Saturday, May 21, 2022

AnambraDecides2021: The road to Charles Soludo’s victory

But unlike Mr Obiano, who benefitted from ex-Governor Peter Obi’s prudence, Mr Soludo will have an ebbing pocket and the mutating IPOB threat to contend with.

• November 10, 2021
Chukwuma Soludo
Anambra Governor, Chukwuma Soludo

“Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, having scored the highest number of valid votes, was declared winner of the election,” announced INEC’s returning officer Florence Obi in the early hours of Wednesday.

Charles Soludo, a professor of Economics and the ex-CBN governor, has been declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission the winner of the 2021 governorship election in Anambra.

Mr Soludo was born on July 28, 1960. He will succeed Willie Obiano as Anambra’s governor.

Anambra Willie Obiano (Credit: Twitter)
Anambra State Governor, Willie Obiano (Credit: Twitter)

He hails from the Aguata local government area of Anambra state. He had served as the chief economic adviser to former President Olusegun Obasanjo and the chief executive of the National Planning Commission of Nigeria. He also served as a one-time member of the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development Advisory Committee.

Mr Soludo was the CBN governor from 2004 to 2009, under Mr Obasanjo and President Umaru Yar’Adua. His legacy as a CBN helmsman in the banking sector is characterised by his consolidation of the nation’s banks and his contribution to Nigeria’s debt relief.

In a 2004 address to the Bankers’ Committee, Mr Soludo noted the weaknesses of the pre-consolidation Nigerian banks to include low capital base, which in turn became high overhead costs.

Mr Soludo noted that the banks in the system were small and unable to compete with the bigger ones, plagued by a high incidence of non-performing loans, capital deficiencies, weak management and poor corporate governance. His policy reduced the number of banks from 89 banks to 24, which enhanced the national economy.

Mr Soludo first announced his political aspirations in September 2009, when he ran for governor of Anambra in 2010. He was chosen by the Peoples Democratic Party as a consensus candidate after multiple attempts to hold elective primaries were stalled by court injunctions.

Mr Soludo’s nomination, however, was contested by 23 of the 47 aspirants, who claimed that there was a lack of transparency in the selection process. Eventually, Mr Soludo lost to Peter Obi in the governorship election.

Valentine Ozigbo
A photo of Valentine Ozigbo [Photo credit: Vanguard News]

In July 2013, Mr Soludo resigned from the PDP, joining the APGA ahead of the November 2013 governorship race in Anambra. In mid-August 2013, Mr Soludo and five other qualified aspirants were disqualified by the APGA screening committee.

In February 2021, the ex-CBN governor again declared his intention to contest the governorship election on APGA’s platform. In March, unknown gunmen disrupted an interactive session between him and Isuofia youths at the town’s civic centre, killing three police officers.

Mr Soludo’s victory on APGA’s platform shows Anambra people continue to revere and associate with Ojukwu. His victory and tenure will face struggles such as economic hardship as Anambra’s coffers have been greatly depleted. But unlike Mr Obiano, who benefitted from ex-Governor Peter Obi’s prudence, Mr Soludo will have an ebbing pocket and the mutating IPOB threat to contend with.

During a governorship election debate, Mr Soludo stated his position on the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), saying that he believes the secessionist group should be heard and not treated with violence.

His victory dance was put on hold after INEC declared the November 6 election inconclusive because would-be voters were prevented from exercising their franchise in Ihiala LGA due to security and logistic reasons.

The election in the LGA was eventually held on Tuesday.

Mr Soludo won the governorship election, polling 112,229 votes to defeat his closest rival, PDP’s Valentine Ozigbo, who had 53,807 votes. APC’s Andy Uba had 43,285 votes.

Mr Soludo won 19 out of the 21 LGAs, including Dunukofia, Awka South, Oyi, Anaocha, Ayamelum, Anambra East, Idemili South, Onitsha South, Njikoka, Orumba South, Onitsha North, Idemili North, Ekwusigo, Aguata, Nnewi South, Orumba North and Ihiala.

Ms Obi announced that the number of valid votes was 241,523, while 8,108 were void. The returning officer stated that Anambra, with 2,466,638 registered voters, only had 253,388 accredited voters for the election held between November 6 and 9, 2021.

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