Soludo’s Road To A Prosperous Homeland
JUVENTUS CHUKWUNWEIKE OKOLI
Throughout life, the history of building great nations is recorded as heroic task undertaken by men of powerful mind-frame who defiled the status quo to confront the ills of their societies and flex muscle towards building nations of greatness from the ruins of apathy.
The above seems to be the driving force of Prof Soludo – a sincere determination to right the ills of Anambra State and by extension the South East Nigeria and Nigeria.
That the Nigerian nation is sick requires no elaboration. The current economic downturn and prevalent decay in the security apparatus are key indicators. Acute hunger, dilapidated healthcare system and crumbling education system query the intentions of the Centra Government in steadying the ship in the face of these threats.
This is the real picture of the Nigerian society. And so it was when Prof. Charles Chukwuma Soludo came to seek the mandate of Ndi Anambra to serve as their helmsman. During the electioneering campaign, Soludo made clear in his manifesto which he called the “Soludo Solution and the People’s Manifesto” that he would make Anambra the Dubia or Taiwan of Africa, an industrial hub, a liveable and a prosperous homeland. These appetizing pronouncements and Soludo’s pedigree at the Central Bank of Nigeria, together with his various accolades as a renowned economist, clearly shown from the multiple advisory roles he had played within and outside the shores of Nigeria, made the citizenry to come out and cast their votes without minding the serious security challenges that characterized the electoral period which caused the death of many people. At the time, lawlessness was enthroned by some non state actors whose ulterior motives were simply to disrupt the smooth process of the election in order to up turn its verdict. The people won! Soludo emerged.
Aware of his campaign promises and being sincerely ready to serve Ndi Anambra well, the learned Professor of Economics has long gone into action. And in keeping to one of his electoral promises, he went to Okpoko and other parts of Onitsha and the environs and ordered that these places be kept neat and wastes removed from the entire streets and roads where they have obstructed the movement of traffic, or even blocked the channels that once allowed for free flow of water when it rains. The Governor directed that all structures, residential houses, offices or shops erected on water channels should be brought down to enable free flow of water to the Niger. He instructed that the public servants who issued permissions for those structures should be identified and brought to book for abuse of office. These firm directives from the governor have kept curious minds on alert. They wonder if the governor will really walk his talk.
Well, what really surprised most of our citizens in this Okpoko/Onitsha and the environs total clean-up was not only the fact that the governor was there in person to kickstart the work, but that he was physically involved in the supervision of the entire exercise and deeply involved in clearing the wastes. By these actions the governor has indirectly or directly told the curious minds that he is here to deliver; he is here to give us the Anambra he promised during the campaigns!
While Ndi Anambra were trying to digest the magic of Soludo’s clean-up exercise, the governor took another bold step of engaging the leadership of IPOB, traditional rulers, religious leaders, market heads and other Stakeholders of the state to assess the impact of the Monday sit-at-home on the state, business, tourism and the economy, its effect on the ordinary man in the street whose feeding and entire livelihood is centered on his day to day hustles; the Anambra child who is being denied the opportunity of attending classes or lectures which would propel his future activities and growth, the sick who is made to undergo difficult challenges as he is left to fate while all opportunities for medical attention is closed up against him on sit-at-home Mondays, the state economy which is under serious threat to the point of Onitsha Main Market and all other Anambra markets losing grip, the wanton killings of innocent citizens, security personnel, the non state actors themselves and the destruction of public properties. This opinion is to be later emphasized by Prof Solo Chukwulobelu, the Secretary to the State Government, who on annoucing the establishment of the Truth, Justice and Peace Committee on the 6th of March, 2022 informed the public that, “In addition to the Monday Sit-at-Home and its colossal costs, the region is daily experiencing unrelenting doses of kidnapping, killing of innocent persons, banditry, arson, etc. It is estimated that so far more than 150 police and other security personnel as well as an unknown number of innocent persons and criminals have been killed in the raging conflict. Anambra is a key state in the Southeast and Nigeria and has suffered heavily from the unrelenting conflict”.
Thus, as shown above the governor placed the Anambra State of today vis-à-vis the Anambra of past years, and the Stakeholders got the picture very clearly.
It was in this town hall meeting that the governor openly expressed his desire to reason and negotiate with his subjects on a better way forward. He made it clear that what brought the Monday sit-at-home could be better handled without destroying the economy of the east. In a show of good fate, he also declared his intention to interface with the Federal Government on the case of the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, with a plea that his trial be expeditiously handled and judgement given. He observed that his (Nnamdi Kanu’s) constant stay in detention is a big problem for the entire Southeastern States and Anambra in particular as it has destroyed our socio-economic operations and dealt huge blow on our security and public safety, as well as political activities in the state.
His Royal Highness, Igwe Nnaemeka Alfred Achebe (Agbogidi, the Obi of Onitsha and Chairman Anambra State/South East Tranditional Rulers Council), speaking on the October 2021 Statement of the Joint Body of South East Council of Traditional Rulership and Bishops/Archbishops on Peace and Conflict Resolution for restoration of genuine peace and normalcy in the South East said that, “the present Governor of Anambra State, Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo, solidarized with Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, whilst he was held in Kuje prison, awaiting trial, on February 28, 2017 and followed up with demand for his release after he was granted bail by the High Court”.
Prof Soludo at the said town hall meeting granted executive amnesty to all non state actors and called on them to come out from their hideouts (bushes) and surrender their weapons, while he also promised to assist them to begin their lives anew.
Mr Governor also set up a 15-man Truth, Justice and Peace Committee led by Prof Chidi Odinkalu as Chairman and Her Excellency, Amb (Barr) Bianca Odumegwu-Ojukwu, the widow of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, as Secretary.
The Stakeholders cherished this move from the governor and strongly showed total commitment to this cause, thus it was unanimously agreed that the Monday sit-at-home be ended in Anambra State forthwith, while the governor continues his dialogue with the Federal Government on Mazi Nnamdi Kanu’s detention and trial. To cement this agreement, prayers, Holy Masses and religious services were held in all Churches in the state on Monday, April 4th 2022 to mark the end of the Monday sit-at-home in the state. In one of the prayer sessions in the state, Bishop Peter Okpalaeke of the Catholic Diocese of Ekwulobia prayed and charged the people to embrace peace. He counselled that nothing can be achieved without peace and harmony in the land. He appealed to those who are bent on creating fear and tension in Anambra to desist forthwith and embrace the olive branch offered by the State Government for peace to return to the state.
With these bold steps taken, Prof. Soludo has stated clearly that his intention is to build a prosperous Anambra as he promised. It further substantiates that his chieftaincy title, “Dikeudo” did not come to him by chance, as he has chosen the way of peace and dialogue as the best way of restoring peace in the state.
An increasing number of people are joining the governor to call on all people of goodwill to lay down arms and join the governor to seek for Nnamdi Kanu’s release through peaceful interface with the Federal Government, an action we are convinced will restore peace, security of lives and property and also create conducive atmosphere that will enable the governor to make Anambra State the Dubia or Taiwan of Africa, an industrial hub, a prosperous and liveable state.
Let us remind ourselves as Most Rev Peter Ebele Okpalaeke of the Catholic Diocese of Ekwulobia has said that “no nation thrives in a state of chaos: rather nations grow, expand and develop at a time of peace. Mr Governor has chosen this road as his perfect way to build a prosperous Anambra homeland”.
Ndi Anambra, let us oblige him!