PROFILE: Soludo, the ‘poor village boy whom God lifted’ to head CBN — and will now govern Anambra

He was neither born with a silver spoon nor did he descend from blue blood, but he broke the jinx of poverty. From his rustic village of Isuofia in Aguata LGA of Anambra state, he rose and flew across the world to live his dreams. Today, another new dream is fulfilled.

The curtain has been drawn on the 2021 Anambra governorship election and a winner has emerged. His name is Charles Chukwuma Soludo, a professor of economics and former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). He becomes the fifth democratic governor of the state.

Soludo’s trajectory to becoming Anambra governor started over a decade ago when he announced his interest to govern the state, but lost at the polls. Coming back in 2021, he battled with other party bigwigs to become the flagbearer, survived the nozzles of guns and proceeded to the length and breadth of the state to sell his agenda.

The economist evinces the life of a man who would never give up on his dreams despite the hurdles, twists and turns along his path. Let’s take a look at the journey of another banker whose hands the fate of one of Nigeria’s most industrious states lies for the next four years.

The ‘poor Village Boy’

On July 28, 1960, less than three months to Nigeria’s independence, Chukwuma was born into the family of Pa Simeon Soludo. His mother, Mgbafor, was said to have died during the civil war when Chukwuma was barely eight. From there, he grew up in his Isuofia village where he often played football.

He attended the neighbouring Uga Boys High School and became the senior prefect.

He proceeded to the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), Enugu state where he bagged a first class honours degree in economics in 1984. From the same educational institution and department, he grabbed a master’s degree in 1987 and a doctorate in 1989 graduating as the best student at all three levels. In 1998, he became a professor of economics at UNN.

He holds the title of the third-highest national honour Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (CFR).

When Soludo won the APGA primary election ticket back in June 2021, he described himself as “a poor village boy whom God has lifted and gifted”.

And so goes the story of his rise from academia to working with reputable global bodies.

A Brilliant Academic

As a lecturer, Soludo was said to have authored over 82 scholarly publications. He became a visiting professor at Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, US, in 1999.

He has also taught and trained at Oxford, Cambridge, Warwick University, The Brookings Institution, Washington, DC;  Wolfson College, UN Economic Commission for Africa as a post-doctoral fellow and the International Monetary Fund.

Soludo has served as a consultant for several global organisations, including UNCTAD, European Union (EU), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), African Development Bank (ADB), African Union (AU) and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Astute Economist

Soludo had his first taste of serving in the federal government in 2003 when he was appointed by former President Olusegun Obasanjo as a chief economic adviser. In May 2004, he became the CBN governor and led the consolidation policy of the Nigerian banking system.

He said his family went into exile after an attempted kidnap of his children and his life was threatened following the restructuring policy he introduced as the CBN governor.

The Financial Times of London was said to have described him as “a great reformer”.

In 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari appointed Soludo as a member of the economic advisory council (EAC).

In one of his recent campaign tours, he said: “I have achieved all I wanted to achieve in the world in my thirties. I have travelled to 45 countries across the six continents as a scholar and consultant.”

Advocate Of Restructuring

Speaking at The Platform during Nigeria’s 59th independence anniversary, Soludo advocated for a restructuring of the country.

“Let Zamfara keep its gold and pay taxes to the government. Let Kaduna and Kogi keep their solid minerals. Most states have their own resources. Concentrating power in Abuja won’t help us develop our resources,” he said.

“Abuja has sought to keep everybody in check but has succeeded in holding everybody down. If the problem is the word ‘restructuring’ let’s call it something else.”

He also asked the federal government to implement the APC committee’s report on restructuring in order to reposition the country.

The Journey To Lead His People

In 2009, Soludo announced his entry into the murky waters of politics and made his interest to govern Anambra known. As the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), he vied for the 2010 governorship election in the state. Peter Obi, candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), won the election — defeating Chris Ngige, former governor, and Soludo, who came third.

In 2013, Soludo left the PDP and joined APGA ahead of the 2013 governorship poll in the state. The screening committee disqualified him and some other aspirants, and Willie Obiano, the current governor, emerged as the party’s candidate and won the election.

In February 2021, Soludo officially announced his intention to contest the governorship election under APGA.

Owing to an internal crisis in APGA, he was initially not recognised as the party’s candidate for the November 6 election. Soludo was later reinstated by the court and the supreme court affirmed him as the eligible candidate.

In March, TheCable had reported how Soludo was attacked by gunmen at an interactive town hall meeting in his home town. Three policemen were killed in the attack which the former CBN governor described as fifteen minutes of gun battle.

In 2017, while delivering a lecture as part of activities to mark an anniversary celebration of Obiano’s administration, Soludo said he would make Anambra a true 21st-century economic miracle.

As residents of the state begin to look forward to the swearing in of the governor-elect, all eyes are on Soludo to deploy his brilliance to make Anambra a true “light of the nation”.

Culled from: TheCable

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