By Ochereome Nnanna
In my Abiriba culture, we have a saying that a person who will kill a cow for his father (Ogbuefi) is known from his earliest childhood.
In ancient Igbo culture, killing a cow was the highest honour a person could bestow on his parents, or himself when taking a title. It was a symbol of nobility.
“Cow” here does not mean the culturally-inferior Fulani long-legged travellers commonly slaughtered for soups and stews.
We are talking about the short-legged domestic zebu oxen which were associated with the affluent and distinguished of men.
It was known as Efi Igbo (Igbo cow). Unfortunately, the Igbo have abandoned the practise of farming their own efi.
They have turned to patronising the Fulani for their cow which in turn, attracts armed Fulani to their forests and farms.
Charles Chukwuma Soludo was that boy who would kill a cow.
His journey to the Anambra State Government House started way back in 1983 when he contested for the presidency of the Students Union of the University of Nigeria Nsukka, UNN.
A gangly 23-year-old, Soludo stood out in his oratory and soapbox skills. His campaign mantra was: “Soludo is the Solution”, a sound-bite which etches directly into your consciousness for the rest of your life.
Wait a minute, what does “Soludo” really mean? In the general Igbo sense of the word it means “follow the path of peace”.
But in his Isuofia cosmology, it means something dramatically different. There is a wicked deity called “Udo” (not the same pronunciation as “Udo” (peace).
It supposedly metes out instant retribution to anyone who violates its principles. The name, according to this narrative, is “Soolu Udo” or “beware of Udo”.
Soludo’s early promise as a hotshot student-politician and first class brain marked him out as a man to watch. He surfaced, 20 years after graduation as a budding Professor of Economics and President Olusegun Obasanjo’s Chief Economic Adviser/Head of National Planning in 2003.
In that capacity, Soludo produced the celebrated National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy, NEEDS. That Obasanjo Economic Team (which included the iconic Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as Finance Minister) created a rare rosy time for the middle class and ensured that the economic meltdown of 2008 never affected the Nigerian economy.
Obasanjo, a stickler for merit, was so impressed with the quality of that document that he appointed Soludo Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to walk his talk.
Soludo’s brave consolidation of banks remains the greatest panacea against failure which has endured till date.
Who knows what would have been the fate of the Naira if President Umar Yar’Adua had allowed him to redenominate it?
During the recently-concluded campaigns, Soludo leveraged on his 39 years of experience as a soapbox thespian to put the other contestants in the shade.
As usual, he brandished a NEEDS-like pamphlet which contained to the smallest detail how he intends to actualise his campaign promises.
Unlike previous times he ran for governor, all the elements fell into place in his favour.
These included a supportive Governor Willie Obiano and President Muhammadu Buhari who permitted the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC and the armed forces to do a professional job.
Soludo must wait until March 2022 to start his tenure as Governor of Anambra State.
I hope he has a watertight legal luggage. I am sure that Andy Ubah and his legal goons are desperately tooth-combing for the slightest lacuna with a view to benefiting from the rot in our Judiciary as Hope Uzodimma did in Imo State.
Let Emeka Ihedioha’s lackadaisical attitude to his legal matters which cost him his occupancy of Douglas or Ikonso House teach Soludo never to under-estimate the desperation of ndi mgbu: enemies.
Soludo should see his mandate beyond the implementation of his touted “Taiwan-Dubai” agenda.
Anambra already has the seeds of greatness. In the hands of a visionary, it will simply “explode” once the needed reforms are entrenched.
Coming at a time when the Biafra restoration struggle is in high play in Igbo land, Soludo is the bridge between what I call “the patriots” and the “revolutionaries”.
The “patriots” are Ndi-Igbo who still believe in Nigeria and would want to be part of solutions to its problems.
The “revolutionaries” are Ndi-Igbo who have lost total faith in Nigeria. They want Biafra, the Land of Freedom and the Rising Sun.
The Buhari regime’s pugnacious attitude towards Ndi-Igbo has handed the upper hand to the “revolutionaries” who now command the loyalties of the Igbo grassroots.
There is a yawning gap between the two sides.
Unless someone stands in that gap to provide a meeting point between the two sides, the gap could transform into a drawn battle line.
Soludo must resist being sucked into either side. He should lead the effort to provide a common ground for the two sides to cohabit and grow.
I call it the Biafran-Nigerian agenda. Ndi-Igbo should see themselves as “Biafran-Nigerians” just as Black Americans are ‘African-Americans”.
Unlike African-Americans, Igbo have a distinct enclave. It is possible to develop a common agenda for the South East such that Ndi-Igbo can start implementing their Biafra vision while still in Nigeria, leveraging on their humongous homeland and Diaspora resources.
This agenda must start now because the Nigeria we have at the moment may not last. Unless something is quickly done to restore the faith, loyalty and patriotism of all Nigerians, those wickedly foisting their religious, regional and ethnic agenda on the rest will push Nigeria over the precipice any time now.
Ndi-Igbo must start implementing their Biafra agenda while still in Nigeria such that if/when Nigeria gives way, they will already have something to build on.
Soludo is the most qualified and best placed to lead this effort. That is my agenda for Charlie Nwamgbafo.