By Christian ABURIME
Every ideal man has diverse layers of personality. There are the physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual layers. There are the personal, romantic and family layers. And there are the professional, official and public dimensions.
Multi-layered personality is no respecter of persons, as great men who cut a lion-like public image could be a friendly, calm dove in the closet. So, when you thought you knew someone very well, you may not. That’s how up-close and personal encounters with public personalities have left many with pleasant surprises.
Many Nigerians know Prof. Charles Soludo as the current governor of Anambra State. Before now, they knew him as the former audacious CBN governor who changed the game in Nigeria’s banking industry with watershed reforms. They knew him as President Olusegun Obasanjo’s Chief Economic Adviser and also one-time Chief Executive of the National Planning Commission.
Some would know him as a prodigious scholar of the finest breed, who obtained his three degrees and then professorship at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, graduating with a First Class Honours degree in 1984, an MSc Economics in 1987, and a PhD in 1989, winning prizes for the best student at all three levels.
He is also known to many in Nigeria and around the world as a brilliant Economist whose proven expertise in macroeconomics is widely acclaimed. Thus he has worked as a consultant for global institutions such as The World Bank, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and the United Nations Development Programme, while he has also been a visiting scholar at the International Monetary Fund, the University of Cambridge, the Brookings Institution, the University of Warwick, and the University of Oxford as well as a visiting professor at Swarthmore College (USA).
From his foregoing public and professional layers of attainments, no one would be in doubt that Prof. Soludo is a man ahead of his time, and ahead of his peers. His intelligence quotient is self-evidently superlative; he is a profound thinker, perceptive philosopher and public intellectual extraordinaire.
Bringing his intellectual depth to public office leadership sets him apart from your run-of-the-mill politician. He is a visionary in the mould of the world-renowned leaders that we know anywhere, who think of the next generation rather than the next election.
But beyond the extensive public clout that many know of him, the non-professorial Soludo is a disarmingly humane, urbane and gracious man to know. Even in the gilded ebb of time and the grind of activity, one cannot miss the endearing vibes of a quintessential leader and infectious mentor like Soludo.
Few will meet him at close range and not go away better inspired, motivated and happier. As an infinitely selfless and empathetic leader, he does not take decisions without thinking them through and weighing the impact on the most vulnerable in society.
Yes, he is a man whose age in quality of human content, not calendar, transcends the ages. Emitting a symphony of compassion and strength, as the sun illuminates the heavens, so does he radiate a sublime humanity that touches hearts. He is a composite gentleman in every nuance of the word. He carries himself with a grace that lends solace to the burdened, uplifts the lowly, and embraces all with arms wide open.
A mentor to many like me, a pillar of wisdom for the seeker, and a harbinger of hope for the despondent, he possesses that gentle rays of compassion that never stop beaming forth.
In his eyes, one could find sincere empathy, a gentle flicker of understanding that traverses the depths of the human soul. As a shepherd tends to his flock, with a sensitive yet firm touch, so does Soludo nurture and inspire the seeds of greatness in others, believing that every soul possesses the spark to ignite a brighter world.
How more simple, humble and accessible can an intellectual giant and leader be? Simplicity is first nature to him, as can be seen even in his everyday simple native Akwete dress as governor. For it is not the titles he bears or the accolades that adorn his name that define Soludo, but the warmth of his heart, the modesty of his disposition and the kindness of his person that leave lasting impressions.
As a doting family man, the fact that he cherishes children and womenfolk with genuine care is well known to those close to him. Downplaying his hefty clout in intellection, status and attainments, it is humbling that this man can be surprisingly down-to-earth and stop anywhere to embrace children as effortlessly as he can exude compassion for their mothers. There are simply no airs of professorial or gubernatorial hubris around him. It is all a reflection of his genuine humanity, cherishing the strengths and valuing the voices of the voiceless in society. Knowing the essence of a society trusted in his care, he champions their rights, their dreams, and their aspirations.
His empathy flows like a gentle stream, nurturing and nourishing those around him, making them feel seen, heard, and cherished. It is no surprise that his spirituality is also ennobling and all-embracing.
Although a Catholic Christian by faith, Soludo is ecumenical by disposition. He believes in the oneness of the universal Christendom and embraces all denominations without discrimination. And so, as life today beams the spotlight of celebration on this excellent gentleman who happens to be my boss, marking the onset of a fresh cycle of 365 days in his life, he deserves the fondest wishes not only as a maverick leader who is forging a path of progress for Anambra State, but also as a humane person who is touching lives with compassionate care.
Dear Mr Governor, as you remain a beacon of hope and inspiration, may yours be a timeless flame that continues to shine on the path towards a more compassionate and just world. May your days and years be blessed with countless smiles of fulfillment, and may your path be strewn with the blossoms of happiness. May the tapestry of your life be woven with golden threads of love, and may your impact continue to inspire generations of Ndi Anambra now and in the years ahead.
Thank you for the gifts of your humanity and grace. Happy birthday Sir!