Soludo And A New Anambra (1)

Governor Soludo of Anambra State
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By Law Mefor

Despite formidable obstacles, Governor Chukwuma Soludo’s Master Plan for a new Anambra has begun to document numerous victories. Since its founding on August 27, 1991, Anambra State has tried to prosper under minimum government. It was not until the Anambra Vision 2070, chaired by Professor Chukwuma Soludo, that the state was projected into a sustainable and respectable future worthy of it.

It was clear that Anambra required a major reset by the time Soludo assumed office as governor. And the governor had figured out exactly how to go about it evident in his comprehensive manifesto while running for governor in 2021, which conceived a future for Anambra state that delivers a master image.

In addition to his manifesto, Soludo established a Transition Committee upon becoming the governor-elect of Anambra State. This committee was led by the Harvard-trained Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, one of the brightest of Igbo extraction, who had previously served as Minister of Education and Minister of Solid Minerals. The current governor of the state of Abia, Dr. Alex Otti, was one of the equally renowned men and women who had made their marks in almost every sphere of human endeavor that made up the Soludo Transition Committee.

The Transition Committee helped to couple the master plan for the successful launch of the Soludo government by utilising their abilities, skills, and knowledge in addition to the Anambra Vision 2070 and the robust Soludo gubernatorial manifesto.

Even without delving into the specifics of the Transition Committee blueprint, it is evident that Soludo entered the office fully equipped with well-researched and evidence-based strategies to turn Anambra state into a prosperous and livable state.

Soludo has talked about transforming Anambra state into “The Africa Dubai-Taiwan.” This grand vision is beginning to emerge despite the odds. The astute leadership needed to make a great idea materialise has been provided by Soludo.

Everything in life rises and falls on leadership, and Soludo has shown through his shared prosperity approach to governance that the creation of a new Anambra that will serve as a model state is achievable through extraordinary leadership.

Intentionally and strategically, Soludo has laid the groundwork and is producing the youths to run and own the new Anambra state when it fully emerges. This explains why, to start the transition to a smart Anambra, he is taking on education, youth development, and digitisation head-on, hiring over 10,000 skilled teachers and creating the first pool of digital labour with the first batch of Ndi Anambra trained in digital skills for the opportunities in the global tech industry. Soludo has equally introduced the One-Youth-Two-Skills programme, which the federal government has also adopted as a model for the whole country.

Digital India has demonstrated the viability of Soludo’s vision for the state and the plausibility of his beliefs. Farmers, traders, and all are now consumers of digital products and have switched from their old ways to modern techniques of production. In India also, Digital technology has transformed and turned India from the third world to the first. Exceptional Leadership made it possible.

As Soludo had said, a new Anambra is now possible and is already emerging. However, the swift construction of this envisioned new Anambra and its master image is being impeded by many obstacles. Insecurity and opposition to change are the two headwinds that Soludo’s government is facing, and the politicisation of both by desperate politicians.

Soludo inherited a besieged state in Anambra that was overrun by unknown gunmen (UGM) and wracked by sit-at-home agitators. Most of the Anambra state forests had been taken over by these renegade gunmen, who had established camps throughout, many of which were bunker-fortified and impenetrable. The story for a different day would be how these numerous camps came into existence. With that degree of insecurity he met, Soludo was unable to smoothly take off with all aspects of his grand plan for the state, and had to focus heavily on security.

Insecurity was, and still is, a huge distraction in the state. Even though many of the camps have been wiped out, the militants’ continued use of the few left as training grounds, as well as their kidnapping and launching of other operations, remains a major source of concern to the Soludo government. Nonetheless, security is returning to Anambra under Soludo. For example, except for a single isolated and unnecessary incident at Uga, the 2023 Christmas was the calmest in recent memory, demonstrating how security has significantly improved to everyone’s delight.

One more obstacle that Soludo’s government has had to deal with is opposition to change. People who made their living in the turmoil that existed in Anambra before Soludo’s arrival would prefer for things to stay the same and for everyone to be treated as a law unto themselves. However, if Anambra remained how Soludo met it, the state would continue to be unplanned, and without staged development and transformation.

It has been a difficult battle to get residents to leave undesignated areas to make room for planned development. Instead of helping the administration realise its grand plans for their state, some politicians are taking advantage of the hues and screams of those who have settled where development is necessary to fabricate a narrative that Soludo’s government is anti-people.

Government programmes must, of course, have a human face, but citizens must also endure the temporary suffering that comes with change before they can enjoy the benefits of such change. When the government wants to build a standard road, for instance, it often has to tear down structures that shouldn’t have been there in the first place because builders didn’t follow standard procedures and get approval for their setting out plans before starting on their private buildings or erecting market stalls. For example, road construction frequently requires space for standard drainages, which private builders often ignore and emotionally blackmail the government when the right thing is to be enforced.

The example of the Onitsha Main Market (the pride of Ndigbo) and most other markets in the state should bother everyone. The Main Market and other markets lack access for firefighters because every available space is occupied by traders, and attempts by the government to restore order are frequently met with resistance and politicisation. Many of these businessmen have travelled and seen how developments occurred in other countries or how markets are built in places like Taiwan and Dubai. Yet, they wouldn’t allow Anambra markets to be re-planned to be like such markets.

As crazy as it may sound, there have even been instances where some people in the state stopped road constructions because they thought the roads would disturb their local deities. Logically, the gods that Igbo ancestors created and placed there can be taken to other locations to make room for new physical developments. Yet, people who ought to be taking such progressive action are the ones requesting that the road not be built because of their deities and their shrines.

Politicians who profit from misinformation, distortion, and propaganda also needlessly politicise the Soludo government’s hard but necessary measures to give the state development high-handedness. But the governor remains undeterred for he knows, like Zik once said, history will vindicate the just.

To fully actualise Soludo’s grand vision for the state in good time, which has begun to bear abundant fruit despite the numerous roadblocks placed in his path, Ndi Anambra must band together behind him. The erudite professor and philosopher king is constructing a whole new Anambra state, one that would rival any One-city state of the twenty-first century.

Let it be known that a few decades ago, Dubai was just as undeveloped as the state of Anambra. However, excellent leadership—such as that which Soludo offers—made it into what it is today. The state of Anambra is currently undergoing a fundamental reset, which is the only way it can turn into the South East’s gateway, the zone’s business hub, and the nation’s true light.

·Dr. Law Mefor, an Abuja-based forensic and social psychologist, is a fellow of The Abuja School of Social and Political Thoughts;; Twitter: @Drlawsonmefor

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