Soludo And New Anambra (5): Champion of Infrastructure, Tech And Human Development

Soludo And New Anambra (5): Champion of Infrastructure, Tech And Human Development

By Law Mefor

It was barely weeks ago when Professor Chukwuma Soludo’s term as Anambra State’s governor turned two. The government listed 100 noteworthy accomplishments that cut across all areas of growth, sound governance, and the provision of democratic dividends when it was celebrated on March 17 in Awka. No aspect of the new Anambra State’s reengineering has been left untouched.

However, the opposition, which is plotting to take over the state by all means, would never perceive anything positive about the Soludo administration despite its giant strides that have been acknowledged nationally and internationally.

 The opposition dubbed Soludo’s giant strides a self-appraisal of superlative performance. The opposition in Anambra even acts out ludicrous sequences of events that never happened and attributes them to Soludo’s government. Thus, the opposition has elevated propaganda to the height of bestiality. The Anambra state government has accomplished amazing feats in record time and without borrowing a kobo.

Despite harsh criticisms, Soludo continues to be unflappable, deliberate, and systematic as he discreetly advances his strategic master plan for the realisation of the new Anambra, unsettling the directionless opposition.

For this reason, the evaluations conducted independently by unbiased, expert organisations like the Champions Newspaper and the National Council on Communication, Innovation, and Digital Economy are extremely important. It would assist in disproving the opposition’s baseless assertions that the newly emerging city-state of Anambra under Soludo is a ruse.

Since taking office, the governor of Anambra has won numerous awards, most of which highlight and objectify the direction and significant accomplishments of the Soludo government. One is the digital innovation award that Soludo was given in Kano in January 2024. Notably, Anambra’s stellar performance at the yearly gathering of the federal and state governments highlights its strategic focus on innovation, technology, and human capital development.

“Everything technology, and technology everywhere” is Soludo’s slogan. Through the Solution Innovation District and the Anambra State ICT Agency, the governor is turning the state into the creative and digital hub of Nigeria, and the fruits of these efforts are copious and have resonated in both national and international arenas.

With the theme “Leveraging Digital Technology and Innovation to Drive Nigeria’s Economic Growth and Development,” Anambra State stole the show during the peer review meeting of the 11th National Council on Communication, Innovation, and Digital Economy (NCCIDE), which was held in Kano, by winning four important awards.

The NCCIDE, the highest advisory body to the federal government, gave Soludo the awards for his outstanding achievements in advancements in technology, innovation, and the digital economy.

This was evident in the significant digital accomplishments of the state, particularly through the Solution Innovation District and the Anambra State ICT Agency. Anambra State was honoured as “The Overall Winner, Best State in Digital Technology Development” during that Kano peer review chaired by the Honourable Minister of Communications, Innovation, and Digital Economy, Dr. Bosun Tijani, and hosted by the Kano State Governor, Engr. Abba Kabir Yusuf.

This proves the governor’s strong commitment to integrating technology into the government and the broader Anambra community. The governor established and furnished a hub called the Solution Innovation District, serving as a gathering place for Ndi Anambra to acquire digital skills, establish startups, and pursue digital opportunities. Additionally, the governor provided computers to the state civil service, promoting the adoption of technology within the government.

As the hallmark of democracy, Soludo has scored high in human development by enlarging the Anambra people’s freedoms and opportunities and improving their well-being. Human development is about the real freedom ordinary people have to decide who to be, what to do, and how to live.

Soludo was also honoured for his efforts in advancing democracy in Nigeria, receiving an award from Leadership Scorecard Magazine. This recognition was given at an event commemorating former head of state General Abdulsalami Abubakar’s contributions to the establishment of Nigeria’s current longest-lasting democratic dispensation. Abdulsalami’s brief 11-month transition, during which he resisted pressure to remain in office, set a historic precedent in Nigerian history.

Soludo’s administration was recognised as the champion of democracy and democracy dividends due to several accomplishments, including the implementation of free education in all basic public schools, providing free delivery services for women, the revitalization of urban slums, like Okpoko, the most populous urban slum in the South East, and the construction of over 500 kilometers of roads to improve access to rural and marginalised communities. Additionally, his reforms laid the groundwork for a new Anambra based on robust institutions, which emphasise efficient dispensation of justice, prioritising the welfare of the underprivileged, and promoting social equality and equity.

The justice system has also seen reforms, including the recent approval of the Anambra Electoral Bill 2024, an executive bill aimed at enhancing the local government system and bringing governance closer to the people. Through these actions, his administration exemplifies the essence of democracy by prioritising the needs of the majority but not disregarding the concerns of the minority.

The other recipients of awards during the event included Governors Hyacinth Alia of Benue State, Caleb Muftwang of Plateau State, Dikko Umaru Radda of Katsina State, Babagana Zulum of Borno State, and Seyi Makinde of Oyo State.

Governor Chukwuma Soludo was again honoured with the Champion Group of Newspapers Man of the Year award for infrastructure and rural development on May 25, 2024, in Lagos. Donald Duke, the former governor of Cross River, declared emphatically that “the history of our country, Nigeria, in modern times, cannot be complete without the sufficient mention of Prof. Soludo” while presenting the award.

The Duke expressed his gratitude for Governor Soludo’s outstanding work in the fields of rural and infrastructure development, pointing out that the state of Anambra has become one “big construction site,” with new projects for infrastructure popping up everywhere.

In addition, he commended Soludo for his leadership style, prudent resource management, and responsive governance, all of which have led to this esteemed award and recognition from the Champion Group of Newspapers.

Over the past two years, the Soludo administration has awarded contracts for the construction of more than 500 km of new roads, and during the dry season, it has consistently maintained a pace of finishing an average of 28 km of these awarded roads each month. The governor’s routine road maintenance, erosion control, and flyover projects in Ekwulobia, one of the state’s major cities, have made 392 km of roadways motorable and accessible. These are in addition to the 500 km of high-quality roads being built with stone base and cement stabilisation—a technology that is uncommon in the history of road construction in Anambra due to its financial implications.

Both new and old roads are being constructed and maintained by Soludo. The other focus is on the state’s extensive urban renewal initiatives. The major cities of Anambra, like many other cities in Nigeria, have not adhered to a carefully considered and designed master plan to permit planned and staged development and modernity. The Anambra Intercity Railway Network master plan as well as the designs for the three brand-new cities of Awka 2.0, Onitsha 2.0, and Anambra Mixed-Use Industrial City are set for implementation. Anambra would be a preferred location for businesses with these planned brand-new cities, the state’s current city renovations, the planned 4-star hotel in Awka, and the Awka Fun City, all of which are changing the face of Anambra permanently.

Following their training in the state’s One-Youth-2-Skills Programme (a model the FG has borrowed), 5,000 young people were given grants totaling 2 billion naira last year. Another 10,000 young people will receive grants this year to launch their businesses. In addition, the state is currently engaged in an agricultural revolution centered on the palm kernel and coconut industries to lift millions out of poverty.

Let it be reiterated that the Soludo administration achieved these successes not by borrowing money but rather by careful management and the efficient use of limited resources. Governor Soludo has shown incredible prudence. If the state is going to borrow money, the governor feels that it should do so for projects that have the potential to repay the debts at the best interest rates on the market.

Governor Soludo’s two years in office have indeed laid the groundwork for Anambra’s future, and he is massively building upon it. Even the blind will be able to see the emerging great vision of a completely new Anambra.

·      Dr. Law Mefor, an Abuja-based forensic and social psychologist, is a fellow of The Abuja School of Social and Political Thought; drlawmefor@gmail.com; Twitter: @Drlawsonmefor.

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