Prof. Chukwuma Charles Soludo, Governor of Anambra State, celebrated his one-year anniversary in office today.
The ceremony took place at the International Convention Centre, Awka.
Speaking to the large crowd that attended the event, Governor Soludo recalled when he was sworn in as the Chief servant of ndi Anambra, along with his Deputy, 365 days ago, he took the oath of office on that day, March 17th.
‘We worked for 8 hours and 45 minutes that day, and we’ve been working every day since. You employed us to complete an assignment with a deadline.
“I present to you an abridged version of an annual report on what has occurred over the past 365 days; global challenges, natural disasters, and so on. With Anambra’s economy, we barely generate 20 billion naira per year, but we promise you that there will be no excuses.
“The House of Assembly agreed that we should borrow 100 billion naira, but we have yet to borrow a single naira. Despite insecurity, road crises, infrastructure challenges, and other enormous challenges, we promised ndi Anambra that there would be no excuses. Today is undeniably better than a year ago.
“We will continue to grow stronger, and in the coming years, we will become even better,” Soludo said.
“The first year was spent addressing fundamental issues. I’m overjoyed about the cream of ndi Anambra present here, our progress partners, friends and well-wishers, and Nigeria’s father, Chief Obasanjo, my boss and mentor under whose tutelage I served for four years and learned from the master’s feet. He inspired and encouraged me to pursue this path, and I’m grateful he’s here to celebrate my first year in office with me.
“Mr. Peter Obi, my predecessor, I sent him an invitation, and he promised to come; now he’s here. That is the Anambra spirit. I have stated that politics in Anambra is not a war. We come together as brothers after politics. That is the Anambra spirit.
“Our second year will be a journey to build a smart mega city and consolidation process. We will continue to focus on the solution agenda’s five pillars. We are determined to deliver on everything we promised in our manifesto. Our vision is for Anambra to become a new axis of prosperity.
“On security, law and order; kidnapping for ransom, banditry, and communal disputes were rampant when we arrived, but we all agreed with ndi Anambra that we will reclaim our homeland. Anambra is currently far safer than it was a year ago,” Soludo explained.
“We will work with the legislative and judiciary to maintain law and order. In terms of judicial productivity, Anambra ranks second only to Lagos.
“We have already declared a state of emergency on road crises, embarked on infrastructural and economic transformation, including transportation, land, power infrastructure and technology. Within the first nine months, we awarded 261 kilometers of roads to all 21 local governments, with cement stabilization and stone bases guaranteed to last for 20 years. We also paid Contractors a mobilization fee of 30-50 percent.
“We are desilting drainages and will launch a major initiative with a comprehensive framework to address flooding issues next week. For decades, there has been a lack of planning for our cities and communities, resulting in flooding. People are constructing on the waterways. We see flooding in the street every time it rains.
“We had a full brainstorming session with EEDC on power supply. Our goal is to provide electricity in Anambra’s major cities 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We signed an agreement with EEDC on power transmission and distribution in Anambra yesterday, and the state should have 24/7 power supply within the next two years.
“We converted 6,380 diesel-powered streetlights into solar streetlights. Anambra is getting a night economy,” says Soludo.
“On our transportation intervention plan, we are constructing modernized riverine water transportation. Anambra West is the only local government I am aware of that is inaccessible by road. I drove to Nzam three weeks ago, and the roads are almost finished. People from the surrounding area will be able to transport their produce to Onitsha.
“We are redesigning our inter- and intra-city transportation systems, as well as designing modern bus terminals; the Anambra Airport is still under construction. We have completed a feasibility study for a sky train pilot in Onitsha and are looking into financing options.
“We developed a concession plan for water supply in Onitsha, Awka, Nnewi, and Ihiala, as well as laying 2000km of fiber optics ducts to ensure last mile connectivity for accessing high-speed internet. This will serve as the foundation for establishing a digital tribe.
“32,000 hectares of land at Agulu Lake have been purchased to build an Africa leisure and entertainment hub known as African Disney Land,” Soludo noted.
“A new palm and coconut revolution is underway in agriculture. We’re returning to our roots. Back in the day, the Eastern region’s economy was the fastest, built on the foundation of palm. When crude oil arrived, we abandoned our roots. After four years, a poor household with ten seedlings will be permanently out of poverty. 150,000 coconuts and 220,000 palms were donated to alleviate poverty and economic hardship.
“On industry, we have developed a framework, and 53 hectares of land at Ukpo have been acquired for the Export Emporium. We acquired 100 hectares of commercial land at Ukwulu. 80 hectares for automotive industrial park in Akwihedi, Unubi, and Uga.
“Anambra Government received a free donation of 200 hectares of land in Ogboji for Anambra pharmaceutical hub from indigenes.
“Private schools and public schools predominate in our educational system. The private sector dominates the Anambra educational system. Anambra’s most valuable resource is human capital. To be productive and exportable to the rest of the world, we must mine it. The quality of a school is determined by the quality of its teachers and the quality of its teaching. We ended an era of schools without teachers by recruiting 5000 people through an open source application portal for transparency,” Soludo maintained.
“In terms of health, we upgraded three general hospitals in Ekwulobia, Enugwu Ukwu, and Umuleri, including dental units, hired 244 medical personnel, and activated a ministry of health taskforce. Our health is our most valuable asset.
“To build a digital tribe, we established the solution innovation district. We signed an agreement with Microsoft. We set out to teach 20,000 young people fundamental and advanced digital skills. Over 10,000 people have already applied online. This year’s Anambra Talent Inventory and Innovation Week will take place in October.
“We began the one youth, two skills program. It’s all about the youths. We are training approximately 5000 of them and have set aside a few billion dollars to empower them.
“We reformed how Government works in terms of Governance and value system. There is a problem if the public sector cannot provide service to the people. We developed a reform strategy, restructured MDAs to align with our agenda, and over 15 states are having difficulty paying salaries. We improved worker’s welfare by 10%, paid pensioners’ pensions and gratuities since 2018, cleared backlogs, transitioned from transactional to transformational governance, and saved the state N10.4 billion from new contracts awarded to the state government,” Soludo stressed.
“Anambra has been without a functioning government house and lodge for the past 31 years. Massive construction, including 25 peripheral structures, is underway to provide Anambra with a fitting government house and lodge here in Awka.
“We increased the IGR base from 1.5 billion naira monthly to 2 billion naira monthly with a target of reaching 5 billion in 2023 if every Anambra living in the state and elsewhere can pay 5% of their income to Anambra, we will be at a higher level in three years.
“Local Government Secretariats that were burned down by criminals have been completely rebuilt.
“35-40% of Anambra is facing existential threat. Anambra is the world’s erosion capital. Anambra is shrinking due to erosion, but we must take action,” Soludo stressed.
“We will begin a clean, green Anambra next week and are committed to making the state the cleanest in the country. We are nearing the end of the drafting process for an environmental sustainability bill that will be sent to the State House of Assembly.
“On our urban regeneration plan, we are transforming slums and buildings that are strewn about. We are enforcing sustainable municipal planning. To become a smart megacity that the rest of the world will want to visit, projections must be removed and pedestrian walkways installed, among other things.
“We will deepen security architecture, partner with legislative and judiciary, build at least 100km of roads, mass transportation system, provide 24 hour electricity, build a new Awka city, urban water schemes, recruit specialized teachers, mainstream talents and sports as an economy, continuous skill enhancement, and technology everywhere to make it a culture over the next three years.
“We are doing more with less, patronizing what we manufacture here, facilitating business and mobilizing private capital, forming strategic alliances with our international partners, and so on,” Soludo concluded.
Former Nigerian President, Chief Obasanjo, mentioned in his speech that when Soludo was his economic adviser, he was so pleased with him that he decided to recommend him as Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. He was the second Nigerian sent to the CBN who was not a commercial banker, and he performed admirably.
But, according to Obasanjo, “on one occasion, someone came to me and said you made an Igbo man CBN Governor and completed the task of perfecting Nigeria’s economy.”
He stated that the appointments of Ngozi Okonji Iweala and Chukwuma Soludo were among the best he made during his presidency.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo described Soludo as a prudent economist who became the best CBN Governor in Nigeria, adding that the CBN is not a commercial bank but a development bank.
Obasanjo went on to say that while Soludo was not a fan of the World Bank, they managed it together and succeeded.
“After my experience with Soludo, I knew he was meant for more.” He approached me and stated that he wishes to run for Governor of Anambra. I disagreed with him, stating that I see him for something more.
“He didn’t make it on his first try.” I still agreed that he should run for Governor, but I told him that he was destined for a national and international assignment. “From what I’ve seen, you have not let me or the people of Anambra State down,” Obasanjo noted.
Dignitaries in attendance are; Former Governor Cross River State, Donald Duke, Wife of the Governor, Dr. Mrs. Nonye Soludo, Deputy Governor Anambra State, Dr Onyekachukwu Ibezim, Speaker Anambra House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Uchenna Okafor, Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Solo Chukwulobelu, Chief of Staff, Mr. Ernest Ezeajughi, Prince Engr. Arthur Eze (Ozoigbondu), Chief Judge Anambra, Hon. Justice Oniochie Anyachebelu, Mrs Ifeoma Ekwueme, Former Governor Anambra, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Former Female Governor Anambra, Dame Virgy Etiaba, Senator Ken Nnamani, Senator Emmanuel Anosike, Former Ambassador to Spain, Iyom Bianca Ojukwu, Sir. Dr. Emeka Offor, Former Deputy Governor Anambra Chief Emeka Sibeudu, Former Deputy Governor Anambra, Nkem Okeke, APGA Chairman Anambra State, Chief Sir Nobert Obi, PG ASATU, Hon. Titus Akpudo, Arch. Bishop Valerian Okeke, Former Nigerian Minister, Chief Josephine Anenih, Commissioners, Members of Anambra State Executive Council, Members of Anambra House of Assembly, Traditional Rulers amongst others attended the event.