By Vincent Ujumadu
TODAY makes it the 10th day in office of Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo, as the governor of Anambra State.
It has, indeed, been a period loaded with action for the Professor of Economics. His swearing in ceremony on March 17, 2022 was not without some kind of drama following the fisticuffs between the wife of his predecessor, Mrs. Ebelechukwu Obiano and the wife of the late Ikemba Nnewi, Mrs. Bianca Ojukwu in the presence of guests invited for the ceremony at the Government House, Awka.
The altercation between Mrs. Obiano who is aspiring to the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2023 and Mrs. Ojukwu, a former Nigerian Ambassador to Spain with accreditation to the Vatican, took the shine off the solemn oath taking ceremony of Soludo and his deputy, Dr. Onyekachukwu Ibezim. The slap landed on Mrs. Obiano by Bianca Ojukwu has since gone viral in the social media, with many comedians having a field day with the incident.
But that incident did not make the new governor to lose focus of his programme for the day as he immediately entered his office where he held various meetings for the next eight hours. However, the new governor received the unpalatable news of the arrest and detention of his predecessor, Chief Willie Obiano by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC at the international wing of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos on his way to the United States of America, USA, over alleged misappropriation of funds during his eight year tenure as governor.
The following day, Soludo headed to Okpoko, the slum city in Ogbaru local government area on the bank of the River Niger. It is estimated that about one million people live in Okpoko, an area that lacks decent accommodation and basic social amenities.
During his electioneering campaign, Soludo had hinted of his desire to have his inaugural ceremony in Okpoko if he won the election, but due to logistical problems, the governor could not have his way. While interacting with Okpoko people, he sympathized with them for finding themselves in such a dehumanizing place and promised to clean it up without delay. He also visited Onitsha, the commercial nerve center of the state and the reception he received was grand.
On the third day, Sunday, the 19th of March, Soludo and members of his family and friends worshipped at his home church in Isuofia, Aguata local government area and from there, went to the Nigerian Correctional Center at Ekwulobia where he interacted with the inmates to know their conditions.
For the fourth day, Soludo’s first assignment for the day was an interview with the Arise News Television crew during which he spoke on a number of issues concerning Anambra State, including security, economy of the state, the amount of money he inherited and the state’s debt profile, his decision to patronize made in Anambra goods as a matter of policy, among others. In fact, from the day Soludo received his certificate of return from the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, he has consistently been adorning the local Akwete fabric and true to his earlier promise, his official car is the Innoson Vehicle manufactured in Nnewi.
Within the week also, Soludo made six appointments. The first three, the Secretary to the State Government, SSG, the deputy Chief of Staff and Director of Protocol and the Accountant General of the state, were announced on the day he assumed office, while the other three appointments namely, the Chief of Staff, the Special Adviser on Security Matters and Chairman of the State Inland Revenue Service, were made on Tuesday. The former SSG, Professor Solo Chukwulobelu, who served as the Director General of APGA Campaign Council for the election of Soludo was retained, a former Mayor of London and chairman of APGA in the United Kingdom, Mr. Ernest Ezeajuyi was named Chief of Staff, while Air Vice Marshall Ben Chiobi (rtd) was appointed the Security Adviser to the governor. The other appointments were those of Mr. Richard Madiebo as the executive chairman of Anambra Internal Revenue Service, Chinedu Nwoye as the Deputy Chief of Staff and head of Protocol and Dr. Chukwu Okoli as the Accountant General of the state. He has also promised that his list of Commissioners will be presented to the state House of Assembly next week for approval.
While Soludo was gradually settling down for the business of the state, the anonymous group, the unknown gunmen released a document threatening to deal with people who would, henceforth, disobey the weekly Monday sit at home.
In what appeared to be a challenge to the governor, the gunmen wrote: “Any group of persons violating the sit at home order will be severely dealt with. Any movement of tricycle, task force members of security operatives, will face our action no matter what it will cost us. We are out for work. Stay off on sit at home on Mondays and every court day.
“Any company or organization found working on Mondays or any day Mazi Nnamdi Kanu would be in court will be shut down forever and the owner of the company will be fished out and made to face our wrath”.
It was also noticed within the week that keke operators in the major cities of the state became more daring as they were blocking major roads while loading the tricycles and operating as if there is no government. The action, the keke operators said, is to test the powers of the new government.
The governor, who is still keeping his plans on how to tackle such matters said it would be a matter of time before sanity would return. “Discussions are ongoing. We held security meeting immediately after swearing in and I believe that we will get these issues cracked. The sit at home thing will definitely end and we are working with the stakeholders, including IPOB. We will engage everybody. It is the people’s power that will prevail at the end of the day.
“The poor innocent drivers, the market women, keke drivers and artisans, the vulcanizers are the ones suffering and that is why it has to end. Our people are usually the losers\ as the people who would have come to shop in Anambra go somewhere else on Mondays to shop. We are determined to ensure law and order in this state because without peace we can’t get anywhere”
One thing that must gladden the heart of Governor Soludo is the solidarity showed by even political opponents during his swearing in as politicians from other political parties came in large numbers. Among those who attended the ceremony were the former governor of the state and presidential aspirant for 2023 on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Mr. Peter Obi, the senator representing Anambra Central, Senator Uche Ekwunife, also of PDP, as well as many captains of industry.