Last Wednesday’s attack on Professor Chukwuma Soludo in his hometown in Isuofia, Aguata local government area of Anambra State, presents a dangerous precedent in the politics of Nigeria. The professor of econometrics had convened a town hall meeting with no fewer than 1000 people in order to inform his people about his intentions in the forthcoming November 6 gubernatorial elections in Anambra State.
There are different speculations about the motive behind the attack. Some members of Soludo’s political party, the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA),insinuated that the attack was politically motivated. Many political commentators in the State believe that the feedback Soludo was receiving from the massive consultations he had been carrying out was overwhelming. Many people believe that with the level of support he was receiving in the State, with hundreds of support groups springing up by the day, he was likely to carry the day if he is given APGA’s ticket in the State. In one occasion, Soludo was moved to tears after seeing the unprecedented support he was receiving from people he had never met nor given anything to. This is different from what we know in our political landscape because in most cases the size of the crowd you pulled in political engagements was a function of how much you were willing to dole out to people who might not even know what you stand for.
The political conversation in the state had been civil and somewhat interesting. Some of his opponents wished that he was not in the ballot. Some wished he left the scene for them by following Ngozi Iweala’s path of taking up an international appointment. Some wished he followed the path of very successful retired bank executives — like himself — by either going into a very private life or starting his own big business. After all, they argue that a former deputy CBN governor and former Wema Bank MD, Tunde Lemo, is now running the very successful fintech company, Flutterwave, while UBA’s Phillip Oduoza and Zenith’s Peter Amangbo have set up their own banks after retirement. The list they say is endless. In fact, these folks believe Soludo has the capacity to make money for himself with his knowledge and should, therefore, leave Anambra for them.
The conversation had been funny, as it were. It revealed that the average Nigerian politician saw the government house as an ‘’oil well’’. Soludo had continuously told those who cared to listen in Anambra that God had been so good to him and elevated him beyond his imagination and that it would be folly for him not to want to give back to his people by way of service. In one occasion, while emphasizing the favours he has received, the Professor talked about how he has been blessed with good health and that he had no underlining ailment at his age. A blessing that could only come from God. The professor says that after some personal reflection, he has made up his mind to come back home and serve his people. This makes sense. While personal business is good, and of course everyone cannot be politicians, there could be a limit to the impact you can make in your community as a businessman.
The whole conversation on the politics of Anambra State took a different turn after last Wednesday’s attack on Professor Soludo and the people who were in that town hall meeting with him.
Just like some members of APGA have insinuated, many believe that attack was politically motivated. But this is left for the police who are already handling this incident to say. Ironically, the Professor says he has very good relationships with most of the people who have shown interest in taking over from Governor Willie Obiano. Interestingly, Soludo says that most of the important politicians in state have reached out to him to express their shock over the last attack.
Seeing bodies of the policemen who were killed in the attack and theemotional turmoil the families of Engr Emeka Ezenwanne, who was abducted during the attack, are going through is enough reason to ask if wanting to serve one’s people and community is worth it, especially after one has been successful in his own private business. One can only imagine what is going on in the minds of families – especially successful ones who might not need government patronage anymore to have a good life — who are currently encouraging their loved ones to venture into public service. Sadly, if these assailants succeed in forcing Soludo out of the race, it would become a precedent for all technocrats who would want to serve their people in the political arena, after retirement. Wives would always refer to this incident and advice their successful husbands that politics in Nigeria was not worth it. This should not be the case in our politics. Our best eleven must be encouraged to join politics and change the space. The development of any nation is in the hands of its politicians.
For the policemen, who were killed in this unfortunate incident, one believes that as soon as the dust settles down, their families will be supported. They did not deserve this.
Though the police have made some arrest, this column is appealing to the abductors of Engr. Emeka Ezenwanne, commissioner for public utilities in Anambra State, to release him. Those who kidnapped Engr Ezenewanne must have noticed that he is a perfect gentleman with a heart of gold. Obviously, they must have been discussing with him wherever they have kept him.
Emeka had brought in his private sector expertise in revitalizing public utilities in Anambra State. Recently, Emeka and his team commissioned the Otuocha water scheme, a brand new one which reticulates water to four towns which include, Aguleri, Umueri, and Umuoba Anam with multiple fetching points. This project marked the first time the benefiting communities were being connected to portable pipe borne water.
Emeka’s love for his people is unparalleled. His abductors would have observed this in their conversations with him. Emeka’s abductors need to realize that what happened in the last few days was not worth it. As Christians, we believe that Emeka’s abductors can still be pardoned by God despite what has happened. Anyone who has a hand in this must have seen the damage this incident has done to the State and the forthcoming elections. There is still room for repentance in the spirit of Easter. To this end, this column appeals to the abductors to sheath their sword and release the amiable commissioner to his family in the spirit of Easter. It is not too late to ask for forgiveness from God and man.