No one has ever doubted the ability of former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Prof Chukwuma Soludo, to perform well as governor. It is believed that beyond APGA being the ruling party in Anambra state, the personality of Soludo contributed immensely to the landslide victory of APGA in the 2022 governorship election in the state.
His election was made via a voice vote during the Party’s NEC meeting held at the International Convention Center in Awka, Anambra State capital, where the members unanimously voted to elect him as leader. The certificate for the position was also formally presented to him by the National Chairman of the Party, Chief Victor Oye.
Addressing Party members gathered at the event, Oye said: “Anambra State is synonymous with development, and we pray to God to keep its leadership in place. All our State Chairmen from 36 states of the country and BOT Chairmen are all represented here. Our party has made tremendous progress, and all of the goals we set for 2022 have been met. We met the criteria for uploading data from ward to national level, APGA candidates, produced a list of officers, and completed the exercise in 21 days.
“APGA was the first political party to meet the INEC deadline prior to the opening of our functional ICT center with 55 ports in 2019. I can monitor the uploading of party agents in real time on my phone. In 2021, we held our primaries in Awka on June 21st, and Governor Soludo emerged as the APGA candidate and went on to win the governorship election, and he is now seated here with us as the governor of Anambra State.
“I’ve always said that no one can curse someone whom God has blessed. Governor Soludo is a visionary leader, and God Almighty will keep him alive so that he can complete his mission on earth. The state faced critical challenges in areas such as roads, security, health, employment, and education. Eight local governments in the state were under siege, but they have now been liberated under the current leadership of Governor Soludo.
Reacting to his election, Soludo had said: “This has humbled me! I’m feeling the weight of history right now. The APGA is a coalition of all progressives. I feel the weight of our forebearers and those who have sacrificed their lives to ensure the survival of this great party. There was a grand progressive alliance in the first and second republics that included the UPN, RPP, NPP, and others, all of the progressives are dispersed throughout this republic. APGA is a 21-year-old political party that was the first to be registered with the word “progressives” in its name.
“All progressives call APGA home. It’s a history with two leaders, and I’m honored to be the third. I must pay tribute to my predecessors, Late Sir Chukwuemeka Ojukwu of blessed memory, the first National Leader of APGA, Chief Willie Obiano, my immediate predecessor as the APGA’s second leader, and here I am. I pledge to work every day with all of you, our thronging members, so that all progressives in Nigeria will know that APGA is their home.
“APGA is the third largest political party in Nigeria and will grow from strength to strength. When the country is ready, APGA will be there to provide the true progressivism that Nigeria craves. APGA has the potential to make Nigeria the world’s largest black nation. APGA has the potential to expand its domain in Nigeria. We have representation in the Governorship, House of Representatives, and House of Assembly. We have a responsibility to work very hard to maintain and expand our pace. This great party has my personal commitment. I came to this platform after many thoughtful years, and I read the party’s constitution and manifesto. It is the first political party to pledge support for true federalism.
“APGA is still the road map to a better Nigeria. I will uphold this party’s principles and ethics. Because our motto is “leave no one behind,” our policies and programmes are centered on the people. APGA will win in the coming months, and then the real work will begin. We will run for every office in the country and, by God’s grace, we will win. I must commend APGA’s outstanding leadership, particularly in difficult circumstances. This leadership you have demonstrated will benefit future generations of APGA supporters. We must work hard to preserve our party’s name and greatness.”
Soludo has also received commendation from several groups for the election, including Anambra Civil Society Network (ACSONET), a foremost Citizens and Non State Actors stakeholders forum. Leader of the group, Prince Chris Azor, who doubles as Citizens Co-chair Open Government Partnership (OGP) said it’s a step in the right direction and an impetus to achieve giant strides.
“This is an appointment well deserved and a demonstration of his Party’s reposed confidence in his leadership qualities. It therefore, calls for more effort, as the saying goes, reward for hard work is more work” he said.
Beyond functioning as governor, Soludo now has a new task as national leader of his party, APGA, and in this role, unlike the task of governor where he has to ensure the development of the state, he is expected to lead this party, and also do battle with other political parties, not just in Anambra State, but in the entire Nigeria.
In this role, Soludo has to ensure victory for candidates standing election under his party, even to the point of financing the party and its candidates.
The 2023 general election may be a huge test to Soludo’s ability to galvanize the party. Though his appointment came late, as the general election is already underway, many will be expecting to see APGA candidates perform well in the forthcoming election; both at the presidential race, governorship contests in many states across the country, and most especially in Anambra where Soludo has billboards all over the place, saying “Anambra is APGA Land”.
For Soludo too, he must assert that he has the capability to continue with the dream of the founding fathers of the party. Save for the spiritual and eternal leader of the party, late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, who was a founding father of the party and leader, Mr Peter Obi and Willie Obiano were also governors of the state who functioned as national leaders of APGA.
Following successive record, the hurdle has always been for sitting and exiting governors of the party in the state to ensure that they hand down the battle for APGA candidates to succeed them.
In 2013, Obi did it by successfully installing Obiano as governor of the state. Obiano in turn did not disappoint, as he stood his feet on the ground against all odd to ensure that Soludo won as governor, despite the stiff challenge.
It can be said that Soludo is still very young in office, and the question of who succeeds him is not close, as he will still require to fight for his own re-election, before he talks about trying to influence a successor from his party.
But already, there seems to be disenchantment about the level of support Soludo is giving candidates of National Assembly in the state. A source who did not wish his name to appear in print said: “As far as I know, the only area where I am sure that Soludo is interested in delivering APGA candidates is in House of Assembly. Dozie Nwankwo, the candidate of the APGA for Anambra Central Senatorial Zone will be naïve, if he claims that he does not know that Soludo is supporting his sister; Uche Ekwunife to win that position.”
Ekwunife hails from Igboukwu in Aguata LGA, while Soludo is from Isuofia in same LGA, and people from the area are said to be known for manifest brotherliness.
Also, Soludo has been accused of being reluctant to work for the presidential candidate of the party, preferring the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
In a press release by the Special Adviser on Media to the APGA presidential candidate, Prof Peter Umeadi, Angel Folorunso, accused Soludo of working against the party’s presidential candidate.
Folorunso challenged Soludo to tell Nigerians his preferred candidate in the presidential election. She said the question became necessary because since Umeadi emerged the presidential candidate of APGA in June 2022, Soludo has not met with him one-on-one.
“Soludo should tell who he is supporting, is it Umeadi who he has never met one-on-one, Atiku or Obi, who despite their love-hate affairs continue to make use of APGA government facilities free of charge? We expect Professor Soludo, whose duty includes the propagation and projection of the image of the party both locally and internationally to be the embodiment of the party’s conscience, more so now that the National Executive Committee (NEC) has named him the National Leader of the party.
“He should give maximum support to the APGA presidential candidate, Umeadi not Obi or Atiku or any other candidate who is not of the APGA family. Partisanship is not likely the same thing as governance. This is the right thing to do in the spirit of the APGA Constitution. For instance, the APC 21 All Progressives Congress (APC) governors are supporting their presidential candidate, while the PDP 14 governors are obviously drumming support for their presidential flag bearer, except the G 5, who are yet to leave the party.
“Is a card-carrying member of a political party expected to admit on national television that his candidate at an election would be defeated by the opposition? No. The electoral battle ought not to be a do-or-die affair but it is one where hope is kept alive until the results are known. Soludo seeming surrendering that Obi might win in Anambra State is worrisome. Maybe that was why Dozie Nwankwo while speaking to members of the CWO in Awka urged them not to vote for the APGA presidential candidate. These are brazen anti-party activities which would injure APGA if not nipped in the bud. Umeadi is the face of APGA nationwide, leading over 200 candidates across Nigeria as an anchor and point of contact on a daily basis,” she said.
Credit: This Day