Soludo, Obiano and November 18: A Differing View By Chike Ononuju

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One of the highlights of the third anniversary celebration of the Willie Obiano administration in Anambra State was a lecture delivered by the former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Prof. Charles Chukwuma Soludo.
In that lecture, the erudite professor of Economics urged the people of Anambra State to return Obiano to the Government House, Awka for a second term in office come March 17, 2018.
Soludo’s conclusion was that Obiano has so acquitted himself creditably in terms of delivery of Democracy dividends that it does not make sense for any other candidate to emerge with a view to contesting the November 18, 2017 gubernatorial election with him.
Concretely, the former CBN boss pointed to the prevalence of security; the attraction of an avalanche of investors to Anambra State; provision of infrastructure; the agricultural revolution and massive industrialization as some of the key achievements made by Obiano. For this reason, Soludo advised anyone who was nursing the aim of contesting the November 18 election to desist from doing so, and instead plough his/her resources to setting up industries which will further develop the State. He added that the incumbent governor (Obiano) should be allowed to complete the good work which he is doing.
To quote him, “if it is not broken, why mend it?” Much has been written and said about that Soludo’s unique endorsement of Obiano.  A lot of commentators have expectedly aligned themselves with Soludo’s position. This is not surprising at all.
In fact, it was not an accident that Soludo had to be the special speaker at the third anniversary celebration of the Obiano administration. The choice of this world-acclaimed economist had been carefully thought out by Gov. Obiano and his handlers several months before the D-day.
Keen political observers must have read or heard that in December of last year, the Anambra governor had paid the professor a visit at his Isuofia home in Aguata Local Council Area of Anambra State. That visit was aimed at politically massaging the professor who had contested the Anambra gubernatorial election in 2010, and is still keen on making a second trial any time soon.
Political analysts and close associates of Obiano have reliably informed the grapevine that Obiano, during that visit, promised Prof. Soludo that he would hand over the baton to the Anambra South Senatorial Zone and specifically to the Prof himself, if only the former CBN boss would join him in achieving a second term (from 2019 to 2023).
Exited over that offer, Prof. Soludo skewed his speech the way he did in order to satisfy Gov. Obiano and by extension, achieve their mutual goal! If one carefully watched the way Obiano was looking at Soludo while he was delivering his much-talked about speech and the manner in which he quickly embraced him after he had completed their assignment, one would be in no doubt that the exercise was carefully and mutually hatched.
If there were no such prior agreement, Prof Soludo would not have contradicted himself in his remarks. Wasn’t the brilliant university of Nigeria – trained economist the person, who in 2010 while canvassing for votes as a gubernatorial candidate, opined that “Anambra State deserves a first class governor?”
Now, is Willie Obiano a first class material? What first class attributes has he manifested so far in his governance of Anambra State? How many kilometers of roads, for instance, has he (in comparison with Peter Obi and Chris Ngige) tarred in three years? What is the state of the much-orchestrated flyovers which he built in Awka? Have they not been certified shoddy and dangerous by accredited engineers? What percentage of Anambrarians from other parts of the State has Obiano offered jobs? How broadminded has he been?
Obiano’s claims to exporting ugu (vegetable) and generating staggering foreign exchange therefrom does not sound plausible. Can His Excellency point to any farm where ugu is cultivated in commercial quantity in Anambra? Is the much-talked-about Anambra rice not a hoax? The truth of the matter is that Willie Obiano’s government simply buys off local rice cultivated by peasant farmers in Ayamelum and Orumba Local Government areas of Anambra State and then, puts the commodity (rice) in bags branded Anambra Rice. This is your Anambra rice!
Now what does this say about the governor? Does this attitude show him out as a man of integrity? Should such a person be trusted and allowed to go for a second term in office? One would want to ask again: is Obiano a first class governor?
One begs to differ. Obiano is no first class governor. He is therefore dispensable. A first class governor would have been working towards consolidating the gains made by his predecessor, Mr. Peter Obi. The Agulu-born workaholic has a wonderful investment sense. Little wonder he saved a lot of money in bonds and other financial instruments. Unfortunately, Obiano has discounted all these bonds. In the case of the Lagos bond, he discounted it as a loss of Six Hundred Million Naira, an amount which is half the monthly wage bill of Anambra State. Six Hundred Million Naira is a lot of money which a brilliant accountant would not have parted with simply because of his palate for extravagance!
Again to show that Obiano’s intelligence quotient is below average, here is a man who rebuffed a patriotic move made by an Anambra son who serves as a consultant to a world body. This man who hails from Idemili Local Government Area of Anambra State, but is resident in Abuja, brought a proposal to Obiano, a  proposal which would have upped the ante of Anambra, economically speaking. After the governor had watched the slides regarding this proposal, he naively warned the consultant to be careful about the proposal he would present to him in the future, remarking that that one was not impressive.
Flabbergasted, this consultant dismantled his projector, etc and quickly left the Executive Council Chambers, venue of the presentation, but not without expressing his shock and utter embarrassment. Obiano who was quickly educated by a commissioner who was in the audience, directed that the consultant be waylaid at the gate and prevailed upon to come back, and when he did, the still ignorant governor took him to a corner and offered him One Million Naira as bribe in order for him to change his mind and now allow Anambra to be part of the project.
But to the governor’s chagrin, the consultant thundered: “Mr. Governor, you are still missing the point. I do not need your One Million Naira, and will not take it. This project requires counter-part funding – the international development agency will provide half of the sum needed, while the State Government will simply match that”
The consultant dashed out of the governor’s office for the second time, leaving the members of the Executive Council who attended the presentation of the project wondering what manner of professional their boss was. A governor, on whom Prof. Soludo showered such economics as he is at the anniversary lecture, would have behaved differently.
A pertinent question which our governor has not been able to answer is: “why did Distel leave Anambra State?” This manufacturer of Amarula and Sundry Spirit was lured to invest in Oraifite-Ozubulu axis of Anambra State by the Peter Obi administration following the success made by Inta Facts Beverages (subsidiary of Sab-Miller), maker of Hero Beer and other products which was also brought to the State by the same administration.
The former governor’s tenure ended when it did and the lot fell on Obiano to ensure that Distel’s facility was set up without unnecessary delay. But alas, he could not follow up – he kept dilly-dallying and the mere procurement of Environmental Impact Assessment Report became a herculean tack. Out of frustration, Distel left Anambra, and the State lost the job opportunities and the economic boost which would have accrued to her if the company had begun operations in Anambra.
The forgoing is not an attempt to completely write off the incumbent governor of Anambra State. Rather, the purpose is to critically analyze Prof. Soludo’s much-hyped anniversary speech, and situate it in its proper perspective so that Anambrarians and non-Anambrarians can better understand it.
In contrast from Soludo, one would urge anyone who nurses a gubernatorial ambition to feel free to contest this forth-coming November 18 election. This is what Democracy is all about. This is what the Nigerian Constitution, our Grundnorm says and allows. Of course, Gov. Obiano is eminently qualified to contest this election as well. But to ask other people to leave the stage for him and only him is anathema and contra pubico.
The erudite Prof. Soludo is entitled to his opinion. So are also Chief Maja Umeh and Mr. Tony Onyima (both of whom have highly commended the incumbent Anambra governor). Of course, innumerable media aides of Obiano have also joined the fray.
The social, broadcast and print media are entitled to print and air pro-Obiano news report, documentaries and the like. After all Obiano’s war chest can fetch him as many newspaper articles, radio and television commentaries as he deems fit. It is therefore not surprising that all major newspaper and television houses in the country have continued to harp on Soludo’s anniversary speech while  their owners smile to the banks!
Ononuju, a concerned Anambra citizen, wrote from Umuchu.



Soludo, Obiano and November 18: A Differing View By Chike Ononuju Soludo, Obiano and November 18: A Differing View By Chike Ononuju Reviewed by Odogwu Emeka Odogwu on Tuesday, May 23, 2017 Rating: 5

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