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The new governor of Anambra State, Prof Chukwuma Soludo, is expected to hit the ground running given the myriad of challenges the state is facing

Prof Chukwuma Soludo is not new to the politics and governance of Anambra State nay Nigeria even as he needs no introduction to Nigerians. He had made two attempts at becoming the governor of Anambra State but on the third attempt, mother luck and destiny smiled at him in an election that was conducted under a severe security situation as it were. Today, he mounts the saddle of governance but he set the ball rolling for his administration, when he set up an 80-man transition committee headed by a former Minister of Education, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili.

The committee after about a month completed its assignment and handed its report. While the committee discharged its assignment, Soludo read the riot act against activities of revenue contractors, warning that after March 17 (today) all revenue contracts become moribund.

He added that sharp practices allegedly being committed by the contractors would not be tolerated. He further sort to patronize local manufacturers, when he announced the revival of Akwete fabrics as well as the encouragement of Anambra locally made footwear, produced in Ogbunike in Oyi Local Government Area of the state. He also opened an online Talent Data Bank for interested applicants to turn in their proposals and curriculum vitae for use while his tenure lasts.

At the last count about 22,000 persons have applied. The talent bank was seen by political watchers as a display of his inability to assemble a team that would work as his cabinet members but they were oblivious of the fact that he has penciled down members of his cabinet. Similarly, the political class appears apprehensive that they may be disappointed and disconnected from the government they fought to set up as according to some of them, Soludo will run a government of technocrats, while the politicians go redundant for four years. Apparently, Soludo seems to appreciate the challenges before him, and according to him, the political class would always be an integral part of his administration.

His words: “I am not new to politics and I have been with the political class even before I became the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. My fellow politicians will agree with me that they have a place in my administration and everyone that has any contribution to move our dear state forward is always welcomed.” But as Soludo and the state roll out the festive drums to herald a new dawn, there are challenges that steer his administration in the face.

Insecurity

It is no longer news that the entire Ihiala, Nnewi South and Aguata local government areas of the state are under the control of persons described as unknown gunmen and who have continued to unleash terror in the affected communities. In fact, the areas have been under the reign of terror and who execute their plots in such a brazen manner hence raising moral questions about the ca-pacity of the law enforcement agencies. Soludo will score a major point in the governance of the state if his administration stems the avalanche of deaths, sorrows, tears and blood in the troubled councils. Security professionals are of the view that he has to be emphatic by nipping the camps on the board and also empower security personnel enough to take on the challenges of insecurity.

Infrastructure Most

people in Anambra State are of the view that the Willie Obiano administration did not give more attention to road construction. They contend that most roads it inherited collapsed under its watch hence it is expected that Soludo should take on road rehabilitation, reconstruction and construction headlong. However, Soludo has announced that his administration will declare war on roads in Anambra State, adding that arrangements have been concluded to bring in contractors to take up the task of doing the needful. Similarly, other sectors of basic infrastructure, according to him would be taken care of within the first year in office, which also includes the menace gully erosion in the state. Anambra State experienced government’s supply of pipe borne water during the regime of Dr. Chris Ngige and after that the state water corporation became moribund occasioned by industrial actions by its workers and lack of adequate funding. At some point, facilities at the water corporation were looted by unknown persons, while inhabitants of the state are being ripped-off by private borehole owners.

Journey to Okpoko

Soludo had announced that after his inauguration he would start work at Okpoko town in Ogbaru Local Government Area but it is not yet clear how this would be done. Okpoko is a highly populated settlement situated at the banks of the River Niger with over six hundred thousand houses, but the area is mostly referred to as a slum. According to the Chief Executive of Anambra State Investment Promotion Agency, Ike Chioke, Okpoko town would soon become the latest township in Anambra State, creating room for a point of departure for a new vista in the transformation for infrastructural transformation of growing Anambra cities. “We appreciate the fact that the Okpoko town is a slum and this has to do with the settlement in the area but when Soludo mounts the saddle, there would surely be a transformation with the clearing of refuse dumps and opening of drains and reconstruction of accessible roads into and around the town.” he said.

Politics of governance

After receiving the report of the 80-man Transition Committee, Soludo pronounced that there is a lot of work to do and a lot battle to fight. Apparently, the task ahead has to do with the duty of governance but the battle before him is the political warfare which has always been the bane of governance and the battle successive governors in Anambra State faced. However, Soludo appears to be lucky to be a member of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). The APGA to APGA transition is to his own advantage and with an APGA dominated House of Assembly, he is home and dry. Interestingly, Obiano is likely not going to breathe down his neck as was the case under Ngige or what played out at during the first tenure of Obiano, when an alleged N7 billion election fund became an issue between Obiano and his predecessor, Peter Obi.

But Soludo would surely have a litmus test in who gets the tickets of the party for the national and state Assembly seats of the party for the 2023 elections. Already some members of his support groups during the election expect that they would be rewarded with party tickets for the forthcoming general election. As it stands, traditional APGA members who had held forth before Soludo’s emergence are also interested in the party tickets hence the governor needs to take cognizance of party loyalty as well as individual loyalty of his support groups to overcome the attendant challenges.

Against this backdrop, Soludo has to interface with the party leadership first and essentially curry their support before taking any of such decisions that may make or mar his administration politically. He is also expected to resolve the internal wrangling in the party early enough to have his way.

The conduct of local government elections is yet another challenge before the new governor and having promised to conduct free, fair and credible council polls, other political parties are watching whether he would walk his talk, so that they can some of their own in power at the grassroots level. The opposition political parties choose not to challenge the outcome of the November 6, 2021 election at the tribunal but rather opted to give him support but they are of the view that their overtures should be reciprocated hence Soludo is expected not make his administration an all APGA affair in order to continue to enjoy their support.

The Anambra State House of Assembly is yet another time bomb in view of the horse-trading already playing out over its leadership. A section of the lawmakers are challenging the position of the Speaker currently held by Hon. Uchenna Okafor as well as other principal offices. . While Soludo he believes that the current leadership of the Assembly should remain, it is being touted that the issue of House leadership would be put to rest after the 2023 general election with the current speaker still in power from Anambra North Senatorial District. As the journey to a new era begins today, Soludo has to prove to Anambra electorate that he is the chosen one and that he has what it takes to navigate the turbulent waters of Anambra politics and governance.

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