Soludo’s Take: Can a ‘Big Tent’ Idea Transform Nigeria?

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*Soludo’s Take: Can a ‘Big Tent’ Idea Transform Nigeria?*


By Christian ABURIME


In his rousing Democracy Day dialogue, Anambra State Governor Charles Soludo proposed, among many other strands of agenda setting, a socially responsive noble vision for Nigeria’s recovery, calling for a “Big Tent/Inclusive Society Agenda”. It is something similar to the historic “New Deal” and “Great Society” programmes of former U.S. Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson.


Essentially, Governor Soludo’s well-thought-out proposal vividly captured the state of a nation grappling with dire straits, necessitating a projection of hope and a blueprint for a fundamental reordering of national priorities. At the core of Soludo’s take lies a massive investment in social programmes, particularly health, education, and social protections, as well as critical infrastructure development. This should be a bold move to give every Nigerian a stake in the national cake and secure the future for generations to come.

Drawing inspiration from Chapter Two of the Nigerian Constitution on the Directive Principles of State Policy, Soludo advocated for making these principles justiciable, transforming them from lofty ideals into enforceable rights. As a self-proclaimed “Awoist and a true progressive,” Governor Soludo has been championing the cause of inclusivity and equity in Anambra State, echoing the spirit of Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s egalitarian vision.


In fact, Soludo’s administration has already set the wheels in motion, offering a glimpse into the transformative potential of his agenda. For instance, the introduction of truly free basic education in Anambra by his government has raised school enrollment by an impressive 18.7%, while the state now boasts the lowest rate of out-of-school children nationwide. Furthermore, the provision of free antenatal and delivery services, including caesarean sections, has benefited over 60,000 pregnant women, with near-zero mortality rates – a remarkable feat in maternal healthcare.


The “Big Tent” idea is really an extension of Soludo’s sincere commitment to breaking the cycles of poverty and inequality that have plagued Nigeria for generations. “For that roadside pepper seller or hawker,” he declared, “even if we can’t do anything to improve her condition, we must ensure that her children don’t end up like her.” This sentiment encapsulates the essence of his vision: a truly inclusive society where every Nigerian, regardless of their circumstances, has an equal opportunity to thrive and contribute to the nation’s progress.


The governor’s ambitious proposal also hinges on the strategic reinvestment of resources generated from the emergency turnaround in the oil and gas sector, as well as increased tax revenues. This influx of funds, carefully channeled into social programmes and infrastructure, holds the promise of a transformative impact, empowering individuals, strengthening communities, and fostering a more equitable and prosperous Nigeria.


As Soludo eloquently stated, “Without this, soon the rich won’t be able to sleep or walk the street because the poor and excluded are hungry and angry.” These words serve as a poignant reminder that inclusive development is not merely a moral imperative but also a pragmatic necessity for social cohesion and stability.


With his “Big Tent/Inclusive Society Agenda,” Governor Soludo has issued a rallying cry for a new era of nation-building, one that embraces the diversity and potential of all Nigerians, leaving no one behind. As the nation continues to find a way forward, his vision offers a roadmap to a more just, prosperous, and united Nigeria – a vision that demands the attention and engagement of all stakeholders, from policymakers to private citizens.

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