October 21, 2021

Is Anambra on the verge of becoming Imo?

Niger Republic

By Ikechukwu Amaechi

POLITICALLY savvy Nigerians now see Imo State as a metaphor for political malfeasance. It is not, therefore, a surprise that the refrain in Anambra State today as the November 6 governorship election inches closer is “Anambra is not Imo.”And it is contextual.

Anambrarians are proud and self-assured. With their indomitable optimism and can-do spirit, they, like many other Igbo, are confident and willing to solve problems, rather than complain or give up. And many of them have the resources to walk their talk.

So, when some quip that Anambra is not Imo, it is a jibe at Imolites for allowing the travesty after the 2019 governorship election in which the man who came fourth became the tenant of Douglas House in Owerri to subsist.

Never mind that the people did what they were supposed to do at the ballot and had no hand in the charade for which they are derided. Yet, it is the desire of a majority of Ndigbo, including Imolites, that Anambra had better not be Imo.

So, Anambra not being Imo means that the votes of Anambra electorate will determine who wins the ballot on November 6 and no one, no matter how powerful, can change it. The din of this refrain became louder when Governor Hope Uzodimma was appointed chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, national campaign council responsible for ensuring that its candidate, Andy Uba, wins in Anambra.

Since the council was inaugurated on August 17, so much has happened that seems to have given the APC a momentum, judging by the number of defections to it from other political parties, particularly the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, the ruling party in the State. But it shouldn’t matter how many APGA top brass are jumping ship at this late hour because, let no one be deceived, it is not about the people, those defections are self-serving.

The argument that Anambra should be “captured” by the APC just like Imo in order to take her to the centre is also preposterous because if membership of the ruling party at the national level is what it takes to leapfrog development at the sub-national level, Katsina, the home state of President Muhammadu Buhari, would have been heaven on earth and Imo wouldn’t have been the mess it is today, having been superintended since 2015, except for the brief seven months that Emeka Ihedioha was in office, by APC governors – first by Rochas Okorocha and now Uzodimma.

Nothing suggests that Katsina or Imo is better governed than Enugu that is in the column of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, or even Anambra that has been under the control of APGA in the last 15 years. The politicians jumping ship are doing so for their selfish interest, which has nothing to do with the common good.

In any case, there are no ideological differences between the political parties. Political actors only use them as vehicles to hitch a ride to power and when it breaks down, rather than fixing it, they conveniently board another vehicle.

So, as the Anambra governorship poll beckons, individuals should matter more than political parties. The pedigree of the candidates should make the difference. As Americans say, “all politics is local.”

Though there are 18 candidates, it is a straight battle between Mr. Valentine Ozigbo of the PDP, Uba of the APC and Professor Chukwuma Soludo, former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, on the platform of APGA.

Ordinarily, this should have been a straight fight between Ozigbo and Soludo, two first class brains but because the APC has vowed to capture Anambra by all means, Uba has also been thrown into the equation.

But Soludo stands out. For Anambra not to become Imo, the electorate have a clear choice to make on November 6. Electing those whose only contribution to Anambra politics is the elevation of shenanigans, those who, rather than using their positions of authority to lift the state, orchestrated the three-day mayhem where the Governor’s Lodge, Anambra Broadcasting Service, Legislative Building and the House of Assembly Complex were burnt down in November 2003, is the surest route to the metaphorical Imo.

What Anambra needs is transformational leadership. Soludo holds the aces. As James MacGregor Burns, former president of the American Political Science Association, noted in his 1978 book, Leadership, “leaders and their followers raise one another to higher levels of morality and motivation.” If people of intellect do not exercise the moral authority that Burns places on them, the society is worse for it.

It is the absolute lack of people of intellect in the corridors of power in Imo that brought the state to this sorry pass where it has become the butt of all national political jokes. Soludo is a man of profound intellect.

With a doctorate degree from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, UNN, and post-doctoral education in some of the world’s most prestigious institutions, including Oxford and Cambridge, he is a scholar of international repute. He was a professor of economics at UNN before he went into public service; first as Chief Economic Adviser to President Olusegun Obasanjo and later CBN Governor.

He has worked as a consultant for some of the most reputable international organizations, including the World Bank, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and United Nations Development Programme. In all these assignments, Soludo showed capacity and delivered.

In fact, his banking consolidation programme is adjudged one of the most successful in the world. Not only did the Nigerian banking sector become the fastest growing in Africa and one of the fastest growing in the world, it placed the economy at the centre of the global flow of financial capital, thereby making the Nigerian financial markets a major destination of foreign capital. 

That is the man Anambra needs right now. With the executive powers that the governorship position confers on him, Soludo will even surpass his achievements at the CBN. With his clear-cut and well-articulated manifesto which he predicated on four distinct pillars – economic transformation of Anambra as the next technology and leisure hub; social agenda for education, youth, women and vulnerable groups; governance, rule of law and value system, which will be public-sector- driven with new governance system and rule of law that discourages get rich-quick and unearned income et cetera, and environment, clean, green, planned sustainable cities and markets – Anambra will blossom.

I have heard some people say that Soludo should be held vicariously liable for whatever they deem as the failings of the APGA government under Governor Willy Obiano. That is laughable. Soludo is not yet the governor of Anambra State. He is only aspiring to be. In any case, why are the same people not holding Andy Uba liable for the failings of the APC governments at all levels across the country?

It is absurd that given our experience with Buhari, some people are still suggesting that a man who has not shown any capacity to deliver on transformational leadership be made governor with the hope that he will surround himself with technocrats who will do the work. That is political heresy. Nemo dat quod non habet, a legal rule, which means “no one can give what they do not have,” applies literarily to individuals.

In 2015, even those who had come to the conclusion that given Buhari’s antecedents as a military head of state in the mid-1980s, he did not have what it takes to govern a democratic Nigeria voted for him all the same, hoping that miraculously, he will recruit those who have capacity to do the work.

Nigeria has not recovered from that miscalculation and will not recover in the near future. The nature of power, particularly in a Third World country like Nigeria is such that men without capacity are reluctant to hire their superiors in intellect. It takes men of intellect who do not suffer from inferiority complex to do that. That is the quality Soludo brings on board.

Electing the wrong person and hoping that God will then give him the capacity to govern is tantamount to doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. That is the definition of insanity. Anambra State is too strategic to the South East that ndi-Anambra cannot afford that luxury.