The ancient Greek philosopher, Plato, believed that statecraft should be entrusted to the best and most enlightened men in society. He called them “philosopher-kings.” To him, it is only leadership by these “extremely erudite, exceptionally intelligent and brilliantly imaginative” that can bring about a better — just, moral, ethical, prosperous and law abiding — society.
The governor-elect in Anambra State, Chukwuma Soludo, is an archetype of Plato’s philosopher-king. From every indication, this “extremely erudite, exceptionally intelligent and brilliantly imaginative” man is poised to transform Anambra State. Even before his inauguration into office, he is striking chords that are inspiring respect, trust and admiration among Nigerians.
To reduce waste in governance, he rejected the fanfare and profligacy that are the hallmarks of swearing-in ceremonies in Nigeria. “There will be no fanfare, no ceremony, no event, no party, nothing”, he said. “Not even 10 kobo will be spent; no kobo would be taken from the Anambra State purse for the ceremony.” This is unparalleled in Nigeria. It is a novelty; it defies all conventions.
Usually, an elaborate swearing-in ceremony provides the incoming governor with a forum to strut to the accolades of praise-singers and variegated sycophants, and cheers and applause of admirers. The elaborately extravagant fanfare is studded with traditional rulers, politicians, political cronies, party goons, etc. and replete with music, drinking, dining, dancing and other forms of merry-making. Sadly, these hedonistic, profligate flourishes do not, in any way, relieve the economic plight of the masses. Actually, the waste and misappropriation of public funds that attend them feed on the economic misery of the people. Many Nigerians are profoundly impressed by Soludo’s rejection of the gratuitous and lavish hoopla that would have attended the gubernatorial swearing-in ceremony in Anambra State.
In another departure from tradition, the governor-elect insists that immediately after his swearing in, he will head to work. He said, “I will show up for work, like every first work day. I am going to work for over eight hours that day. It is going to be work, work, work and that is what we epitomise.” Ordinarily, it is a day for lounging around, ingratiating, bantering, and back-slapping by the political class. Leaving out all this and heading directly to work is a cachet of a nonconformist; and a powerful testament to the governor-elect’s hard-nosed work ethic.
The Igbo are resourceful, hardworking and innovative. Inherent in these cultural skills are our ingenuity and creativity. Not surprisingly, the Igbo are spearheading the Nigerian industrial revolution. Across the Southeast and all over Nigeria, we are at work, manufacturing shoes, fabricating machines, etc. These products are functional, and meet global standards in efficiency and finesse. The hub of these remarkable, gigantic and marvellous endeavours is Nnewi, and its apogee is auto manufacturing. The automobile is one of the most important inventions in human history, and one of the most important concomitants of modern life. The manufacturing, sales and purchase of automobiles are the mainstay of the economies of many industrialised and wealthy countries of the world.
Soludo’s choice of the Nnewi-manufactured Innoson automobiles as his official vehicle conforms to his campaign promise to support Nigerian-made products and the manufacturing sector. As he recently stated, “Igbo land is one and we must protect it. We want to bring back the zeal for patronising our own. The official cars of the governor of Anambra State will be Innoson motors”. This is splendid; it makes enormous economic sense. The hundreds of millions of naira hitherto paid for the purchase of foreign vehicles, for state government officials, will henceforth be paid to our homegrown automobile industry. Its economic significance and its spin-off and spillover effects will be momentous.
In TV footage and pictures, Soludo sports akwete-material outfits. These outfits are not just reflective of his sartorial preference; they are intended to make compelling economic statements. As he pointed out, “My akwete dress is not just a dress, it is a statement. I want to make a statement with it. In the entire South-East this is the only textile that is alive. It is handmade by women of akwaete in Abia State. We must protect the things that are made in our place”.
Evidently, Anambra State, the Light of the Nation, is again blazing the trail. It elected an erudite, accomplished and acclaimed public servant – a philosopher king – as its governor. And true to Plato’s postulate that the best and brightest minds make the best leaders, Soludo is setting the stage to transform Anambra State into a much more livable and prosperous state. This, he has summed up as, “Something is about to happen in Igbo land, and together we will get there.