Soludo the Wonder Boy

The man Cee Cee Soludo needs no introduction. From relative obscurity he shot into international acclaim as the wonder boy monitor of Nigerian banks. His achievements in the apex bank are known to us and for these achievements we believed Soludo to be impeccable until….


Soludo the Wonder Boy by Gabriel Akpati

The face of the man embossed on the billboard beams with a smile. Usually in corporate ambience and spotting designer suits, the native attire he wore looked foreign on him. The billboard concretizes into a near-proof of the speculations that has made the rounds for some weeks now that the man has a gubernatorial interest. On the bill board are the words: `The Soludo Solution´.

The man Cee Cee Soludo needs no introduction. From relative obscurity he shot into international acclaim as the wonder boy monitor of Nigerian banks. His achievements in the apex bank are known to us and for these achievements we believed Soludo to be impeccable until….

For weeks, our tabloids have been awash with sensational headlines that five (presently eight) of our trusted banks are teetering on the brink of collapse. Some have received with feverishness the news that bank debtors´ lists will be published while the EFCC has seized the indicted bank

We have also heard that billions of naira has been recovered from the debtors and that some of the indicted bank chiefs have either fled the country or collapsed in the dock.

As these things were happening, some people looked beyond them. Their interests were more in deciphering whose script the man in bow tie is acting. As some reasoned, there were northern agenda unleashed to rubbish the clean-cut image of the economics guru; some others were more interested in gauging in what light the unfolding scenario presents Soludo to Yar´Adua.

In the initial weeks of Sanusi´s sanitization, a lot of theories were floated. The most persistent and nagging was the Northern agenda conspiracy. We wondered what credence this line of thought has but
Nigeria being generically polarized along ethnic lines on issues of relevance and
otherwise, those who clung to it held tight.

As Sanusi flew from
London to China sourcing for investors to resurrect the leprous banks, those of us who are no good students of economics (or is it finance?) learnt that we may never understand the details of margin lending, non-performing loans, discount windows and doors. What we understood however was that the five banks, now eight were sick because the managements were involved in sharp practices either with the express approval and connivance or the tacit approval and connivance of Soludo. We also realized
that as the scenario unfolded Soludo was largely absent.
To add fuel to the already explosive situation, an Australian newspaper The Age, came out with another shocker: the allegation that between 2006 and 2008 the sum of N750 million Naira was used to bribe some top Central Bank officials.

The alleged bribery was by Securency, a subsidiary of the Reserve Bank of Australia which bid for the supply of the polymer substrate for the lower naira denominations. Where was Soludo as the frenzy unfolded? He had gone on a three month break after five tortuous years of keeping guard over a fraud-infested

Our Professor was probably enjoying the summer sun of some aribbean beach as market women who sold garri and pensioners who used their gratuities for the banks´ IPOs had nights of sleeplessness. This was most pathetic because just a few months earlier our wonder boy assured us that instead of our banks to cave in, they will cure the economy. 

In August, Soludo came home to a hero´s welcome. In the grand reception organized by his faithfuls in his honour, he was urged to become the Governor of Anambra State in the February 6 elections. Foremost among his supporters is the PDP staunch man Tony Anenih.

This less than interesting character of Nigerian politics was perhaps so inebriated that he declared his
willingness to jettison his
Edo identity to become Anene the Igbo man.
As the drama for Anambra Government House unfolds like a sensational
Hollywood thriller, two things have made Ndi Anambra pale with fear and livid with rage. The first is the mindless resolve of PDP to have their
candidate in that seat come
March 17, 2010. Secondly, besides the present court order barring Soludo from parading himself as the party´s candidate for 2010, is the credibility question arising from his activities in his last official engagement.
There is no doubt that given the present controversies surrounding his candidature, not a few people within and outside his political party thought Soludo a man of ebbing political fortunes.

This thinking is strengthened not so much by Yar´Adua´s non-renewal of his tenure as CBN Governor as by his silence
and obvious approval as Sanusi moved around proving to Nigerians and the international community that Soludo´s headship of our banks was mired in administrative negligence and making them regret the numerous awards and honours they conferred on him.
Despite these shortcomings, Soludo was adopted by the People´s Democratic Party at the instance of Aso Rock. The question on many lips since Soludo´s adoption has been `what lends credence to the ongoing
treatment Sanusi has been administering to the banks which got very sick under Soludo´s watch?´ Opinions may be proffered.
First, Yar´Adua, desperate to prove he can conduct a free and fair election may have decided that the PDP field a candidate that can match the shoes of Gov. Obi who many say has achieved a lot.
Second, the PDP desperate to be in Anambra Govt. House by 2010 decides to leave aside the many sins of Soludo during his headship of our Central Bank and get
Anambra State first.
Third, either Yar´Adua or the PDP or both decide to cut the powers of the Uba group to size by telling them they cannot be laws unto themselves in Anambra section of the PDP.
Fourth, is the possibility that those who Soludo helped as the chairman of the apex bank and others who gained through his failures and inaction as head of that bank afraid that he may land in EFCC net moved fast prevailing on Yar´Adua to anoint him so that the ever elastic executive immunity will provide him the needed sanctuary before Waziri´s net does.
Lastly but not unlikely, did Yar´Adua gain something from Soludo as CBN governor that compels him now to approve his candidature?
We will address the above questions briefly.
If Yar´Adua is sincerely interested in a free and fair election, maybe, Nigerians would have seen something more positive and not the procrastination that dogs the implementation of the recommendations of the Uwais report.
It may not be out of place to argue, judging from the desolation with which PDP foisted itself on Ekiti, that
Anambra State with its surfeit of human capital holds an attraction which the party cannot afford to squander.
It is not impossible that the Abuja PDP tired of the antics of the Uba group has decided to prune them. But this supposition calls into question what the Uba group must have done wrong to require this disciplinary treatment.

However, in the light of this supposition, one should not fail to take into cognizance that the present happening in Anambra PDP may only be a case of the big masquerade in the arena keeping others at bay.

The possibility that those who became Soludo´s friends for certain reasons during his tenure at the CBN may have moved swiftly to immunize him is as cogent as it is likely. Being a pragmatist economist with obvious political interest, is it impossible that Soludo could have asked himself quo vadis from CBN and decided to make friends while in there?
We raised a fifth question on whether Yar´Adua gained anything from Soludo that requires him now to endorse him. Looking solely at what Nigerians have been made to believe is the less than amicable relationship of the duo, this question need not arise.

But Mallam Yar´Adua´s ambivalence consistently stupefies us; after the near death of Soludo, why is he suddenly all action about resurrecting him? However, the brusqueness of this line of thought is attenuated by a lot of factors that point to the contrary.

As Soludo battles to have the present ban on him lifted by the courts, a lot of questions still plague his candidature. Ndi Anambra are tired of PDP. Our people are not ready for the pillage that memories of the
party evoke. Also, the new found romance of Soludo with some political fixers enviably placed in the party hierarchy is another reason Ndi Anambra are worried we will be retrenched to the days of political godfatherism.

Gabriel Akpati