While the victory of Prof Charles Soludo at the poll is being celebrated in Anambra State in particular, and the South East in general, it is important to realize that a lot is at stake and that Soludo needs all the support and prayers to succeed in “this divine journey whose time has come”.
By Goddy Ikeh
THE declaration of Prof Charles Soludo, the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, as the governor-elect by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in the just concluded gubernatorial election in Anambra State has been gladly received by many Anambra people as “O bu nke anyi” “He is our choice”. And for the rest of the South East, Soludo’s emergence at the poll is victory for the zone.
Before the election, issues of insecurity and the concerns expressed on the impact of heavy deployment of security operatives, including soldiers, policemen, civil defence personnel will have on the turnout of voters and the result of the election. In addition, the fact that the people of Anambra State are peaceful and abhor violence played a vital role, while the various interventions and meetings of the Igbo leaders, the clergy, traditional rulers, Peace Commission and Ohanaeze Ndigbo to ensure that peace prevailed for a successful and credible poll in the state.
And having overcome all these challenges and election conducted and the result announced by INEC on Wednesday, November 10, 2021, the highly elated governor of Anambra State, Willie Obiano, addressed the people of the state and described the victory of APGA and Prof Soludo as “one that presents hope and a new beginning for the South-Eastern state”.
According to Gov. Obiano, the governorship election has enabled, once again, the continuation of the APGA government for the next four years with Prof Soludo as the governor-elect and commended the people for taking the decision to be on the side of progress.
“The outcome of this gubernatorial election presents hope and a new beginning for our dear state,” Obiano said.
“For the second time in the last four years, Ndi Anambra boldly chose to stand on the side of positive history. People who thought 21 over 21 was a fluke have seen history repeat itself in a most memorable way.
“Nineteen over 21 is a massive repeat of history, the difference is just two. Against intimidating odds, we stood tall and reclaimed the dignity of our people,” he said, adding that he secured 112,229 votes, twice more than his closest rival – Valentine Ozigbo of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to be returned as winner of the election. Governor Obiano, therefore, dedicated the victory to the people of Anambra State, especially the people of Ebenebe, who ‘rejected the sale of their conscience’ and “stuck to what they believed in”.
Gov. Obiano also expressed his gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari, INEC and the security agencies for their maximum support to the conduct of what he described as free, fair, and credible polls and assured Nigerians that the victory is not a ‘winner takes all’ situation, and that the party’s principle of being “their brothers’ and sisters’ keeper” will apply as their arms are wide open to receive and welcome those who are willing to join the team.
Speaking after he was declared the winner of the election, Soludo, who was a former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, said: “Let me say with utmost humility and gratitude to God, I accept the results of the 2021 Anambra Governorship Election as declared by INEC. And this reflects the supreme will of the Almighty God and an overwhelming sacred mandate of the people. This is a divine journey whose time has come.
“At this moment we must remember and must continue to remember all those, who died during the course of this moment, 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 soul eternal rest.
“The election itself tested the integrity of our federal institutions. Many times there were tensions, especially as one party boasted that it must take or ‘conquer’ but the judiciary stood for the integrity of the judiciary,” he said.
Born on July 28, 1960, Soludo hails from Isuofia in Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State. He obtained a First Class degree in Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and worked as consultant in many national and international organizations, including the World Bank and the United Nations Economic Commission for West Africa and the International Monetary Fund, IMF. Prof Soludo was the economic adviser to former President Olusegun Obasanjo and the chief executive officer of the National Planning Commission among other achievements.
Many prominent Nigerians, especially those from the South East have congratulated Soludo on his victory and went ahead to set an agenda for him in governing the people of Anambra state and extending his influence in ensuring good governance in the entire South East zone.
In some of the congratulatory messages, the people and associations stated that Soludo was the best candidate and that the people of Anambra rose in unison to ensure his victory, which they believe was largely due to his track record of service, experience, exposure, academic excellence, universality, sphere of influence, versatility and his Igbo identity. They reminded him of his unassailable desire to bring positive changes to Alaigbo in general and Anambra State. Although Gov. Obiano has assured that inclusiveness is one of the pillars of APGA, the group also reminded Soludo not to shut his 17 co-contestants out of the Government House Awka and offer them a hand of fellowship to join his government in reinventing Anambra state and Alaigbo in general.
The groups also urged Soludo to put into action some of his recommendations on economic development of the South East geopolitical zone and that the people are full of expectations that he would succeed in transforming the South East zone of the country. Recalling some of the programmes contained in his manifesto, the groups urged Soludo to reenact Anambra state economic consolidation, establish Anambra State Harbour Commission to implement the Ihiala Harbor project and link it to the Atlantic Ocean to galvanise import and export trade in the South East.
For the groups, the Akuruno, the Igbo think home philosophy, can only be achieved with the creation of an enabling environment with great infrastructure and the ease of doing business and of course, the provision of adequate security. The creation of 21 Local Government based mechanised agricultural villages with farming space of 500 hectares of farm land with 25 Land Lease Agreement under the governor’s consent was also on the chart, while the provision of specific seedlings to be provided under Government/Private partnership and that Anambra state government will provide insurance and security for the farm villages against undue attacks and forced despoliations.
According to these groups, these projects are targeted at very wealthy billionaire Anambrarians selected on local government basis, while the creation of 21 Local Government based State-of-the-art 21st century Millennium E-Learning (Technology) Secondary schools in Anambra state under Anambra state/Private Partnership is also recommended to be executed by the billionaires in the state. They believe that if Anambra state is able to outsource agriculture and education to the private sector, it will guarantee quantum leap in food security and literacy levels unmatched in the country. For them, these projects can be easily executed better by Anambra State billionaires rather than seeking foreign investors for the projects.
While extolling the virtues of the people of Anambra State in rejecting vote buying as demonstrated by Ebenebe women, resilience and protection of their votes, they urged Soludo to reinvent APGA in the South East to become a regional cum national political party and work for the creation of the League of Igbo Elders, who will join in the onerous task of ensuring peace and progress in the South East.
Surely, the task before Soludo as he takes over the mantle of leadership of Anambra State in 2022 and join the league of Igbo leaders are enormous, but providence and experience have prepared him for “this is divine journey whose time has come”.
– Nov. 12, 2021 @ 18:29 GMT /