Soludo and the beseeching children
The Bible in Saint Luke’s Gospel Chapter 18 verse 16 says per Jesus Christ thusly: “Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the Kingdom of God.”
For decades now, there has been a yearning in the land, particularly among children or the younger generation generally, for role models and moral exemplars. In Eastern Nigeria especially, many had become fatigued with what used to be the popular idea that money is everything; that money-making is the end-all-and-be-all. Put differently, not a few had become tired of measuring success on the benchmark of material acquisition.
The number of exotic cars, which a person amassed, or the number of the cathedral of houses he owned, had, for many, started paling into inconsequence in their yardstick for measuring success.
Distinctly, the quality of men and women who would fill in for role models to many young people in Eastern Nigeria had begun to change. Instead of empty moneybags, it has over some time now arguably become prescient, forward-thinking men and women, who have distinguished themselves as technocrats and professionals like Prof. Charles Chukwuma Soludo.
A distinguished Igboman, nay onye Anambra, Prof. Soludo, is an eminent academic and a revolutionary former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, and now Anambra State governor-elect following the just concluded governorship race in the state.
It goes without saying that because for a long time Alaigbo was dominated by the mindset that measured success only in terms of primitive accumulation, education seemingly lost its pride of place. It was practically relegated to the background, as the ranks of school drop-outs among the youths swelled due to their inordinate desire to become rich, albeit barely educated. And so the main trading centres in Aba, Onitsha, Ogbete, Idumota, and other places teemed with young Igbo boys and girls who felt it was more noble making money than spending time climbing the educational ladder.
But with the emergence of Soludo – a distinguished scholar and accomplished technocrat – as Anambra State governor-elect, attitudes and values are bound to keep changing in the positive direction. It is safe to say now that there’s light at the end of the tunnel, as our youths will begin to sense that there is great reward, far beyond material wealth, in learning. This would also likely inspire many of them to aspire towards becoming another Soludo. And this is a good thing.
With the state’s slogan being “Light of the nation,” it’s gratifying to note that the electoral outcome that produced Soludo is as resonant as it is consistent with the state’s track record of being the producer of a list of distinguished statesmen who happen to have been at once both distinguished scholars and astute politicians.
This list, which for want of time and space is inexhaustive, includes Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, who blazed the trail with being both a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) holder and an outstanding politician of the colonial and post-colonial era. An orator and celebrated Pan-Africanist, Zik served as the first Premier of the old Eastern Region and independent Nigeria’s first Governor-General and President.
The list also includes Dr. Nwafor Orizu, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, Dr. Chuba Okadigbo, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, and Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, the late Ezeigbo gburugburu and former Military Governor of the old Eastern Region. There were also the likes of Dr. M. I Okpara, and Dr. Akanu Ibiam, among others.
As such, the reported siege on Soludo’s country-home by the sackless children may be read as being not just an overwhelming endorsement of the emerging attitudinal changes; it’s also said to have been an augury of his inevitable victory and ultimate declaration as Anambra State governor-elect after the keenly contested governorship election.
It is also said to be a clear testimony to the fact that the younger generation has unequivocally rejected half-baked politicians who promote money and personal aggrandisement at the expense of values and ideology-driven politics. The children’s visit to Soludo’s country home is also indicative that they are yearning for the return of academic distinctions and attainments as a fact of life in Anambra State – political life inclusive. And that they want to be an integral part of the transition. It is therefore imperative to remind the former CBN governor that the situation of education in Anambra State is screaming for reforms, for a functional overhaul.
Soludo must be reminded that primary schools in the state lack basic teaching equipment and a conducive 21st Century learning environment. The task ahead is indeed enormous and calls in a quick reminder that the children who thronged his country-home are yearning for primary and secondary education that is driven by quality teaching and learning conditions; good environment for sporting activities and Spelling Bee competitions, and others, from which he himself benefitted in his days as a youngster.
Children’s Day, marked annually on May 27, used to be a day that schoolchildren eagerly awaited. Indeed they used to spend that day either being on the event ground or watching from home TV sets their respective school’s representatives marching past the highest public-office holder in their locality. Their school’s contingents on such occasion typically donned well-ironed and sparkling neat school uniforms, worn over brilliant white stockings tucked into their well-polished Cortina school shoes. Those fun days must be brought back to Anambra State.
Not a few stakeholders have also suggested that music as a formal discipline should be introduced in Anambra schools’ curriculum. For music, as they say, is the heartbeat of man’s inner yearning for the highest aesthetics. Therefore, efforts led by a Soludo-led Anambra State Government should be geared in this direction.
Consequently, the incoming Soludo administration must formulate an educational system that leverages the sequence of child growth and development to produce in the average Anambra child human beings suited and ready to be a functional part of the 21st Century. Otherwise, at the end of his tenure as Anambra State Governor, the world will not forgive him if he failed to establish a system of education capable of reproducing people like him, or the likes of Zik of Africa, Okadigbo, Kenneth Dike, Emeagwali, Ben Nwabueze, or even Ojukwu, among others.
Prince Onuakalusi is a Legal Practitioner and President of, Millennium Centre for Training in Leadership.