Date Published: 10/19/09
Is Professor Chukwuma Soludo PDP's Anambra Solution? By Chukwudi Nwokoye
It was the then Senator Barack Obama that asked: how can someone do the same thing over and over again and somehow expect a different result? Senator Obama was reacting to the era of the old methods adopted by the Republicans and some Democrats of insisting on the status quo even when they know that it is not working.
The question of doing same thing over and over again in Anambra State by the Peoples Democratic Party and expecting a different result is what battles me and many other people that have been following developments in the state. The PDP has been anything but democratic; regarding the way and manner they treat their candidates.
It could be recalled that in 2003, after its nomination for the Senate and House of Representatives winners of the nomination were shortchanged and their names substituted even after they had stood for and won the election. Prince Nicholas Ukachukwu contested and won the Anambra South Senatorial Election as he was on the ballot as the candidate of PDP. However, when the result was released by INEC, his name got replaced by Dr. Ugochukwu Uba. Same fate was suffered by Chief (Mrs) Joy Emordi (Anambra North) and Chief Ben Obi (Anambra Central). Hon Emma Anosike (the recent nominee for the Deputy Governor for PDP in the forthcoming February 2010) replaced Chief Joy Emordi and Sir Ikechukwu G. Abana replaced Chief Ben Obi.
Those for the House of Representatives are Chief Chidi Duru (Aguata), Chief Osy Egwuatu (Awka North/South), C. I. Maduabum, Gozie Agbakoba (Onitsha North/South), Ben Nwankwo (Orumba North/South), C.I. D. Maduabum (Nnewi North/South) and Dr. C. C. Okeke (Idemili North/South). For the House Dr. Okey Enemuoh replaced Chidi Duru, Hon Jerry Ugokwe replaced Hon C. C. Okeke, Hon Chudi Ofodile replaced Osy Egwuatu ; Nedu Ugochukwu and Gozie Agbakoba were replaced by Nedu Ugochukwu and Jossy Balonwu respectively. The actions of the party led to very rigorous legal challenges and developed lots of bad blood and infighting in the party. In fact, that division and bad blood still leave sour taste in the mouth of many members of the party to this day. The perpetual division in the party as a result of injustice is the bane of PDP not just in the state but in the whole federation.
It could also be recalled that the Governorship primary in 2003, many candidates were bullied out of the way by Chief Chris Uba for his anointed one, Dr. Chris Ngige. We all see what became of PDP in that election and how APGA swept the gubernatorial election and forced PDP to re-write the results as was ruled by the court. Same thing happened in 2007 when the whole field was swept for another anointed one, Andy Uba. We are all witnesses to how Andy’s so-called mandate was swept aside by the court. How does the party think that all these candidates would feel after the way they were treated by their party? How about the Imo state PDP issue in 2007 where they could not even present a candidate in the election?
Let’s go back to the intrigues in Anambra state with regard to the party. The buccaneers in the party believe that this time would be different; after all they have not only a candidate with impressive academic record, but also a candidate that is both nationally and internationally acclaimed as a first class top notch brain. I will come that that later. But PDP no doubt has all it takes to be a well rounded party in the state based on the big names you see them parade in the state. They have the resources and in fact the foot-soldiers to take control of the state.
However, the mantle of the Anambra Government Lodge would continue to elude them if they continue to shoot themselves in the foot and if they continue to do the same thing all over again and expect that miracle would happen to deliver the election to them.
Anambra state is a peculiar state. It is the only state that has the highest turnover of governors. For the past six years, Anambra has produced five governors/quasi-governors; from Chinwoke Mbadinuju, Chris Ngige, Peter Obi, Virgy Etiaba and Andy Uba. So the state is a politically active state. Think about how many candidates that either secured their nominations from their parties and about fifty that PDP parades. It is not a bad thing to aspire to rule the state since we have many qualified candidate after all the constitution requires only West African School Certificate (WASC) or equivalent to qualify for the post.
What many people do not seem to understand is that Anambra is no longer a place where a few cabals make a decision at Abuja and just dictate to the people and the people would just swallow it hook, line and sinker. The state does not care so much about party affiliations but the quality of representation especially in the government house. Imposition never works in the state and would never work. The PDP would lose the upcoming election convincingly to Governor Peter Obi unless they find a way to rig the election again. If they rig it again, Peter Obi is resilient and would not give up his mandate easily. He would head to court again and win; and PDP would go back and start licking their wounds. By the time, Soludo would be a used toilet paper to them.
The question remains: Why does this elephant (PDP) continues to take its share like a tortoise? It is because the party does not believe in internal democracy. One does not give what he does not have (nemo dat quod non habet). So how can PDP give to Anambra state what the party does not have? They cannot organize a simple nomination exercise without rancor, just like a house that was divided against itself. The PDP’s problem in the state is a pointer to what the general Nigerian problem is. People like to reap where they did not sow. The party is still suffering from military mentality of rule by fiat or decree.
They are still fighting over the nomination barely three months to an election in a state like Anambra and they somehow believe that they would win! They also missed the deadline set by the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) by four hours, eventhough the INEC, which is unarguably an extension of the party fail to enforce even its own rules.
The party has not told itself the truth and has not actually given a serious thought as to why the party’s fortune with regards to the governorship election is jinxed. They forgot that the period of cash and carry politics is almost over in the state. The period of bags of rice or bags of salt is over but they don’t seem to understand. The soil has shifted on their feet but they did not realize it. Anambra people are wiser and politically savvy than given credit for. The people that stereotype the state are the same people that cannot get it right. If the truth must be told, the problem of Anambra state is PDP! People of the state are very peaceful people; the only problem is that the selfish politicians would not let the state be. The state has known relative peace for some years now until this year because if the upcoming election. However, the people know how to make their voice heard during the elections. The people know the difference between goats and sheep.
PDP keeps squandering their opportunities but seem not to have learnt its lessons. Think about all the federal might and all the so-called movers and shakers they have, but only on paper does it mean anything. It is lamentable that Anambra has Andy Uba that was touted as former President Obasanjo’s man Friday. He was touted as the king-maker not only in Anambra but in the whole federation; but what did the state benefit from that immense connection? The answer is chaos, intimidation, thuggery, arson, gangsterism, kidnap of a sitting governor, impeachment of another governor etc. Meanwhile the Niger Bridge is shaking and about to cave in, the south-east federal roads are in the worst shake of disrepair, the second Niger Bridge is only a slogan for politicians to gain traction, no real federal presence in the state, Enugu International Airport remains a glorified rag-tag local airport, dredging of River Niger and making it an ultra modern seaport remains elusive and only a political propaganda.
I kept lamenting about why we have this kind of bad lucks. What would have happened if Andy Uba and his PDP had used their federal connections to fix the south-east federal roads and built another bridge across the Niger? Many traders in the state that ply the bridge and the road en route to Lagos would forever thank Andy Uba for that. Their businesses would have flourished because the time they waste to and from Lagos would have reduced. How about if the River Niger is dredged and a seaport constructed thereby, imagine how many igbo sons and daughters would have secured jobs. Imagine how many igbo sons and daughters that would have be lifted off from poverty. Imagine how many igbo sons and daughters that would have made their millions from export and import business. Imagine the trooping graduates that would have secured employment and the business it would have attracted world-wide. Imagine the revenue that would have accrued to the state as a result. How about if the Enugu International Airport was put to the international standard courtesy of Andy Uba, could you imagine how the people would have adored Andy Uba and PDP for revolutionizing business in the east, whose mainstay of economic is commerce? Anambra state has lots of business men and women and would have easily gravitated towards Andy Uba despite his lack of imposing educational qualifications. The state is easy to win over if a candidate that has connections does his/her homework well.
Then on the issue of drafting Professor Soludo as their joker or game-changer, the party is still doing the same thing they did back in 2003 and even in 2007. If they would tell themselves the truth, there is no way you can tell the state that PDP intended to hold governorship primaries in the state. They had it in mind that Soludo would be the solution to their political imbroglio in the state. No disrespect to our erudite professor, but Anambra is not a bank! Anambra is not a state lacking in people with educational qualifications or connections at Abuja. He is not going to be the last with a president’s ear. I bet that in the whole Isuofia or even in Soludo’s Isuanioma, there are other professors and men that have made their mark in education and came out with distinction, how much more the whole of Anambra state. So the state is endowed with all kinds of high performers that just one person that has a retinue of academic record does not scare us. The problems with PDP and all the Abuja politicians are that they think that the mere fact that they live in Abuja and make some money while boot-licking; and have access to the corridors of power; that they can just breeze in from Abuja to Anambra, “flash their badges and make us nervous” (apologies Jack Nicholson in the movie ‘A Few Good Men’). That is where they got it all wrong.
Anambra has produced all kinds of high achievers that educational milestones are nothing new in the state.
Soludo is a good person despite the problems with Central Bank under his charge. I do not intend to go into some charges leveled against him about cooking the book which has not been proven nor have he been indicted. I think it is unfair to judge him without any formal indictment. Even though he refused to give a specific answer to questions about his stewardship at the bank that failed to regulate the banks under CBN which the CEO cook the book; I do not intend to discuss his capability to administer the state. He performed admirably as the Governor of the apex bank of which Nigeria is grateful. He is a saleable candidate, but he has to sell himself and find a way to resonate with the people. In fact, almost all the aspirants have the paper qualification to govern the state. However, my main point is that the method that the party adopted to field him as their candidate is flawed and he should know that he is sitting at the keg of gun-powder. The system of imposing a candidate would not work in the state as far as the governorship is concerned.
Prof Soludo fell into the same flawed method that Andy Uba explored to win the party’s nomination. Both Uba and Soludo basically ran against themselves during the so-called primaries. But if well prepared for the post of governor, I have no doubt that he has all it takes to govern the state.
Again, like I said, most Abuja politicians do not know the act of electioneering or even how to play politics even when they are quick to adopt that appellation “politician”. The same mistake that Andy Uba made when he was wielding the big stick and has the Anambra PDP at his beck and call; is the same mistake that Soludo made prior to being drafted or coerced or talked into being the party’s nominee. Soludo did not use his leverage at Abuja to help the state he intends to govern. What would have happened if he has effectively used his contact with the de facto president of Nigeria, Hajia Turai Yar’Adua who is Nigeria’s first lady?
If Soludo has used his immense contacts with the corridor of power to better the lot of Anambra people in terms of things I mentioned above like influencing the building of 2 nd Niger Bridge, repairing the federal roads in the south-east, dredging the River Niger and constructing a state of the art seaport at Onitsha, helping to bring Enugu Airport to international standard, and probably coming to the universities in the state once in a while to deliver lectures to the youths, by now he would have be like a thin god. The governorship would be his for the asking. He would have been a household name in the state and he would basically run unopposed both in the primaries and in the 2010 election.
Most politicians do not know how to use their influence to win people over. Senator Ifeanyi Okonkwo used his money and influence to give scholarships to many indigent students in his local government and some other good things he did and was coasting to victory before PDP’s beloved Soludo was anointed. Even other candidates like Iyom Chinwe Ekwunife of Peoples Progressive Alliance (PPA) and even Hon. Nicholas Ukachukwu were using their connections and resources to establish scholarship and other poverty alleviation programs. The people they helped wanted to pay them back with their votes; but not so with Soludo and even Andy Uba. The main problem is that most politicians from Abuja are very selfish. They never look at the big picture, in their little mind, they think that this concept of “igbo enwe eze” (igbos have no kings) is a mere slogan.
Inspite of the mistaken opinion that Anambra people love money, therefore if you come around and do some ‘naira rain’ people would be falling over each other to file behind your column is flawed and they cannot follow the trend. That may work during the military regime, but the people have tasted democratic forbidden fruit and there is no going back. Also the party thinks that those that have been toiling for the party with the hope of winning the nomination would just roll over and surrender for him!
Also Anambra state would not and will never in the future be anyone’s retirement benefit, severance pay or package. During former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s regime, Andy Uba was said to have served the former president well that OBJ wanted to settle Andy Uba for a job well done with Anambra governorship. That didn’t work out well. It is the same thing that the current president Umaru Yar’Adua is trying to do. Having failed to secure him a second term as CBN governor, (since Soludo was said to be a torn in the flesh of the currency businessmen, they blacklisted him and there is nothing Yar’Adua can do but to succumb to the pressure of his core north constituency) the president decided to settle him with Anambra state.
It is not going to work out for him. It did not work out for Andy under OBJ. In my place we would say “the deer we sent to the stream did not return and we are trying to send the antelope to the same stream; how do you think that the antelope would return?” It is the same old trick that never worked. I pity Prof Soludo because he fell into the same PDP modus oprendi and he would come out frustrated. If he had started earlier to water the ground, do lots of heavy-lifting in terms of making people believe that he is not just a name in the Nigerian currency, but a real person with human flesh and not a fiction at Abuja.
Market women, Okada riders and peasants that struggle everyday to put food on the table for their families do not mainly understand what success at Central Bank has to do with them and their situation. Local people who are the main chunk of the electorate don’t give a damn about a Central Bank Governor since it meant nothing to them. Some of them haven’t even heard about him before and PDP would find it difficult to convince them that he is the real deal.
Most Anambrarians are mostly concerned about some achievements they can relate to like “this road was constructed by Ngige” or “that school was built by Peter Obi” or “that hospital if not for Chief (Mrs) Ekwunife, we would not have it”. That’s what normally resonates with local people. Majority of the electorates do not live in the cities, they live in the village and the thing that would normally get their attention is roads, schools, hospital, water, electricity, bridges and other social amenities that would make their life better. If a road is inaccessible for ages and somehow someone in government builds it for them, his name is forever on that road. Like in my hometown, some ‘nwadiana’ (our daughter’s son) from Onitsha that was in the eastern region government at the time built the road for the people. Many people do not even know the man, but up till today, when the story of the road is told, people do not fail to praise the man that built the road even though the man has long passed away.
Dr Ngige understands the politics of roads and obviously Peter Obi understands how providing the infrastructures in the state write a governor’s name forever in the hearts of the people. A situation where the people actually knee down and pray for their governor and ask God to preserve him, and PDP thinks that they can just pick a candidate and phew, magic happens and he breezes in to the government house. But PDP does not understand that simple fact of winning hearts and mind of people. Prof Soludo does not get it. It is either that he is not as smart as we make him out to be or he believes just as PDP that there would not be an election come February 6, 2010, but a selection or coronation of Soludo. Either way it does not say well of him and both he and the party should get ready for the greatest shock of their lives.
*Chukwudi Nwokoye writes from Maryland, USA