Special to USAfrica magazine (Houston) and USAfricaonline.com, first Africa-owned, US-based newspaper published on the Internet.
Peter Onyeri, Project Specialist, is a public affairs Analyst for USAfricaonline.com and USAfrica multimedia networks, Houston, Texas.
The south eastern state of Anambra in Nigeria has, through its November 2021 governorship elections, reaffirmed its mantra of the “Light of the Nation.” Created by a combination of latent enabling factors, light as a metaphor or reality helps to unleash a domino impact toward unknown possibilities. Anambra communities seem to have the courage, inclination and audacity to achievement!
In the years before Nigeria’s independence in 1960 into the challenging quest for true nationhood, a stupendously rich man from Nnewi (in present day Anambra State), indeed reputed as the richest Nigerian of his time, Sir Louis Odumegwu Ojukwu decided to buy himself a Rolls Royce, as part of the burgeoning fight for the emancipation of his people in colonial Nigeria. A Rolls Royce was an intimidating symbol of power and dominance which even the white colonial officers did not own, in these parts. His action was an audacious demystification of the white colonialists. The south eastern Igbo person, at the time, might have had some satisfaction when his car had to be borrowed to chauffeur around, the colonialists’ almighty “goddess”, the Queen of England, during her famed visit to Nigeria — from 28th January 1956 to 16th February 1956.
Much earlier, in 1925, Nnamdi Azikiwe arrived in the United States of America. He was on a mission to get more education and understand how the powerful country worked. The man later to be known as the “Father of Nigerian Nationalism” earned a Master’s degree, with which he came back in 1934 to embolden people in the emancipation of Nigeria from colonialism. That again was courage and audacity.
In 1954, a young Emmanuel Arinze Ifeajuna went to the British Empire Commonwealth Games in Vancouver in Canada and scaled through the crossbar for a high jump record. He became the first Black African to win a gold medal at such a high-level international meet.
Such audacity, to bring light to a people and motivate them forward is typical of Anambra people. That is why self-help community development is a common way of life in the place. The Anambra man dreads being caught up in a situation where he has to beg for his sustenance. They have a high capacity for risk-taking and enterprise, to make a point of the limitless capability of any man to achieve anything and acquire anything he desires. It is a culture-driven growth mindset that affirms the philosophy of a possibility in perceived impossibilities.
As with the men, so it is with their women. The late Dorothy Akunyili, Obiageli Ezekwesili and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie typify the progressive spirit of audacity in the Anambra woman. They are no gender apologists and have little respect for any form of timidity, least of all, a gender-imposed one. The recent exchange between the highly revered Angela Merkel of Germany and Ngozi Adichie, in Dusseldorf”s Schauspielhaus that forced the respected outgoing Chancellor to apologize for a hitherto not too obvious dereliction during her highly applauded tenure in office, is indicative. So also, is the group resistance against vote buying mounted by the rural women of Ebenebe in the just concluded elections in the state. The resilience demonstrated by rallying to stand up for integrity and progressivism is classic Anambra woman.
A famous son of Anambra State, the late Chinua Achebe, alluded to the concept of earned, instead of inherited leadership regarding a metaphorical Anambra community. Leadership is for those who had done great things by holding up the light for others to blossom. This tradition is a major factor in the calculations of a typical Anambra person. The strong growth mindset that anybody can be anything, irrespective of the circumstances of birth, drives a high level of competition in the people. Trying to hinder that aspiration is like holding down a highly volatile liquid in a cocked bottle.
It was therefore a surprise only to those who do not understand Anambra and the Anambra mentality to think it was irrational for over ten multi-millionaire businessmen and professionals to step out for the race to the government house in the state. While many were wondering what a personality like the accomplished economist, Professor Chukwuma Soludo, was doing in a gubernatorial race, they were confused and shocked to see a United States based, multi-doctoral Pain Surgeon and billionaire also in the race. Dr. Godwin Maduka, who like Soludo, came from a very humble background, electrified the race with his recall of those days of relative poverty to a world class professional of means. It underscores the boundless elasticity of achievement. It was indeed confounding to observe the array of top professionals, industrialists and businessmen, with interests spread around the globe, jostling to grab the Anambra ticket of light. Such is the glut of superstars in various fields around the world that is available to the state.
Anambra people, very gifted in matters of trade and commerce for business, understand the dynamic interplay of education, business and power. The state, with one of the highest literacy rates in Nigeria, is home to the highest concentration of millionaires in Nigeria, many of them very well educated and exposed, with strategic business interests that extend into all corners of Nigeria, Africa and the globe. Anambra professionals and businessmen are all over the world directing intricate network of operations, very much akin to the Chinese, the Lebanese and Indians. Foreign Direct Cash Inflow into the state is humongous, to sustain a very high level of per capita income in the population. Their youths are top performers in academics, with a consistent posting of excellence that consolidate a great future. It is home to many innovative industries and large commercial markets with global connections. Its top city of Onitsha has the highest number of high-rise buildings per square kilometer in Nigeria, to signpost its prosperity and economic power.
Very shrewd ubiquitous change agents and adapters, the State in the reality of a new world order, moved on to commence a rapid transformation to emerging trends. Strategic attention shifted into such areas as natural gas, green technology, ICT, small-scale business start-ups, innovative manufacturing, high-tech innovative agriculture, and now, aviation.
According to Charles Soludo, a smart city infrastructure philosophy will drive the vision for an emergent Anambra State. There is now a new world class aerodrome, aiming to evolve into an aerotropolis of urbanized airport city, built in record time through an innovative funds syndication model that is a benchmark in financial engineering. The recent publication by the highly respected BudgIT Nigeria that placed Anambra State at third position in the 2021 Fiscal Performance Ranking of the 36 states of Nigeria can only be a surprise to the uninformed. Momentum is clearly on the side of the State, heading to the top, for light.
There is a high belief in the hope that is driving enlightened critical interest in developments coming out of Anambra state. Critical observers of the Nigerian economic and political landscape are excited about the potentials in a Charles Soludo governorship of Anambra State, given its enormous capacity and capability. The quintessential transformer ex-governor of the nation’s Central Bank and Economic Adviser to the United Nations, the EU, the AU, World Bank, IMF, ADB, Federal and State governments in Nigeria is very conscious of the high expectations. As the top Chartered Accountant and banker, outgoing Governor of the State, Willie Obiano, repeatedly told the highly expectant people of the state that massively supported Soludo with their votes, “Soludo will do better than me.”
This is a humble and sincere testimony by a man who should know. Also, the chairman of the Anambra State Traditional Rulers Council, a Columbia university trained technocrat, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe, and virtually all those who contested the election with him have expressed the best wishes for success!
Beyond Anambra State, the world is also watching when, not if, a glass ceiling will be broken for a new light to be held up for Nigeria and the rest of Africa.. It will be a collective disappointment of monumental consequences, if these lofty expectations are not met or fulfilled!