By Arize Nwobu
The time has come for Professor Chukwuma Soludo the incoming Governor of Anambra State to walk the talk and prove his mettle.
As he gets ready to assume office as the Governor of Anambra State, there are great expectations from him because of his exceptional pedigree and the concepts he had talked about in the past. When he assumes office, he is expected to hit the ground running.
Time is a great capital which God gave to mankind and which should not be wasted, but maximized for productivity.
Professor Soludo had constituted an 80-man Transition Committee which includes notable intellectuals and technocrats, some of whom are not from Anambra State. Could that be an indication that he would make Anambra State a melting pot where great minds from diverse places are given opportunities to play key roles in government for the greater benefit of the State?
Such is a biblical pattern which was demonstrated by Pharoah of Egypt who made Joseph, a Hebrew young man the Prime Minister of Egypt because of his wisdom and creative ideas which helped to sustain Egypt during a severe economic recession. The USA also adopted the same pattern. It offers opportunities and citizenship to geniuses and creative minds from diverse nations for the greater benefit of the country.
Professor Soludo’s 80-man Transition Committee seems outsized. A more compact, lean and tight and efficient team would have been more ideal. But it is gratifying to know that the Chairman of the Committee, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili had indicated to perform the task free of charge and even at her own personal costs. That is a typical demonstration of altruism and sacrificial leadership which is very commendable. May be other members of the team would also do likewise.
The basic and standard expectations from Professor Soludo are as should be applicable to all governments. He is expected ‘’to provide inspiring leadership and deliver on key mandates, ensuring security of lives and property, keep a watchful eye and maintain a rigorous stewardship over state treasury, tax collections, public service recruitment and development, and deliver services that are responsive to citizens need, be accountable and ensure public trust in government.’’
Anambra State is nicknamed as ‘’Light of the Nation.’’ And that is a big deal. But until the coming of Mr Peter Obi, a former Governor of the state, leadership in Anambra State had been lethargic, lack-lustre, uninspiring and chaotic. The state was chaotic for some time under the governorship of Dr Chris Ngige, who reportedly, had an ‘’unholy alliance’’ with a certain political principality in the State. And the principality heckled him and unleashed terror and wanton destructions in the state.
Peter Obi reclaimed his mandate from Dr. Ngige through a court process and went into government very conscious of his conscience and performed well. Till date the people of Anambra in particular and Nigerians in general regard him highly. His successor and present Governor of the State, Chief Willie Obiano, a former top banker and fulfilled corporate executive has also paid his due. He remained focused and delivered some notable projects which include the International and Cargo Airport, the International Conference Centre, a stadium, roads, fly overs and other things.
The incoming Governor, Professor Soludo is expected to give Anambra State a big push and set her on a higher pedestal. To do otherwise is to create a shocking anticlimax that would put the peoples’ expectations to the ground. The time has come for him to walk the talk. Anambra State is a land of limitless opportunities. It accounts for 35 per cent of Nigeria’s merchandise, has ninety eight per cent arable land and blessed with natural resources including gas, crude oil, bauxite, ceramic, salt, lead, limestone, iron ore etc.
Professor Soludo is considered to be a transformational leader because of how he used the policy for Banking Consolidation to transform the banking landscape when he was the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). However, it must be noted that the exercise created an unintended and destructive effect in the Nigerian stock market.
As the CBN Governor, he probably did not apply the Rational comprehensive analysis model to analyze the banking consolidation policy and ascertain how it will impact the entire financial markets which comprises the money market and capital/stock market because of the inter relating dynamics of the two markets.
Also during his tenure CBN did not have an existing policy on margin loans which banks offer to stockbrokers for buying and trading in shares in the stock market. Thus after the banking consolidation exercise, the cash washed banks started granting huge loans to stock brokers for buying and trading in shares, most especially the banks shares in the banks’ efforts to pump up their own share prices in order to make huge gains through capital appreciations, which was unethical because banks are not supposed to margin their own shares.
The development created a bubble in the stock market and had gone too far before CBN realized and banned banks from granting margin loans. As the information on the ban hit the stock market and the banks started making margin calls, all hell broke loose in the stock market. Stock brokers started panic dumping of shares for sale in order to pay back the banks which caused share prices to fall uncontrollably with an alarming rapidity. Unfortunately the panic dumping coincided with the mass exit of foreign portfolio investors from the stock market because of the global financial crisis at the time. Thus, the Nigerian stock market suffered a double whammy. Till date, the market is yet to fully recover its former vibrancy, velocity and momentum.
Professor Soludo remains a transformational leader.
Transformational leadership encourages innovation and creates change that will shape the future. Transformational leaders inspire people to perform beyond the call of duty and achieve unexpected or remarkable results. They offer their followers inspirational motivation, idealized influence, intellectual stimulation and individualized consideration. All these are expected from Professor Soludo with tangible results.
Specifically he is expected to set priorities and which should include functional education. He should also give priority attention to the development of science and technology in the state. Science and technology are God’s gifts to humanity for value addition and overcoming the challenges of the world. Anambra people and Ndigbo in general should go beyond priding ourselves as people who do well in trade and commerce. Those are good, but they are very basic to a people who also claim to be exceptionally wise. That wisdom should be applied for greater value addition. The Chinese have the ‘’wisdom of the Dragon’’ and have used science and technology to take the central stage in the world.
To prioritize infrastructural development should be a given. The importance of infrastructure in catalyzing economic growth and development and prosperity cannot be overemphasized. As noted by a former President of USA, John F. Kennedy, ‘’America has good roads not because America is rich, but America is rich because it has good roads.’’
In developing infrastructure, priority attention should be given to Awka, the state capital. As the state capital Awka deserves a most befitting facelift. Development should also spread across other geographical locations to catalyze greater prosperity and boost the GDP, per capita income and Human Development Index (HDI) of the state. Anambra State deserve to be highly distinguished.
As a development finance economist who must be versed in financial engineering and structured finance, Professor Soludo is expected to source or structure funds to catalyze development without necessarily endangering the inflows of the state. The bottom line is that he is expected to give Anambra State a big push to jump into a new and outstanding level.
To maintain focus, he should be politically and strategically agile and cautious and ensure that he is not disconnected, or alienate people from his government to avoid creating unnecessary distractions. May the light of Anambra State shine the brighter under his governorship.
Nwobu, formerly a Director, Research and Technical, Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers (CIS), is the Principal Consultant, Charterstock Analytical, a Research and Strategic Communications firm.