Former governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi, has reacted to Governor Willie Obiano’s recent allegation that the N75 billion savings handed over to him (Obiano) by Obi, in March 2014, were far less than the actual figure, accusing the current governor of distortion of facts and gross finan cial mismanagement.
At a recent press conference in Awka, the Anambra State capital, Obiano had dismissed Obi’s claims as “half-truths” pointing out that the former governor left the state with a heavy debt overhang of N106.2 billion when his tenure expired on March 17, 2014.Obiano had wondered how Obi could have given Ndi Anambra a rosy picture of the assets he left behind without showing them the liabilities he incurred.
The governor, who spoke through the Secretary to the State Government, Prof Solomon Osi ta Chukwulobelu, held that out of the N185.1bn, the Obi adminis tration could only pay the sum of N78.9bn when it handed over power in March last year, bringing the total liabilities to N106.2bn.
But Obi, who opened up yester day, in a statement made available to the press by his media aide, Valentine Obienyem, decried how Obiano squandered the hardearned savings in foreign currency which would have gone a long way in sustaining the development of the State.The statement entitled, “We Need a Public Debate on the N75 billion Peter Obi Left,” provided details and listed the areas the money was frittered away to include N5 billion ap proved by the present administration for the celebration of the first 100 days in office, the N1 billion monthly security vote, hundreds of billions spent for 2014 Christmas decoration and buying of horses and the N40 million to mount the gates at the Government’s Lodge.
Others include N35 million spent to mount the gate at the Government’s House, change of roof at the Government House which gulped N700 million, change of all the tiles in the Government House to pale granite at N150 million, procurement of dining table at N25 mil lion, seats at N50 million, gold bed from the United States at N30 million and another gold bed for the governor’s wife at N25 million.
Giving a further breakdown on how Obiano successfully depleted the N75 billion savings within a short period of time, Obienyem said N40 million was spent on imported kitchen cabinet from the United States, N150 million for musical sets for Aguleri, acquisition and relocation of all lands around the governor’s compound at Aguleri, as well as the increase in Commissioners and Special Advisers pay to over N400,000 monthly as against N190,000 Obi’s administration paid.
Other areas the savings was mismanaged include the increase in salary of Senior Special Assistants from N160,000 to N300,000.
According to the former governor, Obiano had also used more vehicles in less than two years than what his predecessor used in eight years, with the present Secretary to the State Government (SSG) using three Prado SUVs and two Toyota Hilux cars; the Chief of Staff two Prado SUVs and two Toyota Hilux cars and the Principal Secretary using two Prado SUVs and one pickup car.
While saying that there is nothing wrong in government borrowing money to meet its genuine demands, Obienyem dismissed the claim that the Obi administration left debts on contracts executed.
His words: “They said that Obi left N106.2 billion (wrong figure) over hangon contractual debts alone. I challenge them to publish the schedule of the debts and the companies being owed.
“As at the time Obi left office, he paid for all the certificates generated on contracts awarded. Certificates are generated on the basis of work completed. Are they saying Obi ought to pay for contracts yet to be done? The same man saying this awarded 35 fresh roads within his first year in office at the total cost of over N81 billion out of which he has paid N10 billion.
“On the other hand, Obi awarded roads totalling N93 billion in his last year in office and paid a total of over N51 billion on those roads before leaving office. Most of those roads were used to campaign for him during electioneering on the premise of continuity,” the statement said.
On the claim by the present administration that it met only N9 billion cash in the treasury Obienyem said: “ It is shocking to note that the Anambra State government said they only met 9 billion cash in the treasury. The point is that Obi left 37 Billion Naira in the treasury. We have the statements of accounts from the banks as at March 17th, 2014. Let me illustrate using a few examples. Fidelity Bank and the money in the account as at 17th March, 2017: account Name: Ministry of Works, No: 5030005514, N2,403,862,359.89; account Name: Ministry of Works, Housing and Transport, No: 5030025545, N2,029,706,380.45; account Name: Local Govt Community Development, account No: 5030042391, N1,734,069,061.09; account Name: Government Account, 5030047097, N3,048,355,196.
Diamond Bank: Account Name: Anambra State Subsidy Account, account No: 0026290200, amount N5,126,258,908.72; account name: UBE Matching Grant Account, No: 0031151473, amount N2,101,864,766.68; account name: Anambra State Joint Local Govt, No: 0022404540; amount N3,276,354,490.46.
First Bank: Name of Account: EF/IGR Consolidated Account, no is 2018779464, amount is N2,139,951,400.00. Enterprise Bank, account name is Govt House, Awka, Account no is 1400036138 and Amount is 1,928,596,191.25. The total is N23,789,018,751 (Twenty-Three Billion, Seven Hundred and Eighty-Seven Million, eighteen hundred, Seven hundred and fifty One kobo.”
“It is pertinent to note that two years have gone and Anambra State government is still debating what was left or not, even when other governors that inherited huge debts, unpaid salaries and repayable loans and bonds have all taken off.
“In Obi’s first six months in office, he had already saved enormous money for the state before he was illegally impeached” he added.
Furthermore, according to Obienyem, “As a matter of fact, during his inauguration, Gov. Obiano listed many projects he would undertake, some of which are building an air port, building three power stations, among others.
“He started three flyovers at the initial cost of N5 billion that was later varied to N15 billion. They diverted the money meant for the road, from Amansea to Amawbia round about to three flyovers. The contractor doing those flyovers is owed over N7 billion.
“He also started the construction of three roads to the airport simultaneously. Are these not enough reasons to convince Anambra peo ple on the need to borrow rather than bring Mr. Peter Obi into it?”
Show evidence you left N75bn -APGA
But the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, has dared the formergovernor of Anambra State, Mr Peter Obi, to produce evidence that he handed over N75bn to his success, Dr Willie Obiano as he claimed in his handover note 18 months ago.
Speaking to reporters in Awka, the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Chief Ifeatu Obiokoye, said the party and Governor Obiano decided to keep mute for such a long time because they wanted peace to reign, more so when Obi was still a member of APGA family.
He said there was no doubt ab-initio that both the uninformed and informed minds knew that the controversial N75bn was not existing any where.
“I believe Governor Willie Obiano was being cautious by coming up with the truth now which, if he had done before now, would have embarrassed his predecessor.
‘’What is clear is that even in the handover note the liabilities were not clearly spelt out.
“The other aspect was other monies that was not in liquid cash but in liabilities. What do we now do with the truth as revealed by Governor Obiano.
‘’I would say that it is time for all of us to seriously look at the financial position of the state in the light of the global recession that is also affecting the country,” he said.
Stating that the revenue currently accrued to the state was 48% less than what it used to get three years ago, Obiokoye charged the people of the state to find ways of raising internally generated revenue, IGR, to enable government meet up recurrent and capital expenditures.
While condemning the bloated civil service with more than 6,000 staff by Obi at the terminal days of his administration, Obiokoye praised Obiano for being able to pay workers on 25th of every month and pensioners as at when due.
Obiokoye, who described Obi’s reaction to the N75bn saga as pitiable, said it became necessary the governor told the people of the state the truth because the opposition championed by Obi had been and was still playing politics with the issue to drag the image of Obiano to the mud.