Anambra: How We Got Soludo To Run For Gov - Kate Azuike


Mrs. Kate Ifeoma Azuike, a former manager with the Niger Insurance Plc, is the women leader of Ndi-Igbo Amaka, a socio-cultural organisation, President/Founder Ada-Ife, and leader of the women wing of Soludo Support Group, Lagos State chapter. In this interview with VERA WISDOM-BASSEY, she spoke about how she and others convinced Prof. Chukwuma Charles Soludo, former Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria to run for the governorship election and how they mobilised Anambra people to vote for him.

What is Ndi-Igbo Amaka association?

It is the umbrella body that oversees the supervision of all the markets in Lagos. We have about 58 markets; all the heads of markets leaders in Lagos belong to this group. It foresees all issues in the markets in the state. As a result of this, for a long time now, there has not been any closure of markets in the state.

Is the association meant only for the Igbo or is its membership open to everyone?

It includes Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo, as long as you are trading in the markets. Our activities cover you, not that you partake in the meetings. It covers everyone in the markets, and we collaborate with the government in running the affairs of the markets. We also have our executives in the government. They inform us on what the government wants and does not want from our markets. So, we are the forerunners of the government.

What do you hope to see in the 58 markets you made mention of?

You know sometimes, last year, the military men went to Ladipo market and killed one person. But immediately that thing happened, we went there to calm the situation. We discussed and came to a conclusion. Even the army men involved saw what they did as wrong. After the incident, with the way we handled it, such an incident can never happen again. At times, we set out a programme whereby leaders would visit markets to create awareness for the traders on how to live peacefully with others and do their businesses. We teach them how to avoid trouble and keep the law so that nobody will harass them, at any time.

How do you handle disturbance from touts and area boys?

When you visit Trade Fair to purchase goods, nobody will disturb you today because everyone has their boundaries. They have laws guiding them. So, the executives make sure that they obey. But where the association cannot handle them, they turn to us in Ndi-Igbo Amaka Association, which happens to be a bigger umbrella.

I understand that you are also the leader of the women wing of Soludo Support Group?

Yes. It was from being the woman leader of these other associations that I became the women leader for Soludo Support Group (SSG) in Lagos State. We started the group in Lagos before we moved to the East. Those in Anambra followed us and mobilised others during the election. But we in Lagos worked hard to make sure we informed and mobilised people about the governor-elect. We talked to people about the suitability of his candidacy. We said if he becomes the governor things will become better for the state. He will do what he did at the Central Bank by turning the banking system around. We started two years before he declared an interest as a governorship candidate. We as a group went to him and asked him to vie for the governorship election. We told him how his election would affect the state including children unborn because we know what he can do if he eventually wins. We also compelled people to go down to the state and cast their votes, and many of them did.

At what time did you convince him to run?

He said he wanted to think over it when we told him. He had run in 2015 but did not win. But this time around he wanted to take his time and think about it. But later he called us to say that he was ready. He wondered if APGA (All Progressives Grand Alliance) would allow him to run. We visited the APGA chairman and they accepted him to run for the party. We were so happy when APGA declared him their candidate. Then all of us in Lagos went down to the East and started grassroots campaigns, going from village to village.

We noticed that the election in Anambra was generally peaceful. Why was it so?

It shows that Anambrarians love Soludo; it will happen again in the presidential election. If God gives us the right person that the people want, you will see that the election will be very easy.

On March 17, Soludo will be sworn in as Anambra State governor. What is the way forward for him?

As soon as he won the election, he quickly went to work. He inaugurated an 80-man committee and put in place: Call for expansion of interests, the Anambra Talent Data Bank. Soludo wants his administration to be open, and not based on man-know-man. That is if you know what you can do for Anambra State, send it into the box, and tell us what you can voluntarily do for the state. When they go through it, so many people have been filling out the form, and if you can prove what you said you can do, that person will be called. I know that after he leaves office, many people will emulate him on how he developed their state. Things will be done on merit and not man-know-man

What do you see Anambra State becoming under his leadership?

We want the state to become the second Dubai; we want that wherever an Anambrarian is, he will be agitating to go home. What our people built in Lagos and Abuja, we want it replicated in the state. But this time around, things will be well-structured and it will work with plans, not just anyhow. The data box is open to everybody from Anambra, Enugu, Imo, Delta and other states in Nigeria, so that what you learn you carry back to your state. This brings development. And people who see what he has done will say:” ah, I never knew that this thing can be done.”

What’s your advice for women who aspire to be in a leadership position like you are?

First of all, they should know their God, have a cordial relationship at home with their husbands and be open to them, so that they can advise them when they are going wrong. They should believe in themselves, and leave out fear of the unknown and move forward and aim high. And, by God’s grace, they will get to their goals.