From Obinna Odogwu, Awka
There had been an outpouring of felicitations on Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, the incoming governor of Anambra State since the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) pronounced him the winner of the November 6 governorship election in the state.
From far and wide, goodwill messages poured in. While many simply rejoiced with him on his victory, some others made suggestions on what they feel the incoming helmsman of the state should look at as soon as he assumes office.
Among those who rejoiced with Soludo was President Muhammadu Buhari who went a little further to offer to work with the erudite professor to ensure he succeeds in his new job.
Buhari, in a statement issued by his media aide, Femi Adesina, commended INEC for concluding the exercise successfully. He also commended the security agencies for their determination to ensure that the election went on as smoothly as possible.
The president, who is the leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), ignored the governorship candidate of his party, Senator Andy Uba, and a few other members of the party who had been kicking against the outcome of that poll.
Buhari’s snubbing of his party men suggests that he believes that the election was free, fair and credible just like most people across the globe. And the recent court pronouncement declaring that the APC had no candidate in the poll obviously compounded Uba and his supporter’s woes.
Again, the leader of the APC in Anambra State, Senator Chris Ngige, believes that the election was very credible. In fact, Ngige, who is also the Minister of Labour and Employment, had been quoted as saying that he would give Soludo maximum support to succeed.
The United Kingdom (UK) in their congratulatory message hailed INEC saying that the results released by the commission were consistent with those obtained through the civil society Parallel Vote Tabulation process carried out by YIAGA Africa.
On his part, the former Head of State, General Ibrahim Babangida, while congratulating the governor-elect, described Soludo as a brilliant mind who has a deep understanding of the intricate logic of the Nigerian federation, having served the country in various capacities.
IBB, as he is fondly called, in a statement he personally signed, said that he was excited that Ndi Anambra disappointed all bookmakers by making sure that the election turned out free, fair and credible.
In Anambra, the first runner up in the election, Chief Valentine Ozigbo who was the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); Senator Ifeanyi Ubah of the Young Progressive Party (YPP) who came fourth and some other candidates of other political parties also congratulated the erudite professor.
In a similar vein, a youth group that strongly supported the governorship aspiration of Soludo, Youths Earnestly Support Soludo (YESS), also rolled out its drums to celebrate his victory at the poll.
Convener of the group, Dr Nelson Omenugha, in a congratulatory message to their principal and mentor, expressed confidence that the former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor would not let Ndi Anambra down when he assumes office.
But beyond the euphoria that followed the electoral success, what exactly do Ndi Anambra want from the incoming governor? And how do they want their expectations met?
The professor of economics had, before the election, tabulated and made public what he intended to do for the people if elected. These were contained in his manifesto and they cover education, health, economic transformation, trade and commerce among others.
The Assistant Director of Nursing Services at Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital (NAUTH), Nnewi, Mrs Bibian Nzekwe, wants Soludo to carry out a total overhaul of the state’s health sector as a matter of first priority.
“Because of the brain drain and other factors, the state health sector is in total collapse. So, I expect Soludo to fix Anambra’s health sector. And beyond health, there are lots of expectations from him and we believe that he’ll deliver.
“The state s hospitals have not been performing optimally based on the information we get from there. If you go there, you’ll see that the nurses, doctors and others seldom go to work.
“Again, you hardly see drugs and every material and equipment needed to run a hospital. I think it was during Peter Obi’s administration that we witnessed some positive changes in the state’s healthcare sector”, she said.
Nzekwe, however, harped on the need to always pay health workers in the state at the appropriate time; even as she also stressed the need to equip the hospitals in the state.
While expressing optimism in the incoming administration of Prof. Soludo, the Chairman of Chisco Group, Chief Chidi Anyaegbu, said that he believed Soludo would continue from where the present governor, Chief Willie Obiano, would stop, to take Anambra to greater heights.
He, however, emphasized the need for a critical, strategic and wholesome look at the security of lives and property in the state.
According to Chief Anyaegbu, Anambra experienced a long period of public safety, about seven and half years under Obiano until recently.
“It seems true that the recent insecurity in Anambra State was politically motivated as alleged. That may be the reason why everywhere is calm after the election.
“But the incidences of insecurity and attacks on the citizenry by armed criminals have affected the confidence of the people in public safety. This is one area where the incoming administration must work on”, he advised.
Anyaegbu who is also the Chairman, Anambra State Security Trust Fund, expressed the willingness of the Fund to support the Soludo administration to ensure that there’s adequate funding for security in the state.
“Security is the foundation of every success recorded by the Obiano administration and we supported him to the best of our ability. When Soludo comes in, he should also ensure that security and public safety is guaranteed and we will support him.
“Once we have security, all his plans and policies for development and investment in Anambra State will work excellently”, the business mogul said.
For the former Minister of Aviation, Chief Osita Chidoka, the incoming administration should look into the state’s education system, youth development; encourage entrepreneurship and support positive exploits in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector.
“There are no playing grounds all over Anambra. They are all consumed with tall buildings all over the place. We are not thinking of where our children will play; where they will let the energies in them to come out.
“We have also forgotten that one of the employers of the young people is sports. A strong sports curriculum, an access to playing grounds and sports will actually make it possible for young people to have a career path in the sports arena.
“The Igbo people have great potentials in a big market called Nigeria. We have a big and diverse country, we have a strong entrepreneurial mindset, and there is a declining and aging population in Europe, Asia and North America.
“And technology has enabled education. We can actually give education to our young people using technology. So, we have all the ingredients that can make us potentially a great technology enabled country that can render serious services to the people outside the country.
“If you look at what is happening now, Anambra State has not been positioned to drive and benefit from all these opportunities I have listed. We need to unlock our potentials to drive it.
“I am recommending a reform strategy, and the church can be at the centre of it; a holistic approach, a philosophical foundation and future-proofing of our youths, making sure that they learn the skills of tomorrow and also equipping them with today’s skills.
“We need to reform our education, create equal opportunity. There is an urgent need for a holistic reform and I believe that the incoming in Anambra, coming from a man with a background in education should focus on reforming our education”, he said.
The International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law (INTERSOCIETY) called on Soludo to govern Anambra “as the modern public governance ought to be.”
The group, in a statement signed by its principal officers: Emeka Umeagbalasi, Chinwe Umeche and Chidimma Udegbunam, lamented that some of the past governors of the state were not impressive with their performance and that Soludo must make up for it.
“It is on record that Mbadinuju governed Anambra State retrogressively and as ‘it was’. Ngige came through the window and governed the state “slightly above from where it was.”
“Obi came through the right channel and governed the state as the standard public governance is.
“Soludo is therefore expected to govern the state “as the modern public governance ought to be” or in the context of hi-tech transformation of the state”, the statement partly read.
A social worker, Chinedu Nsofor, asked Soludo to build what he called Africa Dubai Taiwan Mall which he said would generate tremendous revenue for the state.
“It is going to be done through the public private partnership arrangement. The state will be saddled with the responsibility of providing a very large acre of land for this project with a framework/partnership modalities developed for the project”, he suggested.
An artisan, Chukwudi Nwankwo, said that he wanted Soludo to look into urban renewal and sanitation. He lamented that the face of Awka capital territory was not good enough and that the waste management system in the state especially in the centres was poor.
“It is important that Soludo looks into the issue of sanitation. Take a look at Awka, everywhere is full of refuse dumps. I do not know if the problem is with the contractors or that they were not being paid.
“If he fails to look into the issue of sanitation, there might be an outbreak of some diseases in this state. Anambra is one of the most important states in Nigeria and it can’t afford to come low.
“Another area I want him to look into is the issue of urban renewal. People build structures indiscriminately here. Does it mean that the capital city does not have a master plan? Or is it the problem of regulation?
“Whatever it is, what is important is the solution. Look at other capital cities across the country and see the difference. We can’t continue to ignore important things that we are supposed to handle for the benefit of the present generation and the ones yet unborn”, he said.
A commercial tricycle operator popularly known as Keke NAPEP who simply gave his name as Ebuka appealed to the incoming governor to tame thugs whom he alleged often harassed and extorted them.
“Every time, thugs will be disturbing us, extorting money from us. Soludo should look into that. There is this issue of ticketing. We pay too much money every day on tickets. It is burdening and it will be good if the new harmonizes these levies”, he appealed.