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The Soludo of Our Hopes


The University of Nigeria Nsukka trained Professor of Economics, Professor Chukwuma Soludo who was the best student in his class, through his Bachelors , Masters and Phd, is an energetic and expressive personality.
But also factually, a brilliant, warm and relentless perfectionist, who is fueled by challenges and ever relentless in engagement.

Soludo has always wanted to be Governor of Anambra, it was as if the Central Bank governorship, was just an elaborate appetizer, so that even after his sojourn to the global heights of academia and economic management, he never lost sight of Anambra Government House.

The first time i met him, at the sidelines of a public function in Abuja 2013, I immediately asked him if he was still keen on the governorship, ‘Yes, very much he replied, without mincing words, ‘but we will see what the indices are, when the time comes.

And today, after many false starts and a failed attempt, he has won a crown of glory, and the unprecedented trust and mandate of his people, who braved all odds, despite many fears and hitches, in the buildup and elections proper.

His dramatic and resounding victory, has not only placed a burden of hope, like never before, on Soludo, but also on the people of Anambra.
A people overwhelmingly united in their trust, at a very challenging time in their lives and their history, to say the least.

Soludo must quickly shake off the awe, and get to work in proving himself.
Because while the demand of Central Bank Governor is embedded in layers of coporate insulation, the work of state governor directly affects the citizenry, each and every day.

And no governor of Anambra state will be scrutinised as much as Soludo.
Not just by the people of Anambra, but throughout the country and beyond, including even those who pretend, as if they are not very interested.

There have been extensive reviews of Soludo’s manifesto, so this ‘simple view’ will be made outside that framework, for a change.

I can summarize Soludo’s work ahead, in three category points… if he is able to manage these well, he will be overwhelmed by his pace, scale and results.

Firstly , He needs to immediately have at hand, a comprehensive designed, practicable and tailored master plan concept, complete with timelines and spatial detailing.

Perhaps, a revolutionary two pronged plan, one for statewide quality integrated infrastructure, on one hand,
and another, to rapidly upgrade the standard of life and local business, and the quality and availability of healthcare, education and other social needs.

This task is not for the myopic, unimaginative or weak hearted,
Providing a brand new physical infrastructure network , that carries water pipes, internet cables, electricity and drainage in parallel ducts, reaching all the centres of the state.

But it is no rocket science either.
If Dubai can do it in barely 20 years, Anambra can effectively make progress, in the next four years.

As they say in Anambra, those that have done it in other places , do not have two heads, and this must be the spirit of the Soludo sojourn.

For example, an Anambra born engineer/entrepreneur, based in the USA, should be able to land at the Anambra Airport with tech experts and investors, and immediately get on a light train to Nnewi.
Check them into a true five star hotel, and next day, they visit their proposed mechanised breadfruit farm and processing centre at Igbariam, which also has an attached agric tools sub- factory.
All being developed with state government incentive, support and partnership.
Then in the evening, he drives them cooly, with no fears, to Agulu Lakeside Resort , to watch the Egedege dance of Theresa Onourah perform, in an air-conditioned ultra modern event centre.

For further example, He needs to properly decentralize Onitsha Market into several specialized trade districts of well adapted ultramodern facilities, incorporating residential estates, schools, etc

And spread these into about five nucleus locations across the state to accelerate intra-regional development and reduce congestion, crime, dilapidation and discomfort.

Second point, peace and harmony is vital. So Soludo needs to manage the nationalist agitation head on, by forging formidable confidential communication channels to the groups;
And aggregating their demands with those of the larger populace, before pushing strategically and vehemently, for these positions, to be resolved by dialogue with the federal authorities and other friendly partners.

He needs to instill, that military force will not work, and will only spread the agitation;
And that the only true way forward, for all parties, is to pocket their egos, and discuss the undiscussable..
Nothing else will work.

To succeed in this, Soludo must build a credible alliance with all the other states in the region, for there’s no doubt that the people of the region are not only much more fundamentally united in thought today, but also all engulfed without exception, in the serious problems that challenge peace and development therein.

But while a pan-South-east initiative in security and politics is imperative, a redefined and immediate regional framework for infrastructural and development integration must take off, in practical terms.
This has been talked about so much more, than practicalised.
Soludo needs to push the question ‘what are we waiting for’? and follow through on a concerted work plan.

Thirdly, Soludo’s biggest tool is the huge human and material resources available in quality and quantity among the Anambra people, both in Nigeria, and around the world.
So, he needs to become a rallying point for all Anambrarians, both rich and poor, the educated and uneducated, including the half educated.
He needs to place himself above the fray, the dichotomies, power corridor rats, habitual trouble makers, gossips and all diversive and divisive trivialities;

And sail the high ground, by busying himself in service, and in projects;
And in so doing, inspire the people to cultivate a renewed trust in government and a new spirit of partnership, involvement and ownership of government.

Significantly, Soludo needs to set an agenda for the youth, where lack of direction has pushed many bright brains to self help, with a local cultism and drug addiction problem, growing more rapidly, than admitted.
Smart farming and tech hubs have not developed as fast as possible in Anambra,
Soludo has an endless bank of smart youth to occupy a comprehensive and statewide programme in both departments , providing world class iinnovation and more jobs, and new possibilities in alternative career choices.

But he must also carry along the local communities, preserving their culture and improving their lifestyle, especially as he will need to reach understanding with them on land acquisition for thoroughfare expansion and development projects.

His skill in effectively courting, organizing and mobilizing the private sector, will be the most important in his administration.

Anambra is bursting with private wealth, people with the money and capacity to muster finance for any standard, in world class infrastructure.

He must get them into mutual-benefit development joint ventures,
And then, using a variety of concessions, business licenses, land allocations etc, contract them to finance for profit, his various major development schemes,
While his govt critically supervises for quality, eases admin bottlenecks and spends public funds on social improvements.

If Soludo can quickly establish this rapport, it will ease pressure on state funds, boost the economy, and promote a new spirit of solidarity , cooperation and enterprise,
necessary to calm tensions, and trigger a genuine regional rennaisance, not seen before, since the time of Michael Okpara.

Let me make it very clear that all the above are very very possible for a Soludo to achieve.
There is nothing unrealistic about true capability.
All he needs is focus and organization.
Everything he requires, is within his grasp.
He has the qualifications in education, the seasoning in experience and the reputation in high management .

He has a state, with enormous potential, that has proved it’s promise, on the hard work of the people, and the fair example of his predecessors.
But most importantly, he carries the overwhelming hope and trust of his people, at a crossroads of emergency and self definition.

Soludo’s popular ascendancy, and the new airport in Anambra, are not only prime landmarks of the legacy of Governor Obiano, but his success is vital to the consolidation of the revitalization and repositioning of APGA, as a wider political party, and Soludo owes them no less, for the support and platform they have firmly provided.

If Soludo fails, then the ultimate victims shall be the people, and their faith shall be the casualty.
It may be easier to regain all that has materially been lost, but not to rebuild the kind of trust, the peope have bestowed on him, at this point in time.

For Soludo, failure is an impossibility, for annihilation will be the consequence.

But Soludo cannot fail, no, the Ijele will never fall, he is equipped, capable and ready .. too strong-willed to be dissuaded by doubt, and too well prepared, to set his sights low.
In a nutshell, what is required in Anambra is rapid modernisation, and Soludo must be the driver, to set this trajectory to full realization.

There is no time to waste, for the village boy from Isuofia, who lost his mother at the tender age of eight.
Like the emblem of his party APGA depicts, he must set out for the farm at Cockcrow,
In order to bring in the harvest, before the next planting season ..

He has been handed the knife, but he must now decide how best to slice the yam.

***Onwuocha is a Real Estate professional, Certified Speech writer, Entrepreneur and Policy Consultant.
He was the Special Assistant, Research, and Principal Speech Writer, to President Goodluck Jonathan, and hails from Nimo, Anambra State

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Nigeria’s Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu, on Tuesday held a closed-door meeting with Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, with one of the major subjects of discussion being the Malabu OPL 245 scandal. Prof. Yemi Osinbajo accompanied by Dr. Ibe Kachikwu Prof. Yemi Osinbajo accompanied by Dr. Ibe Kachikwu Tuesday’s meeting comes about five days after Mr. Kachikwu told journalists that ongoing investigation and prosecution of two multinational oil firms, Shell and ENI, in Nigeria and Italy, for their alleged roles in the Malabu scandal, will not lead to a stoppage of work on the controversial oil block, OPL 245. The Tuesday meeting at the Aso Villa, Abuja, was also attended by ENI officials represented by officials of its Nigerian subsidiary, NAOC; as well as officials of the Nigerian state oil firm, NNPC. Mr. Kachikwu confirmed to journalists after Tuesday’s meeting that Zabazaba field, part of the OPL 245, was a major topic of discussion during the meeting. “The Acting President chaired two meetings this morning. The first was with the ministry of Petroleum, NNPC and Agip Oil Company. “In the first meeting, we dealt largely with issues relating to Agip’s investment on Zabazaba Field,” Mr. Kachikwu said, adding that the discussion also centred on “their cooperation with us in terms of repairs of the Port Harcourt refinery where they are working with Oando and a few other people.” Mr. Kachikwu’s stance on the OPL 245 scandal, which saw ENI and Shell pay $1.1 billion through the Nigerian government to private accounts of a convicted money launderer, is at variance with that of the anti-graft EFCC which wants the block returned to the Nigerian government since it was ‘fraudulently’ obtained. PREMIUM TIMES had reported how the block was awarded in 1998 to Malabu, a firm partly owned by then petroleum minister, Dan Etete, in violation of Nigerian laws. Mr. Etete would later be convicted of money laundering in France. Former Minister Dan Etete, the man behind Malabu Tuesday’s meeting appears to be Mr. Kachikwu’s way of getting Mr. Osinbajo to agree with his position on resolving the scandal, which is to focus more on the business side of the oil block rather than the EFCC’s criminal trial. “Total investment from Agip involved in both the Zabazaba field, the power plant and the new refinery is in excess of $15 billion. That is major push in terms of our search for investment,’’ Mr. Kachikwu said after the meeting. The potential deal would also allow Agip to “build a brand new refinery of 150,000 barrels capacity in Port-Harcourt or Brass, Bayelsa State,” Mr. Kachikwu said. The minister did not explain if the proposal for the refinery is tied to ENI and Shell continuing to operate OPL 245 or if they were separate unrelated deals. The minister said Nigerian government and Agip officials are currently drafting a memorandum of understanding that will see the new deals through. Mr. Kachikwu said last week that the administration would focus on getting Shell and ENI to continue work on Zabazaba field, which is part of the OPL 245 in offshore Bayelsa. “We need to talk because without any impact in terms of the project, which must continue, these are huge billions of dollars of investment in Nigeria, I am not going to shut that down. “The issue of the criminality is outside my realm,” he said. “My realm is doing two things: Make sure the investments go ahead so we can get returns, and two, get back the one billion dollars from wherever they said they have put it and give me back the money so that the Federal Government can have it back.” The Zabazaba deepwater is a greenfield offshore licence block located in the OPL 245 along the eastern coast of Niger Delta with water depths ranging from 1,200 to 2,400 metres. The OPL 245 is considered one of the richest oil blocks in Africa estimated to contain billions of barrels of crude oil. Mr. Kachikwu’s insistence that Shell and Eni must continue the project contradicts ongoing efforts by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to charge the Malabu scandal suspects to court and recover the entire field for the Nigerian government. Although a court granted an EFCC request to return the oil block to the Nigerian government, the court reversed that ruling after Shell and ENI appealed against it. In Italy, prosecutors are ramping up plans to arraign a former Attorney General, Bello Adoke, former Minister of Petroleum, Dan Etete, and 11 others, including Shell and ENI officials, for their alleged roles in the controversial deal. Summary of Malabu’s history The EFCC accused Mr. Adoke of being on the run, and the anti-graft agency earlier this month sought a court order to compel him to appear for trial. Last month, Mr. Adoke vowed not to return to Nigeria until he secured assurances from the Nigerian government that he would not be persecuted. “I will definitely come back, if I have the assurance that they will not harm me, they will not humiliate me any further, they will respect the laws of the land,” Mr. Adoke told The Cable in an interview published on April 18. Apart from the ongoing criminal probe of the field, Mohammed Abacha and other stakeholders in the Malabu Oil and Gas Limited, a questionable company that secured the OPL 245 in 1998, are also seeking to repossess the oil block in an ongoing litigation. Infographic—Malabu

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