambra insist that he is the man for the moment in 2021.
Nigeria is at a critical cross roads, and Anambra and Ndigbo need to put their best feet forward. This is no time to gamble or for the usual politicians. We need a man tried and tested, with track records for big ideas and excellent execution in order to create prosperity and put Anambra on the world map. After Ngige, Obi, and Obiano, more than 90% of Ndi Anambra believe that the next big thing will be ”The Soludo Solution”. Everybody – stakeholders, professionals, businessmen, clergy, grassroots, youths, women – agree that he is the best person for the challenging times to take Anambra to even far greater heights, after Obiano.

Anambra should do something new and different and teach the rest of the country how to do politics of development. All the political parties should agree to adopt Soludo as the consensus candidate for 2021. He is a rare asset for the entire Anambra and no one party should appropriate him alone. They should agree on what party platform he should contest. Without any fear of contradiction, I believe that Soludo will easily win 1 million votes or more than 75% of the votes in the next election if he contests.

Chukwuma Soludo has a unique characteristic as a world class technocrat but with deep political skills and experience. He has been active in Nigerian politics right from his student days during the NPN vs NPP days and has held party positions. Unlike most in the terrain, he ticks all the boxes very well as what my Yoruba friend, Seyi Olabode, describes as a TECHNOPOL (a renowned technocrat with political skills). He blends well as an excellent technocrat and party builder who understands the synergy between policies and politics in a democracy. He campaigned in almost all the 326 wards in Anambra during the 2010 governorship election within one month. His name is household with huge grassroots followership. All over the state, people still have his posters in their homes and beer parlours: “I Cee Prosperity”; “I Cee Hope”; “African Dubai Taiwan”; “Soludo Solution”, etc.

All politics, they say, is local. Soludo describes himself as a village boy. He recently resolved a 20 year old crisis in his community, Isuofia, thereby restoring peace and unity to the town. No wonder his town/ward, Isuofia, has been consistently returning the highest number of votes for APGA in the South Senatorial Zone since Soludo joined the party. He is indeed a home boy, with massive philanthropic programmes that benefit thousands of students, youths and women.

His home base, the 45 towns that make up the three local governments (Aguata, Orumba North and Orumba South) collectively conferred on him in 2004 the chieftaincy title of Odenigbo Aguata na Orumba, and such collective title has only been given to THE late Dr. Alex Ekwueme and Gov. Obiano.

The Soludo Brand is that of a big thinker and an excellent doer; one who can see the big picture and who has the courage to bring his dreams to fruition. Soludo showed early in life this exceptional spirit of thinking and doing. His secondary school mates are not surprised by what he has become as they remember with nostalgia that he has remained true to his guiding philosophy as their Senior Prefect which was ”Speed and Accuracy.”

True, Chukwuma Soludo has always been in a hurry to make the world around him better than he met it in his typical ”speed and accuracy” manner. He blew into national landscape and imagination when he did the unimaginable as Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). He undertook a banking reform that saw a motley crowd of 97 banks run by family czars consolidate into 24 strong banks which today have branches across key cities in Africa and around the world. His foresight insulated Nigeria from the adverse effects of the global financial meltdown, even as the banks are today better positioned to contribute to national development. He built the foreign reserves to an all-time high of $65 billion, and the dollar at some time during his regime was N112 to one dollar. The Nigerian economy was growing at an average of 7% during his tenure, compared to recession or 2% now. Millions of jobs were created under him and poverty declined in Nigeria.

During his sterling and meritorious services to Nigeria, an elated Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, who is known for his bluntness and for not playing to the gallery, had these words in praise of the Odenigbo of Aguata and Orumba: ‘Charles Soludo is a true Nigerian. He is the sort of Nigerian that we all know we can rely on. Among his numerous virtues is COURAGE. I have found in him a man who can take tough and realistic decisions, stand his ground, and educate others on the salience of his decision and work very hard to ensure that the decision is efficiently and effectively implemented. His leadership qualities are admirable and his willingness to listen and learn is simply infectious. Professor Soludo has within a short time emerged as one of the leading lights of our nation. Not because he has a godfather but by sheer hard work, loyalty, dedication to duty, commitment to the nation, creativity and undiluted association with the reform agenda…’

When he completed his tenure as CBN Governor, President Yar’Adua also gave him a written testimonial on behalf of the government and people of Nigeria to commend his uncommon transformation of Nigeria’s financial system and economy. No wonder Anambra people are asking him to come and repeat the magic at home.

The minds and imagination of a greater number of Anambra people and indeed Ndi-Igbo have been stretched by Soludo’s grand vision for Anambra State. He has always proclaimed in his public lectures and other platforms that ”The AFRICAN DUBAI-TAIWAN (ADT) is my dream for my people.” ADT has caught on as the SOLUDO SOLUTION for improved life and in a nutshell, seeks to jumpstart the emergence of a modern city in Anambra that will attract world talents and capital to Anambra State. The deliverables are wealth creation, job creation, poverty reduction, group harmony and value reorientation.

To Chima Okeke, an Onitsha based businessman who has travelled around the world in the course of business, Soludo’ s ADT is the way to go as it will make Anambra be like the places he imports his goods from. He insists that Soludo should be the consensus candidate for 2021 if he decides to run. Even if he is reluctant, we must draft him to contest. Chima is not alone.

Many see Soludo as the next big thing; the game changer to happen in Anambra to consolidate and build on the good works of Obiano and his predecessors and take Anambra, nay Igboland, to his promised land—THE AFRICAN DUBAI –TAIWAN.

Happy birthday Odenigbo Aguata na Orumba. Anambra is earnestly waiting.

Joe Anatune
B3 Communications, Lagos
Writes from Awa, Orumba South LGA.