Interrogating Soludo’s Dream to Make Anambra Africa’s Dubai

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Chukwuma Soludo

In 2009, while campaigning to be the governor of Anambra State, Prof Chukwuma Soludo, former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) vented his passion about making Anambra the Dubai and Taiwan of Africa. David-Chyddy Eleke reports that many have said that the renowned economist was again ready to give the position a shot, but it is not clear if he will base his campaign on same idea. What is however not missing is that he means real development for Anambra.

During the run up to the 2010 governorship election in Anambra State, opposition political parties criticized a part of the manifesto of the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prof. Chukwuma Soludo who stated that his ultimate goal was to make Anambra the hub of business in Africa. He argued that he possessed the ideas that could turn Anambra to the Dubai and Taiwan of Africa.

Vying Against then incumbent governor, Mr Peter Obi who was standing for reelection on the platform of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), members of the party embarked on a campaign to warn the people not to fall into the trap of the PDP candidate. They argued that Soludo should have aspired to make Anambra Lagos or Abuja, instead of promising what he knew was possible.

His Old Promise

For Soludo, making Anambra the Dubai and Taiwan of Africa is not rocket science. He argued that all that is needed to achieve it is a committed governor, and the support of the people of the state. During the presentation of his manifesto, Soludo spoke with a passion and commitment that left no iota of doubt that he knew what he wanted for the state, and had also mapped out strategies to achieve them and would stop at nothing to actualize his dream.

His manifesto was in two parts. The first contained his commitment to serve, and in the second was his agenda for the state, Soludo talked not only about how to transform Anambra, but gave detailed steps on how he was going to achieve it.

He said, “Our Agenda for a New Beginning builds upon the potentials and capabilities of the state (human and material resources) and hopes to minimize its weaknesses in order to create wealth, create jobs, reduce poverty, and re-orient the values of the people. We hope to achieve these by investing in, and empowering our people; creating an enabling environment for, and actively promoting the private sector as the engine of growth and job creation; rescuing our cities from decay and hence salvaging the wasting assets in these cities to lay a foundation for a fresh start; envision a new, befitting capital city for Anambra State; and finally lay the foundation for sustainable prosperity by jump-starting the emergence of a modern city in Anambra that will attract world talent and capital to Anambra State.

“Ours is a grand vision and a plan for sustainable prosperity. Within the first 90 days of assumption of office, our administration will organize development study tours to Dubai, Taiwan, and Singapore for selected government officials, state assembly, judiciary, organized private sector, labour, media, clergy, traditional rulers, and academia. The goal is to understand what it takes to build and manage modern, prosperous cities. Within the same period, we would organize the “Anambra 2020 Summit” to harness the contributions of all Anambra people, other knowledgeable Nigerians and our international partners towards the “Anambra Solution 2020.”

“The African Dubai – Taiwan (ADT) is my dream for my people. Say ‘we can’ and great powers will come to our aid. Building the new Anambra State will challenge all of us to give our best to the state. I have volunteered myself. I call on you to also volunteer to serve the state because it is not an accident that God decided that you should come from the state. The hour has come: what contribution do you want our people to remember you for? Everyone’s contribution is welcome.

“There will be a special office to coordinate the contributions of Ndi Anambra in the Diaspora. We cannot do it alone. We will need the collaboration and cooperation of other states in Nigeria, especially our neighboring states (Kogi, Delta, Rivers, Imo, Abia, and Enugu) as well as the strong support of the Federal Government, and the international development partners. Anambra State has huge oil and gas deposits in commercial quantities around Ogbaru, and the Federal Government/NNPC and joint partners could commence the exploration of these so that Anambra will become an oil and gas producing state with the attendant increased revenues to the state. We will exploit our contacts and networks within the Federal Government and among the international development partners to the advantage of the State.”

Guessing a New Promise

Ten years after he presented this manifesto, and with the higher level of development that is sweeping the globe today, one can say that Soludo would not present the same manifesto. If he does, chances are that the man has greater plans of making Anambra African Dubai – Taiwan. He may have thought up even bigger ideas on how to grow the state.

Soludo who is currently a member of the federal government’s economic management team. He has not stated concretely if he would vie for the 2021 governorship election in Anambra. Recently, Soludo dissociated himself from governorship campaign posters published on social media sites indicating that he was in the race for the 2021 governorship contest in Anambra.

A statement by Joe C Anatune of B3 Communications, who serves as Soludo’s publicist stated that the former CBN chief has no hand in the posters, and has not also made up his mind to contest the election coming up in November 2021. Part of the statement reads, “We have noticed the flooding of some social media platforms with different campaign posters of Prof Chukwuma Soludo for the Anambra 2021 governorship election. We want to categorically state that Soludo has no knowledge of the people behind the posters nor has he authorised such. He has not declared any intention to run for the said office.

“We are however aware of the clamour by many interest groups within and outside Anambra state urging him to make himself available for the office. While he appreciates the open display of solidarity by the various interest and support groups, it is on record that he is yet to make any formal declaration of his intention. For now, Prof Soludo is focused on contributing his quota to improving the economic condition of Nigeria in his new appointment as member of the Presidential Economic Advisory Council and is encouraged by the groundswell of goodwill wishes and prayers by Nigerians.”

Pressures to Contest

Beyond his refusal to openly state his intentions, the renowned economist is presently under intense pressure to run the governorship position of the state. Several support groups have been beckoning on him to come out and contribute his quota to the state. Presently, over five groups that are rooting for Soludo’s aspiration have been formed, with each of them constantly reaching out to him to contest.

One of the groups, Soludo Support Group (SSG) during a recent meeting in Awka said they were mapping out strategies on how to convince him to contest for the office of the governor of the state in 2021. The National Coordinator of the group, Hon. Chinedu Nwoye said, “SSG is made up of volunteers who are working independently to ensure that Prof. Soludo accepts the call to run for and become the governor of Anambra State in order to continue where Governor Willie Obiano stops.

“Soludo has been told of the group’s mandate but he said he will think about it. We know that the next election is nearly two years away. But we can’t wait anymore. We know that Soludo has all it takes to transform Anambra to a better state if he becomes governor after Willie Obiano who is doing very well. We are not starting campaigns. We are only mobilising to see that Prof. Soludo is pressurised to answer the call of Anambra people to come and serve the state the way he did for Nigeria. This is a self sponsored group. Therefore every local government and ward coordinator should know that the call is for sacrifice both of your time and resources for the good of Anambra state,” he said.

Soludo and Other Aspirants

The All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), where Soludo is known to be a staunch member has other promising aspirants. THISDAY learnt that Soludo still stands as the most competent, favoured and popular among them all. A source however told our correspondent that the party may be looking elsewhere, but also added that it may not work when the federal government has taken a liking of Soludo.

The Zoning Fomula

Soludo hails from Isuofia in Aguata Local government area of the state, which falls in Anambra South zone. The zone is highly favoured to produce the next governor of the state, especially as the incumbent governor, Chief Willie Obiano who hails from the Northern zone serves out his tenure, after receiving the baton from Mr Peter Obi who is from the Central Zone. There have been clamour for the south zone to produce the next governor, and Soludo among a barrage of other aspirants from the zone are being considered.

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For Soludo, making Anambra the Dubai and Taiwan of Africa is not rocket science. He argued that all that is needed to achieve it is a committed governor, and the support of the people of the state. Soludo spoke with a passion and commitment that left no iota of doubt that he knew what he wanted for the state,