By Prof Vitus Ozoke
I’m sure we can all agree that there is a hyper-messianic expectation for Anambra state’s Governor-Elect Soludo. Clearly, Soludo was over-sensationalized, overvalued, and oversold. Now he must overperform. I do not entertain any doubt that Gov. Soludo will be a good governor, because he will. Soludo will be definitely better than his successor, Willie Obiano, and he will be better than the four other governors of Enugu, Abia, Ebonyi, and Imo states. We can all stipulate to that.
But being better than Willie Obiano, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, Okezie Ikpeazụ, Dave Ụmahi, and Hope Uzodimma may not be good enough. After all, none of those fellas is a professor of economics; none is a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria; none is a fellow of Brookings Institute; none has a first class degree from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka; none is Charlie nwa Mgbafọr. Instead, they are just former touts and private drivers and the like. So, we can safely assume that, coming in, Soludo is already better than they – way better.
However, Soludo was not elected by ndị Anambra just to be better than the vanilla pack of the current Igbo governors cohort. Chukwuma Soludo has only one person to be better than; he has to be better than Chukwuma Soludo. To do that, he has to perform miracles – literally. Soludo has to feed the hundreds of thousands of ndị Anambra with five loaves of bread and two fish left by his predecessor. He has to turn water to wine, and he must walk on water doing that. Anything short of replicative miracles will be a failure of expectations.
It was Mario Cuomo who recognized that you campaign in poetry, but you govern in prose. For Soludo, it couldn’t be any more poetic than the campaign rhyme of Soludo Solution. But that was campaign. Soludo will learn quickly that Anambra is not Imo. Our Imo brethren are a super-patient and docile bunch, willing to sit on their hands and wait out successive regimes of impunity. Anambra has enough rascals and scoundrels who can kidnap an active and sitting governor and lock him up in a toilet. It is the state of the famous Ọkija shrine where governors are hauled to pledge away a sizeable chunk of monthly state revenue to private pockets. Soludo may be a professor of economics, but ndị Anambra are not his students. The traders in Eke Awka, Nkwọ Nnewi, Ọchanja, and Main Market are economists in their own rights.
Soludo’s honeymoon will be quick and fast, as he will be expected to turn the dirty waters of Ezi River to fine wine. He will realize, very fast I hope, that Anambra state, as the other Igbo states, is a diarchy. It’s a government of two independent authorities, him in Agụ Awka and IPoB on Radio Biafra. Gov. Soludo will sit at home on Mondays, Nigeria’s Independence days, Biafra Remembrance days, and the many frequent days that Justice Binta Nyako chooses to adjourn Nnamdi Kanu’s case. On those days, the streets of Awka, Nnewi, and Onitsha will be deserted, as will the millions of shops and offices. As a professor of economics, Soludo will be frustrated watching desperately needed revenue lost. As a professor of economics, he must end the waste. It’s going to be a heavy lift, but, hey, he is the messiah. And what do you say to the messiah? Hosanna or alleluia? I think Soludo needs both.