THE SOLUDO SOLUTION: A CRITICAL REVIEW OF THE PEOPLE’S MANIFESTO TOWARDS DEEPENING SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN ANAMBRA STATE
– Professor Chukwuemeka Eze Onukaogu
– Dr Nelson Obinna Omenugha
Soludo in a Nutshell: The Iconic Technocrat.
In every age and clime God has always raised someone to liberate a people and lead them into their Promised Land where their destiny is fulfilled. Abraham, Moses and, of course, Jesus Christ, the God-man whose physical appearance on earth some two thousand years ago, drastically and dramatically changed human growth and development, are just a few examples. Today in our country and state God has raised an iconic technocrat, Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo, to lead us into good governance that is not only people-oriented but also one that would eliminate the burden of our merely existing as human beings. Besides, his government would also make our people to optimally and maximally have fulfilled lives in all their aspirations and endeavours.
Chukwuma Soludo who has offered to serve Ndi Anambra as its Chief Servant is a very passionate village boy with very humble beginnings. He has travelled extensively around the world, living in Ethiopia, the US and the UK. Besides, he has visited major cities in all the continents of this world. Given his experience, Soludo wants at this point in his life to give back in full to us his community, Anambra State. He wants to devote all his God-given talents, experience, global and national networks to making Anambra State much better than he met it. He is determined to devote every minute of his life to work and mobilize all critical stake holders to make Ndi Anambra proud. He is indeed determined to hit the ground running if elected as the Chief servant. As the Chairman of Anambra Vision 2070, he has meticulously thought through the challenges and disruptive changes needed to secure the future. He is therefore determined, if given the opportunity of being the Chief Servant of the state to vigorously and rigorously implement the foundational phase of Vision 2070. Given his awareness of the nostalgia of our past in the First Republic where our founding fathers built Eastern Nigeria as the fastest growing economy in the world, Soludo not only wants to uphold their examples but also to move Anambra forward as the classic developmental state where wealth creation / poverty reduction is buoyed up by hard work, excellence in education, competition, integrity and service driven public service. Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo, as the Chief Servant, has what it takes to make a positive and developmental mark in the all round robust growth of Anambra State.
Soludo: The Making of an Icon.
The emergence of Soludo as an icon for development and human transformation was not an accident. It was as a result of sound educational upbringing in which he spent and was spent in order to benefit optimally and maximally from the various levels of education that he passed through. From his WASC 1980 (obtained with Distinction), to B.Sc. Economic 1984 (First Class Honours – UNN) to his M.Sc. 1987 and Ph.D. Economics / Monetary Economics (UNN), 1989, he won many distinguishing accolades. Of course he was always primus inter pares among his peers. His Post Doctoral training and research were done in Ivy institutions in the UK and US. For instance, he was a Visiting Scholar; Brooklyn Institution Washington DC, 1991 – 1992; IMF 1994, Institute of Statistics and Center for Study of African Economies, University of Oxford, Smuts Research School, University of Cambridge, University of Warwick (1997). Apart from the short and long term research he undertook as a visiting scholar to sharpen his analytical capacity, Soludo also attended Post Doctoral programmes in first rate educational institutions in the US, Asia and Europe. His scholarship has been so highly esteemed by the universities within and outside Nigeria that he was awarded D.Sc. (Honoris Causa) in many reputable universities.
Apart from publishing extensively in learned and professional journals all over the world, Soludo was commissioned by many organizations all over the world to publish chapters and position papers that have promoted knowledge in his revered profession. It is not over stretching to contend that literally all known professional and international organizations like the IMF, World Bank, DFID to mention a few sought for his service. He has represented Africa in many UN sponsored studies on the upliftment of Africa from its present squalor. As a faithful Christian, he has played leading positions in the Roman Catholic Church in Anambra state. His astonishing contribution regarding the upliftment of humanity is abridged in his Election Manifesto where he fully states his vision and mission for Anambra if elected as the Chief Servant of the State. In view of his enormous contributions to the development of our country he received numerous mouth watering and prestigious awards from Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Musa Yar’Adua in 2004 and 2009 respectively. His national and international experiences, contributions to human capacity development and national and international networking have very soundly and beyond any doubt empowered him to feel the pulse of Ndi Anambra and to know precisely what to do, how to do it and when to do it – now – so that Anambra would be primus inter pares as the model for development not only in Nigeria but also in Africa and the rest of the world. That Anambra would become the fastest developing economy in the world is a task that must be done. This is a vision of Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo. It is a mission he most sincerely wants to actualize for Ndi Anambra.
Soludo: Vision and Mission for Anambra State:
Soludo’s mission and vision for Anambra state as its Chief Servant is encapsulated in the following goals for the people where he wants them to:
• Live happily
• Learn happily
• Work happily
• Invest happily
• Enjoy happily
In order to achieve the above objectives the technocrat, Soludo, wants to transform Anambra state into an industrial hub for the nation and all of Africa. As an industrial hub, enough employment would be generated for the products of Anambra state schools, colleges and tertiary institutions and for the many artisans and craft persons who abound in the state. Top among his agenda is the transformation of Anambra state from a predominantly informal commercial state to a formal productive and competitive economy underpinned by rapid industrialization, agriculture, commerce, entertainment / leisure and the creative industry, technology and innovation, solid minerals and oil and gas. Besides, he intends to leverage the entrepreneurial and community spirit of Ndi Anambra to create a more industrialized economy. This will be enabled by constant power supply, guaranteed security, efficient transport infrastructure, aggressive investment drive and technology funded through innovative partnerships. The aim is to create the atmosphere in which everyone in Anambra state will live happily.
Soludo postulates a social agenda in which education, health, youth, women and vulnerable groups and human capital would be prioritized. They constituted the foundation of Anambra and former Eastern Region’s economy and social transformation in the First Republic as well as the basis for the present performance despite having some of the smallest government expenditure in Nigeria. Since human capital is the only renewable resource, every effort will be put in place to ensure that the human capital will be optimally and maximally developed. Therefore, Soludo’s plan has a huge detailed chapter on the functional education required for a transition to a post oil Nigeria and the 4th industrial revolution. Everything will therefore be done to develop the competence of teachers in the state and restore teaching as a profession of pride. Rigorous quality assessment in both public and private schools would be provided. In order to have a sound education base, the education agenda will provide a competitive Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) for all children under five years and to achieve 100% enrolment. The ultimate goal is that enough and the best of human and material resources would be provided so that every Anambra student, no matter what level of the school system would learn happily.
Soludo plans to provide access to quality and affordable healthcare to all residents of Anambra state. In collaboration with Ndi Anambra in the Diaspora, International Health Care Centers of Excellence will be provided. He plans to develop a strategic policy framework and implementation plan for health which provides effective oversight coalition building, appropriate legislation, regulations, incentives and accountability. Thus the provision of a world class healthcare management system through the adoption of globally proven community-driven strategies is sine qua non.
Youth and Women Empowerment:
Provisions will be made for Youth and Women Empowerment. For instance, he plans to continue and expand the appointment and involvement of young men and women in governance. He hopes to establish business incubation hubs equipped with high level technology, expertise, in partnership with relevant parties (academia, entrepreneurial development organizations and big technical companies) to transform ideas into burgeoning start ups. Programmes will be created at encouraging existing businesses (especially traders) to understand and leverage technology and e-commerce as tools for business expansion. Digitization and the replication of the Silicon Valley in Anambra state is inevitable and sine qua non
There is no doubt that Anambra’s future is in the hands of women. Women contribute 87% of secondary school teachers and 92% of primary school teachers in Anambra’s public schools. Thus Women Empowerment is not a token; it should be the mainstream at all levels of society. Therefore, deliberate steps would be taken to end all forms of discrimination based on gender. The Ministry of Social Welfare, Women and Children Affairs will be strengthened to give its four departments (Children, Women Affairs, Social Welfare and Rehabilitation) the required boost to do their jobs efficiently.
As a Chief Servant of Anambra State, Soludo plans to put in place measures to identify talents early and ensure their participation in domestic and international games to enhance them to become professionals. He will also approve special education for Persons with Disability (PWD) to ensure the completion of their education to any school level they deserve and take deliberate steps to ensure their participation at all levels of decision making, governance and economic activity.
Good Governance, Rule of Law and Value System:
The Chief Servant of the state will live by example. He and his team plan to deploy a service delivery charter as a contract between citizens and public servants. The charter will clearly define what services citizens can expect and within what time frame. The ultimate goal on the whole is that Anambra State will become number one regarding the rule of law, property right and ease of doing business. The goal of government will be to mobilize Ndi Anambra using all government and civil society institutions to mainstream the true value of Ndi Anambra. Integrity, hard work, industry, competition of purpose with compassion and morals would be promoted and rewarded.
Apart from addressing environmental challenges, he plans to work with the Federal Government and the DFIs to find solutions to the enormous environmental challenges that plague the state. His administration will strive to make Anambra state the most livable smart megacity in Nigeria. This, of course, requires planning and enforcement of minimum best practices and standards, ease of transport, communication, recreational facilities, public conveniences, etc.
Funding the Government:
As a matter of fact, funding the audacious agenda which Soludo has postulated can be very challenging, especially, in these trying economic times. Given his core competence as a development / monetary / micro economist and a seasoned international banker, Soludo has taken steps to ensure that enough funds are available to prosecute the agenda. As a matter of fact, the plan has been fully costed. It will be financed through a mix of direct government funding, private sector investment and concession project financing, PPP, grants from DFIs, counterpart financing from FGN and DFIs, and exploiting innovative financing mechanisms offered by the FGN such as the Infrastructure Tax Credit Scheme, Infrastructure Funds, etc. Maximizing Anambra access to various FGN investments under the concurrent list will provide supplementary investment financing with sound clear rating for the state government. There will thus be easier access to the capital market. His government will only borrow from projects that will pay back and contribute to the state economic transformation.
Today Nigerians enjoy internet banking. Besides, Nigerian banks rank among the most formidable banks in Africa and the world. These are the aftermath of Professor Chukwuma Soludo’s tenure as the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria. He was able to reposition Nigerian ailing economy and derelict banking to one of the most robust and viable economies in Africa as well as the most effective and efficient banking outlays in the continent. Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo if elected as the Chief Servant of Anambra State will not only lift Anambra State to a much higher ground but will also make Anambra State the Cinderella, the iconic model of a successful, vibrant and fastest growing and development-oriented economy in the world. One of his greatest desires is to revolutionalize digitization in Anambra state economy and without delay replicate the Silicon Valley in the state.
Prof Onukaogu is a Retired Professor of English Language, Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife and Past Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Awka and INEC Enugu.
Dr Omenugha is a social entrepreneur and lecturer at the Department of Mass Communication, Nnamdi Azikwe University, Awka.