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Soludo’s rough road

By Ochereome Nnanna

SINCE Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo entered the race for the governorship of Anambra State a few months ago, he must have gone through enough experience to make his five-year sojourn at the Central Bank of Nigeria a child’s play.

The only sweet part of it was the “entrance” dinner attended by the cream of leaders in the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

From the moment he picked up his nomination form as one of the 47 interested in the PDP ticket for the February 2010 poll, all hell broke loose. Coming at a time when the new regime at the CBN started its own sweeping reforms, many saw his political ambition as a desperate search for some kind of political immunity.

A number of scandals were being bandied in the media, among which was the polymer currency scam. So far, not a single concrete fact of criminality or illegality has been established against Soludo.

Another area commentators worried over Soludo’s candidature was why he chose to plunge into the murky waters of Anambra politics which, even by Nigerian standards, is in a class of its own.

Why did he not take a deserving rest after CBN, go and live abroad and consult for international financial agencies and economic institutions? After all, he was named as one of the eminent economists in the world to help rescue the international economy from the meltdown and recession.

In his campaign pamphlet, which he distributed among senior editors, columnists and managers of major media houses in Lagos a couple of weeks ago, he declared that he had a duty to go in and wrest his state from the grip of political thugs, godfathers and mafia, who have rendered one of the most promising states in Nigeria into a political wasteland which everybody now ridicules.

Politics only takes on the character of those playing it. If they are clean it is clean. If they are dirty it is dirty. If you desire clean politics you do not sit in the comfort of your luxury mansion in Lagos and Abuja or skip abroad from where you lament the frightful and shameful exploits of dirty politicians who are bold enough to play the game. That was his reply in a nut shell.

Soludo does not have to worry about his CBN track records if he is sure that his hands are clean, as clear conscience fears no accusation. If Sanusi Lamido Sanusi had any evidence of wrong doing against his predecessor, he does not appear to me like the kind of person who will hesitate to send Madam Farida Waziri after Soludo.

Again, the choice belongs to Soludo to work in Nigeria or abroad, or sleep in his house or be involved in the politics of his state. People like to grandstand about issues once they are not the ones involved.

The main worry I have about Soludo’s candidacy is not that he was selected by the party. The PDP has exercised its right to field a candidate it feels will deliver on its vision for Anambra State. I have my reservations about they way the party went about it though.

Since it knew, right off the bat, that Soludo was its choice it was fraudulent and immoral to call for nominations and collect non-refundable deposits of over N5 million  from each aspirant only to announce the man it had in mind. That is 419.

Those who are fighting Soludo’s candidacy and vowing that Anambra PDP “will not” have a candidate, are doing so because they were duped. Sometimes it is not the money alone that drives the quest for vengeance. It is the hurt pride.

But in the case of Anambra PDP, it goes beyond the money and pride. It has to do with the fight for the survival of a party faction that was so confident of its ability to buy the nomination process that it spared no expense in that direction. Most of the so-called 47 candidates were stooges of a well-known infamous “godfather” whose track records in Anambra politics, which reached its zenith in 2003, is well known to all. This fellow’s structure was so well-oiled that there was no democratic way of avoiding the victory of his ultimate candidate, who is said to be his in-law.

Faced with the prospect of playing into the hands of Mr Chris Uba again, and with the chaos which it partly engineered to ensure the failure of a democratic nomination, the PDP confirmed Soludo’s candidacy and has stood by it.

In the past, when they did this kind of thing, it was usually to subvert the emergence of a quality candidate in Anambra State. But this time, the PDP has given itself a chance to produce a sound candidate who will be able to stand before the All Peoples Grand Alliance’s (APGA’s) Mr Peter Obi and Action Congress’ (AC’s) Dr Chris Ngige. The candidacy of these three great sons of Anambra State is a welcome development, and I wish them the best of luck as they bid for the mandate of the Anambra electorate.

Soludo’s rough road is the type that usually leads to a happy ending. Nothing good comes easy. No sweat, no sweet. Let him walk his own rough road. But if at the end his opponents succeed in using the courts to stop him, we will be consoled by the fact that it will not be the “godfather’s” in-law calling the shots from the Government House of Anambra State.

The liberation torch that Chris Ngige lit in 2003 will still be burning brightly under the care of either Ngige himself or Obi or any other person chosen by the people of Anambra State, Professor Maurice Iwu’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) permitting.


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