Hearty Congratulations, Prof Charles Chukwuma Soludo!!!

By Uche Amunike

The Anambra election has come and gone and I can proudly say that it was the most interesting poll I ever witnessed in the state. It kicked off with 18 candidates. At the end of the day, four contenders caught the interest of the Anambra people.

They are Prof, Charles Chukwuma Soludo of  APGA, Valentine Ozigbo of the PDP and Andy Uba of the APC. Well, they all fought a good fight and I must commend them for their comportment through it all. You know, the amazing thing is that people thought Anambra would be set ablaze on November 6. And who is to blame anyone when violence, IPOB threats, cult killings and bloodshed became the order of the day.

Insecurity ravaged the peaceful Anambra and our security operatives suddenly became an endangered species.  Recall that the late Dr Chike Akunyili was shot dead by unknown people during that phase. So many other deaths in the state made some electorates scared of coming out to vote.

I commend the Anambra state Governor, Chief Willie Obiano for his initiative in providing maximum security in the state which paid off as the November 6 election turned out to be one of the safest ever in the history of Anambra. I commend security agents who proved to be professional through it all by working as a team.

I also commend INEC for not compromising the results of the election. It was indeed a very free, fair and credible election. I am particularly glad that no Youth Corps member was shot during this election. I’m also thankful that the candidates for majorly making their campaigns issue-based, unlike when we used to have the usual mudslinging during campaigns. I thank them for their maturity through it all.

The election is over now and it is time to move on. I was glad when the PDP candidate, Val Ozigbo congratulated Prof. Soludo after the final result was announced. The cool and collected Ozigbo, who appeared as the new kid on the block gradually warmed his way into the hearts of Anambra people for his general aura, humility and intelligence also earned my love and admiration, while it lasted.

I know his time will come. It took Prof Soludo 11 years to achieve his dream. So, at God’s time, Ozigbo will definitely realize his dreams. God bless the people of Anambra who stood undaunted in their fight to see that democratic tenets were upheld throughout the exercise.

Finally, I thank our new Governor-Elect,  Prof Soludo for being magnanimous in victory and extending a hand of friendship to phis fellow candidates all for the good of Anambra state. I have here, his acceptance speech which is addressed to all of us! Please read…

With utmost humility and gratitude to God, I accept the results of the 2021 Anambra Governorship election as declared by INEC. This reflects the supreme will of the almighty God, and an overwhelming sacred mandate of the people. For 12 years since the massive clamour by the people of Anambra for us to serve them, we persevered to this Divine moment. This is a divine journey whose time has come. To God be all the glory and adoration!

We have a very long list of persons whom God used to make this moment a reality. In particular, we thank all members of APGA especially our national leader, HE (Sir) Willie Maduaburochukwu Obiano, our national Chairman, Ozonkpu Victor Ike Oye, members of the BOT, NEC, state Exco, etc for availing me the opportunity to fly the APGA flag and the cohesive party support.

Many thanks to our able Campaign Committee, our first rate legal team, and all other stakeholders who worked tirelessly and informally to see us through. We are grateful to all the stakeholders of the Anambra project— the clergy and the church, traditional rulers, ASATU, labour, market, trade and professional unions, youth and women organizations, non-indigene associations, businessmen and captains of industry, the Diaspora community, persons with disability, etc.

We thank all our donors, especially the hundreds of thousands of members of the 41 self-funding support groups who, for two years, put in their sweat and personal funds to propel this project. Never mind that all of you could not vote. The limited number that voted is still representative of the wishes of the people.

We are humbled by the massive support of stakeholders and Nigerians across the entire country. Your donations and goodwill are treasured. In particular, I thank my wife, Queen Frances Nonye Soludo, and children: Ozonna, Ifeatu, Chinua, Ekene, Oduko and Zikora for their love and sacrifices. Despite your deep reservations, you still allowed and supported me to step out in the service of our people. As I promised, I will work hard every day never to disappoint you.

At this moment, we must remember and will continue to remember all those who died in the course of this movement, especially the three policemen who were killed by unknown gunmen during our town hall meeting with youths in my ward. May God continue to grant their souls eternal rest.

The run up to this election and the election itself tested the resilience and integrity of our federal institutions.  Many times there were tensions especially as one party boasted that it must “take” or “conquer” Anambra by all means. Our institutions proved again and again that this country can achieve eminent greatness when our institutions rise up to the occasion.

The judiciary, led by the President of the Court of Appeal and the Chief Justice of Nigeria, stood for the integrity of the judiciary. We salute the eminent justices of the Anambra High court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court for standing up for justice. Your names will be written in gold.

We thank President Buhari, the presidency, and our security agencies for ensuring a level playing field. We must particularly commend the Chairman, Management and staff of INEC for systematically striving to bequeath a legacy of free, fair and transparent electoral system to Nigeria.

The use of Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) represents a massive improvement over the Card Reader and manual accreditation system. With a continuous refinement of the technology, upscaling of the skills of its operators, collaboration with telecommunication companies, improvement in logistical deployment and security, and stringent punishment for anyone involved in electoral malpractice, Nigeria will be on course to a robust and exemplary electoral system. Aside from the initial glitches in the operations of the BVAS machines in some places including at my polling unit, the election has been adjudged as the most peaceful, free, fair and credible. There is joy in the land. Kudos to INEC!

To my fellow candidates in the election, I wish to congratulate you for the gallant contest. Our people have spoken overwhelmingly, and surely that loud voice is the voice of God. The ultimate winner is Anambra people: we are all winners. I hereby extend my hand of fellowship to all of you. I need all of you to succeed. Politics aside, we are all brothers. Let’s come together for the “Project Anambra”.

There is enough room for everyone to contribute in the service of our homeland. On February 7th, 2010, INEC declared as winner of the Anambra governorship election a candidate who had described the election as a sham on Channels TV and refused to vote in protest.

Two hours after the declaration, I addressed a press conference and congratulated him, and walked away without a legal challenge. I was probably the first candidate of a major political party to do that in Nigeria. In Anambra, we fight hard during elections but meet the next weekend at traditional weddings and funerals and throw banters and share drinks.

That’s the Anambra way! Let’s keep the “spirit of Anambra” alive and strong, and with it, collectively take our homeland to the moon. So far and even before the official declaration, I have received congratulatory messages from thousands of Ndi Anambra and Nigerians from around the world including some of my fellow candidates. I deeply treasure the massive goodwill.

To the estimated 17 million Ndi Anambra within and outside our homeland (state), this is your moment, seize it! This victory is your victory. My role will be that of your chief servant, and I will work every minute of the day with you to make you profoundly proud. I will need the guidance, advice and contribution of everyone to succeed. Our state is one of infinite possibilities and humungous opportunities.

Working in collaboration with other states, the federal government, and the international community, we have all that it takes to make our state whatever we collectively will that it can be. As we transit to a post-oil world and into the 4th Industrial Revolution, let us work together to build upon the foundations of our founding fathers and predecessors to create that livable and prosperous homeland that is the industrial, technology and leisure hub of West Africa. This is our manifest destiny, and collectively we shall get there!

Finally, let us work together to support our ably working Governor, Akpokuedike Aguleri, to finish very strong.  Together, we can, and by the grace of God, we will!

Long live APGA!

Long live Anambra State!

Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria!