You have heard what I have heard so you can judge for yourself but I have a few things to say. First, the chairman asked us for permission to sit down. Chairman, we happily granted you permission but it reminds me of Late Chief Everly Williams.
He was making a case for weight of evidence because he wanted to rarely make his case for 30 on that occasion on the weight of evidence. After he has laboriously made his case, he sat down and the chair collapsed. He said that is the evidence of weight. So your request was granted on the basis of evidence of weight.
But Chief Iwuanyanwu, you talked about when we first met immediately after the war but, you didn’t remember that one of those who helped me in forming my first cabinet was yourself and I thank you that you remembered how it happened.
Let me come to Chukwuma Soludo. When I had Chukwuma working with me as my economic adviser, we worked very closely together. And he never one day misadvised me; not one day.
And I was so happy with him that I decided to send him to the Central Bank.
He was the second Nigerian who was not a commercial banker of some sort sent to the Central Bank and he performed so wonderfully well.
But on one occasion, soon after I had appointed him, somebody came to me and said ‘wow, you have ruined the economy of Nigeria.’
I said ‘how’. He said ‘an Igbo woman (Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala) Minister of Finance; an Igbo man Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. Then, you have really completed the task of ruining the economy of Nigeria.
I don’t know why he said that except for what I can call Igbophobia. And I don’t take that lightly.
But when you have this type of thing that was said to me and this type of thing that is going on, what I call Igbo phobia, what do we do with it?
“I believe we have to go back to the scripture, which says we must conquer evil with good. And whoever you are, wherever people are afraid of you, you must make yourself friendly to those who are afraid of you and earn their friendship by being good to them, and that is what we have to do.
“I have personally experienced that and nothing wins friendship like you being friendly.
But then, for me, the appointment of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the appointment of Chukwuma Soludo were probably the best of the appointments that I made when I was president.
Chukwuma was not really a fan of the world bank and Ngozi came from the World Bank and we had a woman who was on desk in Africa at the World bank called Krueger and anytime she was coming to Nigeria, we had to prepare as if a president of another nation is visiting us.
And Krueger will come, give us what it seems we are not doing right and then write a letter to us which i have to reply.
I will give a copy of that letter to Chukwuma to give me a draft, a copy to Ngozi to give me a draft. Chukwuma’s draft will be so strong and almost saying No to everything.
Then one day I called him because I will take the two drafts and spend a night to write the letter that will go to Krueger.
One day, I called Chukwuma and said look, never you say No to World bank otherwise, they would rub your face on the ground.
But never you do their bidding and that was the way we handled the World bank together and we succeeded.
Chukwuma was a good Economist and he turned out to be a good Central Bank Governor because Central Bank is not like a commercial bank.
Central Bank is for development and part of the problem we have suffered in the past and we are suffering today is that Central Bank has not performed it’s job as a development bank as it should be.
Well, I left Chukwuma in the central bank and as he himself has pointed out, I went back home and I like what you have said about home and will come back to some of the things you have said before I conclude.
But because of my experience with Chukwuma, I earmarked him for something greater in my mind until one day he came to me and said he was going to contest election as Governor of Anambra. I did not disguise my anger against him.
And I said, Chukwuma, Governor of Anambra? No! I see you for something national or international. What is this Governor of Anambra?
Of course he said to me, you started this. You remember one morning when we were together and I came for morning devotion and he said let us pray for the new Governor of Anambra and I snapped and said, what prayer are you making?
Of course, my experience of Anambra then was Dr. Ngige and Chris Uba.
And then, you will not blame me for my reaction. So i then said to Chukwuma, when people like you are running away, he reminded me what I said on that occasion and asked what do I expect? Hooligans will take over and then, people like him should not complain?
He reminded me of that and I said oh, I remember I said that. Well, he went, he didn’t make it on that first occasion if I could remember as Governor. Then the next one he came and when he came, of course I remembered what I said before. So I just said, Chukwuma you can go but still don’t forget, I reserve you for national and international assignment but go for this governorship as an appetizer and then, the main menu will come later. So you are on your appetizer stage.
And the performance as we have seen today and as you have told us confirms what I said to you on that occasion. From what I have heard and what I have seen, you have not disappointed me and I believe you have not disappointed the people of Anambra State.
I like the five items and you know me, I believe any item you want to deal with, that are more than your ten fingers, they are too many. It should not be more than ten fingers and you have made yours even five fingers, good. And you can easily follow and identify what progress you are making, I commend you for that.
But let me on that talk about your first item, infrastructure and economic transformation.
From what you have said to us and what we saw particularly on road infrastructure, you are making progress if in one year, 365 Days, 52 weeks, 12 months, you can do as much as you have done with lean resources that you have, 261 km of road, then you will do a lot more in the next 3 years.
But I like the point you make about agriculture. I don’t talk about agriculture now, I talk about agric business because it is all the way from equipment, land preparation to food on the table.
But let me advise, please on agriculture, let us not take more than three or four items. You seem to want to go for palm, do it and let Anambra become the leading oil palm producers in Nigeria.
You can do it and I know you can do it. I will give you an example of Vietnam, a place I visited four times in the past 2 years.
Vietnam was not a country producing coffee, they decided to go into coffee production and within a space of six years, Vietnam became the second largest producers of coffee in the world only second to Brazil.
You have experience, you have what it takes. Let Anambra become the leading oil producer in the country.
You must of course take one food crop and I will suggest that you take cassava, which is both food and industrial. Then of course, you have to take one livestock, at least poultry and aquaculture because you have water.
On human capital development, you put it in your statement that you want to develop for home and export. And everything you have said about that, I very much commend your effort but when we develop our human capacity for export, it is not a waste.
In fact, the experience they bring back, the outreach they get, the intellectual property they bring home and of course the money they send back home is very important and like you have said, East or West home is the best.