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Soludo Must Not Fail

Daily Trust Editorial of Thursday March 24, 2022

On Thursday, March 17, 2022, Professor Chukwuma Charles Soludo was inaugurated as the sixth governor of Anambra State. Soludo, the candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) was declared winner of the November 6, 2021 Anambra governorship election, having won in 19 of the 21 local government areas of the state.

This was not Soludo’s first attempt at governing Anambra State. In 2009, the Professor of Economics contested as the consensus candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) but lost to the then incumbent governor, Peter Obi of APGA.

Soludo dumped the PDP on July 17, 2013, and joined APGA in preparation for the November 2013 Anambra governorship election, but was disqualified alongside others by the party’s screening committee in August 2013.

In his inaugural address, Soludo enumerated the challenges facing the state, noting that, “God ordained this moment and we are grateful to Him and to you all for the privilege to serve you. Now is the time to work, and there is no minute or kobo to waste on fanfare.

“The hopes and expectations rise up to the heavens. Understandably, all of us wish that I could perform miracles – by waving my hands and all our problems will be solved. I hear you. I feel your pulse. For your sake I keep awake at night, sometimes having palpitations about not letting you down.

“We will seek active collaboration and cooperation with the federal government, our neighbouring and other states as well as the international community to provide our state truly people-centred governance. We will consolidate the progress made under our predecessors to continue Anambra’s upward trajectory.”

We congratulate Professor Chukwuma Soludo and wish him well as he pilots the affairs of Anambra State. Indeed, there are great expectations as he is taking office at a momentous time in the state, the region and Nigeria, when trust and faith in government is in short supply as the failure of public services strikes Nigerians in every facet of their lives.

He pledged to immediately start work to ameliorate the security challenges in the state and transform Anambra into a peaceful and livable place for everybody, what with the sit-at home orders, arsons and killings instigated by the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and its armed wings, the Eastern Security Network (ESN) in the state and other parts of the region in recent years.

Soludo also pledged to drastically reduce cost of governance as he embraced the promotion of Made-in-Anambra State and Made-in-Nigeria only products in procurement. As a step forward, his official vehicle is locally assembled, from Innoson Moto Manufacturing Company Limited, Nnewi, just as he promised that all further purchases of vehicles by State Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) would be through the company.

He is also pursuing urban renewal, with his first visit outside Government House, Awka, a day after his inauguration, to the sprawling Okpoko slum settlement in Ogbau Local Government Area of the State, promising to transform the community.

One thing that must be said is that former Governor Willie Obiano’s best legacy could be his support for the emergence of a quality successor, one issue at the heart of governance collapse in Nigeria. Nigerian political leaders must resist the urge to enthrone mediocre leadership in the mistaken belief that such would enable them to continue to control the state by proxy. Our history has shown that this never works, and has only led to poor quality of governance, endless political feuds and often the breakdown of law and order in some states.

So, essentially, what Nigerians are looking forward to in Anambra State is the birth of a new governance model built on competence, prudent management of public resources and delivering the needed services to the people. It should discard the current situation in Nigeria where propaganda has replaced performance and the cost of sustaining political appointees far outweighs cost of provision of public amenities.

Anambra State and indeed the South East has been restive for a while now. Soludo must act on this immediately and ensure peace, as without peace, there will be no development. He should formulate a template from which other governors in that region can borrow in addressing the situation.

There is a burden of leadership on Soludo to change the narrative about governance in Nigeria, given his background as an intellectual and consummate economist, former Economic Adviser to the President and former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). He must bring that experience to bear and turn Anambra into the pride of Nigeria.

Soludo has no excuse to fail because luckily, Anambra has the material and human resources to grow, depending on what he does with them. He must restore the confidence of the people in governance.

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