Category Archives: Politics & Policy

Good governance actions, from Lion Building to the LGA headquarters of Enugu North, South & East.

Between Sharia and the 1959 bargain

In Between Sharia and the 1959 Bargain, Sam Amadi examines how politicization of Sharia law enables abuse of due process.

Between Sharia and the 1959 bargain
Dr Sam Amadi

Dr Sam Amadi, former chair of the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), is a law teacher in an Abuja University.


In 2000 when Zamfara declared Islamic criminal law, Olisa Agbokaba and myself filed a suit at the High Court at Gusua to challenge the constitutionality of the Sharia criminal law. The court struck out the case because we are not indigenes of Zamfara and therefore have no locus standi to bring the case. We changed course and brought another case on behalf of indigenous Christian community in Zamfara. Before the case was decided I traveled abroad for graduate studies.

At Harvard I started re-examining the legality of the enactment of sharia criminal law in Zamfara and other states in the north of Nigeria. I wrote a paper to argue that may be the enactment of an Islamic criminal law is in line with democracy. I was beginning to change my views. I decided to pursue scholarly research on the relationship between Islamic jurisprudence and liberal democratic theory. I chose a renowned Muslim human rights scholar as my field supervisor. His name is Prof Abdullahi an-Na’im. He is popular in Nigeria for his scholarship and participation at conferences on sharia and human rights in many Nigerian universities. He is from Sudan, and a leading global human rights scholar.

When I gave professor an-Na’im my doctoral proposal, he took offense at my effort to argue for the legality of the Sharia criminal law system. We had long debates for days. Later he wrote to me that he would not be one of my supervisors. As a Muslim he believes that Sharia is a sacred law that any attempt to enact it by a political authority is a degradation of Shari as divine law. He argued further that when a state enacts Sharia it will lead to religious persecution of Muslims who do not agree to the interpretation of the dominant school of Islamic jurisprudence, because there is possibility of divergent human interpretations of the Sharia. He narrated how his mentor and leader, the leading Islamic cleric in Sudan, was executed by Islamic sectarian leaders because they adjudged his interpretations wrong. So for him, this debate is a matter of life and death, and he will not have the neutrality to accept my argument about the legality of Sharia criminal law. He pulled out of my team and I had to look for a substitute. Fortunately, I found a renowned German Islamic scholar who had taught in Nigerian universities to take his place in my team.

I won a fellowship of the Harvard Islamic Institute and conducted extensive research in Northern Nigeria. As part of the research, I interviewed diverse Islamic leaders, including El ZakZaky. Two perspectives emerged from the research. Most of those I interviewed supported the enactment of the Sharia code. But some believed that a political, secular state should not enact sharia as public law. When it does, it ceases to be true sharia. It become a human law that is full of human contamination. For them, Sharia should remain a divine law, and not a state law.

A variant of the latter view recommends that the personal dimensions of Sharia should be legally recognized. But the criminal aspects of Sharia should not be legalized in political society. This view influenced the development of public law in Indonesia. President Wahid, a leading critic who later become President, told me that Islamic leaders in Indonesia decided to exclude criminal aspects of Sharia (public Sharia) during preparations for independence, although the country had overwhelming Muslim population. This perspective aligns with the recommendation of the special committee established by the government of the Northern Region in 1957. The committee led by Professor Anderson of University of London, the leading expert on African law, had as members notable clerics from Sudan, Pakistan and Sudan. It recommended that criminal Sharia should not be enacted as law in Nigeria, even as the personal aspects of Sharia should be part of Nigeria’s public law system.

Nigerian leaders debated this perspective at the London Constitutional Conference in 1959 and institutionalized it in the Bill of Rights in the 1960 Independence Constitution. It was retained in all constitutions, including the 1999 Constitution.

In 2000, this bargain was reversed by Zamfara government in enacting the Sharia Criminal Law. Many northern states followed suit. This now provides legal legitimacy for the offense of blasphemy.

The predicted surprise of such legalization is that in a disorderly society with high impunity, the mob can seize the right of Islamic court to punish presumed blasphemy without due process. But the fault still lies largely with the reversal of the 1959 bargain that built on the 1957 recommendation in 2000. The year 2000 may be the year one of the pillars of the Nigerian republican system was recast. We need more reflections on this constitutional transformation in the guise of lawmaking, even as we commend efforts by Governor Tambuwal, the Sultan, and the Bishop of Sokoto to act fast to avert total breakdown of order in Sokoto State.

Because of the 2000 reversal of the 1959 bargain, the Nigerian constitutional state is now deeply trapped in incoherence.

Between Sharia and the 1959 Bargain, by Dr Sam Amadi

Release Nnamdi Kanu for peace in Southeast – Ohanaeze

The sociocultural group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, calls for release of separatist leader Nnamdi Kanu for peace to return to the Southeast.

Imeobi, Ohanaeze’s highest decision making body, issued the plea yesterday at the end of a closed-door meeting in Enugu.

Other than security issues, the meeting discussed review of Ohanaeze January election, voter registration, 2023 Presidency and Alaigbo Stabilization Fund.

Imeobi deplored “the worsening security situation” in the region and asked the Igbo people to unite and “halt the situation.”

The meeting suggested that releasing detained Igbo youths is a good step to resolve the region’s security problem.

“The release of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and Igbo youths in detention is the first crucial step towards restoring peace and security.

“We are convinced that the Nnamdi Kanu issue can only be resolved through dialogue,” Imeobi Ohanaeze said.

Communique

Here is the full text of the the meeting communique published yesterday, 4 May 2022.

The Imeobi Ohanacze Ndigbo Worldwide held today, Thursday May 5, 2022 at the National Secretariat under the leadership of HE Amb. Professor George Obiozor, the President-General.

The Imeobi deliberated on a wide range of issues including the January 10, 2021 Ohanaeze election held at Dan Anyiam Stadium, Owerri-Imo State, Insecurity in the South-East, 2023 Presidency, need for our people to acquire Permanent Voters Card (PVC) as well as the Alaigbo Stabilization Fund (ASF).

After exhaustive deliberations on these issues, the following resolutions were reached:

a) That Imeobi congratulates the current National Executive Committee (NEC) of Ohanaeze Ndigbo which emerged through the January 10, 2021 election held at Dan Anyiam Stadium, Owerri, and also commends the efforts of the Ohanaeze leadership in steering the ship even in these trying times.

Imeobi calls on all the Igbo nation to give the executive their full support, which they have earned and deserved. Imeobi also calls on those aggrieved with the outcome of the election to lend their support to the current Leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo.

b) That there is need to redouble our efforts towards the ongoing voters registration exercise by sensitizing our people on the importance of the exercise and getting their PVCs where they reside.

e) Ndigbo are irrevocably committed to a Nigerian President from the South-East Zone in 2023.

f) That Imeobi Ohanaeze hereby empowers the President-General to constitute the Political Action Committee amongst others that will achieve the desired results in all the issued raised at the Imeobi.

g) That the President-General, Prof. George Obiozor and the Secretary-General, Amb. Okey Emuchay, MFR or their authorized spokesman are the only officials authorized by the Imeobi to issue
statements on behalf of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide

Best time to conduct a census

There is no best time to conduct a censusNigeria needs to get it done right now.

The problem Nigerian has with population counts is an undue focus on their political, rather than their economic benefits. My brother, Dr Amanze Obi, recently focused on the political over the economic in his recent intervention entitled “2023 Census is ill-timed.” But I must salute him for resurrecting this important topic and casting his habitually clear editorial gaze beyond the frenzy of today’s electioneering.

We should be having a concurrent conversation on Census 2023. I gladly join this conversation to extend it beyond the political to the economic. The primary benefits of population and housing census are in the economic.

Four issues that are worthy of attention stand out in Amanze’s argument and I fully appreciate three of them. The first is that he feels conducting a “controversial” census soon after an “earth-shaking” general election may be pushing our luck too far. What about if something goes wrong and its disruptive effects spill into the enumeration period? The Second is that it’s not fair to immediately pass on a new headcount and potential issues arising therefrom to a new administration. The third is that enumeration is shrouded in politics of number which leads to issues of acceptance of their results. The fourth is a very controversial claim in my view. He suggests that a southerner would manage the census exercise more pragmatically. The southern manager will also possibly lay to rest the enduring argument over whether northern Nigeria is more populous than the south or less.

These concerns are common and legitimate. They are common because many of our citizens hold these opinions in a country where we tend to fear and distrust policies and programmes that issue from public authorities. They are legitimate because we have seen executives in all tiers of government abuse their public trust. But I consider that they focus only on what are the temporal political gains of a population and housing census.

Here is why. We, all of us, have our pet assumptions on the matter of counting how many we are, how we live and where we live in Nigeria. The assumptions we make and conclusions we draw from them are often peculiarly Nigerian – and political. Shorn of its rhetoric, population count is essentially about how we share the national cake in Abuja. We all suspect or fear that it is easy to weaponize population numbers in our group battles for both political power and sharing of resources of the commonwealth. And for legitimate reasons.

Population numbers can be manipulated during elections in the hands of unscrupulous politicians. After the elections, they could also easily become a prime tool for periodic revenue allocation among the three tiers of government.
However, in focusing on its political benefits, we steadfastly ignore the elephant in the room: the impact of population numbers on planning and resource allocation. We forget that the benefit of proper enumeration count is not in using these to access political power or share commonwealth and donor funds. The benefit is in using the data to apply funds received to development.

It is not in receiving but in giving that population numbers have their impact. In other words, the real impact of census data is in its economic rather than political uses. Census is after all only a statistical exercise that aims to generate data for planning purposes. It is not a weapon of war for political victories.

For the sake of argument, have we stopped to consider that population and other factors in revenue sharing will gradually become meaningless? Inevitably, we shall return to using population for the role it primarily serves. Peering into a political crystal ball, one can project that the political benefits of population count will abate in a matter of years.

The national cake shared in Abuja as monthly revenue today come from two sources – crude oil sales and Value Added Tax (VAT). Both have come under severe challenges, one from alternative energy and the other from subnational legal challenges spearheaded by the Governor of Rivers State. This means that, in the long term, it is possible that bloated population figures will no longer be of benefit to states whose chief executives depend solely on periodic Abuja handouts.

The future is uncertain for the nation on revenue collection. Smart state chief executives therefore need to pay closer attention to and support the job that the National Population Commission (NPC) is getting set to do. If I were a governor, I will not be interested in getting overloaded population numbers. My interest would be in getting the most complete and accurate population and housing count for my state. A person that governs without reliable population data is like a man that fathered uncountable number of children from many wives and side-chicks, and goes about boasting of his virility and ability to take care of his own.

A governor that does not have an accurate population data cannot effectively provide for citizens in his care. How will such a governor determine the education and skills available for the state to harness in order to boost productivity and create wealth? Where will he get information about children that are in school and those that are not, for the purpose of organizing the training and development of skills of the future generation? What will advise him on the number of families in the state, where they live and how they live, in order to accurately plan for their health, sanitation and housing? Because most governors do not know much about their citizens, are we surprised that many end up squandering the funds?

Beyonda government and political benefits, it is a fact that lack of accurate census data negatively impacts business planning and social science research. A properly conducted census provides rich data that business owners, marketers, consultants, and entrepreneurs need to understand society’s needs and create values that meet the identified needs. They also provide rich data that social scientist mine to study the population and produce reports that everyone uses to understand how to navigate different aspects of life and existence.

Best time to conduct a census

It is for these reasons that we find it unhelpful to focus only on the political ends to which census data can be deployed or has hitherto been deployed in Nigeria. I daresay there are benefits of holding elections and census close to each other. We should be looking at the positive ends to which a close scheduling of census and the elections can be put. For example, can we find synergy between them that reduces costs? Each of the two programmes is costing Nigeria hundreds of billions of Naira to prosecute. Isn’t there a mechanism for integrating the two so that resources of one can be seamlessly integrated and deployed to reduce costs for the other?

To answer the question: When is the best time to hold a census? if we factor in the security situation in virtually all parts of Nigeria, we cannot be thinking of holding an election or a census exercise any time soon or close to each other. Experience shows that in our country, there is also no perfect time to carry out projects that overly excite or divide citizens. Therefore, anytime is the best time to carry out national duties imposed by law or convention.

Elections are important but population data is the greatest asset in the development process. Leaving our people uncounted for 17 years is not a good testimony to our commitment to planned and sustainable development. We also observe that Nigerians should have been counted seven years ago as President Goodluck Jonathan prepared to leave office, with a Southerner as Chair of the NPC!

I thank my brother Amanze for his trenchant intervention. His should provoke a national conversation. But beyond the political interrogation, every one of us should assist in making sure we get a headcount that enables us plan to properly and effectively develop our nation. For people in conflict-prone areas, including the southeast, this is the time to ensure that miscreants disrupting the process are called to order. We need to get this right so that economically-challenged states in Nigeria today will have the data they need to grow internal revenue – and depend less on the periodic revenue handouts from Abuja and development partners.

I plead that we deemphasize the politics of the exercise.

When is best time to conduct a census

Odinkalu, Bianca Ojukwu lead Anambra Truth Committee

Anambra Government names Prof Chidi Odinkalu and Amb Bianca Ojukwu to lead a 15-member Committee on Truth, Justice and Peace.

Secretary to Government, Prof Solo Chukwulobelu, announced last night that Odinkalu chairs the Committee while Ambassador Ojukwu manages its Secretariat.

The list released by the Government shows that Committee members were selected from the five states of the Southeast.

“Given the cross-border nature of the conflict, the focus goes beyond Anambra, and possibly covers the entire Southeast,” Chukwulobelu explained.

The committee is to dig for truth and facts that can be used to search for peace, reconcile the aggrieved and develop the state.

Government also hopes to use the Committee’s report to find healing for victims of violence while imposing responsibility and accountability on the actors.

The Commiittee will also guide government on issues of amnesty to perpetrators, restitution for losses, and rehabilitation for the perpetrators

The overall aim, Chukwulobelu said, is “restoration of peace and justice as well as promotion of development in the State…”

Terms of Reference

To achieve this aim, the State Government specifically mandated the Committee to:

  1. Identify the remote and immediate causes of the agitations, restiveness, violence, and armed struggle in the South East since 1999.
  2. Document victims/circumstances of death, brutality and incarceration.
  3. Identify stakeholders and groups who have played critical roles in the agitations and conflicts, their roles, capabilities and demands.
  4. Address any other issue(s) that may be germane to unravelling the extent of the crisis and charting the roadmap for the future.
  5. Make recommendations for sustainable peace and security in Anambra state/Southeast.

The Committee will directly report to the Governor or anyone else he designates, Chukwulobelu said.

Gov Soludo pledged to provide administrative support to the Committee which is given six months to complete its task.

Chukwulobelu did not however announce date of inauguration but said this will be communicated to Committee members.

Committee Members

Members of the 15-member Committee are as follows:

  1. Professor Chidi Odinkalu (Chair)
  2. Amb. Bianca Ojukwu (Member/Secretary)
  3. Dr. Joe Nwaorgu
  4. Dr. Udenta Udenta – Member
  5. Dr. Uju Agomoh — Member
  6. Rev. Fr (Msgnr) Jerome Madueke
  7. Canon Dr. Okechukwu C. Obi-Okoye
  8. Mr. Charles Oputa (Charly Boy)
  9. Dr. John Otu
  10. Mr. Ngozi Odumuko
  11. Ms Onyeka Onwenu
  12. Dr. Joe Abah
  13. Mr. Chukwuma Okpalaezeukwu
  14. Mr. Sam Egwuatu
  15. Prof. Joseph Ikechebelu

Odinkalu Bianca Ojukwu lead Anambra Truth Committee

Soludo nominates 20 as Commissioners in Anambra

List of Anmbra Commissioners. Governor Chukwuma Soludo nominates 20 as Commissioners for his new cabinet, Speaker Uchenna Okafor announced today.

Additionally, the Governor also requested the House of Assembly to approve 15 advisers to help him run the government.

Interestingly, the list includes five political appointees from the administration of his predecessor, Chief Willie Obiano.

The lucky five include Paul Nwosu (former special adviser), and Ifeatu Onejeme (former Commissioner). Others include Collins Nwabunwanne, and Chief Chikodi Anara.

The designated portfolios of each nominee were attached in this list, showing the agencies they are to man. This is a refreshing departure from the norm. Presidents and governors hitherto send names and whimsically attach portfolios after clearance without regard to qualifications or experience.

The 20-person list includes the following:

S/NNAMEDESIGNATIONLGA
 1Prof Ngozi Therese Chuma-UdeEducationIhiala
 2Paul NwosuInformationOgbaru
 3Dr. Forster IhejioforAgricultureOrumba South
 4Mrs. Patricia Ifeoma IgwebuikeTransportOyi
 5Engr Felix Chinedu OdimegwuEnvironmentNnewi South
 6Mr. Chikodi AnaraHomeland AffairsAwka North
 7Prof Chika Sylvia IfemejeAttorney-General and JusticeAguata
 8Mr. Collins Anthony NwabunwanneLG, Chieftaincy, Community AffairsAnambra West
 9Mr. Donatus Nduka OnyenjiCulture, Entertainment and TourismIdemili South
 10Barr Anthony Ikechukwu IfeanyaPetroleum and Mineral ResourcesAyamelum
 11Mr. Paulinus Ifechukwu OnyekaHousingEkwusigo
 12Mr. Ifeatu Chinedu OnejemeFinanceAwka South
 13Prof Offornze AmucheaziLandsDunukofia
 14Engr Ifeanyi OkomaWorks and InfrastructureIdemili North
 15Ms Chiamaka Helen NnakeBudget and Economic PlanningNjikoka
 16Dr. Afam Ben ObidikeHealthAnaocha
 17Mr. Patrick Agha MbaYouth DevelopmentOnitsha North
 18Mrs Ifeyinwa Marycelline ObinaboWomen and Social WelfareOrumba North
 19Dr. Obinna NgonadiCommerce and IndustryNnewi North
 20Engr Julius Mmelikam ChukwuemekaPower and Water ResourcesAnambra East

Soludo nominates 20 as Commissioners in Anambra

INEC saves Gov Umahi from court removal

Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC saves Gov David Umahi from court removal as Ebonyi Governor.

The electoral umpire cited a dozen conflicting judgments on cross-party membership that made it impossible to decide.

Judge Inyang Ekwo ruled that Umahi should give up his position for joining the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

Umahi won elections twice as Governor on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). The judge said the law recognizes PDP as owners of votes cast in both elections and not the sponsored candidates.

INEC said yesterday that it could not act on the judgement because of contradictory court rulings from other similar courts.

David therefore Umahi remains Governor of Ebonyi State until INEC clears the maze of rulings, the umpire said yesterday.

The agency initially met on 17 March to deliberate on the Abuja High Court judgement which sacked Umahi from power.

INEC Commissioner, Chris Okoye, announced the agency’s position in a statement released yesterday.

The INEC Position

“…he Commission met on Thursday 17 March 2022 on the matter, decided to defer its deliberation on the Ebonyi cases and stepped down the listed Memorandum to enable its Legal Services and Clearance Committee to study the new processes served on it in the light of the previously served ones and advise the Commission comprehensively.

“Since then, the Commission has been served yet more Court Processes on the same matter, bringing the total to twelve.

“The Commission deliberated extensively on these cases and decided to further suspend action on the defection of the Governor and Deputy Governor of Ebonyi State and sixteen members of the State House of Assembly from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the light of the conflicting judgements and orders served on it from Courts of coordinate jurisdiction.

“The Commission also considers it prudent to stay action on the conflicting judgements and orders being aware of the pendency of Appeals and Motions for Stay of Execution of some of the judgements before various divisions of the Court of Appeal.”

INEC saves Gov Umahi from court removal

Soludo’s Solemn Submission

In Soludo’s Solemn Submission, Chuks Iloegbunam does a content analysis of the Anambra Governor’s inaugural address delivered 17 Match 2022.

The Governor’s promise to Ndi Anambra came in the 14th of his 50-paragraph inaugural address of March 17, 2022: “I feel your pulse,” he intoned.

“For your sake I keep awake at night, sometimes having palpitations about not letting you down. Well, since God is the Miracle Worker, I will look up to Him in prayer and faith as we all start the work ahead of us. I see and feel all the humungous challenges… But here’s my promise: I will give it my all. I will work very hard every day, with you, to make Anambra proud. Every kobo of your tax money will be deployed to provide you maximum value.”

A cynical listener, whether via the electronic/social media or physically present at the Government House concourse in Awka, would have been forgiven for responding thus: “There’s nothing new in the sight of a bow and arrow carrying Hausa man.” That’s an Igbo way of saying that Nigeria’s politics is like a raft tossed about in an ocean of flowery promises. 

But I believe Governor Soludo. For a number of good reasons, Ndi Anambra have also placed their confidence in him. Foremost is trust, something he dwelt on while thanking those that aided his journey to the governorship.

“Let me particularly thank my friend and outgoing governor of Anambra, HE (Sir) Willie Maduabrochukwu Obiano, for being an honourable gentleman and leader. On Sunday, 20th November 2016, I accepted your proposal for gentlemen’s understanding and partnership. I kept my part in 2017 and even after five years, you still kept yours in 2021. I always emphasize this point because it is rare these days to find people who keep their word in politics, and we will never take your support for granted. You are indeed a great leader. Thanks for believing in me. We will work hard to make you and Ndi Anambra proud.”
 
What had November 20, 2016, 2017 and 2021 to do with March 17, 2022? Everything! In 2016, Chief Obiano proposed Professor Soludo as his successor. They entered into a gentleman’s agreement. The unwritten pact meant that Soludo worked for Obiano’s re-election. Every Anambra observer cannot but remember that during the 2017 gubernatorial campaigns, Obiano and Soludo were like conjoined twins at every stage and every stop of the hustings. Re-elected, Obiano, the gentleman, remembered that a hen never forgets the hand that pulled its feathers during the rainy season. His unwavering support for Soludo ensured that the man won both the APGA primary ballot and the governorship poll. 

A man who makes public capital out of a private question of trust is unlikely to betray the trust already reposed in him by his people. Personal experience lends credence to this proposition. Said Soludo: “For me, this issue is personal and emotional. My mother died during the civil war; our last born, Chukwuemeka, died during the war; my father bore a bullet inside him for years; my elder brother – at 16, was in the ‘Boys Company’. At 8, I became the “man of the house”, with all the men at the war front. My uncles, cousins, etc., died during the war. This is 2022, and there are certainly far better ways to protest than shedding the blood of the innocent or resorting to criminality. That is why I call on all of us today to join hands with me to execute the real agenda—a liveable and prosperous homeland of opportunities and jobs for our youth while maximizing the benefits of a united Nigeria/Africa.”

Soludo’s solemn promise to faithfully serve Anambra State appears with phrasal distinctions in eight other paragraphs of the 4,700-word essay. It appears in paragraph 7 as an apostrophe to his immediate family: “As I repeatedly promised, I will work hard every day never to disappoint you. My 90-year old father is watching this live, while my beloved mother, Mgbafor, is smiling in her grave.” In paragraph 22, it takes a more generalized form: “Ndi be anyi, what we propose is that we collectively build a new social and economic order that guarantees and defends economic freedom and reward of private enterprise to secure our future such that any child born in Anambra will have little incentive to rush elsewhere in search of opportunities and anyone persecuted anywhere in the world can return to a happy and prosperous homeland.”  

Governor Soludo’s cerebral disposition is taken for granted. Yet, he does not claim to know all the answers. He does not exhibit superhuman airs. He does not assume that the job of mending a fractured people, of reawakening a collective consciousness thoroughly battered and bartered by calculated and systematic injustices indexed in the impunity of the superstructure and the tyranny in the substructure, is a task accomplishable by the waving of a magic wand. Therefore, he appeals for every hand to be on deck for the salvage operation just begun.  

In adorning his mandate with collective raiment, he employs personal and collective pronouns to clinch his arguments: “I have done some homework,” he says. “Our detailed Plan rests on five key pillars: law and order (homeland peace and security); economic transformation as Nigeria’s next axis of industrial-tech and leisure; competitive and progressive social agenda (education, health, youth, women and vulnerable groups); Governance, rule of law and a rebirth of our value system; and aggressively tackling our existential threat posed by the environment—towards a clean, green, planned and sustainable cities, communities, and markets.  For me, this agenda is also personal: I am here to build a society where I would be proud to live in after leaving office.”

These key pillars are tied to the brainwork that produced three seminal documents that posit a social contract with Ndi Anambra: “(a) ‘Anambra Vision 2070—a 50-Year Development Plan’ which I chaired the drafting; (b) ‘The Soludo Solution: A People’s Manifesto for a Greater Anambra’; and (c) ‘The Transition Committee (Combined) Report’—which built upon the first two.” These are a schedule in the gubernatorial tenure. There are, however, problems in need of prompt for redemptive action.

Foremost among them is the deleterious impact of the Monday-Monday sit-at-home regimen trending in the Igbo country. The others include a revenue collection schema that since converted Anambra into a vast cantonment of touts. How does Governor Soludo intend to grapple with these challenges? First on IPOB, his position is perceptive: “I endorse the recent statement (March 7, 2022) by the Joint Body of South East Council of Traditional Rulers and Bishops/Archbishops on Peace and Conflict Resolution, requesting for a tripartite discussion between them, The Presidency, and South East governors to deal with the conflicts in the South East especially in relation to Nnamdi Kanu and the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the Eastern Security Network (ESN). There is no conflict that dialogue, in good faith, cannot resolve. Our government is determined to urgently restore peace and security in Anambra, and we will seek the active cooperation and collaboration of all stakeholders.”

The logic is straightforward. Once there is jaw jawing, war warring gets sentenced to the backburner. It is hoped that with both hands those called upon to staunch a haemorrhaging entity will immediately grab his challenge. A point needs to be made, nonetheless. It is impossible to discount sheer criminality as a major impetus to the violence currently tied to the sit-at-homes. Fear pervades, and most people dare not breach the “order” and get outdoors on Mondays, even after Mazi Nnamdi Kanu had unambiguously denied ever giving the go-ahead for people to barricade themselves indoors every first working day of each week. Is it rationale to assume that the disregard to Kanu’s order to halt the sit-at-homes is simply down to his followers? 

Only dubiety will contradict the Governor’s anti sit-at-home argument: “No, we refuse to turn our homeland into a crime scene and all manners of criminality. No group has ever succeeded in any struggle in history by turning the sword against themselves.” Also, “A significant part of our state economy is powered by artisans, keke drivers, vulcanizers, hairdressers, cart pushers, petty traders, bricklayers, women frying akara, and all those who depend upon daily toil and sweat to feed their families. Every day, there is a “sit at home,” these poor masses lose an estimated N19.6 billion in Anambra alone.  Due to the protracted breakdown of law and order, businesses are relocating outside Igboland, with growing unemployment, and traders who used to come to shop in Onitsha, Aba etc. are going elsewhere.”

Of the many gems in the address, one of the most uplifting is the promise that every Anambra citizen, inside and outside the State, is to be issued with an ID card. It is an antidote to deviant behaviour. Once you know your numbers, you also know those among you that are acting out of script. Thus, using moral suasion or the horsewhip to get them back into the line of sanity and good citizenship becomes a fait acompli.

It is no surprise that a Governor that came to power through transparent elections is rooting for the democratic process to go down to the third tier of government. Neither in Anambra nor elsewhere in the country has any serious attention been paid to local government elections in this Fourth Republic. Happily, Governor Soludo promises that, “We will conduct local government elections… Over the next two years, we shall review/amend the relevant legislations, reform and strengthen the system for efficiency, restructure/strengthen the Anambra’s Independent Electoral Commission, and conduct local government elections.”

What else to say? Yes, there is the emphasis on digitalization. “The land registry will be digitized; we shall leverage technology to ensure a responsive and accountable public service together with our initiative for an ID Card for every Anambra person… and a code of conduct for political appointees to mainstream servant leadership by example.”

Celebration, says the Governor, is on its way. Its arrival will coincide with when security of life and property is guaranteed, public utilities are functioning optimally, healthcare delivery is generally accessible and affordable, while children of school age are receiving 21st century education for the digital age, and meaning is given to the lives of the vulnerable. In short, Anambra’s celebration will come in the mode of the feel-good factor. 

It could be argued that the inaugural’s length is not its strongest point. But the Governor’s employment of the rhetorical device of reiteration is intended to appeal to the people and win their cooperation. Besides, will it not be antipathetic for someone with a pedagogical pedigree to display a lack of fondness for minutiae?

In all, it is a glorious new dawn for Anambra State, an entirely new era led by a determined and seasoned administrator and technocrat with a human face, who intends a new heart in his people, a new lease of life for a novel society of peace, plenty and justice, which is “the first condition of humanity.” I believe.

Soludos Solemn Submission

About the author

Iloegbunam is the author of The Case For An Igbo President Of Nigeria.
 
 

Gov Soludo inaugural address of 17 March 2022

Inaugural Address by Prof Chukwuma Soludo as Governor of Anambra State, Government House, Agu-Awka, Awka Anambra State; 17 March, 2022

Umunne m Ndi Anambra,

I applied for this job; my party, (the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA) shortlisted me, and you—umunne m Ndi Anambra— interviewed and employed me as your chief servant, with Dr. Onyekachukwu Gilbert Ibezim as my deputy.

God ordained this moment and we are grateful to Him and to you all for the privilege to serve you. Dr. Ibezim and I will work hard every day to make you proud. I ask millions of Ndi Anambra all over the world who have prayed for today to simply say a one minute prayer to commit this journey and Anambra State unto the hands of the Almighty God. Anambra will win.

Before I go further, let’s pay special tributes to hundreds of thousands of our friends and supporters who worked tirelessly to see us to this moment. It is not possible to list all of you here. I remember with deep sense of grief the three gallant police officers —-Inspector Murtala Saudi, Sgt Mudassir Ahmed, and Sgt Samuel Ishaya— who lost their lives to the Unknown Gunmen who attacked us at a meeting with the youths in my village last year. We pledge to continue to take care of their families.

Let me particularly thank my friend and outgoing governor of Anambra, HE (Sir) Willie Maduaburochukwu Obiano, for being an honourable gentleman and leader. On Sunday, 20th November, 2016, I accepted your proposal for gentlemen’s understanding and partnership. I kept my part in 2017 and even after five years, you still kept yours in 2021. I always emphasize this point because it is rare these days to find people who keep their word in politics, and we will never take your support for granted. You are indeed a great leader. Thanks for believing in me. We will work hard to make you and Ndi Anambra proud.

To our indefatigable national Chairman, Ozonkpu (Dr) Victor Ike Oye, your visit of 27th August 2016 and unwavering support remain historical. I will continue to thank all our party members especially the members of the Board of Trustees (BOT), National Executive Committee ( NEC), State, LG and Ward Excos, Campaign Committees at all levels, etc, for the massive support.

I am grateful to all the stakeholders of the Anambra Project—the clergy and the church, traditional rulers, Association of Anambra Town Unions (ASATU), labour, market, trade and professional unions, youth and women organizations, non-indigenes associations, businessmen and captains of industry, the Diaspora community, persons with disabilities, etc. We thank especially the 41 self-funding support groups who propelled this movement. Our donors and the goodwill of other Nigerian stakeholders made a significant difference.

Thanks immensely to the 150 star-studded Transition Committee chaired by our own Dr (Mrs) Oby Ezekwesili. Let me once again put on record our debt of gratitude to the federal institutions—the judiciary, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and security agencies for insisting on a transparent and credible electoral system. Eternal gratitude goes to President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, and The Presidency for remaining democrats.

In particular, I thank my wife, Nonye Frances Soludo, and children: Ozonna, Ifeatu, Chinua, Ekene, Oduko and Zikora for their love and sacrifices. Despite your deep reservations, you still allowed and supported me to step out in the service of our people. As I repeatedly promised, I will work hard every day never to disappoint you. My 90-year old father is watching this live, while my late beloved mother, Mgbafor, is smiling in her grave.

Today is my first day at work. I just reported for duty and will work for at least eight hours. We had more than a month since the election to celebrate our historic victory. Now is the time to work, and there is no minute or kobo to waste in fanfare. In a few minutes, I will announce some of the principal officers of the administration, and commence with serious meetings of the Anambra State Security Council, followed by a meeting with the permanent secretaries, a meeting on Okpoko, and with my Strategy, Execution and Evaluation (SEE) team.

Within the next one week, the list of commissioners will be laid before the House of Assembly. Tomorrow, we will head to Okpoko in Ogbaru Local Government Area and parts of Onitsha and Idemili as we signpost our commitment to fundamental urban regeneration, beginning with the greater Onitsha metropolis.

As I stand here, I feel the weight of history. I stand on the foundation laid especially by our elected predecessors— Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe GCFR, PC, Dr Michael.I. Okpara, Chief Jim Nwobodo, Chief Christian C. Onoh, Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Dr Chinwoke Mbadinuju, Dr Chris Ngige, OON, Mr Peter Obi, CON, and yes, our own Chief (Sir) Willie M. Obiano. You all did your best and well for our people, and I salute you all.

As I wear the APGA muffler on my neck, I feel the weight of Africa’s historic progressives like the Great Zik of Africa, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, GCFR, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, Dr M.I. Okpara, Malam Aminu Kano, Chief Joseph Tarka, Malam Balarabe Musa, Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah, etc. Not to talk of the millions of living African progressives, who still dream of Renascent Africa. We will never let them down.

The All Progressives Grand Alliance ( (initially set up as the United Progressives Grand Alliance UPGA) is a nostalgic rebirth of the grand alliance of progressives in the First Republic comprising Azikiwe’s NCNC, Awolowo’s AG, Joseph Tarka’s United Middle Belt Congress, Aminu Kano’s Northern Elements Progressive Union NEPU, etc. As the first true progressive party in Nigeria since 1999, our ideology is a combination of Zik’s neo welfarism, Awolowo’s scientific socialism, and Aminu Kano’s democratic humanism, to form what we see as the Pan African market progressivism.

It is a Pan Africanist ideology that integrates the social democratic values with the principles of competitive markets. Anambra under our watch will mirror this ideology, and we believe that this should be Nigeria’s compass to the future. We will seek active collaboration and cooperation with the Federal Government, our neighbouring and other states as well as the international community to provide our state truly people-centred governance. We will consolidate the progress made under our predecessors to continue Anambra’s upward trajectory.

Today, I stand up for the millions of Ndi Anambra for whom this mandate means everything. The hopes and expectations rise up to the heavens. Understandably, all of us wish that I could perform miracles – by waving my hands and all our problems will be solved. I hear you. I feel your pulse. For your sake I keep awake at night, sometimes having palpitations about not letting you down. Well, since God is the Miracle Worker, I will look up to Him in prayer and faith as we all start the work ahead of us. I see and feel all the humungous challenges. I know the lean financial base of the state. I know the limitations imposed upon a subnational state such as Anambra by the peculiar structure of our federation. But here’s my promise: I will give it my all. I will work very hard every day, with you, to make Anambra proud. Every kobo of your tax money will be deployed to provide you maximum value.

People ask me why we are not celebrating today as it has become customary. My response is that we all—party members, supporters, family and friends– celebrated in thanksgiving and prayers after you decided to employ me last November 6 and 9. But today, my first day at work, is not a day for celebration. First, there is no venue that can contain the tens of thousands of Ndi Anambra and friends all over the world who would wish to join us on this historic occasion. Second, the State cannot afford any such expensive ceremonies. Third, and as a matter of personal philosophy and as a true progressive, I do not subscribe to using the paltry tax collected from the women selling pepper on the roadside or the okada/keke drivers on a fleeting fanfare and banquet.

I insisted that this event must not cost the government of Anambra one kobo. I would rather use such resources to lay the foundation stone for a public hospital at Okpoko or elsewhere or empower our security agents to fight criminality. Today, I come with a sober heart, conscious of the enormity of responsibilities on our shoulders and the challenges ahead.

Yes, there will be a time to celebrate. We will celebrate when: security of life and property is guaranteed and law and order restored; every child of schooling age is in school; every school child is receiving the 21st century education for the digital age; everyone, especially children and women can access quality healthcare; the cost of doing business is down to near zero; our roads are tarred and we have an efficient transportation system with no one having to wait in traffic for more than a few minutes; we have access to 24 hour electricity; our streets are clean and green; our cities, communities and markets are planned and cleaned; the many millions of Charlie Nwamgbafors and the vulnerable persons are lifted up to realize their God given potential; all our pensioners receive their gratuities;, workers are paid their leave allowances and contractors are paid; our youth can get jobs and business opportunities; the youth in Okpoko ‘Zone 9’ become global serial entrepreneurs; poverty is near zero and income levels rising…etc. Yes, I will not celebrate, and certainly not with the tax payers’ money.

Umunne m Ndi Anambra!
I come to this job prepared to serve you. For 12 years since 2009 when I first indicated interest to serve you, I persevered through the turbulent politics and here we are. Once again, I present to you the Soludo Solution—our contract with the people which we intend to vigorously implement subject to resource availability.

Our contract with Anambra people derives from three seminal documents: (a) “Anambra Vision 2070—a 50-Year Development Plan” which I chaired the drafting; (b) “The Soludo Solution: A People’s Manifesto for a Greater Anambra”; and (c) “The Transition Committee (Combined) Report”—which built upon the first two.

In sum, this is an agenda for an itinerant tribe in search of a livable and prosperous homeland. Driven by the philosophy of One Anambra, One People, One Agenda, our goal is to build Anambra into a livable and prosperous smart megacity. We aim to transit beyond petroleum into the digital world of the 4th Industrial Revolution, and envision Anambra as an industrial, technology, and leisure/entertainment hub of West Africa.

Our detailed Plan rests on five key pillars: law and order (homeland peace and security); economic transformation as Nigeria’s next axis of industrial-tech and leisure; competitive and progressive social agenda (education, health, youth, women and vulnerable groups); Governance, rule of law and a rebirth of our value system; and aggressively tackling our existential threat posed by the environment—towards a clean, green, planned and sustainable cities, communities, and markets. For me, this agenda is also personal: I am here to build a society where I would be proud to live in after leaving office.

Ndi be anyi, what we propose is that we collectively build a new social and economic order that guarantees and defends economic freedom and reward of private enterprise to secure our future such that any child born in Anambra will have little incentive to rush elsewhere in search of opportunities and anyone persecuted anywhere in the world can return to a happy and prosperous homeland. Such a new order will, of necessity, entail a massive disruptive change and creative destruction, with short-term pains but guaranteed long-term benefits. As a humane and progressive government, we shall strive to deliver the difficult change with a human face.

As we transit into a non-oil economy, our strategy is a small open economy framework embedded in 21st Century imperative of Everything Technology: we seek to bring the world to Anambra and take Anambra to the world especially in the context of the African continental free trade area (AfCFTA). Our “Made in Anambra” and “Anambra Standards” agenda underpin this strategy. If you can produce it in Anambra, I will be your chief marketing officer, provided that your standard meets the “Anambra standard”—which is excellence. The Anambra State Government will only patronize Made in Anambra products and services unless such goods or services are not currently made in Anambra, then made in Nigeria, Africa, etc, in that sequence. When you see me in Innoson vehicles or in my Akwete dress with a pair of shoes made in Ogbunike/Nkwelle Ezunaka and Onitsha, we are making a statement.

Today, the light refreshment to be served after this brief event is abacha from Umunze, ukwa from Isuofia, Anambra rice with ofe akwu, nkwu enu from Awgbu, ngwo from Awa and Oba, and malt and bottled water from Onitsha.

As part of our “made in Anambra”, cultural renaissance and healthy living agenda, when you come to the Governor’s Lodge or attend any state government’s function, be sure to be served only “Made in Anambra”. We want to go back to where M.I. Okpara stopped with the palm revolution and plant millions of palm trees. In some years, we will seek not only to export palm produce but also fresh palm wine from Anambra State.

We will seek active collaboration with the federal government not only to export manufactured and agricultural products, but also services (especially tech, leisure/entertainment, and skills/talents as we seek an educational system whose products are productive at home and exportable). Anambra’s greatest resource is our human capital, and we shall grow and mine this resource to its maximum, leveraging on technology.

We will soon inaugurate the Anambra Innovation and Technology Advisory Council to drive the emergence of the digital tribe and mainstreaming technology and innovation across all aspects of our lives, our International Investment Council, our Global Friends of Anambra in Development, as well as the Council on the Ease of Doing Business.

We will conduct local government elections. No doubt, the uniform local government system as the third federating unit is one of the contested features of our federalism. But we must make the best of a bad system, by unleashing the potential of governance at the lower levels. Over the next two years, we shall review/amend the relevant legislations, reform and strengthen the system for efficiency, restructure/strengthen the Anambra’s Independent Electoral Commission, and conduct local government elections. We will collaborate and coordinate actively with LGAs to ensure synergy and complementarities. Let the revolution get to the grassroots.

We shall reinvigorate and mainstream the public-community-private partnership (PCPP) – as a veritable framework for service delivery and development. We will develop pragmatic frameworks for private sector and communities to: adopt schools, build roads/infrastructure, manage government assets, receive and manage development matching grants; participate in sanitation and securing law and order, etc. There is a subtle but powerful revolution underway, raising the bar on our age-old community development model.

Yes, every community embarks upon community development. Besides the well-known Nnewi model, some communities such as Neni and Adazi Ani are showing new examples. At Neni, an individual has tarred 18 kilometres of road (together with others at 24 kilometres in the community) and they are now refurbishing and empowering public schools in their community; an individual in Adazi Ani has done 13 kilometres and wants to surpass the Neni record. The Government will provide a framework to incentivize and unleash the momentum of this new phenomenon at the village/community levels.

Our government is committed to promoting the expeditious dispensation of justice especially the prompt resolution of commercial disputes. We shall collaborate with the Chief Judge and his colleagues to significantly improve the physical and technological infrastructure of the courts, and hopefully also implement some structural reforms to fast-track the path to justice and make Anambra the number one in the speedy dispensation of justice and ease of doing business.

Part of our future is in our past. We will mainstream our values of hard work, integrity, compassion, and sanctity of life. The fringe but destructive minority which embodies the “get rich quick by all means” philosophy, cultism, drug addiction, blood-letting criminality, kidnapping, etc do not represent us, and cannot define us. As a new social order and “everything technology” philosophy take life, many unproductive systems will give way. There will be new and better ways of managing our parks and markets, different and better ways of collecting government revenue, managing waste, and general service delivery to citizens.

The land registry will be digitized; we shall leverage technology to ensure a responsive and accountable public service together with our initiative for an ID Card for every Anambra person wherever he/she may be; and a code of conduct for political appointees to mainstream servant leadership by example.

We must rid Onitsha and all our roads and markets of revenue touts and make shopping in Anambra a pleasurable experience. Today, I will sign an executive order to suspend all revenue contracts operating in the parks, markets and roads until we put in place a new system within the next four weeks. Consequently as from tomorrow, 18th March, 2022, if anyone asks you to pay CASH to him as revenue to the government in the parks, markets and roads, such a person must be a thief. Market unions must also stop harassing customers.

We shall embark upon massive training and social re-engineering to wean people off the old unproductive ways. As a humane government, we shall endeavor to offer alternative opportunities to the revenue touts. Over the next two years, many will complain that “it is not the way we do it”, but we can’t repeat the same thing and expect a different result. During the coming months, we shall embark upon bold but difficult reforms and these reforms may be unpopular especially among those benefitting from the existing order. For sure, the revenue and park mafia that rake in billions of government revenue into their private pockets won’t be happy. But we commit to doing the right things. And we plead for your understanding, patience and cooperation. By His grace, Anambra will win!

But Anambra State is a subnational entity, within the context of Nigeria’s unitary-federalism. The speed of its progress is in part dependent upon both the threats and opportunities inherent in such a system. The ongoing Constitutional amendment at the National Assembly is welcome, albeit that some of the proposals merely tinker at the margins and attempting to do more of the same. The subnational states need to be unleashed. For too long, Nigeria has tried a top-down strategy; now is the time to try the bottom-up approach, and that’s part of my motivation. While we debate how far and how fast the devolution and reconfigurations will go, the world is not waiting. As the world transits away from oil into cleaner energy sources and a world of 4th Industrial Revolution, Nigeria needs a fundamentally different rule-book to survive and compete. We will seek to optimize the limited headroom allowed by the current peculiar structure to give our people a new life.

Umunne m Ndi Anambra,
Besides the environment, a fundamental existential threat to our state and indeed Igboland is that of peace building and law and order. We can’t build this homeland by turning the sword against each other. Ndi Anambra love their homeland but the recent upsurge in criminality poses a great threat. My heart bleeds to see and hear about our youth dying in senseless circumstances. Every criminal gang—kidnappers, wicked murderers, arsonists, rapists, thieves— all now claim to be freedom fighters. Criminality cannot be sugarcoated. This must stop.

All the stakeholders must now review both the narrative and the action plan. For starters, I endorse the recent statement (March 7, 2022) by the Joint Body of South East Council of Traditional Rulers and Bishops/Archbishops on Peace and Conflict Resolution, requesting for a tripartite discussion between them, The Presidency, and South East governors to deal with the conflicts in the South East especially in relation to Nnamdi Kanu and the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the Eastern Security Network (ESN). There is no conflict that dialogue, in good faith, cannot resolve. Our government is determined to urgently restore peace and security in Anambra, and we will seek the active cooperation and collaboration of all stakeholders.

To IPOB/ESN, the Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), as well as the disparate armed groups in the forests, it is time to interrogate both the purpose and means of your campaign. To the politicians playing politics with the insecurity, you are riding a tiger. The current trajectory is a road to desolation. Let us get around the table and talk. Let the elite in the closet come out, and let’s debate our future and forge a consensus. The conspiracy of silence by the elite and some community leaders must end. If you see something, say or do something! Securing Igboland and Nigeria must be our collective responsibility. Let those in the forests come out, surrender their guns and let’s work together to rehabilitate and empower you to contribute positively to the peace and prosperity of our homeland

A significant part of our state economy is powered by artisans, keke drivers, vulcanizers, hairdressers, cart pushers, petty traders, bricklayers, women frying akara, and all those who depend upon daily toil and sweat to feed their families. Every day, there is a “sit at home”, these poor masses lose an estimated N19.6 billion in Anambra alone. Due to the protracted breakdown of law and order, businesses are relocating outside Igboland, with growing unemployment, and traders who used to come to shop in Onitsha, Aba etc are going elsewhere. Who is losing? By forcing our children—the future of Igboland—to stay at home instead of being in school, while even the critically sick people (including pregnant women) cannot go to hospital, we harm our future .

I hereby challenge any of the disparate groups that claims that it is not part of the senseless killings and kidnappings to step out and show leadership by joining hands with us to DO something about it. If you love our homeland, there is no place for bloodshed. Our Lord Jesus Christ admonished in Matthew 26: 52: “put your sword back in its sheath, for all who live by the sword will die by the sword”. In the traditional religion, the land places a curse upon those who spill the blood of the innocent.

For me, this issue is personal and emotional. My mother died during the civil war; our last born, Chukwuemeka died during the war; my father bore a bullet inside him for years; my elder brother – at 16, was in the ‘Boys Company’. At 8, I became the “man of the house”, with all the men at the war front. My uncles, cousins, etc, died during the war. This is 2022, and there are certainly far better ways to protest than shedding the blood of the innocent or resorting to criminality.

That is why I call on all of us today to join hands with me to execute the real agenda—a livable and prosperous homeland of opportunities and jobs for our youth while maximizing the benefits of a united Nigeria/Africa. With Ohanaeze’s estimate that some 11.6 million Igbos live in the North and over 7 million in Lagos state and over 70% of our non-land assets scattered all over Nigeria and the world, we need Nigeria and Nigeria needs us. We need Africa and the world and they need us.

Yes, we have heard every genuine agitation for fairness, justice, equity and equality in the Nigerian Federation. No, we refuse to turn our homeland into a crime scene and all manners of criminality. No group has ever succeeded in any struggle in history by turning the sword against themselves. I promise to work hard with other governors and leaders in the South East and others to take your agitations to the table of all Nigeria, and we hope to bargain for a win-win solution for all Nigeria. I will engage all parties to the breakdown of peace and order in Anambra from a point of determination to solve problems and resolve disagreements with openness, integrity, equity and justice. I will absolutely invest my political capital within our State, our South East and with the Presidency, Federal Government and its establishments as a matter of topmost priority. With good faith and hard work by all parties, I am convinced that justice, peace and order will return to Anambra and the South East within the shortest possible horizon.

Umunne m Ndi Anambra, this agenda is premised upon your irrepressible and communal spirit. It is you—the people—that will make it happen. We all love our homeland to death, and we can turn it into whatever we will that it should be. A new servant leadership and a new homeland consciousness by the people will get us there despite the huge challenges. For example, to effectively implement our ambitious agenda, we need annual investment levels of 25- 30% of state gross domestic product (GDP), that is about $2.58 – $3.09 billion. At current levels, public sector investment is less than $100 million per annum. The gap seems daunting, but we are undaunted. The internally generated revenue is barely 0.5% of state GDP.

This presents immense opportunity as well as threat in the context of a rentier culture where the social contract/trust between the citizen and the government is broken, and the people do not believe that they can get value for their taxes. We are determined to change this.

I pledge here again to devote every kobo of your tax money to work for you. This is your government. I am only your employee. I commit to a transparent, accountable, judicious, and impactful use of your tax money. My litmus test for every expenditure will be to ask two questions: a) if this is my hard earned money from work and profit, can I spend it this way? b) Is this the best way to spend the taxes and levies collected from the poor traders and okada riders? If I cannot answer Yes to both questions, then I will hesitate to do so.

On your part, we need a new chapter of active and responsive citizenship, imbued with civic responsibilities and participation. Pay your fair share of tax and sanitation and other levies and try us. I paid my 2021 tax to Anambra (over N10 million). The keke drivers pay over N90,000 per annum; the women selling pepper and hawkers who pay N200 per day average at least N50,000 per annum; etc. What about you—the shop owner/trader, lawyer, doctor, consultant, journalist, professionals, business owner, landlord, etc? You want security, good transport network without traffic, good schools and hospitals, water, clean, green and planned environment, etc. How much do you pay per month/year? Ndi Anambra outside Anambra must creatively pay their taxes in their primary residence—Anambra. With a new homeland consciousness, the estimated over 10 million Ndi Anambra outside the State can collectively turn their homeland into the new axis of prosperity.

In addition to our civic duties as responsible citizens, I call on all of us to go the extra mile in volunteering our time and treasure to create the homeland of our dream. Everybody is important in this journey and I need your help to succeed. We must all strive to die empty—to give our all, in aid of God’s creation. Each day, every Onye Anambra must ask himself or /herself: “what have I done today to make my home state livable and prosperous?” It should be part of our daily devotion. There must be a purpose why God in His infinite wisdom decided to make you Onye Anambra—and that must be to leave it better than you met it. No one is too poor to give or do something for Anambra. If not you, then who; if not now, then when?

As I close my eyes and visualize our future, I can see millions of Ndi Anambra holding hands and working hard for a glorious future; I see the skyscrapers along the banks of River Niger in Onitsha, Nnewi, Awka, Ekwulobia, etc. I see a smart megacity with millions of happy and prosperous people. I see us exporting massively to the world and the world coming to Anambra as a preferred destination to live, work, invest, learn, relax and enjoy. History beckons. Seize this moment Ndi Anambra, and together, let us make it count. Anambra: the Light of the Nation shines….!

God bless you all!

Gov Soludo inaugural address

The Soludo Solution: bold visions and great expectations

Chido Nwakanma breaks down the bold visions and great expectations in the Soludo Solution expoused in the new Anambra Governor’s inaugural speech.

Do you know that the average Keke rider in Onitsha, Anambra State contributes N90, 000 to taxes annually? Or that the pepper seller in the market similarly contributes N50, 000 per annum from the N200 she pays daily? Or that the taxes they pay ends up in private pockets rather than in government coffers, whether local or state?
Governor Chukwuma Charles Soludo outlined on 17 March 2022 his bold vision for Anambra State, incorporating an “agenda for an itinerant tribe in search of a liveable and prosperous homeland”.
Taxation will form a significant part of the vision to transform and develop the state as will technology. Soludo aims to “transit beyond petroleum into the digital world of the 4th Industrial Revolution and envision Anambra as an industrial, technology, and leisure/entertainment hub of West Africa”.

The soludo solution
The inauguration

Taxation Tripod

The Governor spoke on taxation in three areas.

First is the promise to ensure that citizens derive value for their taxes. Soludo disclosed that he paid above N10million tax in 2021. He promised a value-for-your-taxes dispensation. There will be a litmus test for expenditure based on two questions: “a) if this is my hard-earned money from work and profit, can I spend it this way? b) Is this the best way to spend the taxes and levies collected from the poor traders and okada riders? If I cannot answer Yes to both questions, I will hesitate to do so”.

Second, Governor Soludo expects every Anambra Citizen to pay their taxes. He wants them to count on his pledge of accountability, transparency, impactful and careful management.

Third, he envisions an Anambra Diaspora Tax whereby Anambrarians living outside the state contribute to taxation. However, seeing as citizens pay taxes where they live, how would the Anambra Diaspora Tax work? What would be the parameters? Would be it flat or graduated? Would it not amount to double or triple taxation for such citizens?

Bold ideas and visions

The inaugural speech resounded with ideas and bold visions befitting a professor of economics and first-class brain. It was an example of the Big, Hairy and Audacious Goal syndrome articulated by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras in their book, Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies. “A big hairy audacious goal (BHAG) is a clear and compelling long-term goal guided by a company’s values and purpose”.

Characteristics of BHAG include paradigm shift, working outside comfort zones and an ambitious yet accessible to explain goal.

Hear Soludo: “To effectively implement our ambitious agenda, we need 25- 30% of state gross domestic product (GDP) annual investment levels, which is about $2.58 – $3.09 billion. Public sector investment is less than $100 million per annum at current levels. The gap seems daunting, but we are undaunted. The internally generated revenue is barely 0.5% of state GDP.”

The Contract with Anambra People, Soludo added, “derives from three seminal documents: (a) “Anambra Vision 2070—a 50-Year Development Plan”, which I chaired the drafting; (b) “The Soludo Solution: A People’s Manifesto for a Greater Anambra”; and (c) “The Transition Committee (Combined) Report”—which built upon the first two”.

The soludo solution
Presenting Anambra Vision 2070 document

Philosopical drivers

The philosophical drivers are One Anambra, One People, One Agenda. The goal is to “build Anambra into a liveable and prosperous smart megacity”.

The Anambra State Soludo Solution has five pillars.

  1. Law and order (homeland peace and security);
  2. Economic transformation as Nigeria’s next axis of industrial-tech and leisure;
  3. Competitive and progressive social agenda (education, health, youth, women and vulnerable groups);
  4. Governance, the rule of law and a rebirth of our value system; and
  5. Aggressively tackling our existential threat posed by the environment—towards clean, green, planned and sustainable cities, communities, and markets.

It also includes a vision of a new framework for service delivery and development in Public-Community Private Partnership (PCPP). Tasks under PCPP include adopting schools, building roads/infrastructure, managing government assets, receiving and managing development matching grants, participating in sanitation and securing law and order.

Other elements of the Soludo Solution include:

Made in Anambra and concentric circle patronage

“The Anambra State Government will only patronise Made in Anambra products and services unless such goods or services are not currently made in Anambra, then made in Nigeria, Africa, in that sequence. We are making a statement when you see me in Innoson vehicles or my Akwete dress with a pair of shoes made in Ogbunike/Nkwelle Ezunaka and Onitsha.”

Mr Governor and his deputy chose an IVM all-terrain vehicle (jeep) as official vehicles and served local delicacies at the function.

Everything Technology

Technology will be a driver of production in Anambra, connecting it to the world and the world to Anambra. The state will plug into and take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA). Expect a high level of digitisation in services.

“We will soon inaugurate the Anambra Innovation and Technology Advisory Council to drive the emergence of the digital tribe and mainstream technology and innovation across all aspects of our lives, our International Investment Council, our Global Friends of Anambra in Development, as well as the Council on the Ease of Doing Business.”

Anambra Standards

It will serve as a new benchmark with a focus on excellence. Goods and services produced in Anambra State must meet the relevant criterion. Opportunity lies in having a committee to work with various professional and occupational groups to dimension the Anambra Standards for various goods and services.

Swords in ploughshares

Soludo called on the combatants who have turned Anambra State and the East into a crime scene to put down their arms. He reprises Isaiah 2:3-4. “We can’t build this homeland by turning the sword against each other. Ndi Anambra love their land, but the recent upsurge in criminality poses a great threat. My heart bleeds to see and hear about our youth dying in senseless circumstances. Every criminal gang—kidnappers, wicked murderers, arsonists, rapists, thieves- now claim to be freedom fighters. Criminality cannot be sugar-coated. This must stop. All the stakeholders must now review the narrative and the action plan.”

Maximising the Benefits

“With Ohanaeze’s estimate that some 11.6 million Igbos living in the North and over 7 million in Lagos state and over 70% of our non-land assets scattered all over Nigeria and the world, we need Nigeria and Nigeria needs us. We need Africa and the world, and they need us”.

Will Soludo deliver? Can he deliver? Critics say the speech is an excellent example of the theoretical prescriptions of an economist.

Human Capital experts state that past performance is a predictor of potential. The nation can reference Soludo’s past performance in creating today’s big banks from a market of 89 banks of varying size and capacity. He made it work despite strong opposition. It worked even as the capital base prescribed for the banks then seemed outlandish.

An actual area of concern for Soludo watchers is the predisposition to hubris. He needs the collective wisdom and participation of Ndi Anambra. Mr Governor must continually connect with ALL stakeholders and never dismiss any. His initial moves of banning the revenue touts are welcome, but it creates enemies in the immediate. What is the plan to avoid a vacuum?

The Soludo team also must manage expectations. It will be an interesting case study.

Vision is one of the critical elements in successful development praxis. The other is the capacity to execute. Indeed, the ability to execute distinguishes achievers from laggards in Nigeria’s public sector management. Governor Soludo must get the civil service on his side as the ones who know the cemeteries and how to make the dead walk. In the first instance and another chapter of four, Anambra State will live in exciting times.

The Soludo solution: vision and expectations

No tears for Obiano

In No tears for Obiano, Tai Emeka Obasi says no one can pass through what Peter Obi endured in the hands of the ex-governor without snapping.

By Tai Emeka Obasi

When I saw the picture of HE Peter Obi sitting calmly at the Slapping Arena last Thursday, I fought hard to hold back the tears. To me, that was the picture that mattered most in all the activities that heralded the coming to power of Governor Chukwuma Soludo.

Ex-Gov Willie Obiano exited in characteristic fashion with his wife exhibiting the rascality that marked their eight very regrettable years in Anambra State Government House. History has a way of shaming liars and propagandists. Mrs Ebele Obiano proved to the visitors that witnessed her madness that most things, if not all, written about her uncultured excesses were fact-based.

But this is not about the Obianos and their weird behaviours.

This is rather mainly about that man that came far ahead of his generation.

Around May 2018, shortly after Obiano was sworn in for the second term in office, I was privileged to be part of the team that went to the Akanu Ibiam International Airport in Enugu to welcome the man we call Okwute home after about a three-week trip abroad.

We were in a four-vehicle convoy and I was with him in his vehicle. We had passed Four Corner and into the usually lonely stretch through Udi Hills on our way back to Onitsha. I was going through the daily newspapers we bought at the Airport when the Boss suddenly said, “Tai, did you see that?”

I snapped to attention, “what Sir?”

“That Sienna vehicle parked inside the bush?”

“No, Sir. I was busy with the papers…”

Okwute ordered his own driver to stop and turnaround. Only the three of us in the vehicle knew why we were reversing at that very dangerous spot. But the rest, including the DSS and other security personnel in the other three vehicles, knew that odd moments abound when your itinerary involved being part of Okwute’s convoy. They all reversed and followed us to the spot.

“She could be in danger,” was all that Okwute muttered as we arrived at the scene. I now noticed for the first time that a Sienna vehicle was parked inside the bush, about five metres from the road. A woman was visibly sitting behind the steering, the lone passenger in the vehicle.

Our DSS leader of the security was down from the vehicle in a flash, his right hand behind his back. Knowing where he preferred keeping his gun, I needn’t guess what that right hand was romancing.

But because only Okwute’s own driver and I knew why we turned and the driver shouldn’t leave the Boss’ vehicle at such situations, I knew exactly what to do. I came down quickly. The other policemen in the leading and rear Hilux vans had all come down, their AK 47s at the ready.

No tears for Obiano, by Tai Emeka Obasi

I quickly told the head of our security, who had already guessed. Give it to Joe, he’s as smart as they come.

Arinze, the indefatigable PA was also down from the second jeep. He was approaching to know why we stopped but Joe waved Arinze and I back. Joe now approached the Sienna with professional caution, with all the other security personnel covering him. It was then that I realised how dangerous a mission we had undertaken. If that was an ambush there could have been sad tales.

Joe just ordered the woman to come out of the vehicle. The woman, shaking like a leaf, hastily obeyed.

She was alone in the vehicle as Joe confirmed. She was not being kidnapped or robbed. Her vehicle didn’t veer off the road. They were there to harvest vegetables from the farm. We saw two other women doing the harvesting about 50 metres away.

Seeing all was clear, I moved in to reassure the very scared woman.

“Don’t be scared. We thought you were in danger and only wanted to help. Have a nice day Madam,” I offered, believing she needed such assurance from a civilian.

The woman relaxed for the first time and started thanking us for such thoughtfulness. She must have been a teacher. I noticed she was directing all her nice words at me. We waved bye, entered our vehicles and resumed our journey.

“That was very thoughtful and kind of you, Sir,” I told the Boss once we went on our way.

“We should always do what is required of us at all times,” he returned.

“But I took your glory, Sir. You should have come down. I’m sure she would have recognised you. That woman’s story is incomplete without the man behind such gesture,” I countered.

“Tai, I didn’t do it for the woman to applaud me personally. I did it because it was the right thing to do. We’re privileged enough to be moving with security. It is our duty to use same security to save people who voted us into power when we meet them in such conditions. Always learn to do the right things to enhance the society. Don’t bother about the applause. Just do what is right and move on,” the Boss educated.

“Thank you for this education, Sir,” I returned and went into deep thoughts, the newspapers forgotten. Staying close to Okwute may not improve your bank account balance. But growing in wisdom is a huge certainty.

I suspected before but I affirmed from that day that the former governor was not grieving for any ill-treatment from the man he put into power based on personal basis.

No tears for Obiano, by Tai Emeka Obasi

Okwute was deeply pained when he saw the education he had put on the top of the ladder amongst other states in the nation gradually deteriorating while propaganda and outright lies were being used to cover up.

He grieved deeply when he was told to stop visiting and giving money to schools in his state.

He was deeply pained when the projects he initiated for the good of his dear state were all abandoned.

He mourned when SarbMillar relocated a project meant for Anambra State to Ogun State.

He held back the tears when the money he saved in dollars were withdrawn and squandered.

He grieved when he was stopped from paying taxes that would have helped to develop his state in Anambra. Even though paying in neighbouring Enugu State isn’t a sin but that was one IGR generation gone astray.

He felt deep pain that the man he put in office didn’t match UBEC’s counterpart funding for education and didn’t draw from it for eight years.

He mourned when all the ICT and internet facilities he installed in Anambra schools were allowed to rot away.

No tears for Obiano, by Tai Emeka Obasi

He mourned…

All through eight years of HE Obiano, Okwute was never invited to any state function. So when I saw him present at Prof Soludo’s inauguration, I prayed that the man from Isuofia could do me the favour of going back to all that were damaged by his predecessor and then push Anambra really forward again. That is all he owes Okwute and not even the allowances due him as governor that Obiano seized for eight years.

Nobody could have endured what Obiano did to this great man without one public word to fight back. Okwute is a rare breed. God loves Anambra to have given him to us. Nigeria should be much better to tap from same blessing.

God bless Anambra!

No tears for Obiano, by Tai Emeka Obasi