By Amanze Obi
I am still wondering if Chukwuma Soludo has become oblivious of the promise he held on assumption of office as the governor of Anambra State. As a respected intellectual who held his own as Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Soludo brought so much passion and panache to bear on his quest for the governorship seat in Anambra State. His avowals were not commonplace. He sounded convincing.
He sold to many the impression that he would match words with action should he ascend the governorship throne. Those of us who preach and cherish good governance placed so much confidence in him. We were desirous of seeing an academic of Soludo’s standing hold sway in government house. Our firm belief was that he would move away from the madding crowd and operate in a way and manner that will be markedly different from the every, threadbare approach to governance.
When eventually Soludo won election to the office of governor, we took it upon ourselves to congratulate the people of Anambra state for standing up to be counted where many others would have fought shy. We believed a that a new day had come in Anambra state, especially in the face of the mouth-watering expectation of having an African Dubai Taiwan (ADT) in Anambra state. ADT occupied a pride of place in the Soludo Solution mantra. We believed that this sure-footed professor of economics who held his head high as governor of CBN would domesticate his throbbing imagination on Anambra soil.
Surprisingly however, Soludo as governor turned out to be the very opposite of what some of us expected. Where we expected intellectual restraint and maturity, we got brashness and crudity. If you thought that an intellectual will be circumspect in dealing with delicate issues, Soludo broke loose like a bull in china shop.
He displayed this disappointing inclination in the letter he wrote to whoever on Peter Obi’s bid for the Presidency. In his assessment of Obi as the candidate of the Labour Party in the presidential election of 25 February, 2023, Soludo displayed the level of bias and mischief that left many gaping. Even the untutored saw the bad blood that dripped freely from Soludo’s caustic remarks on Obi. It was lowness at its most banal. After that embarrassing outing, Soludo lost considerable grounds. Many of those who used to respect him began to have a rethink. They became convinced that Soludo was not what they thought he was.
Regardless of Soludo’s misadventure of self-demystification, he was still expected to face governance, the reason for which he was elected. More than one year after assumption of office, the much touted Soludo Solution in which the much vaunted ADT was embedded has become airy fairy. ADT has not moved away from sloganeering. It has remained a paper tiger. Since morning shows the day, many are wondering when this ambitious idea will translate to reality. Here, hope looks forlorn. The ADT, so far, is just as good as the paper on which it is written.
It is bad enough that Anambra state under Soludo is still crawling some 17 or so months after he mounted the saddle. What is worse, however, is that the governor’s energy is hopelessly misdirected. While he is failing spectacularly to deliver on his campaign promises, he appears to be worried sick by the phenomenon called Peter Obi.
In fact, Soludo has demonstrated, beyond doubt, that he has a Peter Obi problem. The idea of a Peter Obi suffocates and unsettles him. From his actions and inactions, Soludo has left nobody in doubt that Obi has been a tolerable menace. He must have promised himself that he would take care of this menace at the appropriate time. Now, Soludo feels that that time has come. The Anambra governorship seat is the armour he needs. With it, he hopes to cut Peter Obi to size.
But he was yet to do that when Obi ballooned into a mythical figure in Nigerian politics. Obi has, without much foregrounding, taken Nigeria by storm. He became a cult personality before the very eyes of the Soludos of this world. Like a thunderbolt from the outer space, Peter Obi seized the day. He captured the imagination of the people in a way no Nigerian politician has ever done. Soludo did not see this coming.
He has been stupefied by it all. It is in this dazed state that Soludo has found himself. He appears caught between the hysteria to diminish the Peter Obi personality- which is a colossal waste of time- and governance in Anambra state. Both appear to have cancelled each other and governance has taken flight, leaving Soludo in a lurch.
Notwithstanding the drought he faces in his bid to bring Obi down, Soludo is still scavenging for materials to work with. That was why he sauntered into an arid territory recently. He is getting his flagellation now from an ongoing campaign of denigration targeted at the Peter Obi years as the governor of Anambra state.
The story Soludo and his foot soldiers are telling now is that the roads built by Peter Obi as governor have failed. What pettiness! What shadow-boxing! This must be a case of giving a dog a bad name in order to hang it. If Soludo were ready for governance, he would not have made this illicit jump. If he has anything to talk about, he should redirect his energies to the regime of his immediate predecessor. That is where the meat is.
Even at that, those who have a first hand knowledge of Obi’s sterling performance in Anambra state have since taken Soludo and his gang to task. They have debunked that piece of propaganda as most uncharitable and untrue.
Beyond that, Soludo should have known that revisionism is anti-progress. Dwelling on the past is unhelpful. Soludo has a responsibility to govern and make his own mark if he can. If we are to judge him as governor of Anambra state, his mindless criticism of Peter Obi will not be considered. We will rather judge him on the strength of his achievements in Anambra state.
The question will then be: Will Soludo leave Anambra better than he met it? What legacy projects will he be remembered for? These should be of concern to Soludo. Fixation with Peter Obi is cheap, unedifying and ultimately counterproductive.
There is no need for Chukwuma Soludo to continue to struggle to diminish Peter Obi. The man, like the mythical Prometheus, has stolen fire from the gods. His concern now is to illuminate the Nigerian political landscape with it. Seeking to stop him is an exercise in futility.