Last week, the Governor of Anambra State, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, met the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Mr Peter Obi, at an event in Awka, Anambra, and they exchanged warm greetings like politicians are wont to do, despite the uncomplimentary remarks Soludo made about Obi recently. Soludo said at the event that he would soon be meeting with Obi to iron out their differences, adding that their rift was basically based on political differences.
That comment gave an inkling that Soludo might not release the second part of his write-up against Obi. However, if Soludo fails to release the second part of that article, it will be a great disservice to himself. Not completing the article with the excuse of trying to iron out his differences with Obi is shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.
It is very important for the integrity of Soludo that he completes the letter, so as to have the opportunity to eventually answer the question he sets out to answer in the first place. It is demeaning for an exceptionally intelligent academic of his standing to go off-point. The kernel of the debate is Soludo’s claim on Channels TV that the investment made by Obi in Anambra State is worth next to nothing. That elicited reactions from people.
In response to the reactions of people to his comment, Soludo chose to write a personally-signed 4,025-word opinion entitled, “History beckons and I will not be silent (Part 1).” But curiously, from the beginning to the end of the response, Soludo failed to discuss the most important issue at stake: How much is the investment made by Peter Obi for Anambra State? In which institutions did Obi invest? What was clear by Soludo’s response was that Peter Obi truly saved money and made some investments for Anambra State. Soludo’s point of divergence is that the investment is currently of little or no value.
But rather than respond to that, Soludo veered off to issues completely unrelated to the kernel of the matter, pouring out his disdain towards Obi’s political ambition. Then he went on an economic lecture of why it is economically unwise to save money in a state when there are still poor people in the state. He said, “Governments exist to save lives, not to save money.” Ironically, in the same letter, Soludo thumped his chest about his so-called achievement of saving money for Nigeria when he was the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. Note that as the CBN Governor, Soludo was not the Chief Executive Officer of Nigeria. Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was the president. The buck stops with him. If he wanted money to be saved for the country, he would pursue that, and if he did not want any money to be saved, he would pursue that too.
In her book, Fighting Corruption Is Dangerous: The Story Behind the Headlines, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala noted that while she was the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, most governors of Nigeria opposed any attempt to save money. She mentioned Obi as one governor that was in support of saving money. Therefore, how could Soludo as the governor of the CBN take credit for the saving that occurred under Obasanjo?
In addition, on what basis would Soludo praise the money that was saved by the Obasanjo administration when there were millions of Nigerians living in poverty then? If it was wise to save money under Obasanjo when millions of Nigerians were living in poverty, why then did Soludo dismiss Obi’s savings as unwise? The poverty rate in Nigeria has always been higher than the poverty rate in Anambra State.
Secondly, Soludo went into the argument of how Obi would not win the 2023 presidential election. How is that his call to make? How does it concern him whom a voter chooses to vote for?
Many have argued that the reactions to Soludo’s opinion were intolerant of divergent perspectives, noting that all Igbo people or Nigerians do not need to support Obi’s presidential ambition. But Soludo did not disagree with Obi’s presidential ambition. He ridiculed him and his ambition (which he described as ‘fleeting frenzy’) as well as the right of his Igbo people to aspire to be president in their own country. Not only did he denigrate that ambition, he also displayed unhidden malice and disdain towards Obi and the right of the Igbo people to aspire to be president.
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There is also a line of argument that the reason for Soludo’s caustic view of Obi’s ambition is the belief that it will kill his own ambition if it materialises. Natural human ambition is to aspire to be president after being a state governor. If Obi succeeds in becoming president, it is obvious that every Igbo in his age bracket will no longer have the opportunity to be president again. It may take up to 40 years for another Igbo to be president. And by that time, people like Soludo will no longer be considered for such a position, even if they are still alive then.
Some years ago, Obi stopped saying that he was a businessman and started saying that he is a trader. Why? The reason was that Soludo dismissed Obi’s tenure as governor as that of a trader with no knowledge of the economics of governance. Similarly, Soludo made such derogatory statements against Prof Dora Akunuyili, his sister-in-law (Soludo’s wife is the daughter of Akunyili’s elder sister) and Okonjo-Iweala as the Minister of Finance.
Soludo is one of the most academically intelligent people one can find. He made a first class in economics at the University of Nigeria. Soludo became a professor at the age of 38. He has excelled in his practice.
However, Soludo’s strongest attribute is also the source of his weakness. His super academic intelligence brought haughtiness upon him, making him emotionally unintelligent, especially whenever he engages in a disagreement with someone. At such periods of disagreement, Soludo easily looks down on others and dismisses their intelligence and achievements.
The irony in this whole issue is that Soludo is not contesting for president. Soludo’s party has no chance of even winning a state in the presidential election. Soludo’s governorship seat is not under threat of re-election or impeachment. Soludo was never attacked by Obi or his supporters before all these. Obi attended his swearing-in ceremony. Soludo did not take over from Obi.
When the Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige, was put on the spot recently on a TV interview over the issue of the 2023 presidential candidates, he wisely refused to be drawn into the debate. Note that Ngige is a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress. Ngige was sacked from office as governor of Anambra State in 2006 by the court because of the case instituted by Obi.
Similarly, in the same TV interview where Soludo opened this can of worms, he refused to state his view or make any snide remarks when asked to comment on the redesigning of the naira note by one of his CBN successors.
As the global economic czar that he is, Soludo should give Nigerians a detailed report of what Obi saved and invested for Anambra State, to help the voting public know if Obi is a man of falsehood or truth. Soludo should also teach Nigerians in the second part of his article why it is economically wise to save money for Nigeria but economically foolish to save money for Anambra State. That will also help Nigerians to gauge the type of candidate Obi is, so as to determine if it is wise to vote for him in February 2023 during the presidential poll.
– Twitter: @BrandAzuka ,
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