• Okwuosa Defies Soludo, As Okonkwo Claims PDP’s Winning Mascot
Prominent aspirants on the four front row contending political parties in the November 6 Anambra State governorship poll have began to pull punches and assert their presumed chances to clinch the coveted trophy.
Former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Prof. Chukwuma Charles Soludo, and Chairman, United Nigeria Airlines, Dr. Obiora Okonkwo, at different venues, recently declared their interests to contest the poll.
While Okonkwo visited the state secretariat of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Awka, amid fanfare, to inform party leaders and stakeholders of his ambition, Soludo told his people at Isuofia that he was contesting the election on the platform of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
Soludo later met with journalists in Awka to interface with them on the reasons propelling his delayed ambition to govern the state, stressing that his emergence on the scene has already sent jitters among the opposition.
The former CBN governor said he was optimistic to clinch the APGA ticket, describing his rivals as greenhorns, none of who has “up to 10 per cent of my global and or national network.”
While stressing that his ambition is to make the state and the Southeast “an island of prosperity,” he declared: “God has blessed me beyond imagination, from a poor village boy to the peak of my career as a professor.”
He regretted that the Southeast geopolitical zone has become largely unlivable, despite the solid foundation and infrastructure its former leaders laid for its development.
Thumbing his chest about his pedigree, the Professor of Economics stated: “I have served in over 25 committees at the federal level and travelled to about 45 countries. My wealth of experience places me above other contestants.
“I have done it at the global level and at the national level and now, I want to contribute my quota at the state level. There is nobody else with the global contact and national network or anything 10 per cent near it as I have for the job.”
He noted that while Anambra State had been relatively lucky with good governance, in spite of its little resources, the Southeast, on the other hand, remains a “tiny poor place that must begin to turn into a Promised Land.”
Soludo added: “For you to create a livable society comparable to any other place, it requires a crusade for all, and it must happen simultaneously in the Southeast.
“My African Dubai/Taiwan metaphor of development for Anambra is not dead: The larger goal is to make Nigeria a prosperous nation by creating prosperous and happy states. The mission is to create a greater tomorrow.”
But no sooner had Soludo rounded off his interaction with journalists than the presumptive consensus aspirant on the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC), Azuka Okwuosa, dismissed his boasts as “an intellectual masturbation of a political Lilliput.”
Declaring that the power of incumbency, which Soludo craves on the APGA platform, would fail him (Soludo) again, Okwuosa recalled: “11 years after he began his serial contest for the governorship, it is regrettable to note that Soludo is yet to learn useful lessons in politics.”
In a statement made available to journalists, Okwuosa asserted: “As a governorship hopeful on the platform of APC, I was appalled when my attention was drawn to Soludo’s claim that his rivals for the 2021 governorship are small boys.
“I could recall that during his unsuccessful run for Anambra governorship in 2010, Soludo claimed that he would transform the state to a mix of Dubai and Taiwan without reflecting on the feasibility of blending the different economic systems of the two Asian and Middle East towns.
“It is painful that the former CBN governor fails to respect history in his haste to talk down on others as if he is talking to undergraduate students who look up to him for guidance for their educational uplift.
“Although Soludo may be directly referring to the caliber of aspirants on his own faction of APGA, his careless and condescending talk indirectly affects aspirants on other political platforms, of which APC is prominent.”
Okwuosa added that as a politician who received tutelage under the Great Ikemba Nnewi and served the state as council chairman and Works commissioner: “I wish to respectfully inform Soludo that the power of incumbency, which he has been coveting ever since he began the chase for the governorship of Anambra State, would fail him yet again.”
He maintained that Anambra State was ripe for new ideas and fresh tactics, stressing that only those who have worn the shoes through practical participation in the executive arm of governance know where it pinches.
He said the ideal governor Anambra needs is a young person that has political and governance experience, saying his exposure to grassroots governance as council chairman and as former Works and Transport commissioner puts him in good stead to deliver good governance to the people.
Okwuosa urged Soludo to concern himself with econometrics and training of students, instead of dreaming to learn politics and governance on the job.
He expressed the possibility that the “small boys” in APGA would trounce the professor at governorship primaries, even as he traced Soludo’s trajectory in politics, noting: “Fresh from his loss of a second term appointment as CBN governor, Soludo depended on the promise of federal backing through the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and emerged as a disputed consensus candidate out of a total of 47 aspirants through a dubious process, amid credible legal challenges.
“In 2013, he crossed over from the PDP based on a confidence artifice of a former APGA national chairman, who promised him the party’s ticket at a fee.
“Then in 2017, he decided to act as chief salesman for Governor Willie Obiano’s second term in exchange for a possible support with the power of incumbency in this year’s election.
“Going by his political track, it is obvious that in his illusive grandeur, Soludo is blinded by arrogance and transactional political style to apply to serve the people of Anambra State.
“We are, therefore, inclined to inform him that just as the lure of power of incumbency and easy win failed him in previous attempts, the November 6 election would not be any different.
“Soludo should know the difference between boardroom swagger and partisan politics and cease from talking down on citizens, who hold equal stake in the polity. After all, what Anambra needs is a servant- leader and not a boastful egghead who is in a hurry to bamboozle and intimidate.”
Okwuosa recalled how in 2010, when journalists asked him why he was contesting the governorship with popular aspirants, such as Dr. Chris Ngige in the race, Soludo demonstrated similar impudence by claiming that mad men could also be popular.
He, therefore, contended that this year, Soludo should humbly accept the fact that what the state needs is a servant-leader and “not an arrogant academic, who believes that governance is similar to theories and citations.”
While announcing his intention to contest the election to a mammoth crowd at Udoka Estate state secretariat of PDP, Okonkwo reminded party leaders and faithful that PDP needs a candidate who can win the election to bounce back in the state.
Pointing to the array of new entrants to the party that joined him to the state secretariat, Okonkwo said it was a strong testimonial that the party needs a winning candidate, stressing, “Here am I, send me!”
He said PDP’s quest to upstage APGA in the poll would be enhanced by getting a candidate, whose demography of followership, particularly among the voting population, would tip the balance of votes in the party’s favour.
He commended the new entrants and other members from the 21 councils of the state that stormed the secretariat for the event, saying his aspiration has clearly rekindled confidence in the party.
State Chairman, Chief Ndubuisi Nwobu, alongside other leaders, extolled the new entrants for joining the party and assured them of a credible nomination process that would throw up a candidate that can meet the yearnings of Anambra people in general.
In his remarks, Okonkwo said he was humbled by the level of solidarity from Anambra people towards his governorship ambition, adding: “I am indeed humbled by this outpouring of support and solidarity from Ndi Anambra. You have decided to join the PDP based on my decision to contest the governorship, because you believe in me.
“Many of you are coming into politics for the first time; many others left other parties and others are now returning to the fold, all because of me. Your action today has placed enormous responsibility on my shoulders, and I shall not fail you.”
He said he is in the race to accomplish God-given inspiration to rebuild and reposition the state for higher productivity, stressing that his confidence is in God and the collective will of the people.
Maintaining that he was in the race to win, Okonkwo said he has very strong campaign machinery anchored on the vision of massive infrastructural development, knowledge economy and empowerment of the people.
While assuring that he would effectively “utilise the party’s ticket to win the election and deliver on the promises,” Okonkwo, who holds a doctorate in Political Economy, said what Anambra needs at the moment, beyond primordial sentiments, is a leader with a vision, capacity, competence and integrity.
He said he ranks highest among the contenders across all the political parties, insisting that his 10-Point Development Action Plan, which centres on rural development, social welfare for all categories of the people, youth and women empowerment, job creation, urban re-development, diaspora engagement, re-design of healthcare development and re-engineering of water supply, among others, would turn Anambra State around and impact on the Southeast.
One of the new entrants, Chudy Ezeaku, told reporters at the event that he was moved by the call on youths to take active part in politics, stressing that he decided to join PDP after reading Okonkwo’s profile.
“I am encouraged that we have someone like him offering to lead our state. I am attracted also by the fact that in almost 30 years, Okonkwo has worked to create wealth and never at any time earned a salary as a paid worker. This means he knows what to do to make things better for us the youths,” he added.
Earlier, PDP chieftain, Prince Azubuike Iloh (Ise Na Ise), while describing Okonkwo as the choice of the people, urged other aspirants to make personal sacrifices by jettisoning their ambition to rally around him in the collective interest of the Anambra people.
Other speakers at the occasion commended Okonkwo for venturing into the contest, stressing that it was time Anambra State PDP was rescued from professional politicians, who lack the capacity to win the state for the party.