It is becoming clear that former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Chukwuma Soludo, is not the only one with the desire that he should become Anambra State Governor next year.
Daily Independent learnt at the weekend that after he left the CBN in May, he was stopped from taking up a teaching job at Oxford University in the United Kingdom so as to help redeem the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state.
The architects of the deal are said to include President Umaru Yar’Adua, former Vice President, Alex Ekwueme, and former PDP Board of Trustees (BoT) Chairman, Tony Anenih – all of who decided to do something to re-establish the party in Anambra, which it won in 1999.
Anenih commissioned a study before leaving office and discovered that the party must break away from the past by rooting for a candidate without a blemish who could win elections.
The lot originally fell on former Governor Chris Ngige, who was popular because of his achievements and also because of the successful war he waged against the godfathers in the PDP.
But the attempt to get Ngige back to power failed, according to the source.
Said he: “When the Anenih study was sent to (Ekwueme), founding BoT Chairman, he quickly reached for (Yar’Adua) and other power brokers who asked him to suggest a credible, knowledgeable, non-controversial and well known person.’
“Ekwueme asked the party to lobby Ngige to return to the PDP. But the man gave conditions which the PDP considered very difficult. The conditions included that he be given an automatic nomination.”
Ekwueme then began consultations and thereafter settled for Soludo, who had by then decided to teach at Oxford University and the Brookings Institution, a famous think tank in Washington, United States, currently headed by Strobe Talbot.
Talbot was former President Bill Clinton’s Deputy Secretary of State, who later served as an Editorial Executive at Time magazine.
This was said to have informed the role the personalities played at a highly publicised party organised for Soludo last month ostensibly to mark his tenure at the CBN. There, Ekwueme, Anenih, Yar’Adua’s close friend, C. Mangali, spoke of Soludo’s brilliance and accomplishments.
Anenih informed the gathering that he would not mind changing his name to make him eligible to participate in Soludo’s emergence as Anambra Governor.
“My name is Anenih from Edo State, but I am prepared to become Anene from Anambra State because of Soludo,” declared the former Works and Housing Minister, known as “Mr Fix It” or “Leader” because of his uncanny ways of achieving results.
However, despite reports of the endorsement of the party leadership, Soludo is said to be working towards winning the primaries on his own merit.
“When he officially declared his intention to run last Wednesday in Awka, a crowd of about 80, 000 enthusiastic supporters from all the 326 wards in the state cheered him for several hours.
“Some people thought it was a Presidential campaign rally. He promised in his manifesto to make the state the “Dubai of Africa” if elected Governor,” the source recounted.
PDP Anambra Congress Committee Chairman, Gabriel Suswam, who is Benue State Governor, affirmed in Awka on Sunday that a level playing field will be provided for all aspirants, without preference for anyone, including Soludo.
However, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) said even with that, his party would win the ballot on February 6, 2011.
Ojukwu, accompanied by APGA National Chairman, Victor Umeh, explained to journalists in Enugu that the party would win because of its followership in Anambra, “provided we are working along the right course. If we are going to cheat, anything can happen.”