By ik nwandu jnr
As the Anambra State governorship election draws near,a crucial question for the masses charged with selecting the next governor of the state is;does Anambra need someone whose main contribution is restricted to basic managerial skills? With the turn the world has taken in recent years, I believe we should prioritise selecting a governor with a history of intellectual leadership and an understanding of economic policy-making as it pertains to monetary policies and macro-economic analysis. I conductedpreliminary background research on candidates in the forthcoming election and truth be told, a substantial number of them have successfully carved a niche in theirvarious careerpaths, alongsidecreating employment.But amongst all these candidates, onlySoludoappears to have all the necessary visionaryqualities that the South-East business hub (Anambra)needs to achieve its full potential.
Using his tenure as the governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), between 2004 and 2009 as a benchmark for judgement, I believe Soludo is an impeccable choice. Buttressing my conviction ishis wealth of experience in economic policy making, his pragmatic and progressive worldview, and his calm consensus seeking temperament.
As the CBN governor, he successfully recognised the limits to what monetary policiescould achieve. As an economist, he is universally respected for his successful revolution of the Nigerian banking sector, amongst other reasons. This network would allow him play a leading part in the continuous building of the economic policy alliances and system of cooperation’s that the current governor,Willie Obiano, arenowned banker, has built.Soludo’s qualification as a fiscal policy maker is unsurpassed. It is plausible to hope that Soludo would design a tax reform strategy aimed at restoring economic stability and restructuring tax systems to ensure that taxes are more efficient, less distortionary of market forces and easier to administer. This would support the demands of a growing economy and the resulting increase in the number of taxpayers.
I remember when I first read about Soludo’s CBN reform agenda that raised the minimum capital of banks from 2 billion to 25 billion naira. Initially it seemed like a bitter pill to swallow. Nevertheless, this bitter pill was in the interest of the economy and necessary for securing deposits of bank customers. The end result was compressing the number of banks from 89 (most of which were distressed) to 25 mega banks. This consolidation program therefore provided the much-needed stability and lifted public confidence in the Nigerian banking sector significantly.
It is interesting to note that the percentage of non-performing loans dropped to a significant low. Rapidly growing deposits, alongside the massive build up of equity resources spurred an astronomical growth in credit to the West African sub-region private sector. When asked to comment on the consolidation process, this is what he had to say. “Most people would agree that without the successful banking consolidation and effective management of our foreign reserves, the current global crisis would have shaken the financial system and our national economy totheir foundations with calamitous consequences.” Consequently, Nigeria’s banking sectorhas become the fastest growing in Africa and one of the fastest growing in the worldwith the largest retail network extension, marked proliferation in the size of balance sheets,and adominant presence of same in the offshore markets. All of this happened within the five years of Soludo’s leadership of the CBN.
If the young CBN governor could muster the courage to fight the financial mafia that politicizedthe financial sector of Nigeria, which significantly neglected the financial needs of the average citizen and his access to basic financial incentives, then this speaks volume about his character as an unapologetic moral idealist. At the moment , the average Nigerian continues to enjoy the economic growth , As smallholder farmers, small and medium enterprises and manufacturers are being encouraged to raise capital privately to fund their ventures, they are being wooed by commercial banks, who are now better equipped to provide for their needs.
As CBN governor, he projected the image ofanurbane, charming, well groomed and disarmingly courteous leader. Soludo’s cosmology is indeed universal, and humanity is his true constituency. On numerous occasions, those who have encountered the professor holding court amongst his kinsmen in his beloved Aguatavillage have testified to the fact that his focus is farther: he would readily subsume his personal interest for the larger nationart
Electing soludo would translate to the end of godfatherism and stomach infrastructure policies where selected few are in charge of the states resources while majority of the residents wallow in poverty. Soludo as a financial consultant would do a good job of prudently managing anambras finances. He has stated that gone are the days of illegal sharing of anambras wealth . Soludo is aware of our problems and his experience has given him a deep understanding of what to do to live up to our expectations.
Nwandu writes from Lagos