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Anambra politics and Fidelity Bank

04 September 2013, 10:55 Onyiorah Chiduluemije Paschal

The late Dr Chuba Okadigbo in his book Conscienism in African Political Philosophy noted that “Aristotle loved Plato but loved the truth much more.” In like manner, I admire Governor Peter Obi’s disposition to issues of governance as well as his frugality in the management of Anambra state resources, but I love the truth much more. Though I may be adjudged wrong about the truth I will be examining below, the fact that I am entitled to hold and express my views strongly and freely underscores the beauty of democracy we all profess to operate.

Having said that, let us now dwell squarely on the raging politics in Anambra state and the seemingly overbearing influence of Fidelity Bank Plc, and its corollaries. Understandably, not a handful of people are aware of the fact that the incumbent Governor, Peter Obi, maintains a formidable ground in terms of wielding enormous powers in the existential functionality and relevance of Fidelity Bank Plc.

By the same token, Anambrarians are not unaware that the bulk of the developmental projects being executed by Obi’s administration apparently enjoy a near monopolistic and highly profitable patronage from Fidelity Bank Plc. Surely, I agree, there is nothing untoward or amiss with that in as much as Obi’s government observes the principle of due process in all its transactions with Fidelity Bank Plc. After all, they are wont to argue, there is no law in Nigeria that enjoins any government, be it local, state or federal, to deal with any particular bank or banks in the pursuit of its goals, programmes and policies for the general well being of the masses.

However, if rationality were to be brought to bear on the issue of gubernatorial succession in Anambra state, one expects Governor Obi to know that the mere fact that a number of Anambrarians appear to be favourably disposed to pandering to his pet idea of ensuring that his successor emerges from Anambra North senatorial zone, does not necessarily imply that the seemingly hegemonic control and the good will which Fidelity Bank Plc has over the years wielded and enjoyed in the area of providing the financial wherewithal needed for the execution of contracts in the state should be misconstrued as public imprimatur for  the owners and stakeholders of Fidelity Banks Plc to now determine for Anambrarians who their next Governor should be.

Lest we forget, I had been and am still an advocate of zoning for the purpose of ensuring equality, equity and true sense of belonging among the different segments along which Anambra folks are politically grouped. Nonetheless, it is imperative to state categorically that my advocacy in this regard transcends the current politics of self-centeredness – I, me and myself –that is gradually rearing its head out in Anambra state. Unmistakably, willy-nilly, this ugly trend may not fall short of a new but disguised approach to re-introduce the moribund phenomenon of godfatherism in Anambra politics, judging of course from Governor Obi’s political maneuvering and shenanigans.

Consequently, that Prof Chukwuma Soludo, the erstwhile Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, has been disqualified along with some other contestants on some ostensibly frivolous grounds, while Chief Willie Obiano, the former Executive Director of Fidelity Bank Plc, and some others have conversely emerged successful in the recently concluded All Progressives Grand Alliance’s gubernatorial screening exercise certainly calls for sober reflection – on all Anambrarians.

And as questionable as the reasons advanced for their disqualifications, nothing can be farther from the truth that APGA has unconsciously metamorphosed into a sort of fascist party devoid of basic democratic ideals - which obviously marks a radical departure from its original democratic inclination that once propelled Dim Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu to relentlessly fight “renegades” in the state in order to install Mr. Peter Obi and thus institutionalize democratic rectitude.

Regrettably, in defence of this unwarranted disqualification of Prof. Soludo and others, APGA reportedly adduced three principal reasons to this effect. These include: non-possession of voter’s cards by the aspirants, issue of tax remittance and dearth of funds on the part of the aspirants to prosecute campaigns for the election. Incidentally, the plausible issue of external influence is yet another factor that can hardly be overlooked. But then, if the position reportedly articulated by the screening panel that Soludo and others lacked the relevant voter’s cards is anything to think about, one may wish to ask: are we now being told that somebody like Prof Soludo did not hitherto possess a voter’s card?

Or, assuming he has a voter’s card but did not register in Anambra state ab initio, one may be tempted to further ask: since when did such apparent triviality become effective as a basis for disqualification? Was this same proviso obtainable during the days of Peter Obi’s struggle to win APGA’s gubernatorial ticket? Or, is it all a new creation designed for the sole purpose of frustrating Prof. Soludo from the gubernatorial race? For clarity, APGA is at liberty to adopt whatever criteria as it deems politically expedient in the selection of who becomes its gubernatorial flag-bearer, but the home truth is that winning governorship election in Anambra state goes beyond the disqualification of Prof Soludo on mere allegation of non-possession of voter’s card, among others.

Again, if the issue of tax remittance is anything near a reasonable ground for disqualifying Soludo and others, then rational observers are bound to ask: could this imply that Prof. Soludo does not pay tax as and when due? Or, is it that he pays but was merely unable to show enough evidence to this effect while meeting with members his party’s screening panel?

Surely it still baffles some political watchers in much the same I am yet to fathom the basis of the infantile claim that tend to suggest that Soludo is bereft of sufficient funds to prosecute campaigns for the general election. As puerile as this claim seems, it does appear that those who feel that APGA belongs to them alone are no longer in possession of tenable lies in their falsehood arsenal to dish out to members of the public.

Of course one wonders if those peddling this kind of wicked insinuation are not just doing so for the mere purpose of indirectly alerting the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to go against Prof. Soludo, in the event he happens to publicly acknowledge having ample funds to prosecute campaigns for the general election. And since when did political parties in Nigeria cease to assist in sponsoring their members aspiring to win elections? Or, granted that Soludo (or any of the disqualified candidates) actually does not have sufficient wherewithal but possesses the credibility, integrity, competence, charisma and/or the political clout to win the forthcoming Anambra state gubernatorial election, does it not behoove APGA to step in and take full responsibility, if that is what it will cost it to retain power in the state and continue to use it to better the lots of the citizenry? After all, what then is the essence of a group of individuals coming together to form a political party?

It is though shrouded in speculation for now that the disqualification of Prof. Soludo is not unconnected with what some people have termed “Aso Rock Phobia for Mr. Soludo” or the unfathomable desire of President Goodluck Jonathan and that of Peoples Democratic Party to ensure that this highly revered and learned professor is by all means stopped from emerging as APGA’s flag-bearer in the forthcoming Anambra state gubernatorial election, there is no gainsaying that certain persons may just feel unnecessarily intimidated by Soludo’s towering fame and popularity. However, it is unimaginable that members of the All Progressives Grand Alliance could afford to not only betray their brightest political juggernaut but also stifle the lofty expectations of Anambrarians, Ndigbo and Nigerians in general which Prof. Chukwuma Charles Soludo represents – all because of wishful thinking of Governor Peter Obi. Indeed, there is something fundamentally wrong young Nigerian politicians, truly the youths have failed.

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