By Chimeziri Franklin
Since ancient times, it has been understood that governance forms part of the economy of a state or organization. Plato the philosopher taught that while every citizen should play a role in government, the most important place in ruling should be reserved for the most learned and most knowledgeable of the citizenry. Accordingly, Kings invested in tutoring their likely successors. Philip of Macedonia, desiring to unite Greece and rule over her himself and his descendants, ensured that his heir got the best political and military training and knew the benefits and dynamics of industry and trade. One of the sound minds who taught the young prince is Plato. Named Alexander, this student became king and added kingdoms and empires to Greek dominion, expanding it to Persia, Egypt and India.
Prof Chukwuma Soludo, more than Alexander the Great, exemplifies knowledge power.
On the heels of success in learning, leadership came early to Soludo. He became the all-subjects best in his class in primary school and was appointed a prefect. In high school he came tops consistently in all subjects and was appointed as prefect. In the university when he was studying B.Sc Economics, he remained on course to First Class Honours and was elected president of the Students Union.
After earning a doctorate, he has been a lecturer in Economics at some of the world’s top universities as well as a consultant to the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, African Development Bank and the African Union and has emerged as a Professor of Economics and an author of articles offering a convincing roadmap for taking Nigeria and other Third World countries away from economic disadvantage.
One day he was busy at his office at the Institute of Applied Economics when his phone rang and it was President Olusegun Obasanjo naming him Chief Economic Adviser to the President and Chairman of the National Planning Commission. A friend of the president’s recommended the young professor when told that the president needed an economist who understands development. The man, an older professor of economics had read a Soludo article and marvelled at the prescription for national development.
Soludo got cracking and soon rolled out for the Obasanjo Administration the National Empowerment And Economic Development Strategy (NEEDS). For the State governments, he came up with the State Empowerment And Economic Development Strategy (SEEDS). Obasanjo became a leader with a great plan for his country. Thus, when the position of Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) became vacant, Obasanjo gave the position to Soludo since the new position would give the economic strategist a better opportunity to implement his ideas.
Prof Soludo had long realized that Nigeria will be better off with twenty-five strong, globally competitive banks than with seventy very weak banks that break depositors’ hearts. So as CBN Governor, he required each bank to raise their assetbase to 25million naira or stop operating. To meet this requirement, many banks merged. That is how Nigerians became partakers of the wealth in global banking.
Did CBN governor Soludo neglect Ndigbo while serving Nigeria so well? No! He’s too sensible for that. He bullt branches of the CBN in Abakaliki, Asaba, Awka, Umuahia and Owerri thereby bringing the services of the apex financial institution closer to Ndigbo. He ensured that NdiAnambra got a fair share of contracts and jobs.
No wonder, elites and commoners across the three senatorial zones of the state are united in getting Soludo to vie for Anambra State governorship. No wonder APGA the great party of Ndigbo have raised Soludo’s hands as their champion.
Soludo’s proposal to develop the entire state to a Smart Mega City and his being seen “as a thinker and a doer of good things” is making things easier for his supporters.
No doubt, Prof Soludo has captured the very relevant knowledge position in the perceptual maps of NdiAnambra ahead of the governorship election slated for November this year.
Chimeziri Franklin writes from Aba, Umuahia and PH.