by Stanley Azuakola
The governorship candidate of the PDP in the 2010 Anambra governorship elections, Chukwuma Soludo, recently switched parties to the ruling All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA). It was an unexpected move. Now, Soludo who used to be the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, has picked up the APGA form to vie for November’s Anambra election. Why did he do it? What informed his move? He spoke with The Sun recently and told them why.
Why dump PDP for APGA?
The first reason is the response to what you asked and which is for me to confirm whether I have left PDP and that am moving into APGA and so on, the short answer to that is, it is true that I have resigned my membership of PDP, as you can see, this is a copy of my letter to the national, exco. I have formally written to the National Chairman of the party which I have delivered in a letter dated 17th of this month. I have formerly resigned my membership of PDP that is point number one. Point number two is that, is quite fortuity that you also arrived at the point where you saw the executive committee of APGA has come to now formally register me in APGA and issue me with a membership card, you can see my membership card of APGA. It’s been a long process of taking this decision, I must say that this decision is the product of months of consultations among my people, I will say basically from January 2nd this year I started the process of consultations on our political future, on what next, how next and the political arena. I remained convinced about the greatness of Nigeria, its potentials, and also convinced that it is only through the political process that you can make the greatest impact in terms of changing the society. It is the political processes under a democracy; there is no other way. I remain convinced that we need to engage, those who believe they have something to offer to a country like Nigeria at its level of development; everybody who has something to offer must get involved.
It is this conviction that led me to engage in wide consultations in the beginning of this year to ask our people; to ask wide-ranging questions. Basically, it centered around them. Does it make sense for us to get into the train again to say we are running for public office? Which office? Which level of engagement should we get into? Should we just kiss it goodbye and or should we remain engaged? In what form should we remain engaged? If we have to remain engaged in a political party system, which party? These are questions that formed the wide consultations that I said must have started January 2 intensively. Of course, informally these discussions have been going on for sometime.
Why the choice of APGA ?
There is also even greater demand that I should run for the office of Governor to be able to put Anambra State you know, building on the foundation that Governor Peter Obi has laid, to be able to take Anambra to the next level. This will be a moment of continuity and transformation. That we need continuity and transformation, we need to consolidate on the gains of the past eight years and those of his predecessors because he also built on something. That we need to continue to set the pace in leaps and bounds, so we need continuity to consolidate. There is also overwhelming demand of our people that I should join the party that our people call their own, the party that represents the essence, the aspirations, the hopes of all Nigerians in general and more particularly the Igbos. It is a party that is a mass movement; it lives in the consciousness of the people. When I was running for election the other time, the overwhelming message most people gave me was that, people told me, you are the best candidate but you are in a wrong party. And through the months of consultations, the basic message that has been delivered to me every time, everywhere, high, mighty, the low, everybody, the man in the street, the man upstairs and so is that, you got to be in the party of your people.
And for me I have reflected on this quite deeply, and come to this conclusion and conviction, not just that people demand for it, I have also become convinced that, that is the only reasonable way to go. So, I am not joining APGA simply as a vehicle to contest the governorship of Anambra State, I am joining APGA because I want to breath it, I want if you like drink it, I want to exude it, I want to because in totality I agree with the essence, the trust, the objectives of APGA.
APGA, Anambra North and zoning?
Well I am not aware of an APGA’s position on zoning. I have read through the constitution of APGA and I did not see zoning or rotation or anything, it is not anywhere in APGA constitution. So I am not aware that there is an APGA position stating what you just said, why to the contrary the party that explicitly has zoning in its constitution is the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and is the only party that I know that has zoning and rotation in its constitution. APGA, I have the constitution from cover to cover and there is no mention about zoning and rotation. Having said that much, this is a democracy eventually and it is the people who will make the decision, I understand it that people have different preferences and people will always have preferences about where things should be and so on.
I understand the Governor’s point, I understand his facts, I understand the argument he is making and I say it is an interesting argument, no questions, within the logic of what he said I understand him but again like I said the system is democracy and only the people will say that. Already when you said that in the state, I think that the people of Anambra really need to discuss that, I said the people of Anambra need to discuss the issue of zoning and rotation because you cannot have zoning without rotation , then you will have to say which other zone that will follow after this one and then you must get all political parties to sign on to it, if you don’t have it, then because already we see the key political parties such doesn’t seem to be an issue. Because if you say it is this place, you can only say that within the context of a particular political party, it is difficult to say it for the entire state because other political parties might bring out their candidates not from there and the masses will be faced to vote and they will make their choices. So it is a decision only the people can make, so like I said I understand the point he is making but I also said it is the people of the state that will decide.
The Soludo Solution in the new race
You are absolutely right, I can tell you that, that’s why that demand by our people, I think once a people has been exposed to an idea that they like, it is difficult to take it back. They have been excited by the idea, the dream of taking the state to the next level and the promise to taking Anambra, putting Anambra on the map. The African Dubai-Taiwan concept which people think it means in four years Anambra would look like Dubai of course that’s not, it is a vision. If you go to Dubai and they show you before and after, Dubai wasn’t built in a day, it wasn’t built in four years, it wasn’t built in eight years, but it all started in somebody’s ideas that you must define a destination, if you don’t know where you are going to any road will take you there. So the people I believe have been excited by this vision of a glorious future, the important thing is that we are on a pathway.
A lot has happened in the last 12 years if you like, especially since the democratic dispensation started, each regime has tried to move on to the next level. Governor Mbadinuju who came in took over from the military; he did his best within the resource base available to him, people forget that. For the first time I could come down to this state without fearing that I will lose my car, that was the time of car jacking, before then once you cross the Amansea your heartbeat will be pounding, you aren’t sure if you will go home with your car again and so on and so forth. At least you could now pass, you could drop your wallet and pick it back and so we can’t forget that it is a bit he did with N800 million monthly allocations, one point something billion or thereabout, you know people do comparison without comparing the resource base.
Ngige came, of course revenue base was better and he did better especially some major road networks and so on, good, he spent three years off. Governor Obi has come within eight years he’s raised it even much higher, so systematically, you then need to now build on that and take the state even far much higher. And I think it is important to understand all of these and for me, actually it won’t make any sense if we are not talking about the transformation. Because what else am I living for? Is service, you ask yourself, if not you who, if not now, when? What are we living for? So what I do say to you is to say, I think this is for me a call to serve and like I said, after more than a year of consultation, the overwhelming voices that I hear are saying I think you should not abdicate responsibility and for me I simply make an offer.
Is not a do or die thing for me, you offer yourself and this important, I mean I will only offer myself to members of APGA to say I am willing if granted the opportunity to fly your flag. The decision is not mine, the decision as to whether I ran or not under APGA belongs to members of APGA. If they give me the honour and privilege of flying the flag of APGA, I am fairly confident that we would get out there and contest and believing, convinced that we are going to have a free and fair election and in a free and fair contest, I am confident we are going to win. In a free and fair contest, I believe we are the ones to beat in the coming elections.