“What I offer you
is a new world, a new Anambra in the 21st century; my vision
is to put Anambra on the world map”
1 Cee Cee Soludo
Soludo stoically states he wouldn’t aspire to become the
governor of Anambra State if the allure is collecting
federation account and tarring a couple of roads and
building a few more health centres. He is looking at the
horizon and clearly sees a great hope and opportunities that
will mark a fresh beginning for a highbred Anambra state.
We can then ask: what exactly is Soludo’s new vision for
Anambra State and how desirable is it at the moment?
At the debate organized by the Nigerian Medical Association
Anambra State Chapter, for the candidates in the state’s
governorship election, Professor Chukwuma Charles Soludo
reiterated that what he offers the people of Anambra state
is brand new Anambra state. In one crisp statement which got
the audience thinking he captured his whole dream for the
state. “What I offer you is a new world, a new Anambra in
the 21st century; my vision is to put Anambra on the world
What enticed Soludo into taking up the challenge of
the change Anambra state needs at the moment can be likened
to the story, LOVE IN THE TIME CHOLERA. A beautiful story
that has captivated the minds and hearts of many since it
was released in 1985. The book by a Colombian Nobel Prize
Winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez is so good it had to be
adapted to the big screen.
A lead character in the novel, Urbino, is a doctor in
medicine devoted to science, modernity and order and
progress. He is committed to the eradication of cholera and
to the promotion of public good. He is a rational man whose
life is organized precisely and who values the importance
and reputation of a decent society to the utmost. Urbino is
a herald of progress and modernization but foregoes all that
for love even in tempestuous times.
Like Urbino, Soludo had enough reasons to stay away from our
life so impoverished, a life of strife and sorrow. As a
world citizen, he could easily stay way anywhere in the
world and enjoy the great name, which his rare competence
and national and international roles have secured for him.
We can recall the world had, at a point, looked in his
direction for succor when the global economic meltdown
threatened the human race. Thus, he became one of the 10 men
the UN appointed into an expert committee to design policies
to wedge the collapse of the global economy.
Every Anambrarian should be proud to be associated with a
rare gem like him, and to come from the same stock, to me,
is something to be really proud and boastful about.
A man of immense vision and courage, as the governor of
Central Bank of Nigeria he came up with the consolidation of
banks policy that turned the ailing Nigerian banks into
trillionnaire institutions that preempted their collapse and
shielded them from the dire consequences of global economic
meltdown. Even in the US many big banks failed as the
meltdown took its toll, but none, up till today, is
distressed in Nigeria.
UN, recognizing Soludo’s expertise, has kept beckoning him
to come over to the world and avail it of his rare
competence. He, instead, chose to look in the direction of
his littered people, Anambra State. A people betrayed by
leadership and by its conspiratorial and machiavellian
elite. He felt his state, in such a grim strait, was in
greater need of his attention.
Over the years, in fact since the creation of the state in
1991, it has never enjoyed purposeful and visionary
leadership. Its successive governments have treated the
place as a conduit pipe for siphoning money and governance
ever since, has necessarily remained an ad-hoc arrangement.
Yes, since there is no subsisting master plan for the State,
governance can only be done as an ad-hoc measure. Where
there is no plan for a place, development can only be
erratic and tentative, and to the whim of the leaders. This
approach is contrary to the fact that development of a place
as complex as a state can only be attained through
deliberately planned and staged growth, made possible also
only by shrewd and visionary leadership.
Peter Obi recently launched three separate master plans for
Onitsha, Nnewi and Awka, which are in themselves nothing but
further disarticulations of the State’s integrated one city
state hope. In fact, the 3 master plans are separate
documents and unrelated to each other and other parts of the
It is not clear why Ngige and Peter Obi abandoned the
integrated master plan Mbadinuju developed for the entire
state. Good governance ought to be a continuum and
successive governments should only improve upon what
government before it has done and not lay them to waste.
As a concomitant, the state has remained generally
directionless and insecure, and the Anambra people carrying
on as if without government. Yes, our people are now
agonizing and organizing development at community level,
falling back on the self-help option the Igbo stock are well
known for. The longstanding neglect has culminated in
aberrant behaviours and occurrences such as kidnapping and
armed robbery and worse things, producing the odium that
makes us a people without political and social savvy, the
story of savage.
The state has been adrift and government of the day, like
others before it, has remained, at best, palliative. For
where things are today, Anambra State can now only be
salvaged at a higher level of visioning, planning, economy
articulation and deft implementations. These are not
possible without a higher level of leadership such as
offered by Chukwuma Soludo.
A closer look at Soludo and his higher order programmes as
governor shows he sees Anambra as just a shadow of what it
ought to be and now says the state should not be left in the
hands of those who have misgoverned it over the years and
treated the place as an extension of their private business
concerns by diverting the funds meant for development in the
state to personal end. In fact, Anambra state’s resources
have practically been shared by political jobbers who call
themselves godfathers of those they helped to power.
The end result of this government-by-settlement,
predictably, has been a devastated Anambra state. To
continue the rape on the state, political wars are now
openly waged by private armies of notorious politicians, who
have made the place so unsafe, forcing every of the 177
communities in the state to organize its own security
through vigilante services. Guns are everywhere in the state
which aid and abate armed robbery even by schoolchildren.
As a consequence of the endemic misrule by the successive
visionless leadership in the state, there has been a growing
exodus of Anambra traders from Onitsha to Asaba, and workers
from Awka to Enugu, where their disposable incomes made in
the state are spent. Indeed money made in the state, in a
kind of capital flight, filters out because there is
basically no secure and helpful environment for businessmen,
citizens and investors alike, to live, relax and enjoy life
For Soludo to venture into it is indeed evocative of love in
the time cholera; and he surely knows wading through such
murkiness successfully to free his people and jumpstart
super-ordinate development won’t be a tea party. He has been
bashed by even itinerant politicians who feel their source
of livelihood through political jobbing is threatened, and
the ignoramuses who keep talking about PDP imposing him.
But Soludo, an experienced public administrator,
accomplished intellectual and consummate politician, is
taking it all in his stride; he has borne the abuses and
misinterpretations of his actual motive with uncomplaining
fortitude. Yes, the roughshod has been coming in torrents
straight from the political turncoats that have wrecked the
state for their belly and still seek to maintain their
strangleholds, majority of whom have no second business
address except being professional politicians. They tell
whoever cares to listen that “those who work in the temple
feed from the Alter”. That is the farthest their philosophy
carries them. As long as the future and development are
concerned they remain bereft of ideas if not outright daft.
Soludo believes it is time the drift was arrested, and
sanity, stability and super-ordinate devolvement imposed. He
is looking at completely new Anambra state where the
fullness of the state potential and its growth engine are
unleashed and put at the proposal of the southeast, the
nation and the world.
He notes that well over 60 % of Anambra population live in
urban and semi urban decay and massive slums. This of cause
has been a culmination of a long absence of urban renewal
and slum upgrading programmes to meet the demands of
modernity, population explosion and urban pull. Thus, in
Onitsha, Nnewi and indeed in the other emerging urban
centers in the state, what you see are squalors of worst
kinds in the midst of affluence.
The urban centers in the state are places where successful
businessmen and women and the rest residents are condemned
to harsh, subhuman existence – chaotic traffic, filthy
environment, lack of electricity, no pipe borne water, no
decent schools for children and all that. Truly, all the
reminiscences of Fela’s ‘suffering and smiling’ are what
make the state; a man is in his jeep without road to his
house or in his 4 decking without electricity or ventilation
as is the case in the unplanned areas like Nkpor or Onitsha.
Soludo correctly diagnosed that, because these decays and
slums are only growing in the absence of renewal and
upgrading, the value of the landed properties in these
state’s major cities have depreciated greatly. He notes that
the over 50,000 houses in Onitsha alone have their market
value at less than 20% of their book value, and cannot
translate to assets for collaterals for bank loans.
Consequently, Anambra borrows barely 20% of what it is worth
in the banks. But gratifyingly, Soludo says it is very
possible to quadruple the market value of the landed
properties in our cities by changing life and business
patterns in the State, and that way, unleash a growth
To bring about a new dawn - the new Anambra state - Soludo
says the first step is rebuilding and remodeling Onitsha
into a mega city with full accompaniments such as
Independent Power, Cargo Airport and dredged River Niger,
Second Niger bridge and lots more.
With Anambra state as one city state in mind, Soludo wants
the development of the adjunct urban and semi urban centers
namely Awka, Nnewi, Ekwulobia urban, Otuocha, and Ihiala to
come side-by-side as complementarities with Onitsha.
He, therefore, looks forward to a full implementation of an
integrated master plan for the state (as a One City State),
following it through and at the same time, carrying out
massive urban renewal and rehabilitation.
He also believes there are other intrinsic values of human
existence that must be incorporated like being sensitive to
nature while developing and beautifying the state. This
means in staging development and growing Anambra state into
the first model, international city in Nigeria after Abuja
(what Soludo envisages as ‘the African Dubai – Taiwan’)
efforts at retaining natural landscapes where possible must
be made , in order to ensure a clean , sustainable
environment in sync with global protocols.
He wants our markets to have modern facilities such as car
parks, schools, hospitals and so on. And there must be
public parks and recreational grounds for our children and
for the relaxation of the adult population after a day’s
hard toil done usually in broiling sun. For now, our people
relax by having a binge of beer or palm wine over pots of
Isiewu, where one man can loudly boast of capacity from half
a carton to over one, over one whole isiewu to him alone!
The health implication of this mode of relaxation is well
known to the informed minds but lost on the majority of our
Soludo wants to make potable water come through our taps
again (it is difficult to remember when one saw or drank tap
water anywhere in Anambra state). He says this is very
possible by pursuing seriously Greater Water Schemes in
parts of the state. He wants to see our urban filth and
waste go away through better-articulated environmental
sanitation programmes and sewage disposal systems. In modern
cities, waste is wealth when converted into energy and
fertilizer. Soludo says he cannot understand why governance
of the state has never thought along the same path.
He is indeed a breath of fresh air – a radical departure
from our off-putting past that has made our state and its
people butt of biting jest in a nation where they were
originally–and still should be - envied champion.
(The analysis of the great transformation that awaits
Anambra State under Soludo as governor will be continued)