I am not an Igbo man and can only hear a smattering of the language but I got interested in the song some children were singing on Sunday when they went to visit Professor Charles Soludo, a day after the first round of the governorship election in Anambra State. This is the song:
Soludo, Soludo, Soludo ka anyi ga-eso,
Ma o na-eje eje ma o na-ana ana,
Soludo ka anyi ga-eso.
I didn’t know a word of what they were singing, but I was humming along with them because those days during the Shagari presidency, when we went covering NPN campaign rallies in the East, mostly with Vice-President Alex Ekwueme of blessed memory, the song always reverberated on the campaign grounds – without the name Soludo of course – and the women’s voices were the loudest.
As I said, I was humming the song on Sunday, along with the kids as played back on TV and I am told many of the children are on Soludo’s scholarship, but I had no idea of the lyrics or meaning. Yesterday, I got Yemisi Izuora, my friendly Yoruba journalist married to an Igbo man, to translate for me and this is what she gave me:
Soludo, Soludo, Soludo is the one we will follow,
Whether he’s going or he’s coming,
Soludo is the one we will follow.
Well, Soludo has come. And they have the opportunity to follow him anywhere he goes as their elected governor. After Tuesday’s supplementary elections in Ihiala, the 21st and last local government in Anambra where INEC said election was not held on Saturday, Soludo of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA or APUGA, as the people in that area keep calling the party, has been formally announced as duly elected to take over from Willy Obiano as governor of Anambra State come March 2022.
“Charles Chukwuma Soludo of APGA, having satisfied the requirements of the law is hereby declared the winner and is returned elected,” the Returning Officer of the election and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Calabar, Professor Florence Obi announced just before 2a.m. on Wednesday morning.
Soludo, Nigerian’s Central Bank Governor between 2004 and 2009, will quickly find out the difference between being CBN and Anambra State governor, but that he defeated the other candidates from the other 17 contesting parties is not in doubt, winning 19 of the 21 local government areas, including Tuesday’s bride, Ihiala.
The governor-elect garnered 112,229 votes to defeat Valentine Ozigbo of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, who polled 53,807 votes, as well as Andy Uba of the All Progressives Congress, APC – 43,285 votes, and Ifeanyi Ubah of the Young Progressive Party, YPP who came 4th with 21,261 votes.
For now, the victory must taste sweet in the mouth for Soludo, after all the internal party and court battles which at a time seem to want to truncate the ambition of the man, regarded as an economist of all economists.
Born on 28th July, 1960, just a couple of months before Nigeria’s independence, Soludo hails from Isuofia in Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State.
His impressive CV contains a first class degree in Economics, Masters and Doctorate degrees in Economics, all from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, with best graduating student prizes always following in his wake. Post-doctoral training, fellowships and visiting research scholarships in prestigious institutions like The Brookings Institution, Washington, DC; University of Cambridge; University of Warwick and University of Oxford were to follow.
With work and consultancy experience in the World Bank; United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Addis Ababa, UNCTAD; European Union (EU); Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD); United Nations (UN) New York; United States Agency for International Development (USAID); African Development Bank (ADB); Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA); African Union (AU); International Development Research Council (IDRC) Canada; Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA); and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Charles Soludo seems to have been arming himself in readiness for the arduous task of providing leadership in this all-important commercial State that is a business hub in many ways.
These consulting positions, added to political appointments by the Federal Government as Economic Adviser to President Olusegun Obasanjo and as Chief Executive of the National Planning Commission (NPC) and other posts, make his resume as impressive as they come.
However, we all know that governing a State in a country like Nigeria and in a State like Anambra where the citizens are well educated will not be as easy as consulting for international agencies, nor will running the State’s economy be as smooth as described in economic books. The political hawks from within and outside his party, APGA, will be in the wings, looking for a piece of the action and if they don’t get what they want, they may start looking for how to make him fail.
In addition, while President Muhammadu Buhari, candidates of the losing parties and other groups have congratulated Soludo on the outcome of the election, we should not rule out the usual court cases that will challenge the results. One of the candidates had promised to approach the Supreme Court, if he lost the election, even before the result was declared. For once, it will be wise to advise such people to leave our courts out of the country’s democratic process and let the will of the people, as shown in election results, prevail.
Many of the contestants and observers, including Governor-elect Soludo himself, have commended the Independent National Electoral Commission for a job well done, with suggestions on how to make future elections run smoother, especially in the deployment of technology.
There is no doubt that the deployment of technology in the electoral process is the only way to go, to ensure free, fair and credible elections. Looking towards the 2023 general elections, the hope is that INEC, with the support of the National Assembly and the various security agencies will work together to ensure that Nigeria’s electoral process is smooth and comparable to those the country is trying to emulate in other parts of the world.
IMAGE CREDIT: Channels TV