Charles Soludo, candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), was declared winner of the Anambra State governorship election in the early hours of Wednesday.
Soludo won by a landslide, polling a total of 112,229 votes to leave his closest challenger, Valentine Ozigbo of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in the dust with just 53,807 votes.
How did a man who first announced his governorship ticket in 2009 finally succeed in 2021, 12 years after?
THE APGA FACTOR
There is no doubt Soludo was always going to be a frontrunner regardless of the platform he contested on. Since he was thrust into the limelight by former President Olusegun Obasanjo who appointed him Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Soludo has been seen by many as one of Anambra’s brightest minds.
But when he secured the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2009, ahead of the 2010 governorship election, he never quite stood a chance, eventually placing a distant third with 59,355 votes and winning only two local governments, while the incumbent Peter Obi won with a total of 97,833 votes. In fact, Soludo even lost to Obi in his Aguata Local Government!
Good, then, for Soludo that he left PDP for APGA in 2013. The APGA governoship ticket has been hard for him to come by since, but almost everyone knew once he had it, he was literally governor-elect before election day. Since gaining power in Anambra in 2006, APGA has not lost the governorship poll. And it would take something drastic for that trend to be upended anytime soon, meaning Soludo may well be set for eight years as governor. Good luck!
FULL-STRENGTH FINANCIAL RESOURCES
APGA, as Anambra’s ruling party for a decade and a half, is a well-oiled machine. Word in Anambra is that its array of funders include Allen Oyema, the chief executive officer of Air Peace. With the funds to take its campaigns to the nooks and crannies of Anambra, whoever APGA presented was surely going to get a head start.
NO INCUMBENCY HURDLE
Soludo’s 2010 project was a quite ambitious if not impossible project. He was in his 40s at the time, fresh from his tenure as Governor of the Central bank of Nigeria (CBN), lacking a true political base with any real connections to the grassroots and, most importantly, running against the incumbent Peter Obi who, by the way, was not doing too badly in office.
This time, Soludo had no such problems. Willie Obiano is rounding off his second term in office this time, so fresh slate for all candidates, none of whom has anything close to Soludo’s CV even if two of them could arguably claim to be personally wealthier.
DISLIKE FOR APC
The APC and the forms in which it existed in the past was never liked in Anambra, which explains why someone like Chris Ngige, despite his personal popularity in the state and after a truncated governorship reign, could not regain power in 2010 on the platform of the then Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).
NNAMDI KANU’S ORDEAL
It didn’t help that APC is hated in Anambra; in addition, it was considered a taboo of sorts to vote for the candidate of the party imprisoning Nnamdi Kanu, the most vociferous voice in the campaign for the return of the shortlived Biafra.
Despite the incendiary tone of his comments about Nigeria, its president and Biafra, Kanu is much-loved by the masses in the East. His following is so cult-like that many see him as a hero, a saviour. His capture by the state government was always going to prove a hefty baggage for any APC candidate contesting anywhere in the East. As far as ‘Anambrarians’ are concerned, a vote for APC is a vote for Kanu’s persecutors and Biafra’s opponents.
THAT CBN JOB
No other candidate in the election has the opportunity, or luxury, of having held a federal appointment that gave them the platform to prove their leadership credentials. Apart from Soludo.
His CBN governorship tenure from 2004 to 2009 is till date credited with the stability of the banking sector, following his announcement in 2004 that the minimum capital requirement for banks would rise from N2billion to N25billion by the end of 2005. Much-maligned initially, the chain of recapitalisations and mergers it spawned have been widely acknowledged as transforming the banking sector and bolsering the country’s overall economic stability.
It’s a badge that Soludo has won ever since, more so in a state with an electoral affinity for bankers, Peter Obi and Willi Obiano being the latest examples.
Unlike others, though, Soludo must now revalidate his much-publicised economic prowess. Again, unlike others, he has made very big promises. He promised to turn Anambra to Dubai; now the world is watching.
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