Unless Soludo purges himself of the egregious crime he committed against Ndigbo with that ill-advised and malicious November 14, 2022 statement, his will be a one-term governorship, his political future effectively buried under the sand dunes of the Peter Obi windstorm. That will be a well-deserved judgement of history.
In his November 14, 2022 political takedown of Peter Obi, presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Prof Chukwuma Soludo, Anambra State governor, wrote: “As history beckons, my conscience and sense of duty to my people dictate that I should never be silent. I will happily accept the judgment of history for standing by the truth!”
That judgement came fast and furious on February 25, 2023. And guess what? It was harsh – portrayed Soludo not only as a conscienceless liar without any sense of duty to his people or even fidelity to altruism, but also consigned him to the dustbin of history.
All protestations to the contrary notwithstanding, what Soludo did with that statement on Peter Obi was an attempted political assassination. It dripped of betrayal and blackmail. It was backroom politicking in its most unscrupulous and ruthless form.
No doubt, the former Central Bank Governor did a yeoman’s work, as quislings always do. But in doing so, he staked his reputation on something not under his control. It blew up in his face most spectacularly.
Soludo cheekily titled the statement, “History Beckons and I will not be Silent (Part 1)”, which suggests that a Part 2 was in the offing. That didn’t come because it was supposed to be a celebratory dig, the “but I told you epistle” against those who had the presence of mind to call him out on his misadventure with the first statement. And that was to come after his prediction had come true.
He actually set the tone in the first statement: “I hope that after February 2023, Peter Obi will return to APGA (the party that made him everything he is politically) as I offered him on March 8, 2022 and begin the hard work, if he truly wants to be president of Nigeria.”
Soludo, the self-acclaimed political wizard made some audacious claims after looking into his crystal ball. He asserted that Obi’s foray into the presidential race was a political blunder that will lead to humiliation and accused him of deceit.
“Let’s be clear: Peter Obi knows that he can’t and won’t win. He knows the game he is playing, and we know too; and he knows that we know. The game he is playing is the main reason he didn’t return to APGA. The brutal truth (and some will say, God forbid) is that there are two persons/parties seriously contesting for president: the rest is exciting drama,” Soludo wrote.
“Indeed, there is no credible pathway for him near the first two positions, and if care is not taken, he won’t even near the third position. Analysts tell him you don’t need “structure” to win. Fantasy! Of course, LP won governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun on social media and via phantom polls, while getting barely 2,000 votes on ground. Creating a credible third force for presidential election in Nigeria requires a totally different strategy and extreme hard work,” the former CBN boss ridiculed his predecessor whose only crime was summoning the courage to dare.
“Of course, Peter Obi will get some votes, and may probably win in Anambra State — as “home boy.” But Anambra is not Nigeria. If he likes, I can even campaign for him but that won’t change much. From internal state by state polling available to me, he was on course to get 25% in 5 states as at August this year. The latest polling shows that it is down to four states, and declining. Not even in Lagos State (supposed headquarters of urban youths) where Labour Party could not find candidates to contest for House of Reps or Senate.”
Going by the result of the presidential election declared by the Prof Mahmoud Yakubu-led Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), someone else other than Obi “won.” But in real terms, the actual winner is Peter Obi who has emerged the most formidable political force in this Fourth Republic. If anything, Soludo, though not on the ballot, emerged a political nonentity barely one year after he took oath of office as governor, when his glory was supposed to be at its peak.
Peter Obi polled 584,621 votes out of a total 613,861 valid votes in Anambra. His closest rival, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the PDP, scored 9,036 votes, while Prof. Peter Umeadi, candidate of Soludo’s party, APGA, who is also a “home boy” garnered 7,388 votes. Obi not only thrashed Soludo in his Aguata LGA, ward and polling booth but also Government House in Awka where he garnered almost 100 per cent of the votes cast.
So, Soludo should hide his face in shame because Obi not only won in Anambra, the only State he grudgingly conceded to him, he also won in 11 other states including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
Let me be clear. I rooted for Soludo to become governor of Anambra State because I really thought a lot of him before the November 6, 2021 governorship poll.
On October 20, 2021, I wrote an article titled, “Why Anambra needs Soludo,” and my conclusion was straightforward: “What Anambra needs is transformational leadership. Soludo holds the aces …. Anambra needs someone who is hungry to be remembered for his generosity and civilization after his tour of duty at a time like this when Ndigbo are at the crossroads of national politics. That is the quality Soludo brings on board.”
Shortly after, a friend of mine from Anambra called to ask if I really knew Soludo. I felt insulted. He apologized but still made his point. “I am from Anambra. After reading your column this morning, I came to the conclusion that you don’t know him. He is self-serving, arrogant and conceited. He is not better than the much-vilified Uba brothers. If anything, he is worse. Soludo is a man without character, mean-spirited and vindictive.”
Of course, I was scandalized and vehemently disagreed with what I felt was an unfair characterization but he insisted that sooner than later, I will know better.
When Soludo issued the statement on Peter Obi, my friend called to say, “But I told you.” I conceded. On Soludo, he was right, I was wrong.
What rankles most was the governor’s attempt to throw the entire Igbo race under the bus for his own selfish political gain. If Soludo was sincere and altruistic as he claimed, he would have supported the presidential candidate of APGA since Obi rebuffed his entreaties to come back to the party.
But he was simply beholden to forces that have nothing but contempt for Nigerian masses, who told him he was more deserving of the presidency when and if the “owners” of Nigeria decide it is the turn of Ndigbo. So if the idea of a President Peter Obi becomes a reality in 2023, then the idea of a President Chukwuma Soludo will forever remain an illusion. Therefore, Obi must be destroyed by every means possible and Soludo was the hatchet man even when there was no guarantee that his co-conspirators will keep their own part of the bargain even if they had succeeded on February 25.
Soludo’s intellectualism failed him on the altar of his own greed. He couldn’t summon the courage to admit the obvious, though he knew the truth: the Obidient Movement is not an Igbo project. Majority of the youths who are the main drivers are not Igbo. They are Nigerians from all walks of life who desire a new beginning for their beleaguered country.
Truth be told, Obi’s impact on Nigeria’s treacherous political landscape has been transcendental. His influence goes beyond Igboland and his exertions have effectively changed the superstructure of Nigeria’s politics for good.
Soludo ridiculed Labour Party’s assumed lack of structure and dismissed his run for the presidency as a fantasy. But Obi, the common trader, has taught Soludo and his co-travellers “Politics 101” by proving most conclusively that structure in politics is actually the people.
No matter what happens going forward, Nigerians who voted penultimate Saturday know that the man Prof Mahmoud Yakubu declared winner of the presidential election is not the person they gave their mandate.
Whether the system decides to self-correct or not, Obi has emerged the most consequential Nigerian political leader alive today and the joke is on Soludo and his ilk like Chief Arthur Eze.
And unless Soludo purges himself of the egregious crime he committed against Ndigbo with that ill-advised and malicious November 14, 2022 statement, his will be a one-term governorship, his political future effectively buried under the sand dunes of the Peter Obi windstorm. That will be a well-deserved judgement of history.