by Olanrewaju Oguntoyibo
Last week, I talked about a political leader from Lagos, Southwest, Nigeria, in my analysis of the “Road to 2015”.
Today, I will be talking about another Nigerian to watch-out for come 2015 general election, but this time from South-Eastern Nigeria, Anambra precisely. He is no other person but Prof Charles Chukwuma Soludo, former Governor of Nigeria’s central bank.
Chukwuwa Soludo is from Aguata LGA of Anambra state. He’s 52 years old and married with four kids. He’s an Economist and a first class product of the University of Nigeria Nsukka; Oxford University; Cambridge and Warwick. Soludo came to limelight in 2003 when he was named Economic Adviser to then President Olusegun Obasanjo, this made him to join the likes of Nuhu Ribadu, Nasir El-Rufai, Oby Ezekwesili and Ngozi Okonjo-Iwela in the economic team.
Soludo was introduced to Nigeria’s Economic team under Olusegun Obasanjo by Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. He was reportedly a protégé of Okonjo-Iweala’s father while pursuing his PhD in Economics at the University of Nigeria Nsukka. He later abandoned the economic team due to some professional disagreement with Okonjo-Iweala. Shortly after, he was appointed Governor of Nigeria’s Central Bank by then President Olusegun Obasanjo.
While he was the governor of the Central bank, Soludo was able to convince Nigerians that commercial banks in the country were healthy (though the banking crisis shortly afterwards after Sanusi Lamido Sanusi took over, made a lie of his claims.)
Soludo also introduced the N20 polymer notes which were reportedly printed at the rate of N30 each while late President Umaru Musa Yardua was the president of Nigeria.
In September 2009, Soludo declared his intention to vie for the position of governor of Anambra state under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Soludo vied for PDP ticket with 47 other aspirants and won the primary election but 23 of the 47 contested his election in court citing lack of transparency in the process that produced Soludo as PDP candidate. Soludo went on to contest the Election as one of the top leading candidates but lost to incumbent Governor Peter Obi of All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) who was seeking a re-election.
The present political state of Chukwuma Soludo is not known to many Nigerians (especially Anambrarians) today. The question is will Soludo vie for the position of Governor of Anambra state or will he get a federal appointment?
On Tuesday 12 of March 2013, Soludo was reported to have said; “we are looking at it (Governorship) critically, you know am still the standard-bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). If I am going to contest, it will be on the party’s ticket.”
Everybody is asking, who is Soludo’s godfather? Is it President Jonathan, or Ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo? Is Andy Uba going to endorse Soludo’s candidature? With his recent arrest by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) it’s obvious that Mr. President won’t endorse Soludo for Anambra governor.
Already, Akachukwu Nwankpo, a reported close confidant of President Goodluck Jonathan and his aide has declared his intention to vie for the state’s number-one citizenship seat. He is reputed to be a great tactician, hence the President’s firm holds on him since his days at the Bayelsa Government House. Both were also said to be classmates and know each other very well.
And with recent political arrangement in South-Eastern Nigeria, it’s obvious that Governor Peter Obi of Anambra state will follow Bianca Ojukwu (widow of late Igbo leader and ex-APGA presidential candidate Odumegwu Ojukwu) to PDP and they will without doubt be loyal to President Jonathan, meaning Peter Obi would likely endorse Akachukwu as his successor.
But that’s not the deal, the issue is what do Anambra people want, how do they want it and when? If it’s South Western Nigeria, I would predict people choosing their leader based on antecedents, what his/her party has done to develop their state and what manifesto he/she is able to present. But in the case of South-Eastern Nigeria, they are strong headed and wouldn’t even let you know what they have in mind; you will only know where they stand after election results were announced.
Many have said Soludo have slim chances of being Anambra governor come 2014, while some say the state needs his economic prowess to transform Onitsha to Dubai. Some argue that Chukwuma Soludo isn’t what they need; they are shouting Chris Ngige at every beer parlour and football viewing center all over Anambra state. But will Ngige run for Anambra governor in 2014? Or will Senator Chris Ngige endorse Senator Annie Okonkwo who is presently representing the faction of APGA who are joining the merger party proposed by Nigeria’s opposition leaders?
Charles Chukwuma Soludo is without doubt one of the best Nigeria’s economist and I respect his opinion. I’m not from Anambra neither do I have a stake in Anambra election but the people of Anambra will decide who they want in 2014 as the Chief Executive officer of the state nicknamed “Light of the Nation” with over 4 million population. I pray the best emerged.