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Friday, April 19, 2024

Opinion: Soludo – A Square Peg In A Round Hole

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by Philip Agbese

It is the season of recycling. The twilight of next month’s general elections – including the presidential election is flushing out failed politicians from their hideout to make a last ditched effort at positioning for plum offices that could be their ticket to rehabilitation from obscurity. The latest to make the list is former apex banker, Professor Chukwuma Soludo, who finally found the avenue to vent the venom that has built up in him since his unceremonious exit from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the humiliation of a lacklustre performance when he was misguided into taking a shot at the Anambra state governorship seat.

Charles Soludo- Former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria
Charles Soludo- Former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria

Those being flushed out of premature retirement come in different flavours: some are rightly outrage by the attempt to manipulate history and are coming out to stand by President Goodluck Jonathan; others are desperate to see what meal ticket and crumbs could fall off the opposition’s table with the slush money being made available by the league of the desperate; yet a third group is made up of those tossing leaves into the air to see what direction the wind blows in terms of making a show of being critical of the ruling and opposition parties and see who pays up first.

It is to this third group that one must logically confine Soludo, who gave the impression of impartiality when he was actually trying to up the stake and see who the highest bidder would be. His thesis, Buhari vs Jonathan: Beyond the Election, is self serving to the extent that his selfish intentions stand out like a sore thumb. The only good thing going for that write up was the opening caveat that suggested that the author has kept some distance away from government and governance so one can easily appreciate that he has lost touch with the reality of running an economy the size of Nigeria. If Soludo were such a whiz kid fiscal manager like he made out then the administration he served would have been able to build an El Dorado upon which subsequent administration would have built a heaven on earth.

But nay, Soludo and the administration he served did no such thing. His stay as the helmsman at the apex bank was a period of habitually papering over the reality of not just the banking sector but also a period of actively and officially promoting brigandage that threatened to sink the country. Does Soludo think Nigerians have so easily forgotten about the toxic loans that his predecessor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi (now the Emir of Kano) had to deal with upon the end of that shady era?

One must also ask: where were all these brilliant ideas when the former CBN governor was in office? How come the fantastic economic team he worked with did not adopt such measures wholesale? Why are the ideas just been muted with vehemence now? There are many questions because when he had the benefit of office one his best ideas was to re-denominate the naira? For those who might have forgotten, Soludo’s concept of helping the Nigerian economy was to knock off a couple zeroes off the naira and print new notes. Of course, like the lazy student who spy on his colleagues’ class work, the idea was not original to Soludo at that time as it emerged he wanted to copy a decision already take by Ghana and a couple other countries.

Fortunately for Nigeria, that misadventure was not allowed to happen and economic watchers can tell anyone who cares to listen that whatever gains Ghana got from re-denominating are fast fading away and our country could have fared worse.

Of course we already lost a lot to such college assignment kind of policies because revelations around the polymer notes introduced under Soludo showed that the only person who would have benefitted from the ruse was himself alone a la the bribery scandal around the printing of the lower denomination polymer notes. If Soludo seeks to distance himself from this and blame the folks at the Nigeria Security Printing and Minting Company, a subsidiary of the CBN, then he is himself guilty of what he accused President Jonathan of when he said the presidency has been outsourced.

A similar trend is in place in terms of wastage of resources because today, it has been discovered that Nigeria has to discard the polymer notes that Soludo touted as magic. The notes are simply not suitable for the weather in Nigeria as they degrade too quickly and do not in any way offer the advantages that were sold to Nigerians. What other poor quality advice has this man unleashed on Nigerians when he held sway? But this should be a topic for another day as the failed governorship candidate himself would say.

For those in doubt as to Soludo’s true intentions, they only need recall that his pettiness showed through as he could not resist that urge to massage his own ego, scratching the itch he still feels from losing to a popular candidate who confirmed his loss of touch with the reality that citizens live through. He had to find space in his epistle to insult former governor of Anambra state, Peter Obi. This act has multiple facets: it depicts a Soludo who will indiscriminately attack anyone he perceived to have cost him a meal ticket to cosy living and also reveals a man who will stop at nothing to attack anyone he knows to be related to President Goodluck Jonathan. Yet, this is a man to who Soludo should be eternally grateful for not clamping him into jail for the fraudulent transactions at the CBN.

Instead, he further reduced himself into an errand boy for a band of desperate men, who finding now way of challenging President Jonathan’s performance with his transformation agenda, have to recruit Soludo to try and belittle what all Nigerians know to be true. President Jonathan’s Transformation Agenda is working and he has achievements to show for it.

Even in this, like his job at the CBN, Soludo failed because his writing did not try hard enough to disguise the lines of his ventriloquist and puppet masters. Since, the one time CBN chief has shown an unrivalled capacity for being undiscerning so one’s message should be directed at the people who put him up to his latest verbiage. The message is simple; Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo is not the best operative to do serious pre election collateral damage. He is simply a square peg in a round hole and it is not as if there are other people who can disprove that the Transformation Agenda is working for Nigerians.

Philip Agbese Jnr. is a Benue born professional photographer with a degree in Business Management from the University of Jos

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.

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