Rotimi Fasan

By Rotimi Fasan

CHARLES Soludo, former governor of the Central Bank and current governor of Anambra State, has of late incurred the anger of many Igbo among other supporters of Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party. This for his blunt assessment of Obi’s stewardship as governor of Anambra State and his chances in next year’s election.

As is now customary with the so-called obidients, the attack of Charles Soludo, spawned mostly by emotion than sound reason, has not surprisingly generated more heat than light on the points at issue. All Soludo did to incur the anger of his attackers followed his offhanded response to a question on Channels that the investments ascribed to Obi during his time as governor of Anambra were presently worth next to nothing.

This rather blithe remark that could have been allowed to pass did not escape the attention of Obi’s supporters, the usual suspects, in so many cases of virulent social media attacks on real and perceived enemies of Peter Obi. 

They unleashed a torrent of both slanderous and libelous bile on Soludo so much that he could have been taken for a rogue caught poisoning the communal stream. The name-calling did not stop at attacks on his person. His tormentors somehow managed to put words in the mouth of his apparently self-possessed musician-son who was reported to have registered his support for Peter Obi even as he distanced himself from his father’s comments on the aspirant president.

A spokesperson for Soludo has now debunked the false attribution to the younger Soludo and exposed it for the forgery it is. So much for those celebrating and encouraging a son to openly defy his father even as they cannot stomach the father’s right to express an opinion or even a view in a matter that he appears far more qualified to comment on than the critics taking him to task. 

Or whose voice sounds more credible and should carry more factual or truthful valence than the other in matters of governance or economic(s) investment in this instance- that of Charles Soludo’s, a respected economist, former Central Bank governor, self-confessed friend and one of Peter Obi’s successors to the governor’s seat in Awka, or the voice of his many uninformed but high-strung critics?

These are the “meddlesome interlopers” who know far less about Obi than the man they are attacking. Is it not instructive that Soludo’s critics are not the known or prominent Obi supporters aside members of his campaign council? Why did Pat Utomi saddle obidients with the task of responding to Soludo when he could have more credibly done it as an economist? 

But the rabble would rather rush in where angels fear to tread, hurling insults and invectives at Soludo’s person, his household and generations after him. He’s got their goat and they would not quit until he has been dragged into their court of (in)justice and found guilty as charged. 

All of which rather than quench the fire in him has only spurred Soludo to pen a left-handed love letter to his “obedient” critics and their kith and kin, home and abroad- “just for the records”, he says. For their refusal to let a mere comment slip by, obidients now have to contend with a full-bodied, unflattering testimonial of their idol.  

In this first part response titled “History Beckons and I will not be Silent”, Charles Soludo offers a sober, defiant and, it would seem from his own perspective, unvarnished and relatively far more granular version of his initial comment that got the cyber horde baying at him.

Having gone as far as they have in attacking Soludo and others who have dared to express a dissenting opinion about Obi, the question now is what more weapon do the obidients have left in their arsenal other than the now-familiar bullying, cusses and vitriol? Are there any more invectives to hurl?

What further climbdown the murk of insults and uneducated bullying are Nigerians to expect? Or would things take more sinister dimension as Soludo alluded to in his love note about the gun men that attacked a security post in his village? It is in the nature of the intolerant to seek sinister byways in the expression and imposition of their will on others. What are the options left after the muckraking that has trailed Charles Soludo’s comments? 

This moment must be galling for his critics but Soludo came prepared and apparently meant his essay to achieve just such feeling and probably more. This is beside his main intention to, from a historical perspective, set the record straight in terms of the deliberate convolution and misrepresentation of his view of Peter Obi.

It means nothing whether you agree with him or not what counts is that Charles Soludo has spoken his truth and shown himself to be a man of his own conviction. We know and he has admitted that he is not an angel and is susceptible to errors like any other man. But he has the right to make his stand known without necessarily having to explain to anyone or fear recrimination from others. It is the privilege of the herd in this era of suffocating intolerance to join the bandwagon of popular opinion even if only tongue in cheek. It takes people of conviction to beat a different path. 

For the most part, Soludo’s critics have had nothing more substantial to say in response to him than to engage in ad homineminsults and labelling him a saboteur out to truncate the 2023 presidential aspiration of the Igbo. There will always be a motive to every human action whether grossly self-centered or less so but that does not in itself transform truth claims into their opposites or undermine objective reality.

Even non-Igbo commentators, highly educated and exposed, posturing as supporters of Obi and impartial arbiters in this supposed family-cum national feud,have only sought to unlock the tap of self-pity by calling the Igbo their own worst enemy. For them, if anyone is critical of Obi it should not be another Igbo. 

Their apparently disinterested comments feed into and uncover the tribal angst that informs their action. Tomorrow they would with a different side of their mouth express their collective wish for and heap praises on a “detribalized” Nigerian leader while accusing Muhammadu Buhari of being partial to the Fulani.

Peter Obi’s response to Soludo, delivered at the Lagos Business School, in part satiric, in part self-deflating, has been far more sober, intelligent and appropriate than that of his supporters. He admits he is no saint and accepts some of the failings ascribed to him, even of the diminished value of the investments he made. This is the response of a leader and potential president. 

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