Born on July 28, 1960, in Isuofia, Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State, Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo, CFR, served as the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria from May 2004 to May 2009 and was the Chief Economic Adviser to former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
On March 17, 2022, Prof. Soludo assumed the role of Anambra State Governor under the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). As of December 2023, marking one year, nine months, and two weeks in office, his governance faced scrutiny due to perceived political challenges leading up to the 2023 presidential election.
Despite initial expectations, concerns arose regarding the impact of Soludo’s political decisions on his performance as governor. However, this report, conducted by Ikengaonline in collaboration with Dataphyte and with the support of Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism, WSCIJ, strictly evaluates Soludo’s nearly two-year administration based on measurable governance indices in key sectors.
In this special report carried out by Ikengaonline (a non-profit media organisation dedicated to public accountability and good governance) in collaboration with Dataphyte (a data analytics company), with the support of Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism, WSCIJ, the nearly two-year administration of Gov. Chukwuma Soludo was brought under scrutiny. Specific measurable variables were considered, with a focus on key sectors of governance to determine the impact of the administration on the people he was elected to govern.
Mode of Data Collection
Data for the investigation were harvested using various processes and methods including but not limited to site visits, inspection of documents, review of government records under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, interviews, and testimonials. Where necessary, experts were engaged to help analyse the subject.
The pool of data collected in the course of this investigation were further subjected to thorough analysis by relevant experts and stakeholders comprising a team of policy experts, seasoned journalists, and representatives of Civil Society Organisations, as well as other relevant bodies. A three-tier scoring system was adopted to rate Soludo’s overall performance in each of the nine key sectors under review. Consistent with investigative journalism best practices, the goal is to present the facts objectively and dispassionately, without compromising sources and methods.
Summary of Performance
Governor Soludo’s performance was evaluated across nine critical sectors, which collectively represent the entire scope of the research (100%). Interestingly, unlike the immediate-past Governors of Abia and Enugu States – Okezie Ikpeazu and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi – who failed woefully in all the metrics; and ex-Gov. David Umahi that scored a pass in three of the nine categories (33%); Soludo got pass in four of the nine sectors representing 45%. He failed in two (22%), while in three sector (33%), the result was inconclusive and could not be definitively classified as a pass or a fail (Indeterminate).
SECTORAL ASSESSMENT AND PERFORMANCE
Anambra State, like other states in the South-East, has witnessed significant attacks and killings due to escalating insecurity in recent years. The surge in criminal activities began during the previous administration of Gov. Willie Obiano, marked by the presence of cultists, robbers, enforced Mondays sit-at-home, and the notorious ‘unknown gunmen’ posing as freedom fighters.
Upon assuming office on March 17, 2022, Governor Soludo inherited a deteriorating security situation. The state was plagued by hoodlums, known as ‘Unknown Gunmen,’ who terrorized residents, attacked security bases, and set government facilities ablaze. Soludo himself narrowly escaped an assassination attempt in April 2021 during a town-hall meeting, where three policemen providing security lost their lives.
Cult-related killings transformed Anambra into a battleground, especially in the capital city, Awka. The state, once considered one of the safest in Nigeria, became increasingly insecure, particularly towards the end of Governor Willie Obiano’s tenure. Between January and May 2021 alone, over 20 deaths occurred in confrontations between rival cult groups in various locations.
The cult-related violence extended into 2022, with nine deaths reported in Nkpor, Idemili North LGA, within the first ten days of January. Soludo, determined to address the escalating violence, assembled security experts and advisers, including a 15-man Truth, Justice, Peace, and Reconciliation Committee. In May 2022, he visited the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, as part of efforts to consult stakeholders for lasting peace and security in the state and the South-East.
To combat insecurity, Soludo established the Anambra State Joint Security Task Force (ASJSTF), involving the police, military, civil defense corps, and local neighborhood guards (‘Vigilante Group’). Despite his efforts, occasional attacks on security bases persisted, with the police being major targets, leading to reduced personnel presence at checkpoints and station closures in 2022.
Gunmen controlled communities in Orumba South, Aguata, Nnewi, and Ihiala LGAs, bordering Imo State—a known epicenter of insecurity in the South-East. High-profile killings included Dr. Chike Akunyili, husband of former NAFDAC Chairman Dr. Dora Akunyili; the beheading of lawmaker Okechukwu Okoye; and the murder of politician Nelson Achukwu.
While there has been an appreciable improvement in the security situation, with Soludo degrading criminal elements, pockets of attacks persist, particularly in border communities with Imo State. Soludo, however, has made progress in the fight against insecurity, acknowledging that criminal elements now lack the capacity to operate as organised groups across the state.
Respect for the Rule of Law
Soludo assumed duties as Anambra State Governor with promises to respect the rule of law. Early signs of his administration demonstrated this, especially when he canceled the recruitment of teachers for two consecutive times, over alleged irregularities. The Governor has always advocated respect for rule of law, though some citizens do not seem to believe he has demonstrated enough commitment.
Many believe the governor had a hand in the March 18, 2023 arrest and detention of one Nnamdi Chude, a fervent supporter of the Labour Party for tweeting against the State Governor. Chude had alleged that Soludo’s political party, the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) was involved in the rigging of the House of Assembly election. Governor Soludo however denied involvement in the arrest, a violation of the blogger’s freedom of speech.
Another scenario was a short-lived legal battle with Ndubuisi Ochiogu, the President-General of Ogbaru Main Market Amalgamated Traders Association when he was relieved of his position, as one of the moves of the State Government to strengthen the leadership of markets in the state. Ochiogu who was sworn in by former Governor Willie Obiano’s administration had his tenure dissolved by Soludo in May 2022. The leadership of 10 other markets in the state was dissolved as well, and caretaker committees appointed for the markets.
The dissolution prompted Ochiogu to drag the state Commissioner for Trade and Commerce, Mr Ngonadi, to court seeking to be reinstated because his tenure had not expired. The matter was later resolved with Ochiogu reinstated to lead the market.
Governor Soludo’s stance on Local Government autonomy mirrors his predecessors, including Obiano, and echoes a decade-long trend in Anambra State. Caretaker Committees have overseen Local Government affairs for the past several years, spanning four successive administrations. Despite promises of change, elected officials vacated their positions in 2016, leading to a prolonged absence of council elections. This reliance on Caretaker Committees, a practice widely criticized for its flaws, has detrimentally impacted the effectiveness of the third tier of government.
While Governor Soludo raised hopes by pledging to conduct Local Government elections within six months of taking office, 21 months later, this promise remains unfulfilled. The Governor faces heavy criticism for this delay, contributing to the erosion of public trust.
Council Chairmen, appointed rather than elected, find themselves beholden to the Governor. The intended proximity of Local Government to the people has diminished, plunging it into a state of subservience. Consequently, Council Chairmen lack financial autonomy, with Ikengaonline’s investigation revealing that many operate from the state capital, Awka, due to the absence of social amenities in their respective areas. This deficiency has triggered a rural-to-urban migration, exacerbating issues like increased house rents, insecurity, and elevated food costs in urban centers.
Regrettably, Soludo has tied the implementation of financial autonomy for LGAs to conditions such as recruitment and staff payment. This move underscores his centralized control over financial decisions in LGAs, further undermining their autonomy.
Anambra State, under Soludo, continues the practice of a joint account with LGAs through the Joint Account and Allocation Committee (JAAC). This long-standing practice, prevalent in many states, has faced heavy criticism for impeding development in the Council areas. Soludo’s approach raises questions about the extent to which true autonomy will be realized at the grassroots level.
Gender Sensitivity & Appointments
Despite ongoing campaigns by Civil Society Organisations and pressure groups advocating for increased women’s participation in governance, Anambra State, under Governor Soludo, falls short of achieving the desired gender balance. The Governor’s cabinet lacks the expected ratio of 30:70 women representation, with only five out of 21 Commissioners being women. Additionally, among the 21 Transition Committee Chairmen, the Governor appointed just one female (Mrs. Amaka Obi, Idemili South), leaving the total number of women appointees, including Special Advisers, below the anticipated 30 percent benchmark.
While Governor Soludo has emphasized the significant role women play in societal development, his actions do not align with these words. Despite his commitment to due process in appointments, the Governor faced early criticism for opening positions to all interested citizens, irrespective of party affiliation. This approach, prioritizing competence over favoritism, led to tensions with affluent individuals seeking political appointments as compensation.
However, Soludo has commendably appointed more youths in his administration, with all 21 Transition Committee Chairmen being relatively young. This move reflects a paradigm shift, ending the era of recycling old leaders and providing opportunities for the younger generation to engage in governance.
In terms of geographical representation, Soludo demonstrated equity and fairness by spreading appointments across almost all Council Areas in the state, except Onitsha South LGA. Despite claims that Onitsha South lacks ‘indigenous’ people, the exclusion has been criticized as an imbalance and political injustice by the residents of the area.
According to official data from the Anambra State government, Anambra State had a total budget of N170.91 billion in 2018, with a capital expenditure of N106.43 billion, while recurrent expenditure accounted for N64.48 billion.
In 2019, the state’s budget dropped to N157.17 billion. Capital expenditure accounted for the bulk of the budget, while recurrent expenditure was N65.34 billion, representing 41.57 per cent of the total.
Anambra State had its smallest budget in 2020, amounting to a total of N114.97 billion. Its highest budget was N259.94 billion in 2023. The capital expenditure of the 2023 budget was N164.46 billion, while recurrent was N95.48 billion.
State revenue comprises the amount received from the federation allocations and its internally generated revenue.
Federal allocations are unpredictable and had accounted for 68.58 percent, of the state’s revenue prior to Soludo’s government.
Anambra officially joined the list of oil-producing states in Nigeria in July 2021. However, in August 2022, the State Government received N268.2 million as its first share of the 13 per cent Derivation Fund in August 2022.
The 13 per cent Derivation Fund comes from the federation revenue to oil-producing communities through the state governments as enshrined in section 162, sub-section 2 of the Nigerian Constitution.
Apart from the allocations, IGR remains the life-blood of all government operations. In Anambra State, obviously the cash cow of the State Government is the IGR. For a state that has over 100 markets in Onitsha alone, 20 major international markets across the state, an industrial city in Nnewi and several semi-urban centres that can boast of appreciable economic activities, it is not a surprise that the agency responsible for revenue collection rakes in cash.
Soludo had upon his swearing-in charged Anambra Internal Revenue Service (AIRS) on increased generation of revenue. The Governor told the agency a target growing the state’s internally generated revenue with N10 billion monthly. The charge had then led to a revenue drive by the agency, which later led to a backlash on the Governor, as the people complained of being over burdened with taxes
However, in March 2023, the Governor still lamented that Anambra was not making half of his expected IGR. He said: “The state government should be making more than three billion naira per month, which has yet to happen. The 2023 budget is expected to generate four billion naira per month, but the Anambra State Government is running a deficit on IGR, which is one of the key projections.”
Internally Generated Revenue
On Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), Anambra has fared relatively well among its peers in the South-East. Internally Generated Revenue is one of the ways to evaluate the state’s capacity to drive long-term economic activity, such as boosting employment and offering effective public services. It also demonstrates the state’s financial strength and ability to function well, independent of the allocation from the federation account.
According to data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), from 2015 to 2021, Anambra has recorded annual growth rates in its IGR. From N14.79 billion in 2015, the state’s IGR increased to N30.92 billion in 2021, indicating an over 100 per cent increase.
In 2021, the Anambra State generated the highest IGR in the South-East. Out of the 36 states, Anambra had the 10th highest IGR. In fact, from 2018 to 2022, Anambra’s IGR has risen from N19.305 billion to N33.971 billion.
Soludo’s administration in the state recorded its highest IGR in July 2023 after it generated N2.8 billion. Earlier in May, the State’s Internal Revenue Service (AIRS) reported an increase in the state’s monthly internally generated revenue (IGR) from an average of N1.5 billion to N2 billion. The increase represented about 33.4 per cent of the state’s revenue inflow in the previous year, no thanks to the digital innovations introduced in the revenue collection process, which helped to reduce leakages.
Despite the impressive growth in its IGR, data show FAAC allocation still makes up a significant portion of the state’s revenue. In 2015, Anambra received N40.38 billion as FAAC allocation for the year. The following year, the state got N32.69, then 41.34 billion in 2017, indicating a 26.44 percent increase. A further increase was recorded in 2018. But 2019 and 2020 reported declines. Nevertheless, the allocations were never below N50 billion.
In total, between 2015 and 2021, Anambra State received N331.82 billion as FAAC allocation. Its IGR, on the other hand, was N108.99 billion within this period.
Out of the state’s total income of N400.43 billion (i.e., it’s IGR plus FAAC in the periods under review), FAAC accounted for 68.58 percent, while IGR made up only 32.42 percent of the state’s revenue.
Anambra State joined the league of oil producing states following the effort of Gov. Obiano, and since then, the state has been making a lot of money from the 13 per cent oil derivation.
At the end of December 2015, Anambra State had just N3.58 billion in domestic debt. This increased slightly in 2016 and then dropped in 2017. But from 2018, the state’s domestic debt rose marginally.
From N2.61 billion in 2017, the domestic debt increased to N33.92 billion in 2018. By the end of 2022, data from the Debt Management Office (DMO) placed the total domestic debt owed by the state at N72.43 billion, making it the seventh least indebted state with respect to domestic debt.
On its foreign debt, there has also been a significant increase. From $60.79 million in 2015, it increased by 81.42 percent to $110.27 million in 2021. In 2022, the state’s foreign debt decreased slightly.
Soludo came on board and complained persistently how the state was broke because the past government left only 300 million Naira in the state coffers, and that the state was neck-deep in debt. Hence, it was only natural that the economy was at the forefront of his agenda as governor. Governor Soludo has listed agriculture, technology, power, and tourism as some of the means with which he aims to rejuvenate the state economy in the long term.
Globally, infrastructure projects are recognized as pivotal drivers of economic growth. In Anambra State, available data highlights the government’s commitment to various projects encompassing roads, schools, healthcare, electricity, and more.
Data from the state’s open contracting portal reveals that between 2019 and 2021, a total of 304 contracts, valued at N59.70 billion, were awarded. Among these, 281 were open bidding contracts, 22 were selective, and only one involved direct bidding. Works contracts dominated, totaling N54.3 billion, while services amounted to N4.45 billion.
Further analysis shows N19.30 billion allocated to 89 road projects, N3.4 billion for 32 school/education-related projects, N481 million for three health-related projects, and N15.28 billion for 119 electricity/street lights projects.
Governor Soludo’s visionary approach includes the initiation of three new cities – Awka 2.0, Nnewi 2.0, and Onitsha 2.0.
Additionally, the state government is reviving urban water schemes. These initiatives underscore Soludo’s commitment to the welfare, transformative development, and overall economic well-being of the state.
The administration has undertaken extensive road projects, covering over 400 kilometers. Ongoing projects include the Ekwulobia flyover, bridges, the new Anambra State Government House in Awka, Solution Fun City, and the Pharmaceutical Industrial Park. Soludo is actively dualizing roads in Awka, Onitsha, and Ekwulobia. Noteworthy projects encompass the construction of roads in Nnewi, including Bank road, Aka-mirir road leading to the new permanent site of Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, and the development of Nnewi hotel road, among others.
Soludo is also battling the erosion menace in Anambra by devoting more time to pre-erosion management seeking to nip the menace in the bud before it occurs. Thus, he is prioritising tree planting and other erosion control mechanisms in locations with a higher probability of the menace.
Tackling erosion menace in Anambra requires a lot of resources. Soludo is therefore beckoning on the Federal Government and development partners to support the state.
Investing in education is crucial for national development, with UNESCO recommending governments allocate 15-20% of total public spending to education annually. Anambra State aligned with this recommendation, allocating at least 15% of its budget to education between 2018 and 2020. In 2020, the state reached its peak, dedicating 20.66% of the budget to education. Although the allocations dropped in 2021 and 2022, there was an increase in 2023 and a proposed N20 billion for education in the 2024 budget.
Governor Soludo moved to revamp primary and secondary education by weeding out over 1,000 teachers who were wrongly recruited.
He, however, engaged 3,000 school teachers later in fulfillment of his campaign promise to reposition the education sector for quality manpower development. The move will improve the teacher-student ratio.
Soludo also introduced compulsory free education for all primary and junior secondary school children in government-owned schools in the state aimed at inclusive education.
Since the announcement, no fewer than seven Principals have been suspended for flouting the new policy although some of them were later pardoned.
Days out of school (Strikes)
Public schools in Anambra State, particularly tertiary institutions, have occasionally joined nationwide strikes. Between 1999 and 2022, ASUU strikes accounted for 1,539 days of interrupted academic activities, with 492 days recorded between 2015 and the present.
Performance in national examination
Anambra State’s performance in WAEC improved annually between 2016 and 2021, except for a decline in 2018. Setting new records, the state achieved a remarkable 92.18% pass rate in 2021.
Number of out-of-school children
In 2018, Anambra State had approximately 118,315 out-of-school children, with males constituting 62.28% and females 37.72%. A 2021 study suggested a decline to 90,000 out-of-school children. However, considering the national increase to 20 million out-of-school children in 2022, Anambra State might have experienced a corresponding rise.
Investing in healthcare is not just a matter of saving lives; it’s a crucial economic investment, as emphasized by the World Economic Forum in 2015. The Abuja Declaration further recommended allocating 15% of government annual spending to the health sector. Anambra State’s Healthcare (Ministry of Health) budget has historically ranged between N10 billion to N13 billion, reaching its peak at N13.31 billion in 2018. While the 2019 allocation was the lowest since 2018, the proposed 2024 budget increased to N16.7 billion, signaling a commitment to health investment
Access to healthcare: (Primary/Secondary/Tertiary In 2018)
Anambra State implemented a social health insurance scheme in 2018, administered by the Anambra State Health Insurance Agency. Covering 200 facilities, the scheme has improved healthcare accessibility. However, NBS data reveals challenges, with only 3.6% of women and 2.9% of men aged 15-49 covered. Children under five and those aged 5-7 have even lower coverage at 2.7% and 0.6% respectively.
The doctor-to-patient ratio in Anambra State poses concerns. In 2018, the state had 1,143 doctors, estimating a ratio of 1:5,115. In 2019, the number significantly dropped to 404 doctors, resulting in a ratio of 1:14,882. The recent 2020 data showed little improvement, with a ratio of 1:13,989. Governor Soludo’s administration is addressing this by planning to employ 500 health workers, including doctors.
Condition of public health facilities
Despite efforts to enhance the primary healthcare system, reports, including those from The ICIR and Ikengaonline, indicate challenges in Anambra State. Primary Health Centres (PHCs) are reported to lack essential resources like electricity, drugs, and water. Mosquito nets are also reportedly deficient in various PHCs, raising concerns about the overall state of primary health services delivery.
Human Capital Development
Governor Soludo’s administration has made significant strides in enhancing human capital development, particularly by focusing on the youth. Fulfilling his campaign pledges, the governor initiated impactful youth development programs, such as the “One Youth Two Skills’ Solution Programme” and the “Solution Innovation District (SID).”
During the pilot phase of the program, Governor Soludo demonstrated his commitment by providing a substantial seed capital of two billion naira, benefiting 5000 trained youths.
These remarkable efforts in youth and human capital development received acknowledgment from the Federal Government, leading to a collaborative partnership with Anambra State for the Skills Upgrading and Vocational Training (SUVT) Programme.
What sets Soludo’s youth development initiatives apart is their holistic nature. They encompass various components to empower beneficiaries across all categories of youths in the state. This empowerment entails acquiring skills in vocational, digital, and entrepreneurial domains, complemented by financial support to kickstart and expand their businesses. Governor Soludo has unequivocally shown his dedication to utilizing available resources to empower the people.
1 Respect for Rule of Law – Indeterminate
2 Local Council Autonomy – Fail
3 Security – Pass
4 Finance – Indeterminate
5 Education – Pass
6 Gender Inclusivity – Fail
7 Infrastructure – Pass
8 Human Capital Development – Pass
- Health – Indeterminate
Scoring Administrative Performance
Pass: When the administration is deemed to have performed creditably in a particular sector.
Fail: When the administration is deemed to have performed woefully in a particular sector.
Indeterminate: When the facts are not compelling enough to score the administration’s performance in that sector as a pass or fail.
A research by Ikengaonline in collaboration with Dataphyte under the auspices of the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ), this report was made possible through the generous support of John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
● Report by Ikenga Online.