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When Soludo Misfired on Obi’s Ambition
If the tirade by the Anambra State Governor, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo was meant to diminish the fortunes of the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Mr. Peter Obi, in the 2023 elections, Obi’s powerful, brilliant, and humble personality which has stood him out as a leader with extraordinary wisdom and intelligence, has rubbished the status of the governor, writes Adedayo Akinwale
The Governor of Anambra State, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, last week courted another controversy when he dismissed the aspiration of the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Mr. Peter Obi, describing it as a waste of time and effort. He specifically said Obi would not win the 2023 presidential election.
In an article released Monday, November 14 titled ‘History Beckons and I Will Not Be Silent (Part 1),’ Soludo said Obi was only making the 2023 presidential election an easy win for the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Before the former CBN governor wrote the letter, he had been under intense attack for close to a week for dismissing Obi’s investment in the state as amounting to nothing, during a television interview.
Soludo, a product of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), who prides himself as an international scholar, is not new to controversy. He wrote a similar letter against the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan shortly before the 2015 general election. But his critics who argued that he had always overrated himself, have reminded him that reputable international scholars who served in the former administrations of President Olusegun Obasanjo and Jonathan have since secured international jobs while he shuttled between Awka and Aso Rock in search of the Presidency that would make him the Anambra State governor.
In his latest letter, the Anambra State governor argued that Obi was going nowhere in the 2023 presidential poll, adding that the LP presidential candidate by his aspiration, was toying with the destiny of Ndigbo. He alleged that the Obi was well aware of the “game” he was playing, adding that with LP, he lacked the necessary structure in place to win the presidency. Soludo who desperately wanted to be the Anambra State governor and had contested and lost on the platform of the PDP, equally accused the LP presidential candidate of desperation, which he claimed may likely cost Igbo dearly for years to come.
He stressed that Obi was inadvertently making the pathway to victory much easier for the presidential candidate of APC, Tinubu, by indirectly pulling down the PDP, stressing also that he was toying with the destiny of millions of Ndigbo.
“Let’s be clear: Peter Obi knows that he can’t and won’t win. He knows the game he is playing, and we know too; and he knows that we know. The game he is playing is the main reason he didn’t return to APGA.
“Of course, Peter Obi will get some votes, and may probably win in Anambra State— as ‘home boy.’ But Anambra is not Nigeria. If he like, I can even campaign for him but that won’t change much. From internal state-by-state polling available to me, he was on course to get 25 per cent in five states as at August this year. The latest polling shows that it is down to four states, and declining. Not even in Lagos State (supposed headquarters of urban youths) where Labour Party could not find candidates to contest for House of Representatives or Senate. The polls also show that he is taking votes away mostly from PDP. Indeed, if I were Asiwaju Tinubu, I would even give Peter Obi money as someone heading one of the departments of his campaign because Obi is making Tinubu’s pathway to victory much easier by indirectly pulling down PDP. It is what it is!
“Let me once again wish my brother Peter Obi good luck. He should have fun and enjoy the fleeting frenzy of the moment. But he must moderate the desperation as exhibited by his social media mob. There is a limit to propaganda. A mob action often reflects the character of its leader. No one has a monopoly of social media violence, and no one should play God. Life won’t end by February/March 2023.”
Many were shocked that a supposedly busy governor whose state has become the ‘North-east of the South-east’ in terms of insecurity, and who had dismissed the nationwide popularity Obi enjoys among the ‘Obidients,’ describing the support as a mere “mob action”, could devote his precious time to write over 4,000 words to reply such irrelevant mob.
Before the latest attack on Obi, Soludo, a few days ago, had reeled out reasons why his party, the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), would not take the hard decision of supporting the LP presidential aspiration. He said supporting Obi would ruin the chances of the party’s candidates at different levels of electioneering.
Speaking through his Special Adviser on Political Matters, Dr. Alex Obiogbolu, he said: “Today, APGA remains third largest political party in Nigeria. It is the third largest, considering the number of political offices it has won. APGA has a state governor, members of the National Assembly, and members of the state assemblies.
“We wish Peter Obi good luck, but no matter how much we wish him, everyone is aware that we also have our own Peter Umeadi, running for president under APGA. Even if APGA should adopt Obi as its presidential candidate, our votes alone cannot make president.”
For those who have been following Anambra politics, the two gladiators have a long history of rivalry. The crux of the matter is that being from the same state and belonging to different parties means they will be rivals. Their paths first crossed in 2010 when Soludo wanted to become Anambra State governor on the platform of the PDP and challenged incumbent Obi. After the poll, Soludo lost to Obi.
Soon after, the former CBN governor crossed over to APGA, and Obi welcomed him, and in the permutations of many people from the state, Soludo was APGA’s best option. But when the time came, Obi and the then APGA National Chairman, Victor Umeh, chose Willie Obiano.
Once Obiano assumed office, he fell out with Obi who at the time, had eyes on national politics and considered APGA too regional. He defected to the PDP into the bosom of President Goodluck Jonathan. Soon, a political dispute ensued between Obiano and Obi. Soludo bided his time and remained loyal to Obiano.
When Obiano was due for re-election, Obi threw his weight behind his boy, Oseloka Obaze who used Obi’s achievements to campaign but lost. When another election season came in the state, Obiano anointed Soludo, and Obi chose another protégé, Val Ozigbo, to contest against Soludo. They all lost again to Soludo.
While Soludo wants to consolidate power in Anambra in February, Obi wants to overthrow APGA in the state.
As Obi is banking on South-east for block votes,Tinubu is relying on the South-west and Kwara, while Atiku Abubakar is hoping the entire North will not disappoint him.
But while most of the governors in the South-west are from the APC and some PDP governors are in the North, there is no governor in the South-east that is of the Labour Party.
However, if Soludo thought his tirade would embarrass Obi, the LP candidate’s powerful, and brilliant, humble response, which would continue to stand him out as leader with extraordinary wisdom and intelligence, has demystified Soludo and his self-acclaimed monopoly of knowledge.
Using the opportunity offered him by the Lagos Business School to highlight his programmes if elected president in 2023, Obi in his usual calm, and measured disposition, released a positive bang that made Soludo to look like a child.
First, he said he wished Soludo well and prayed for him to succeed and surpass his own achievement, adding that since governance is a continuum, he should face areas he could not complete as governor of Anambra State.
LP candidate used the occasion to reiterate his claim that, aside from the investment in International Breweries, his administration saved $50 million each in Access, defunct Diamond and Fidelity banks with an interest rate of at least 6.5 per cent. He added that he exited office as governor of the state leaving behind some savings of about N75 billion in the state treasury and did not owe any contractor and supplier who had executed their jobs.
“The one (investment) they (Soludo) said is worthless, is that we invested N3.5 billion in International Breweries. That facility is there, employing directly and indirectly over 10,000 Anambarians. The shares were at a time being sold at N50. Today the shares are about N5 or so. Maybe, that was what was referred to (by Soludo). But that was less than five per cent of what I left,” he said.
“When you spread your investment, some will go up, some will come down but overall, the company is still there, the company is still doing well. It is still part of the global chain. If you calculate (all of them) today, the money (invested) would have been about N60 billion,” he added.
“For other things which I didn’t succeed, God has given him (Soludo) opportunity to do it and succeed. So, if there is anything pending, governance doesn’t finish. People are still in government in America. So, you stop where you will stop, other people will continue from there.
“He is the governor of my state. He is my senior brother, he is even more intelligent than me, (because) he is a professor. I am a trader. So, he knows more and will be able to do things better than I did it. I have done my little own as a trader, now the professor is there. He will do his own as a professor. The schools I didn’t roof, he will roof them. That’s how government goes,” the LP candidate said.
Before then, the chief spokesperson for the Labour Party’s Presidential Campaign, Yunusa Tanko, had angrily accused Soludo of being sponsored by some unknown persons to weaken the base of the party in the South-east.
He advised the Anambra governor to concentrate on governance and avoid comments that might put himself and the state in danger, adding that he was being sponsored in order to attack Obi’s base in the South-east.
Tanko said: “It seems to us that it’s a grand plan to try to see that if they can weaken us from our base. But the truth is that they are making us even popular. The people are the ones even responding to the attacks. But we want to advise that it’s very good that Soludo should look at the future and not the present, because he is just starting as a governor.”
With Obi’s humble reaction, it is hoped that Soludo would bury any further attack as this could deny him a second term in office, in view of Obi’s growing followership in the state.