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Man of daring reforms

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By Uche Kalu

WHEN Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo took over the mantle of leadership in 2004 as the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the nation’s economy was in a very bad shape, hence his desire to reform the economic status of Nigeria. In his maiden address, he came up with a 13 point reforms program for  Nigerian banks.

Soludo’s primary objective of the reforms was to guarantee an efficient and sound financial system. There was need to reposition the banking system with a view to developing the requisite flexibility to support the economic development of the nation. The reforms sought to ensure a diversified, strong and reliable banking industry where there would be safety of depositors’ money.

As the CBN chief, Soludo rolled out seemingly innovation action programmes, the most prominent being the reformation of the banking sector, privatisation of government enterprises and other IMF – inspired policies aimed at repositioning the tottering economy. He did not waste time to close down most banks by raising the liquidity ratio of which about 64 banks were submarined.

It is quite impressive to recall that it was through Soludo’s wise counsel that made the ex-president, Obasanjo to privatise most of the government owned enterprises and a huge chunk of them were sold to their fronts and cronies.

He initiated the N25billion bank capitalisation with a deadline of 31st December, 2005 as well as consolidation of banking institution through mergers and acquisition among other things. He also initiated the denomination of currency to makes pricing efficient.

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Soludo also spearheaded the home grown economic strategy known as New Economic Empowerment Development Strategy (NEEDS) 1 and 2, as well as SEEDS for states.

It is worth repeating that the NEEDS and SEEDS documents were the footprints of Soludo during his leadership of the National Planning Commission and in his position as the Chief Economic Adviser to President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Taking over as the Governor of Anambra State, the earnest expectation of the citizenly was for him to replicate what he did in the Central Bank to resuscitate the economy of the state. This, he did not waste time to show the stuff he was made of.  He started by introducing a new tax regime that will streamline tax administration processes in the state which will bring about sanity and accountability in tax payments.

Recall that before now, Anambra State has suffered leakages and largely unaccountable system of tax remittances to the state purse. This drawback has contributed to the ability of the state to generate enough internally generated revenue to undertake capital projects that will impact positively on the lives of the people. Being ready to deliver on his mandate and working to beat ‘measured’ time,  he reeled out innovative measures to make life more decent and meaningful for the greater Anambra publics.

 He quickly blocked all the illegal revenue windows by elimination of touting system across Anambra State,  pointing out that the goal is to create a digital structure around taxation so that people can pay direct to the government coffers and eliminate loss of revenue. This excise made it impossible for anybody or group to engage in any type of daily collection in the state. In the new Anambra economic system, the era of multiple levies, indiscriminate collection of state revenue, roadblocks and personal enrichment by several interest parties and vested interest have come to an end as the state cannot continue to allow touts (agberos) and illegal revenue collectors to continue ripping the state off of its legitimate earnings.

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 The government of Soludo wants the best for the people of the state and to make Anambra livable and prosperous state, he directs all  revenue to only be paid to banks and their designate agents as people insist on getting receipts.

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