By Ken Eluma Asogwa.
Given the nationwide unprecedented surge in support of Peter Obi’s presidential ambition, it is now getting clearer to the establishment, especially the economic locusts that have held Nigeria down since the 60s, that real darger is lurking around. Food is about to be taken away from the mouths of so many politicians and crumb-pickers who largely depend on Nigeria’s incongruous patronage system for survival. Politicians now fall over one another in the investment of efforts to puncture Peter Obi’s claims to prudence, and other sundry claims to his competence, in order to generate currency for their own campaigns. While doing this, they keep exposing how unprepared they are.
Strangely, one of such Peter Obi’s latter-day traducers is Gov. Chukwuma Soludo of Anambra State who, as we all know, is not in the ballot for the presidency of Nigeria in 2023. Soludo’s new-found love for the criticism of Obi, I understand, is futuristic. Before the emergence of Prof. Soludo as the governor of Anambra State, Igbos have often been blackmailed by other ethnic nationalities with questions bordering on lack of “presidential materials” that could be presented to the Center. Save for Peter Obi, who all along has emblematically been a lone voice typically crying in the wilderness, most of the (if not all) other Igbo politicians who straddle the national space are mere 419ners and charlatans garbed in borrowed robes.
Expectedly, therefore, when Prof. Soludo emerged as Anambra governor, most of the wide jubilations that greeted his victory, especially across the South East, were founded in triumphalism by a people who felt a sense of pride in producing a son who they felt had the requisite credentials and clout to compete at the highest level. Prior to ascending Anambra Government House, Soludo was an accomplished professor of economics; he was a former economic adviser to the president of Nigeria and a former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria who was no doubt credited with a lot of reforms at the apex bank. Conceptually, the above résumé should have been enough to catapult him to the presidency, but, sadly, we live in a country where former this or former that hardly wins elections. So, being a governor offers Soludo a good pedestal to relaunch his ultimate ambition, depending on his performance in office though. Performance in office is key given that we have seen situations where such positions ended up demystifying and blighting the bragging rights of the office seeker. If you doubt me, ask Rochas Okorocha.
From the above background, therefore, a discerning mind would easily distill from Soludo’s recent scathing, but subtle, remarks on Obi where he is headed. Let me help the uninformed. Perchance Peter Obi wins the 2023 presidential election, he would probably govern for eight (8) years, and by the rotational principle at the national level, power would revert to the North in 2031. When the power rests for eight (8) years in the North, it would most possibly revert to South in 2039, and by this time it would most probably be going to another geopolitical zone in the South. You can guess how old Soludo who is currently 61 would be when next the presidential power makes a detour to the South East. So, it is in the interest of Soludo that power does not come to the South East at this time when he is ill-prepared to grab it. In short, he would wish that the power does not come to anywhere near South. In other words, it is the wish of Gov. Soludo that neither Obi nor Asiwaju wins the 2023. This calculation helps to keep his hope of being president alive. And that is how wicked politicians can be!
It is therefore against the above backdrop that I wish to situate my advice to Prof. Soludo on the delicate issue of Peter Obi movement. Like the biblical Pharoah, many politicians in Nigeria, except perhaps Godwin Obaseki, have failed to pay heed to the impending revolution in Nigeria. Though woven around Peter Obi, this imminent tsunami is beyond Obi who, no doubt, symbolizes the struggle. While we understand that the Obi project is a national project, every politician has a catchment area from where his/her fire catches from. Obi’s catchment area is the South East and the fastest way to be consumed right now by the raging inferno in the South East is to be seen as standing in the way of this movement. Prof. Soludo should readily look in the direction of Fr. Mbaka and how badly he has labored to lick the sour dose of the vinegar served him in the previous week.
It is therefore a disservice to the Nigerian people for Prof. Soludo to employ proxies who are helping him concoct lies against Obi’s claims to his investments while serving as Anambra governor. Bogus headline in a certain online newspaper, ostensibly sponsored by the governor, wherein the Anambra State Commissioner for Finance tended to jumble figures that stood statistics on its head, claimed that Obi’s $12.24m investment for Anambra State Government in the International Breweries is now valued at $5.38m. This is as cruel as it is sinful! This same Newspaper reported that the investments were made in Naira at the total sum of N1.9b which the paper also claimed was the equivalent of $12.2m at the time. The same paper proceeded to claim further that the said investment is now valued at N2.2b in today’s market, which, according to them, is an equivalent of $5.38m, at the current official conversion rate. Just imagine the absurdity in the above analysis! So how has it become Peter Obi’s fault that his N1.9b investment which has appreciated to the value of N2.2b has ironically depreciated against the dollar that now sells today at N600 per $1? Is Peter Obi the manager of our national economy? Meanwhile, the last time I checked, Soludo was, until his swearing in, a key member of the economic team that has been advising President Buhari and this administration on issues pertaining to monetary policies. It is indeed Soludo’s second-rate economic advice that ensured that Naira today exchanges at N600 against the dollar.
In conclusion, therefore, my humble advice to Gov. Chukwuma Soludo is to concentrate in the task of governing Anambra State. What will earn him the presidency of Nigeria is not how well he pulled down Peter Obi; he will be judged by how well he has succeeded in dislodging the Unknown Gun Men who have, since his inauguration as Governor, relocated to his native Aguata Local Government Area. Soludo should be told in clear terms that his redemption would come from how well he is able to employ his “Soludo Solution” in turning Nnewi to Taiwan and Onitsha to Dubai as he promised in his manifesto. His success in office is indeed not measured in how garrulous or talkertive he appears to be. And he should also be reminded that time is fast ticking and that he would soon celebrate one year in office. I don’t know if he is aware that Ben Ayade, another loquacious professor like him, wept bitterly sometime in 2020 because he did not know when 5 years of his administration passed him by. I hope Soludo will not end so ingloriously the Ayade way.
Mr. Asogwa, a lawyer and foreign relations expert, is the CEO of Afri Forecasts.