Isong, Soludo: life, history reinvented

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On March 17, 2022, the former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria CBN, Professor Charles Soludo will become the second former Governor of the CBN elected as governor of a state after Dr Clement Isong of the Second Republic. Nseobong Okon-Ekong and Emameh Gabriel examine their professional and political trajectories

Former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Professor Chukwuma Soludo was on November 9, 2021 declared the winner of the election of Governor of Anambra State which has just ended on the platform of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)

Soludo’s victory, however, came as a surprise to some, given the circumstances that led to his emergence as the APGA standard bearer and other issues that followed the preparations for the elections that many believed were missed. However, initial projections from several online polls put the former CBN governor ahead of candidates from the state’s two main opposition parties, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressive Congress (APC).

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared Soludo the winner of the election after securing 112,229 votes to defeat his closest rivals, Valentine Ozigbo of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) who won 53,807 votes and Andy Uba of Congress of all progressives (APC). ) who interviewed 43,285, both from the same senatorial axis of the State.

Besides the historic ruling party victory, which once again revalidated the strength of the APGA in the state, history was also made when Soludo became the second former Governor of Apex Bank of Nigeria to be democratically elected governor of a state. This is arguably the most important aspect of his victory.

The formalities for his elevation as an elected state will be completed on March 17 after his inauguration. He shares this rare feat with the late Dr Clement Isong, governor of the Second Republic of the former Cross River State (which includes present-day Akwa Ibom State). Isong, originally from Akwa Ibom, was the second indigenous governor of the CBN, 1967-1975. He was governor of the CBN when General Yakubu Gowon was head of state of Nigeria, a period that included the years of the Nigerian Civil War.

The only difference between the two is age and time, but everything in their lives and backgrounds share a similar trajectory.

While Soludo is expected to assume his duties as fifth governor of Anambra state, Isong was the first democratically elected governor of the former Cross River state, 1979-1983. He reigned for only one term. He was denied the ticket from his party, the Nigerian National Party (NPN) for a second term.

Many have described Soludo as a reinvention of Isong in contemporary Nigerian politics, although the two may not be contemporaries, having years apart in their ages, history has shown they were exposed to similar life trajectories.

Some analysts have described them as “two lives, one of which is a mirror of the other”, as the first became state governor at 59 and the other reached the same size decades later at 61. , after their retirement from the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Isong was born to parents Ibiobio, Nathaniel and Maggie Isong on Tuesday April 20, 1920 in Eket, Akwa Ibom State, while Soludo was born on Thursday July 28, 1960, three months before Nigeria gained independence from Mr. Simeon and Mama Mgbafor in the village of Isuofia. , Aguata Local Government Zone, Anambra State.

Like Isong under the Second Republic, Soludo came prepared for his new mission after leaving good plans at the Central Bank. He presented a transparent manifesto that not only rekindles the hopes of the people, but also clearly represents the cost of his plan and a compelling argument for how he intends to carry out his state management plan.

He came up with an economic plan and had, before his protest plan, estimated that the government’s direct investment was between 200 and 250 billion naira per year. This is well above the estimated 2022 budget proposal of N141.9 billion for Anambra.

This then suggests that the new governor must deploy innovative measures to generate revenue for the state. In addition to making revenue collection more efficient and ICT-driven, Soludo offered other sources of funding for projects through public private partnership (PPP) models and development finance institutions (DFIs).

Noting that today no government in the world can fund infrastructure projects on its own, the governor-elect of Anambra proposed the establishment of the Anambra State Development Fund (ANSDF), a fund of 200 million dollars which should reach 1 billion dollars.

This measure will guarantee and deliver bankable infrastructure projects with high growth potential and economic profitability. The idea is not far removed from what the professor did as the founding president and vision bearer of the Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) when he was governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, between 2013 and 2017, which saw AFC’s annual infrastructure spending across the continent averaged a record high of US $ 77.2 billion, transforming communities and economies.

Some said he was already following Clement Isong’s political leadership both at the central bank and as governor, as his plans for the state would focus on infrastructure, finance and human capital development.

Like Clement Isong, Soludo was nothing more than a poor village boy whom God offered and raised. He was also a wood rower in his childhood.

Aside from the similar fate they suffered during their childhood and later studying abroad as well as obtaining their doctorates as young people in their early thirties and late twenties, they both became the head of the Nigerian bank Apex.

While both introduced sweeping reforms in Nigeria’s banking sector and economy, in Isong’s case, he oversaw the country’s economy during the civil war. He also presided over the change of the Nigerian currency in January 1968 and coordinated the post-war oil boom. During his tenure Nigeria’s debt profile shrank and foreign exchange reserves swelled.

Who would have thought that history was being made when Soludo for its part managed the country’s economy through a prosperous era apart from the fiscal and monetary policies which led to reforms and the stability of the banking sector.

The bank recapitalization and debt cancellation lawsuits were among the policies that put the Soludo era in the limelight. It was during Soludo’s same tenure that Isong’s name was immortalized on the N1,000 banknote, Nigeria’s highest currency.

For their noble contributions to nation building, both men received national honors. Isong was awarded the title of Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic, CFR, while Soludo also received the title of Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (CFR) – Nigeria’s third highest national honor.

The similarities in their life stories are not limited to their public and political careers. On a family level, they also share some things in common that cannot only be seen in their humble surroundings. Isong had six children, same with Soludo who is also lucky to have six children.

Like Isong who was once asked about his unfulfilled dreams and was quoted as saying he didn’t have any but his passion was to always be a responsible man, so is Soludu. Really, Isong was the man in charge when he blossomed into his career. He was a banker in charge of the nation’s money, a teacher in charge of the intellectual growth of the people, and he became a political leader commanding the respect of millions of people.

Today, Soludo completed the last of these terms as governor-elect. As he once said, “I achieved everything I wanted to accomplish in the world in my 30s. I have traveled to 45 countries on six continents as an academic and consultant.
In the years to come, Soludo may decide to defend the values ​​of his people and become a rallying point like Isong who built Ibibio’s most vibrant contemporary socio-cultural group, Akwa Esop Imaisong Ibibio.

QUOTE

For their noble contributions to nation building, both men received national honors. Isong was awarded the title of Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic, CFR, while Soludo also received the title of Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (CFR) – Nigeria’s third highest national honor. The similarities in their life stories are not limited to their public and political careers. On a family level, they also share some things in common that cannot only be seen in their humble surroundings. Isong had six children, same with Soludo who is also lucky to have six children.


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