…Extends hand of fellowship
…I look forward to working with you, Buhari tells Soludo
…Urges support to confront challenges in Anambra, South East
…Obi, Ngige, Ozigbo, Ohanaeze, Gbajabiamila, Olawepo-Hashim salute governor-elect
By Anayo Okoli, Regional Editor, South-East, Clifford Ndujihe, Vincent Ujumadu, Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Levinus Nwabughiogu & Dennis Agbo
Anambra State governor-elect, Professor Chukwuma Soludo, has extended a hand of fellowship to those who contested the election with him, saying they were all winners.
In an interview he granted at his country home in Isuofia, Aguata Local Government Area, after being declared winner of the election, the former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria,CBN, reminded other governorship candidates that there is enough room for all to contribute to the development of the state.
The All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, governor-elect, spoke as torrents of congratulatory messages rained on him on his victory, yesterday, from all quarters.
One of those who greeted Soludo was President Muhammadu Buhari who said he is looking forward to working with the former CBN governor to confront challenges in Anambra and the South-East. Others include immediate former governor of Anambra State and 2019 vice presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Mr. Peter Obi; the PDP Anambra 2021 governorship candidate, Mr. Valentine Ozigbo; Labour and Employment Minister, Dr Chris Ngige; and Ohanaeze Ndigbo, among others.
Ultimate winner is Anambra people – Soludo
Soludo said: “To my fellow candidates in the election, I wish to congratulate you for the gallant contest. Our people have spoken overwhelmingly, and surely that loud voice is the voice of God. “The ultimate winner is Anambra people; we are all winners.
‘’I hereby extend my hand of fellowship to all of you. I need all of you to succeed. Politics aside, we are all brothers. Let’s come together for the ‘Project Anambra.’ There is enough room for everyone to contribute in the service of our homeland.”
He recalled that on February 7, 2010, when he lost the governorship election, he congratulated the winner two hours after the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, declared the winner who, he said, had described the election as a sham and refused to vote in protest.
He added: “I addressed a press conference and congratulated him, and walked away without a legal challenge. I was probably the first candidate of a major political party to do that in Nigeria. In Anambra, we fight hard during elections, but meet the next weekend at traditional weddings and funerals and throw banters and share drinks.
“That’s the Anambra way! Let’s keep the spirit of Anambra alive and strong, and with it, collectively take our homeland to the moon. So far and even before the official declaration, I have received congratulatory messages from thousands of Ndi Anambra and Nigerians from around the world, including some of my fellow candidates. I deeply treasure the massive goodwill.
“To the estimated 17 million Ndi Anambra within and outside our state, this is your moment, seize it! This victory is your victory. My role will be that of your chief servant, and I will work every minute of the day with you to make you profoundly proud.
“I will need the guidance, advice and contribution of everyone to succeed. Our state is one of infinite possibilities and humongous opportunities. Working in collaboration with other states, the federal government, and the international community, we have all it takes to make our state whatever we collectively wish it can be.
“As we transit to a post-oil world and into the 4th industrial revolution, let us work together to build upon the foundations of our founding fathers and predecessors to create that liveable and prosperous homeland that is the industrial, technology and leisure hub of West Africa. This is our manifest destiny, and collectively we shall get there.”
The governor-elect observed that the use of Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, BVAS, represented a massive improvement over the card reader and manual accreditation system in elections, adding that with a continuous refinement of the technology, up-scaling of the skills of its operators, collaboration with telecommunication companies, improvement in logistical deployment and security, and stringent punishment for anyone involved in electoral malpractice, Nigeria will be on course to a robust and exemplary electoral system.
Paying tribute to those who lost their lives in the course of the electioneering process, including the three policemen who were killed by unknown gunmen during a town hall meeting with youths in his ward, Soludo said further: “Aside from the initial glitches in the operations of the BVAS machines in some places, including my polling unit, the election has been adjudged as the most peaceful, free, fair and credible. There is joy in the land. Kudos to INEC!
“The run up to this election and the election itself tested the resilience and integrity of our federal institutions. Many times, there were tensions, especially as one party boasted that it must “take” or “conquer” Anambra by all means.
‘Our institutions proved again and again that this country can achieve eminent greatness when our institutions rise up to the occasion.
“The judiciary, led by the President of the Court of Appeal and the Chief Justice of Nigeria, stood for the integrity of the judiciary. We salute the eminent justices of the Anambra High court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court for standing up for justice. Your names will be written in gold.
“We thank President Buhari, the presidency, and our security agencies for ensuring a level playing field. We must particularly commend the Chairman, Management and staff of INEC for systematically striving to bequeath a legacy of free, fair and transparent electoral system to Nigeria.”
I look forward to working with you, Buhari tells Soludo
Congratulating Soludo, President Buhari in a message issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Chief Femi Adesina, praised security agencies for their determination to ensure the election went on as smoothly as possible, and the INEC for the successful conclusion of the exercise, despite initial challenges.
The President enjoined Soludo, who is a member of the Presidential Economic Advisory Committee, to rally other stakeholders to tackle the enormous challenges confronting the state and the South-East in general.
“The President looks forward to working with the incoming governor for the peace, security and development of not only Anambra State, but the entire country,” the statement said.
Ozigbo congratulates Soludo, laments poor preparation by INEC, security agencies
Soludo’s closest challenger in the election, Mr. Val Ozigbo, of the PDP, congratulated the winner, and hailed all the contestants in the election, saying that by coming out to contest, they had “shown a determination to see that Anambra is better.”
He, however, noted that the election was “fraught with a lot of short-comings on the part of various government institutions” as, according to him, “the security agencies failed to provide a peaceful environment for campaigns to hold (and) on election day, they were absent from many polling centres, leading to elections not holding or held in situations that allowed for chaos and fraud.”
Ozigbo said: “I have just called Professor Chukwuma Soludo and congratulated him on being declared the winner of Anambra State governorship elections, 2021. I wished him well and pray for his success.
“Let me also use this opportunity to congratulate all the men and women who contested our dear state’s governorship this year. You all have shown a determination to see that Anambra is better. It was an honour to run this race with you.
“This election was fraught with a lot of short-comings on the part of various government institutions. The security agencies failed to provide a peaceful environment for campaigns to hold. On election day, they were absent from many polling centres leading to elections not holding or held in situations that allowed for chaos and fraud.
“The national electoral commission presented untrained and poorly trained staff who could not operate the voting machines in many places. They failed woefully in providing logistical support for their staff and so elections started very late in many places and did not hold in many others.
“The use of government funds and resources to corrupt, coerce, and intimidate voters, PDP party agents, and electoral officials was a major factor in determining the outcome of this election.
“All of these led to the disenfranchisement of the greater percentage of voters and staining the course of democracy. I will be dedicating time to champion the positive change we need to ensure that future elections are truly free and fair and that the will of the electorate prevails.”
Be magnanimous in victory, Ohanaeze congratulates Soludo
Apex Igbo Socio-Cultural Organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, while congratulating Soludo, charged him to add extra-ordinary value to the socio-economic fortunes of the state.
National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Alex Ogbonnia in the congratulatory message, said Soludo deserved the victory and commended Governor Willie Obiano and the people of Anambra State for the smooth conduct of the governorship election.
“We are delighted that the people of Anambra State, in spite of the obvious challenges, have demonstrated an exceptional degree of maturity and wisdom in managing the emotions, anxieties, conflicts, trepidations and excitements that go with such a highly celebrated governorship election,” Ohanaeze said.
The group extended gratitude to the Inspector General of Police, the Chief of Army Staff and all the security operatives for the efficient services they rendered for the success of the governorship election. It also gave a special commendation to President Muhammadu and the INEC for transparency, non-interference and upholding the will of the good people of Anambra State.
“It is heart-warming that Soludo has a track record of accomplishments as the former Governor and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN); Member of the British Department for International Development’s International Advisory Group; renowned author, consultant to the World Bank; United Nations Economic Commission for Africa; United Nations Development Programme; Nigerian Economic Advisory Committee; Professor of Economics at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka; Oxford; Cambridge; among others.”
Obi congratulates Soludo
Similarly, Mr. Peter Obi said: “I congratulate Prof. Chukwuma Soludo on winning the gubernatorial election. I thank Anambrarians who braved all odds and came out to perform their civic duties.
‘’I urge them to support the in-coming governor through prayers and other legitimate means to see that Anambra returns to her former glory as the “Light of the Nation.
“Most importantly, I shall continue to commit the state into God’s hands for His will to be done at all times.”
Anambra made excellent choice by voting for you, Ngige tells Soludo
Also, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, in a goodwill message issued by his Media Office, congratulated Soludo, saying it was a victory well deserved.
His words: “Ndi-Anambra have spoken with this resounding victory. Having contested in 2010 with Soludo, who was then the PDP candidate and myself in ACN; an election in which I was ‘awarded’ the second position even though I won outright and Soludo third, I knew that with his tenacity of purpose and drive, he would one day make it to the seat of the Governor of Anambra State.
“It is a case in patience and endurance, an aspiration nurtured to serve the people with all his strength, I seriously believe. Ndi-Anambra I know, will hence, entertain no excuses. Much has been given, hence the expectation is very high. Knowing Soludo as I do, however, I do not doubt that our people have made an excellent choice by voting him.”
Continuing, Ngige appealed to all those who contested the exalted position with Professor Soludo to sheath their swords.
“Only one person would emerge a winner in this contest, more so, when the seat of the Governor of Anambra State can only be occupied by one person at any given time. I, therefore, urge the other candidates to be good losers and join hands with the Governor-elect to give the state the best.
“As an elder statesman in the state, I have no choice than to irrevocably stand with my dear Ndi-Anambra in their desire for unfettered freedom to choose their leaders. It is a legacy we must bequeath to the posterity of our people.
“Similarly, I urge Professor Soludo to be magnanimous in victory. Time is here for him to reach out to everybody, including those who aspired with him in his APGA, as well as others who contested on the platforms of other political parties, notably, the PDP, APC, YPP, and ZLP, to join hands to elevate and restore our state to its enviable position in Igbo land and Nigeria in general.
“There is no doubt that our dear state, visibly veered off the track of progress since the last three years, when the incumbent governor started suffering from a second term gubernatorial fatigue.
“On my part, I’m willing to assist him to consolidate the gains made by the previous governors. I will make available to him, human and material resources, to make another successful governor in our dear State.”
Hit the ground running, Olawepo-Hashim tells Soludo
Former presidential candidate and a chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Mr. Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim has also congratulated Professor Charles Soludo.
Maintaining that the victory also belong to Anambra State and Nigeria, he saluted the “wonderful people of Anambra state who against all odds, filed out peacefully and performed their civic responsibilities. Our dear country Nigeria is the biggest winner. Glory to God as the country has again proved prophets of doom wrong.”
Olawepo-Hashim also said that “a lot of credit must also go to President Buhari, who has created the atmosphere for non-interference in INEC’s conduct of increasingly more transparent elections since his second term mandate.”
He enjoined the former CBN governor, to” as soon as he is sworn in, hit the ground running to deliver on his campaign promises as a mark of gratitude to God for this rare opportunity of service and gratitude to Anambarians who made enormous sacrifices during the election.”
I’m confident you‘ll elevate Anambra, Nigeria, Gbaja tells Soludo
On his part, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, yesterday, expressed optimism in the Governor-Elect of Anambra State, Professor Soludo to thrive in his new role when sworn in just as he said Soludo will glorify God through his service, elevate the people of Anambra State and all of Nigeria.
Gbajabiamila, in a statement, said: “You are taking office at a time of profound challenges and tremendous opportunity in our country. All of us who hold public office have an obligation at this moment in history to take active measures, guided by considerations of the best interests of our people, to overcome these challenges and provide conditions for our citizens to thrive.
“You have in your professional life shown capacity for effectiveness; you have demonstrated personal integrity and have already accomplished much more than most can ever hope for. I am confident that you will thrive in this new role, and your service will glorify God and elevate the people of Anambra State and all of Nigeria.”