Just the other day – in the wake of the electoral victory of Professor Chukwuma Charles Soludo at the Anambra State Governorship election of November 6 & 9, 2021 — an associate called me on ‘phone to lament the deplorable state of our dear State under incumbent Gov. Willie Obiano over the last seven-and-a-half years. I bade him to pass the message to the rising sun as Obiano’s sun has set. Who is the rising sun?
Charles Chukwuma Soludo is the man of the moment! While naturally unhappy that Mr. Valentine Ozigbo, the man I supported and will support all over again for being more qualified, did not win, in the usual spirit of sportsmanship, I join others to routinely congratulate him on his victory. For the avoidance of doubt, Soludo will be Governor for all of us and we stand to collectively gain from his good governance or else we continue to suffer from the adverse effects of the tenure of Gov. Willie Obiano – on record as the worst Governor of this Century so far.
Let the truth be told; it was Charles Soludo and not APGA that won this victory. If the election was based on APGA’s performance or Obiano gone for another term, the party would have come a distant last. I say this for Obiano not to think the victory has anything to do with him.
People like me sincerely believe that Soludo needs more of suggestions on how to rebuild the State than congratulatory messages. Going by the mess Gov. Willie Obiano has plunged Anambra into, what we need is agenda-setting; pointing out to the Governor-Elect, to complement what he already knows, the monumental challenges that should dictate to him the enormity of the work before him. The fact is that “AnambraEtipiago” and is lying prostrate, seeking a helping hand to resuscitate her!
Without a Public Opinion Poll, concerned Anambrarians and friends of Anambra are elated – not necessarily that APGA won – but that Willie Obiano is leaving the public governance for good. Ironically, he is still caught up in the euphoria of his first election into office, perpetual dictation of an Ozo titled man wearing the insignia beyond the ankle because the title came unexpectedly. In few months, Willie Obiano will be a sad history to recount. He met Anambra State bubbling with life and is about leaving her badly battered! We have a duty to join hands and see him off the stage in the full delusion of being “Akpokuedike” in fact.
Now we have a rising sun, we should remind him that like Hercules, he is expected to perform some difficult task of cleaning the Augean (Obianonian) Stable that accumulated for eight years. As lovers of the State, we shall be offering him our own perspectives on issues towards resuscitating Anambra State. It is a task that must be embarked on immediately; and here are some of the issues:
CLOSENESS TO GOD: First and foremost is to be or remain close to God. Governance is not an easy cross to carry, as we could learn from Peter Obi. As Anambra State Governor, Peter Obi had holy masses at the Lodge daily and would sit for some minutes communing with God after mass. He did not have to run away from the Lodge allegedly being pursued by evil spirits. He did not have to propitiate tin gods and principalities at the lodge as witnessed under Willie Obiano. Governor-elect, Charles Soludo, be close to God, hear as many masses as possible and Almighty God will not abandon you.
THOROGHLY EXAMINE THE FINANCES OF THE STATE: It is always good for a new leader to start by examining the finances of the State and make clear pronouncements on what he met on ground. It is not about the person that may think he made your emergence possible, but about managing your future when questions will be asked. We want to know, for example, the status of the over N75 billion bequeathed to Obiano’s administration; the over N100 billion he received as Paris Club refund. Is it true that he met a debt-free State that is now owing over N200 billion Naira? Why the further indebtedness to local contractorsin excess of another N200 billion? Charles Soludo should scrutinise Obiano’s End of Tenure Report and or hand-over notes; and incorporate relevant details in his inaugural speech. He should insist on Full Disclosure – party affiliation or not. The liar that Willie Obiano is, our rising sun Governor Soludo should watch out for denials and misrepresentations! On roads alone, Soludo should note that there is over N900 billion liabilities on road projects that Willie Obiano flagged off but never did. This is following their example of including unexecuted contracts among liabilities.
DESERVED APPOINTMENTS: The title of my undergraduate project in Philosophy is Confucianism and Good Governance in Nigeria: an Ethical Investigations. For Confucius, as he explained in the “Analects”, good appointment is one of the hallmarks of great leadership. He states: “Raise the straight and set them over the crooked and the common people will look up to you. Raise the crooked and set them over the straight and the common people will not look up to you”. We call on Soludo to take time between now and his inauguration to seek and vet qualified men andwomen to work with. On this he may have to ask how Mr. Peter Obi did it. One of the reasons Obi achieved so much is that he appointed those that understood what governance is about. It is not about appointing, as Obiano did, men whose only capacity is to heap insults on your perceived enemies or those with capacity to satisfy man’s salacious appetite. Such persons are without character.
A compact team is always best and not one of the regrettable “innovations” introduced by Gov. Willie Obiano, whereby he appointed over 2,000 aides, whom he paid what would have taken care of more than 10,000 more civil servants. Without knowing it, Obiano has ended up destroying the lives of those young men and women. Rather than seek enduring things to do, he just appointed all manner of people. In some families that are related to him, we have father, mother, sons and daughters appointed aides, most of who were not based in Anambra State. Obiano simply saw the coffers of the State as a bequest for distributing perquisites. The first fruit of those senseless appointments will confront you as will be “looking you anya ebere to renew the useless appointments.” This cannot be the way to go as it is part of the reason Anambra State is almost comatose.
ON RETIREES: Governor Soludo needs to demonstrate care and concern for Retirees, especially those that have not received their gratuities since 2017 to date – under Willie Obiano’s tenure. As our new Governor talks about the future of our children, he should extend similar care to those that have served the State public service. The pain without gratuities and pensions can only be imagined. Please look at their plight as Mr. Peter Obi did by clearing arrears of pensions and gratuities of over N35 billion when he was the Governor. We cannot support the perpetuation of rot as instituted by Obiano.
ON MONTHLY STIPENDS FOR UNSPECIFIED PURPOSES: Our rising sun should be interested to know that some people in this State are paid N20 million each monthly for doing nothing of value to the State. During your campaign they were visible or tried to be visible in order to impress, when in actual fact they are strengthening the foundations that will ensure further N20 million monthly for doing nothing. Stay on the side of the people, step on such leprous toes and ignore their distractions in the January of your governorship. Some of these people have already made enough money such that one is at a loss why such funds should be remitted to them. If they have not discussed it with you, be assured that they will come up with it. Resist them, and commit the money to rehabilitating our schools, hospitals and other people-oriented projects.
REPLICATION OF INCOMPETENTS: We can only explain Obiano’s penchant of going after those that are incompetent as born on the theory that incompetent begets its like. Just take a look at some of the men he elevated to the state and federal houses and you will only weep for Anambra State. Shall we continue on this trajectory? A good for thought for Soludo.
ON THE THREE FLY-OVERS: Our new Governor should kindly re-evaluate the need for the three fly-overs on the Amawbia-Amansea Dual Carriage-Way. Since those fly-overs were completed at the over inflated cost of 18 billion Naira, they have always been barricaded against big vehicles, but knocked off several times. If the fly-overs are more dangerous than helpful as they are now, then try and see what you can do about them to avoid stories that touch the heart. Raising/Strengthening or demolishing them are options.
ON LIGHT-UP ANAMBRA PROJECT: This is one of the most useless projects executed by Willie Obiano. People may see light on the streets without knowing at what cost. One was reliably informed that money for diesel and maintenance of the generators gulp billions of Naira every month. That is unsustainable. It will pay the new Governor to examine the matter right away and tell Anambra people the economy of keeping those useless projects running. Lightning up the State is good, but it is absurd when such is done with the aid of generators and diesel – clear evidence of incestuous reasoning fuelled by transactional considerations.
INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE CENTRE: This is another misplaced project. The sun that is already joyously set indicated he will build a 10,000-capacity Conference Centre, we challenge him to tell us a conference Anambra will possible host (how many times in a year) that will attract such a number. Please look for what to convert that place into. Since Obiano has refused to complete the Shopping Mall at Awka, kindly consider turning the place into a Shopping Malls to earn money for the state. You will regret ever allowing the Conference Centre to stay when you discover
that government will be compelled to spend million in its maintenance every month even when it will not generate anything for the state. If Anambra were Obiano’s private business, would he embark on such a senseless project?
MONTHLY SECURITY VOTE: With N1.25 billion as security vote monthly, Willie Obiano collects more than any other Governor, including those of Lagos, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Delta States. However, the sad reality is that apart from the North-East geo-political zone, Anambra State is the most unsecured State in Nigeria.
NEPOTISM: In his doctrine of the “Higher Man”, Confucius stated that the higher man is Catholic not partisan. May our rising sun, Soludo always remember this and treat the entire State as one and not after Willie Obiano who jettisoned equity and fairness in everything he did. A person in charge must be exemplary in behaviour; not be fixated on tribe and place of birth. For Confucius, “While the gentlemacherishes benign rule, the small man cherishes his native land”. Governor Soludo, it is human to have Isuofia in mind, but it must be done fairly; not where, for example, Obiano did not do a single road in your town and yet did over 30 in Aguleri. The sad aspect is that he owes contractors that did the roads and Soludo is expected to pay them. This is sickness rather that fairness.
Apart from completing Agulu Lake Hotel, he did not do anything in Agulu, a town that made him Governor. Instead, he relocated the Court in Agulu and imposed caretaker on the town when it was absolutely unnecessary. Governor Soludo must avoid such pettiness.
MORALITY: Leaders are not saints by there are minimum standards of decency required of them. We are told that Obiano loves risqué stories and tells them beyond compare. We read of how in public, after drinking himself to stupor he did the unimaginable. Governor Soludo, if our advice is that you should not follow in Obiano’s foot-steps in any aspect of life, this one will not be different.
PRESUMED MOUs, BILLIONS OF DOLLARSINVESTMENTS AND VEGETABLE EXPORTS: It is about time Governor Soludo pronounced these and similar nonsense as what they are so that the people will not ask how far he has harnessed these so-called initiatives. A State cannot be governed by lies.
OUR ROADS: As soon as he is sworn in, Governor Soludo should declare a state of emergency on Anambra roads, which are nothing to write home about. He should use Isuofia roads to know what it is like in other parts of the State.
WATER: Our new Governor should kindly break the jinx Obiano would have broken if he had followed up on what Obi did in that sector.
AIRPORT: Now that politics is over and we know the airport is 56% completed, Governor Soludo should embark on its completion and obtain the necessary approvals before genuine commissioning. It has been said that Obiano has requested Soludo to change the name of the airport after him? The new Governor should treat that ridiculous request as wishful thinking.
Though there are many things to say and many pieces of advice to offer, we shall stop here for now. In due course, more will follow. We do so because we do not want to witness another Obiano in Anambra State nor wish such a calamity for any other State. Willie Obiano succeeded in making Anambra a butt of dinner jollity by some of the things he does. Governor Soludo, you must restore our pride by reversing his ways.