Wednesday, November 10, 2021
Harrisburg, PA, USA

Charles Soludo celebrates victory

t is a great miracle that a gubernatorial election was held and concluded in Anambra State without bloodshed or other untoward events. And from all indications, it seems like the elections were free and fair. Some believe, though, that the overwhelming military presence was the reason for the peaceful conduct. Lets face it, the state was basically militarized to the point that some citizens refused to venture out to vote. It is reflected in the very low turnout. Either way, the point is that we have proved to ourselves that we can conduct peaceful elections, albeit with heavy military presence. Next time, we must show that we can even do it without the presence of the military.

The election is now over but Soludo has his work cut out for him! The bitterness and acrimony leading up to the elections, the killings, the verbal pot shots, were just too much to be easily swept under the rug. If they are just glossed over, there is every possibility that they will resurface again and make it hard for Soludo to govern or make any meaningful development no matter how hard he may try. Election loss can leave deep wounds in the hearts of many- the candidates and their supporters. But Soludo can take the high road, help douse tensions and usher in lasting peace to enable him bring the development he promised.

Soludo’s first order of business must be a comprehensive peace initiative! A peace initiative between him and his supporters on one hand and his rivals and their supporters on the other hand. Soludo should convene his rivals, all 16 of them, to a public peace summit. He should thank those that attend and remind them that they all want the same thing for the state - development, security, peace and stability. But that the governorship has only one spot. He should then add that since that one spot has gone to him, and knowing that they all had great ideas, he was willing to review all the good ideas they advanced and seek to implement those that are feasible. He should also say that he will always be willing to listen to them thereafter

If his rivals are human, this type of gesture will douse simmering tension, even if a little. They will feel like he respects them. Yes, this may not get all of them on his side immediately, but even if just four sheath their daggers, it will be worth it because that would be 4 less rivals to be warding off. Also, if the restive youth that support his rival see this type of gesture, many will have a change of heart and if prompted to mayhem, they will most likely resist. Security and peace in the state lie in the hands of the youth. If they decide, as a result of Soludo’s gesture, and tow the line of peace, the state will already be halfway to achieving her goals of peace, security and general development.

Some may advise Soludo, as the winner, to ignore his rivals and trudge on. That would be a huge mistake! Even in the bible, when certain kings ascended the throne in Israel, they sought and established peace treaty with neighboring towns. With peace flourishing, they were able to achieve the development they needed and establish themselves as great men.

Some might see the call for peace as weakness or “appeasement”. For the appeasement part, what comes to mind is the politics of appeasement of Germany by Neville Chamberlain, British Prime Minister, in 1938 that came back to bite him. But we are talking about Anambra, a small state of one people, where everyone basically knows everyone, and many are related by blood. A sacrifice of this sort, by the governor, to usher in the right atmosphere to successfully govern, should not be seen as weakness or appeasement. The goal of every governor should be to bring development to the state whatever it takes. I recall that at some points in the life of Anambra state, some politicians vowed to make the state ungovernable, and they succeeded. The result? - The masses suffered attendant deprivation from such rivalry. We must encourage the new governor to help eschew that.

I repeat that the anger and restiveness of the youth, in the state, is very much understandable. Many are university graduates but cannot find jobs! Under such conditions, their anger becomes palpable. So Soludo’s second act should be quick and massive infusion of jobs into the state by any means necessary. Use a combination of IGR money, borrowing, etc. We are talking about jobs that will put our youth in responsible positions; give them livable wages; make it possible for them to find good shelter, good food, marry and have children.

I am certain that the reader is wondering what I have in mind as the way to achieve this jobs infusion. Well, look no further than the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that has just been passed by United State Congress. It may be called infrastructure bill, but it is easily a jobs bill. It will pump in thousands of jobs into the system and the youth will benefit immensely. In less than six to nine months, the jobs initiative will radically reduce unemployment and improve the economy. When Obama was President of the United States, when he enacted the ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act), it helped jumpstart the economy.

This should be the mindset of Soludo. Work with Anambra house of representatives, look for money from all nooks and crannies and even borrow, if needed, to begin a massive infrastructure program to repair our roads, bridges, culverts, buildings or build new ones. It will provide jobs for graduates in technical areas - engineers, architects, accountants, economists, etc. Infrastructure creates needs for designers and building material sellers. Other indirect businesses will spring up. With good jobs, good economy, restiveness amongst our youth will begin to diminish. In turn, security will improve so that small businesspeople will again start attending to their businesses. All contractors and design consultants that will be awarded the contracts, must absorb a certain number of youths and pay them well as a condition.

There are so many other things that the governor elect can and should do but these two issues must be resolved to create the conducive atmosphere for other things to be done

Here I stand!

Author of the books- 1. Nigeria: Contemporary Commentaries and Essays

2. Surviving in Biafra: The Story of the Nigerian Civil War