By Bolaji O. Akinyemi
Leadership is a combination of charisma and character. The former is a pointer to the ability that can get the work done while the latter portrays the personality needed for the job. Of course, our country’s greatest need is leadership but it is important to put our need in context of the revelation of the present Anambra state Governor, Chukwuma Soludo on Peter Obi.
We need to clearly understand that there is work to be done, but beyond the work to be done is who does it.
Ours is a society that has turned value on her head; money seems to define us and at the Altar of Mammon we are compelled to worship by a lost elite class that has ruined our economy and elevated things at the expense of human worth.
To stop this trend, our dire crave for mentor-leaders who will champion value re-orientation and lead by example is essential.
Soludo of course is not Obi’s mate in paper qualifications! An economist of outstanding achievements, he towered over Obi in charisma. The need for him in Obi’s government if he wins the election as an adviser, no one should query. Character being the true strength of a leadership is Obi’s edge. Through it, the depth of personal discipline is revealed.
Having established the rhythm of Obi’s sound which Nigerians found danceable as the foundation for the ‘Obidient’ movement, let me proceed by stating same as our direction in this discourse to disect the character and depth of personal discipline of Professor Chukwuma Soludo as revealed by him in his letter.
The publication dated 14th November, 2022; and titled “History Beckons and I will not be Silent (Part 1)” By Chukwuma Charles Soludo, CFR is our study.
Professor Soludo stated in his opening paragraph that:
“my attention has been drawn to some of the tirades on social media following my frank response during an interview on Channels TV regarding the “investments” Mr. Peter Obi claimed to have made with Anambra state’s revenues”.
The Executive Governor of Anambra state had the time to trade in social media tirades with rats and bloggers alike who are venting their anger over his jab at their idol; Obi! I personally read more than a thousand and one comment on the social media and I can’t tell who among the numerous commentators is the privileged person the Governor found the time out of his very busy schedule to trade tirades with. His claim to being frank wouldn’t have been contestable; Soludo is usually a very blunt person but for the way his statement was structured; regarding the “investment” Mr Peter Obi CLAIMED to have made with Anambra state revenues, his use of the word ‘claim’ to describe Obi’s investment suggests that the investment are in doubt, whereas during his interview on Channels TV with Seun Okinbaloye, he authoritatively informed us of an investment made which is today worth next to nothing. By his interview and written response follow up, what should we believe?
The article also read:
“…several of the comments left the issue of the interview to probe or suggest motives, inferred from my response on “investment” that I am opposed to Peter Obi’s ambition and therefore committed a “crime” for which the punishment is internecine abuse and harassment even to my family”.
Leadership as the saying goes is by example, do I need to remind the Governor that his purpose on the interview was to present Anambra state 2023 budget and not to make Obi’s Investment the topic of his seating, he could have stated the fact regarding the investment and return the interviewer and his audience back to his focus – the budget – but he left the meat for humanity, and was running with the bone of the discourse. A man running with bone shouldn’t complain of dogs chasing after him. He should drop the bone now or live with the attack of the hungry dogs that PDP and APC have made out of the Nigerian masses.
That Soludo actually did read several of public comments on his interview leaves us with the impression that Obi was his reason for the appearance; else, we are left with putting a big question mark on his ability to stay focused. His character flaw exhibited by lack of restrain shown by this response demeaned the dignity of his office.
He continues thus: “I used to think that for decent people, certain conducts are off-limits, and that in Anambra, politics is not warfare”.
To me, it’s very appalling that the Executive Governor of Anambra State would like a commoner descend from decency of his thoughts about people to the murky water of politics and roll in it with them like swine.
“Of course, as a Christian, I know that telling the truth can be very costly, even suicidal. Our Lord and saviour was crucified simply for telling the truth the people hated to hear. I promised that I won’t be the usual politician, and will not knowingly lie to the people. I am not an Angel but instead of deliberately repeating the same deceitful character which politicians are known for, I would leave public office. It is a vow I made to my God and to my family. Only God knows how many days I will be on this seat but whether I am on it or not I will always say it as it is— knowing fully the suicidal consequences of telling the truth in a political arena, especially in a country where lying and deceit by politicians have become culture and celebrated as being “smart””, Soludo writes.
Sir, your theology of Christianity is politically smart, how I wished it was Paul’s admonition that informed your submission, for truth, a Christian must speak in love towards the growth of the body, yours was indeed very bitter and laden with hatred, with no garnish of kindness.
Again, he says: “Ideally, I should just have laughed off the infantile exuberances as many friends advised”, that sincerely is what you failed to do and the days ahead will prove it that you made a mistake to step into the ring with hungry and angry masses of army recruited by the PDP government that you and Obi served as we were made to believe by APC, though the army are daily multiplying, hungrier and angrier! I would have thought that addressing the collective demonization of PDP years and all of you who served that government would have been of interest to you if only to exonerate yourself and mentor, whose support for Obi he publicly demonstrated by leaving his seat for him.
“Everyone knows that I don’t follow the winds nor one to succumb to bullies, nor shy away from a good fight especially when weighty matters of principles and future of the people are involved. One lesson I learnt from my former boss and mentor, President Obasanjo, is never to be on the fence. I learnt that one must always take a stand: for better or for worse. I do so with every sense of humility, and leave history to judge. Most people have commended me for “tactfully avoiding being drawn into the Peter Obi issue” until now. Since I am now being forced into the Arena on this matter, I have a duty and a right of reply, if only for the records, and to also give the social media mob something substantive to rant upon and rain their abuses for weeks. In this preliminary response, there are some things I will refrain from saying here because, in the end, February/March 2023 will come and go, and life will continue”.
Your Excellency, while it is commendable that you don’t follow the crowd, you are in this instance the leader of the crowd! I will advise that you reach His Exellency Dr Olusegun Obasanjo for the conclusion of the leadership class you failed to attend. He had made clear the problem of Anambra people, of an elite class who wants their people dominated and oppressed in perpetuity. His counsel to Emeka Offor is golden for you at this moment, “the man carrying the head of an elephant shouldn’t be found digging the holes of cricket with his toes”.
It is needless to dignify your outburst against those who commented on your interview which you described as an “exhibition of desperation, intolerance and attempt to bully everyone who expresses the slightest of dissent.” Sir, given your learning, you should agree with me that Nigerians should be desperate in the context of the hardship they are subjected to, if we are not, a national clinic should by now be running to have us all examined of our normality.
Your affirmation of Hitler in the making is the most uncharitable way to describe a brother and friend according to you, who is equally at the mercy of this desperate army of impoverished masses in their quest for a change.
Sir, you stated that: “any dissent is tagged a saboteur or, in my case, it could be that I want to contest for president after office or that I am envious of Peter Obi. Soludo envious of Peter Obi? Totally laughable! But this is the same person I was asking to return to APGA in March 2022 and contest for president and yet envious or doesn’t want him to be president. This is madness!”
This indeed is a season of madness like never seen before, and I will advise that you choose your fight; no one has ever fought against the people; right or wrong and won, your intellect can’t be questioned; at least not by me but then emotional intelligence is equally key at chosing your fight in the public against the public.
Please, face the discharge of your duty as Governor of Anambra state. You are neither the APGA Presidential candidate nor the Spokesperson of the Party. I need not remind you that you are the Governor of all Anambarians, a people which includes Mr Peter Obi.
You response drifted from Obi’s investment to political leadership of the Igbos, a position never assumed by Peter Obi in body language, spoken words or deeds. Your reference to Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe though welcome was unwarranted. He, you said “was the undisputed all time leader of the Igbos but he had his arch rivals and even independent candidates win landslide elections against his party, NCNC, in Igboland. Obafemi Awolowo had stiff opposition among the Yorubas while Ahmadu Bello had his share of opponents in the Northern region. Today, no one has accused Afenifere or other strong presidential candidates from the South West of being “anti Yoruba” because Tinubu is a frontrunner, nor has anyone accused Kwankwaso and several other Northern candidates of being “anti-North” for not supporting Atiku. As a full blooded republican Igboman and democrat, I reject this despotic intolerance”.
Your pinning Obi here is most unfortunate Sir. Show us one person who has shown civility, in decorum and conduct better than Obi among the frontliners in the race!
“Yes, I fully understand the anger of some urban and Diaspora youths and some Nigerians who are dissatisfied with the trajectory of the country or with the candidates of the major parties and wished other options. Not knowing much about others, some see Peter Obi as the contrast they wished for. I get the point”.
Do you truly FULLY understand the hopelessness of this raging youths? I bet to disagree with you sir, that you get the point.
“But this is a democracy: the minority will have their say, but the majority their way”.
Sir, the concept of democracy as a voice, wherein the say of the minority is captured and the majority takes the lead is built on the sanctity and power of the ballot. You can’t drown the voice of the majority for minority leadership as the practice is in our case which you claimed is a democracy without translations of public anger and social media agitation into political outcomes, though humongous work is required but the people’s trust the political class have traded for their own comfort and that of members of the immediate family. You have an example in your neighbouring state; Imo. On my position against yours on democracy. May be Obi’s ability to keep his sons hands away from public switch to turn off and put on the light at will is his spell over the people. Could it be keeping his wife away from the senate or his refusal to send a bill that will guarantee a life time of comfort on the taxes of the people to the state house of assembly when he was leaving office?
Please, I look forward to your part two in hope that Obi will be truly de-mystified and the deception he is will be truly exposed. For now, let’s just assume that a people in search of a hero have found one in Him.
“We sat next to each other during the Emeka Anyaoku lecture at Nnamdi Azikiwe University on 8th March, 2022 and I made an offer for him to return to APGA and contest as its presidential candidate. Yes, I did. In my mind, it was time for Igbos to organize their region politically before stepping out to bargain power with other organized coalitions. On his part, he tried to convince me that he expected APC to unravel why PDP would be the “only one” standing. We debated and he proposed that we could meet later to discuss further. He attended my inauguration on March 17. A few weeks later, he requested and I obliged him to use the Anambra State government house facility to launch his presidential bid under PDP. I was surprised to read in the news later that he had defected to LP (a party with literally zero structure), thereby attempting to weaken the same PDP he saw as the saviour a few weeks earlier. He paid me a courtesy call as the presidential candidate of LP, and we had frank discussions”, the article reads.
“During our meeting… We noted that we were in opposing political parties and in response to my direct question as to how I might help him, he requested that I should just ensure a “level playing field” and let the people decide”.
I daresay this is one of the several reasons Obi is the idol of the masses who are craving for a majority leadership through a free and fair election. And your reference to Obi’s treatment of LP’s Candidate, Ifeanyi Uba when he was the Governor we are compelled to juxtapose with the Obi who as APGA seating Governor received President Olusegun Obasanjo and followed him to the campaign ground where he was referred to as the outgoing Governor. Sir, your intellectual venture to unravel Obi, must be reminded, Obi is not a book, he is a library, a collection of many studies in leadership. Do you honestly think you are ready for what you are stirring?
Sir, politics is dynamic, and as you quoted, there are no permanent friends or enemy but only permanent interests and if Nigeria is the interest, APGA can’t be the platform not even for Dr Nnamdi Azikwe if he is to resurrect to contest for presidency. APGA is viewed as the political platform of IPOB and taken a position against your party and people will no doubt be costly.
You would have saved yourself a lot of the pebbles throwing that greeted your response had you bothered to state clearly that you were writing as a party man, a right no one should deny you.
“By the way, APGA is Nigeria’s third largest political party today (after APC and PDP, it is the only other party with a state governor and third largest presence at the National Assembly). And some people have the temerity to suggest that APGA’s candidate should “step down” for Peter Obi as the “Igbo candidate”. I wonder when Igbos met to choose a candidate. They even argue that afterall APGA supported President Jonathan and did not field a candidate then. Well, the fact as I was told was that no candidate showed interest under APGA then. Besides, APGA’s unwritten rule then was to support the party at the centre — which, if we apply this time, should actually be APC. But we have our own candidate. Recall that all the political parties had their primaries during the same period. Once Peter Obi realized that he won’t get the presidential or vice-presidential ticket of PDP he ran to Labour Party (a political party known as a transit camp for aspirants who lost primaries in APC, PDP and APGA), and the chorus by a vociferous minority now is that LP has become the “Igbo project”, and the APGA candidate who emerged the same time as Peter Obi should “step down”. Ridiculous! Now I truly understand that a mob cannot reason”.
Your Excellency, like you, I have struggled to let this vociferous minority come to terms with the book, that politically speaking, they are inconsequential minority, just that the reality is against our beliefs and has become a shadow chasing our political elites across major parties of APC, PDP and APGA who are in the national assembly.
In your desire to teach Ndigbo politics, especially the larger Nigeria politics. Bola Ahmed Tinubu became your example: “who defied the political wind of the time and stood out as the “only man standing” in AD and later AC (before ACN) against a sitting president of Yoruba descent, no one accused him of being “anti-Yoruba”. Indeed, everyone recalls that both Tinubu and President Obasanjo disagreed politically,…. in their frenzied Nzogbu nzogbu politics, have sadly found themselves in a political cul de sac. Tragic indeed! When will my people smell the morning coffee”?
Sir, I will personally like to know which of the APGA you are representing as the Governor of Anambra state, the stand alone or the faction within APC? That BAT is your political mentor whose footsteps you hope to follow at leading the Ndigbos through APGA to a political alliance tied to his ideology is a bad dream; a political albatross.
Addressing the substance of your interview, you wrote; “Yes, Peter Obi was governor for 8 years (2006 -2014) during a period of unprecedented oil boom and prosperity in Nigeria (Nigerian economy was growing at average of 6-8% per annum, and oil price was highest during this time). I have seen all kinds of funny comments and interpretations regarding what I said about the value of his “investments”. Some refer to SabMiller and bandy all kinds of figures as to how the investment of $12 million is now worth less than $3 million. Of course, there is room for legitimate debate about the logic or quality of the investments. For example, people might differ as to the propriety of using taxpayers money to promote a company in which one is a shareholder in the name of “investment”, or even whether so called “savings” are warranted when there were dozens of schools without roofs or classrooms, or local governments without access roads or hospitals without doctors/nurses. A Bishop recently publicly advised that I should please try to construct the “Ngige type of quality roads”, stating that the ones done by his successor (that is, Peter Obi) had washed off, while Ngige’s remained. I promised and we are delivering quality roads that Anambra has not seen before.
For sure, prudence in public resource management is desirable and we are opening new frontiers in that area. People will however differ as to whether saving money in the bank account is a KPI (key performance indicator) for a government where poverty is escalating except where its institutions for absorption are weak or where the government has no robust/big agenda for transformation. Governments exist to save lives, not to save money. We can debate and differ on this— (by the way, I know when/how it is appropriate to “save” as I built Nigeria’s foreign reserves from $10 billion I inherited to all time $63 billion, and even after paying $12 billion to pay-off Nigeria’s external debt and going through unprecedented global financial crisis, I still left behind about $45 billion— Go and verify!)”.
Your claim we have verified to be nothing but the facts; we are however lost to the comparison between the roads constructed by Obi and Ngige without giving us examples we can visit to affirm your astuteness. Sir, do remember to do this in your part two.
“Funny, in the rabid frenzy to grab every straw, they cut a clip during our governorship debate where I was stating vital statistics and they claimed that I was “praising” Peter Obi then while committing a crime now by “criticising” him. Hahahaha! Well, it is true that I said during the debate that, according to National Bureau of Statistics, poverty in Anambra actually grew (from less than 25% in 2005) to about 53% under Peter Obi in 2010/2011 but fell under Willie Obiano to 14.78% in 2020. Yes, poverty more than doubled under Peter Obi and more than 50% of Ndi Anambra were in poverty under him. Go and verify! I am Governor, and sitting on privileged information which I will not want to use against a political opponent”.
Sir, please, don’t back out on this as a custodian of the people’s trust and the Governor of Peter Obi, it will be an eternal legacy to help us understand that Both Atiku and Bola Ahmed Tinubu are better than he. This of course will add to your feather as one time international organizing Secretary of Ndigbo who helped PDP and APC to survive a people led revolution by giving up his brother.
Your question, where do we go from here? Reveals nothing but your intention to jump ship and play in the big national league of politics on the platform of APC, it was a very nice way of stretching your hands across the Niger bridge to your friend Gov El-Rufai at the expense of your brotherhood. With a tactical attempt to assume leadership of the Igbo nation! Sir, structure for a lost nation in a nation like the Igbo will not be built on an interview. You have an office with which to prove you are the leader of the Igbo nation by leading them to win all the seat to the National Assembly, and if possible the presidency. Your political communication to me is suggestive of a man patronizing APC with the intention to use APGA to negotiate, I only hope the party sees what I am seeing and rise to the occasion of the needful that must be done to call you to order.
“I worry that Ndigbo as Nigeria’s foremost itinerant tribe and with the greatest stake in the Nigerian project does not yet have a strategy to engage Nigeria—politically! Every four years, we resurface with emotive Nzogbu Nzogbu political dance (“it is our turn dance” but without organization or strategy) and fizzle out afterwards while others work 24/7 strategizing and organizing”.
Your worries are justifiable, but the medium of communicating it was wrongly chosen, you are no stranger to Ohaneze Ndigbo, have you shared your worries with them? Or you chose to speak to Elders of your tribe along with the public in a public letter?
“Let’s be clear: Peter Obi knows that he can’t and won’t win”. Really? This shouldn’t come from you in honour of your person from whom you said he asked as a brother to not do anything to assist him win but to provide a level playing ground for the people’s decision, whoever that winner will be so be it!
In your bid to unravel the game Obi is playing, which is known to both of you, but unknown to us, you sounded more like a betrayer of friendship and brotherhood:
“The game he is playing is the main reason he didn’t return to APGA. The brutal truth (and some will say, God forbid) is that there are two persons/parties seriously contesting for president: the rest is exciting drama! That many Americans may not like the fact that Joe Biden (79 years) and Donald Trump (76 years) are two frontrunners for president in their parties does not remove the fact that if both of them emerge as candidates, definitely one of them will be president in 2024”.
Sir, I must give it to you, that was an excellent marketing, you patronized Atiku and Tinubu so well using the American scenario to lower the huddles of age standing against both of them. But you should have brought to bare your international exposure to address the huddles of their corruption to sell the APGA candidate whose name you barely mentioned unofficially in your long letter to Ndigbo and epistle to Nigerians.
After all said towards de-marketing and political disadvantage of Obi, you wished him well as your brother, and even prayed for him. Sir, you mean your communication which we all read are endless good wishes and prayers for a darling brother, that, the public need to understand?
“I told him during his courtesy call that my prayer is that himself or Prof Umeadi of APGA would win, why not?”
Sir, if you are all out for APGA, a consistent mentioning of Professor Justice Peter Umeadi would had saved you from the probing of political integrity that your piece raised. You were all out to destroy Peter Obi, without an attempt to sell Peter Umeadi.
Sir, you attempted to take our eyes off the ball of political merchandising which for me is the intent of your vituperation against Obi.
When you said, “Of course, Peter Obi will get some votes, and may probably win in Anambra state— as “home boy”. But Anambra is not Nigeria. If he likes, I can even campaign for him but that won’t change much. From internal state by state polling available to me, he was on course to get 25% in 5 states as at August this year. The latest polling shows that it is down to four states, and declining. Not even in Lagos state (supposed headquarters of urban youths) where Labour Party could not find candidates to contest for House of Reps or Senate. The polls also show that he is taking votes away mostly from PDP.”
Your flow on this wasn’t suspicious until you gave it away, when you wrote:
“Indeed, if I were Asiwaju Tinubu, I would even given Peter Obi money as someone heading one of the departments of his campaign because Obi is making Tinubu’s pathway to victory much easier by indirectly pulling down PDP. It is what it is”!
Sir, indeed it is what it is, APGA we all know holds the ace at edging out Obi’s advantage of 5 states win in the South East and PDP 25% win is the region where BAT stand only a chance of just 25% vote from his Supreme Court made state by crook or hook. What a subtle patronage of BAT by his Excellency that if the price is right, you are ready to hold down your brother for him by making it a four way race in the region; Atiku, Tinubu, Obi and Umeadi.
You left no one in doubt of your determination to work for his loss in the coming election.
“What is our Plan B when Peter Obi loses in February 2023”?
Sir, we heard you well, “when” and not if!
“Some people prefer that we should play the Ostrich while Peter Obi toys with the collective destiny of over 60 million Igbos”, what a smart way to “Igbolize” a national movement. Sir, Edo state has erased the record set by the previous state that Obi visited with a mamoth crowd so far pulled by any state, the record is been regularly broken. Obi is not about collective destiny of 60 million Igbos but of all Nigerian who are fed up with the leadership your preferred candidates in Atiku and Tinubu. Please, put Obi’s and Tinubu’s visit to Jos side by side and convince yourself that the movement is an Ndigbo movement.
The desperation of the Nigerian elite political class at stopping Obi is appreciated, their reign of ruin is about to end, it’s a survival fight and it’s bound to be dirty. May be, just may be, you could have been strategic enough to know that the movement is a body with clear objectives for good governance and well defined aims of ending oppression by sacking oppressors from power. This is the revolution, with no official leadership.
“Ohun to ba jo ohun lafi we hun”, meaning there must be resemblance when substitution is your goal. Sir, you should have connected with your name sake Chukwuma Monye of ADC to provide the leadership the movement is yearning for or reach out to Omoyele Sowore of AAC who is more visible and has been in the trenches of freedom for Nigeria for close to 3 decades, who hasn’t missed any day of appearance in court by Mazi Nnamdi Kanu except when he is in incarceration, imagine a south eastern agitator teaming up with Sowore. But the class you represent are not interested in changing Obi for Sowore, they just want the oppressive status quo maintained. Them or nothing!
Haba! “Yes, you pray that he wins, but what if he fails as he is certain to”?
Your diplomacy at writing is top notch, your “if” of his failure was drowned by the certainty of your determination to see to his failure.
“It is not too late for Ohanaeze Ndigbo and progressive Igbo leaders to pre-emptively start charting a pragmatic future for Ndigbo in Nigeria after the elections. Armchair social media analysts can have the luxury of fantasizing with wild speculations. Right or wrong, they earn their pay and with no consequences. For us as leaders, the lives of tens of millions are at stake. We have a historic duty to act and being silent or politically correct is not an option. For starters, Ohanaeze should study the report of my committee (planning and strategy) in 2019. It may still be relevant today. Second, Ndigbo should seriously study the MoU signed at the Yar’Adua Centre in 2010. The leader of Igbo Political Association, Chief Simon Okeke and our members are still there. Thirdly and for me, Ndigbo should strategize and bargain especially with the TWO candidates likely to be president on at least four central issues:
A) Lasting peace and security in the South East, including the release and engagement with Nnamdi Kanu.
B) South East Economic transformation agenda and the FGN’s Marshall Plan for the South East as promised since the end of the Civil War (the post war ‘reconstruction’). We appreciate the Second Niger Bridge and recent contract for MTN to reconstruct the Onitsha-Enugu expressway. But the rail-lines to the five state capitals, speedy access to the sea, highways linking South East to the North and South South, addressing our existential threat as gully erosion capital of Africa, Free Trade and Export Processing Zones, etc.
C) Restructuring Agenda for Nigeria that devolves powers/resources to the subnational entities and in which it would no longer matter where the President comes from.
D) Levelling the playing field for the unleashing of the private sector and the full participation of Ndigbo in the economic and governance space; etc.
All of the points you raised are critical and poignant but ignoring the leadership ability of Obi and the justice and equity for the Igbo nation for which Obi is the official candidate of the Afenifere Social Cultural Group. Could it be that the man who wanted Afenifere divided for his failure on the mission has found a tool to do same in your Excellency to the Ohaneze?
Your Excellency, let me quote a line of interest in your conclusion, “no one should play God”. Let it be known that this is exactly all we could make out of your very lengthy thesis. Sir, are you then a god to decide destiny or a governor to encourage a citizen of his state. Whichever you think of yourself, you failed Obi, Anambra state and Ndigbo.
Dr Bolaji O. Akinyemi is a bold activist, an inspiring apostle and a dynamic nation builder with several intervention projects towards a better and greater Nigeria. You can read more from him on his blog: www.bolajioakinyemi.com