Published On: Fri, Nov 3rd, 2017

A Revelation On The Real Peter Obi – By Udodi Amalunweze

A Revelation On The Real Peter Obi – By Udodi Amalunweze

A Revelation On The Real Peter Obi – By Udodi Amalunweze

One man knew that Peter Obi’s fixation on Oseloka Obaze was so strong that even heads could be shattered to sustain it. That man is Osita Chidoka, a PDP loyalist who went on record to call anyone defecting from their beloved party an “idiot”! He later ditched the PDP himself without being idiotic. What happened was that Chidoka longed to fly the PDP flag in the Anambra State governorship election. But, being a sensible man, he knew that Peter Obi’s stranglehold on their party could prove a stumbling block. To overcome the challenge he made a beeline for Bayelsa State where, on bended knees, he pleaded with ex-President Goodluck Jonathan to dismantle the Obi obstacle. Jonathan contacted Peter Obi bearing two fervent prayers on his lips. First, he requested that Mr. Chidoka be allowed to be the PDP flag bearer. Unprepared for niceties, Mr. Obi brusquely told Jonathan that his request was a nonstarter. What the country was running was a democracy and he was disinclined to tolerate the imposition of any candidate on the party, whatever their antecedents.

Mr. Jonathan let Obi’s abruptness ride. Then he threw in his second and last joker: Was Obi prepared to have the party’s primary election on a level-playing field? In other words, could Obi assure Chidoka that the process of choosing the PDP flag bearer would be free, fair, transparent and credible? Chidoka had assured Jonathan that he was sure to win the contest if due process entailed. Obi apparently feared as much himself. Jonathan was bemused when Obi’s thin voice come down the line with an uncompromising reply. When Jonathan passed the message on to Chidoka that Obi already had a flag bearer in Oseloka Obaze, Chidoka voted with his feet and pitched his camp with the newly registered UPP.

PDP heavyweights who had the story were indignant. They could not understand why a latecomer to their party should be throwing his weight about, riding everyone roughshod. Their puzzle was cleared when the PDP primary election eventually took place. Peter Obi put forward his stooge, a man patently unqualified to vie for the party’s ticket. When the counts were settled, Obaze rode high. He had “won”. But he had won because Peter Obi had railroaded him into the driving seat with the instrument of a contrived voters’ list starkly at variance with the one published by INEC. The “arrangee” result left other contestants including Dr. Ifeanyi Uba, Princess Stella Odua, Dr. Obiogbolu and Chief Chinedu Emeka in the lurch, incensed and threatening to scatter the ground! The post-primary election controversy is still raging, having split the irreversibly turbulent party down the middle.

But that is the sort of scenario in which Peter Obi thrives, wheeling and dealing, while pretending to be a shrinking violet. That is why credit must be given where it is due. Peter Obi’s real story is straight out of the script of Jekyll and Hyde. He eats and wipes his mouth radiantly clean. That is why most people questioned would claim to know the man. But they know him not. The generally known Peter Obi is the polished version, a facade disingenuously packaged to fox and hoodwink the wary and unwary. This article is an attempt to straighten the crooked thoroughfare, to remove the veneer of falsehood like onion peels, in order to expose the rot hidden in a brightly painted box – the real Peter Obi.

There are pictures of Peter Obi at the Vatican. More pictures of Peter Obi kissing the Pope’s ring. There are images of Peter Obi attending concelebrated high masses. More images of Peter Obi speechifying audiences on the topic of his ascetic lifestyle, his personal inclination to austerity, his proficiency in man and money management, not to forget his affinity to piety. You would throw all those overboard of course, if only you recall that it was this same man who claimed to have owned only a wristwatch all his adult life, only for the social media to publish countless pictures of him sporting assorted designer watches!

It is this worrisome streak of deception and pseudo-wisdom that he now aims to use in installing his stooge as Governor on Anambra State, little realizing that it is one irreverent imposition that will never see the light of day. He had plucked Oseloka Obaze from blissful obscurity in the United States and proclaimed him his successor. When the chips were down, APGA settled for Chief Willie Obiano, the urbane chattered accountant and banking executive, abandoning Peter Obi to lick his wounds and plot a revenge. He believes that revenge time has come and the way to exact it is by denying Governor Obiano a second term. He wants to be the only Anambra Governor that served two terms. He insists on collecting willy-nilly the N7 billion of Anambra’s money, which he claimed as refund for financing Obiano’s election, but which the prudent and sensible Anambra Governor refused to part with.

Peter Obi’s bootlickers and praise singers are currently trapped on rooftops and the social media, wielding megaphones and hitting keyboards, calling him Kingmaker and Oracle. But Anambra people know differently; they understand that power belongs to God. They also know other things that have firmed their repudiation of Peter Obi and his stooge. They know that, for the eight years he was Governor, his first Deputy Governor, Dame Virgy Etiaba earned a miserly N250,000 a month as salary, while he himself carted away hundreds of millions of Naira every 30 days in the name of Security Vote.

As Governor, his wife Margaret was entitled to a monthly allowance. He kept the woman blissfully unaware of the fact and pocketed all the allowances due to her through eight years. Under his watch, Anambra civil servants earned the lowest salaries in all the 36 states of the Federation. Likewise the political appointees. One year ago, he drew more adherents into his church of deceit by delivering The Platform Lecture of the Lagos-based Covenant Christian Center. Following that egregious speech, a clear rehash of his changeless theme, voices rose Babel-like and in confounding hysteria, screaming that Nigeria had finally located a Muhammadu Buhari successor. The same thing is happening again today to the unwary that are saying that a superlative Peter Obi can only produce a superlative Oseloka Obaze. Well, before the good people of Anambra State are hypnotized into a calamitous choice, it should serve the cause of commonsense for people to halt short of the precipice of gullibility, while Mr. Obi recalls a few details of the recent past, or is reminded of them. After all, people who pay little attention to the lessons of history invariably repeat past mistakes.

Peter Obi wears probity like a life jacket. Therefore, he should remember Sunday June 1, 2009. Otherwise, he deserves to be reminded that, on that day, an Anambra State Government convoy laden with N250 million in raw cash sped from Awka to Mr. Obi’s warehouse at No 7 Aerodrome Road, Apapa, Lagos. Tipped-off, security men apprehended it, seized the money and detained felons in the convoy. The Governor-owner of the seized convoy claimed that the money was for the purchase of vehicles! The critically minded wondered why a former Bank chairman required to shift hundreds of millions of Naira by road and across many states just to buy cars and motorbikes when monetary transfers and bank drafts had not gone out of fashion.

Peter Obi often claimed a money-saving deal with Peugeot Automobile in Kaduna for 406 cars. Yet, his preferred mode of vehicular travel during his governorship was not Peugeot cars. No member of his family drove around Anambra State in Kaduna-assembled vehicles. This point deserves close attention because our instant saint disdains the fact that what is good for the goose should also be good for the gander. Surely, this man is a composite study in Self and Otherness. His family cruised around in SUVs, and it was splendid. Others, the dregs of society, were entitled only to the management of Footwagen and Legedis Benz.

Peter Obi preaches fiscal prudence. For that reason he, as Governor, often travelled inside Nigeria and around the world without aides.  He did that to save Anambra’s money. That is far from the truth. If he does not remember, he must be reminded that, while it is commendable for a Governor to travel alone and save costs, it is a repugnant detail that little was really saved in the end because Peter Obi invariably raided Government House Accounts Department, to claim for himself the travel allowances of those routinely listed in his itinerary but always debarred from partaking in his junkets.

The platitude of “do as I say but not as I do” is trite today. But practitioners of such hypocrisy hardly deserve to be clapped into anointing and appointing governorship candidates. It bears reiteration that Governor Peter Obi paid the lowest salaries and wages across Nigeria in order to “save” money. After all,  “money is meant to be saved and not to be spent.” But he certainly needs to be reminded that his saving modalities didn’t prevent him from pocketing each month a heftyN500 million in the name of “Security Vote” which as an ex-Governor he now conveniently describes as “unjustifiable.” He wears the profit motive everywhere like a set of false teeth. Which makes it imperative for him to remember the Governor that patriotically built a brewery to boost his state’s economy but heroically cornered most of the company’s shares. Without being reminded, he will readily recall that Anambra State used to have an Ikenga Hotel in Awka. It was reduced to rubbles during the mayhem that attended the infamous abduction of Governor Chris Ngige on July 19, 2003. Peter Obi will remember also that Ngige’s successor did not rebuild Ikenga Hotel but rather appropriated the prime land on which today is rising a replica of the bigger than Shoprite mall he erected in Abuja. Yes, indeed, people must be frugal, they must tighten their belts because things are very hard and the economy is in a tailspin. But the philosophy of “do as I say and not as I do” precludes superhuman beings like our sanctimonious Peter Obi from wearing midriff-slashing belts.

The same logic applies to the specifics of the high security measures that go with sensitive public offices. Peter Obi wants armour-plated cars scrapped. He often swears that he never used them during his governorship. Well, that happens to be untrue. As Governor, he had not one but two armour-plated cars. When his tenure ended, he did not scrap the bullet/bombproof vehicles. He did not bequeath them to his successor. He took them away, and still uses them in perambulating.

How many people will really take Peter Obi seriously when he canvasses gender equality? He has no praise for the good work the Anambra First Lady, Mrs. Ebele Obiano, is doing with her NGO – the CAFE. Not really surprising because as First Lady, his own wife was mostly seen but rarely heard. Not surprising also because he is on record as saying famously that only confusion issued out of a First Lady’s office. He did not say if that was supposed to be a compliment to the Nigerian woman.

What, really, is Peter Obi’s enduring legacy in Anambra State? He did not build a stadium for Anambra, a leading sporting state. He did not build a single institution of higher learning. He did not institute a credible infrastructure for mechanized agriculture. In fairness to him, he constructed roads. He also built the Jerome Udoji State Secretariat and the Ministry of Lands’ headquarters. But he needs to explain why most of the roads constructed under his watch are substandard and already in pieces. Was it to save money that the Lands Ministry headquarters he constructed has been evacuated, liable as it is to topple almost anytime? Was it in the name of financial prudence that a crony of his was awarded the contract for the construction of the State Secretariat that now exhibits monumental cracks? How long before the secretariat is abandoned to prevent it from crashing to the death of innocent civil servants?

There is a saying that if you dug deep into any anus, you encountered faeces. But Saint Obi is lucky to have as successor a peace-loving man who, even in the face of endless and misplaced media pummeling by Peter Obi’s errand boys, has refrained from letting the wind blow so that the public will see the fowl’s rear. That aside, let’s now address what appears like the most fundamental vignette of Peter Obi’s entertaining story. He makes a singsong of the “over N75 billion” he saved for Anambra upon relinquishing power. It has since been proved that he left behind only N9 billion, while making sure that his handover notes contained none of the liabilities that trailed his wake. Mr. Obi claimed that he had spent billions of his own money to make Obiano governor, meaning that his government had made scant preparations for his successor. As already mentioned, he demanded a refund of the said billions, this advocate of cost cutting. Had Governor Obiano acceded to his demands, it would have been left to conjecture the vast sums usable for social services that would have ended up in the unfathomable pockets of our apostle of financial prudence.

Even though Governor Obiano has continued to endure Peter Obi’s nuisance and provocations with equanimity, Obi and his hack writers never tire of the story that he saved up N75 billion for Anambra State before leaving office, and that Governor Obiano had misappropriated the money and put Anambra in debt peonage. Nothing can be farther from the truth. As someone who scrupulously monitors Anambra affairs, I was stunned from the first day I started hearing this falsification of facts. I, therefore, decided to subject Peter Obi’s claims to forensic scrutiny. In November 2015, I listened as Professor Solo Chukwulobelu, the Secretary to the Anambra State Government, debunked Obi’s N75 billion claims. The document the SSG distributed on that occasion remains extant. I proceed with its contents to re-present the arguments so that people can determine for themselves, which, between two tortoises, is male and which, female.

Peter Obi claimed to have saved the sum of $155 million in various Nigerian banks for Anambra State. This so-called saving was in Eurobonds. According to Prof Chukwulobelu, “During the final months of the last [Obi’s) administration, the State invested a total of US$155m (N26.5bn) in Eurobonds and other foreign denominated securities held with Access Bank, Fidelity Bank and Diamond Bank. These funds are still intact and have not been liquidated. Given the current decline in Nigerian capital markets, this portfolio of Eurobonds had a market value of approximately US$132m (N26.4bn), reflective of prices dated September 21, 2015. If ANSG were to liquidate the portfolio, the State would incur a US$ loss of $32 million (14.8 percent) and a Naira loss of N100 million, respectively. The current administration has appointed a reputable investment banking firm named Afrinvest West Africa Limited to optimally manage the investment portfolio.”

Based on the above, does it make sense for Obi and his gang to keep lying that the money was frittered away by the Obiano administration? Let’s look at Obi’s local currency investments. There are 19 different listings in this category termed “Investments”, and totaling N27 billion. However, four of these – (1) Investment with Bank of Industry to Support SMEs in Anambra State (N500m), (2) Investment to Support Micro Credit Bank in Anambra State (N500m), Counterpart funds (with BOI) for SME facility, (3) Investment with Bank of Agriculture to Support credit to Anambra Farmers (N480m), and (4) Commercial Agriculture Scheme (N1 billion), Funds borrowed from the Federal Government for on-lending to farmers in the State via the Ministry of Agriculture and All Farmers Association of Nigeria (ALFAN), Anambra Chapter – were no investments.

The real investments included the Nigeria Independent Power Projects (N9 billion), Orient Petroleum Resources Plc (N4 billion) invested at specific periods by Governors Ngige, Virgy Etiaba and Obi. Onitsha Hotel, Onitsha (N1 billion). What to note here is that not a single one of these investments has been liquidated by the Obiano administration. Not one of them has been cancelled. Not a single one of them has been sold off. Work continues at each of them at various stages. For instance, on the Agulu Lake Hotel in which the last administration invested N1 billion, the Obiano government has settled certificates totaling N891 million, while management agreement has since been finalized with an internationally renowned hotelier. Again, on the Awka Shopping Mall, the Obi administration invested N900 million. Under Governor Obiano’s watch, a further N1 billion was paid to the contractors on the project. Indeed, the Project design was amended to include a cinema in the shopping mall while agreement was finalized with Genesis Deluxe Cinemas and Spar to serve as anchor tenants.

For the Nnewi Shopping Mall, the previous government paid some N600 million as initial mobilization fee to the contractor. Since then the Obiano administration has settled contract certificates to the tune of N700 million, while discussing with Spar and Dubai-based entertainment arenas as anchor tenants. It should be noted that not a single one of these contracts awarded by Peter Obi was revoked. Not a single one of the projects has been abandoned.

Nothing in all these suggests the embezzlement of any funds or the abandonment of any inherited projects by the Obiano administration. But, every so often, Peter Obi claims that he bequeathed N75 billion to his successor, while his amplifiers take up the chorus, magnifying the lies that the phantomN75 billion had been embezzled. This is neither politics nor patriotism. It is deceit, pure and simple.

It is important to read from Professor Chukwulobelu again: “… to provide a true and fair picture of the State’s net position on March 17, 2014, (ex-Governor Obi’s) Investments Handover Notes ought to have captured current liabilities and contingent liabilities also borne by the previous administration as at the time of handover. To put this in context, the total portfolio of inherited projects valued at approximately N185bn was however not captured in the breakdown of the Handover Notes. Nonetheless, given the fact that the true test of Good Governance lies in a Government’s ability to ensure policy continuity and consistency irrespective of perceived political differences, the current administration created a strategic plan titled “the 4Cs strategy” to achieve this. Key components of this Strategy are 1) Continue, 2) Complete, 3) Commission all inherited projects and 4) Commence the implementation of a comprehensive Economic Blueprint centered around achieving sustainable and inclusive economic development.

“To this end, since March, 2014, Governor Obiano has paid a total sum of N46.8bn to contractors on inherited projects; this figure represents over 50% of total FAAC revenues received between March, 2014 and August (2015). It is also pertinent to note that the foreign currency investments totaling US$155m have not been liquidated to fund any payments of certificates arising from inherited projects. Indeed these investments are presently showing an unrealized (book or notional) loss of -14.8% in US$ or 0.003% in Naira.”

One more important point is the claim in Peter Obi’s handover notes that listed the sum of N10 billion as the total Federal approved refunds due to Anambra State for reconstructed Federal roads. Well, the figure since jumped to N44 billion, as Federal Works Minister Babatunde Fashola testified. The extra N33 billion was expended by the Obiano administration to keep vehicular locomotion unimpeded in Anambra State. The man deserves thanks and praises for diligence. Hypocrites should be prevented from further calumniating him. He has continued to meet government obligations. His government has constructed classrooms by the thousands. He has increased subventions to Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University and Nwafor Orizu College of Education. He has built three new hospitals, one for each Senatorial District, and has upgraded 63 Primary Health Centres to meet Health Care Insurance standards. His agricultural revolution is on course, encouraging a mass return to the farms, fishing and livestock production. Rice production in Anambra before the inauguration of the Obiano administration stood at 80,000 metric tons a year. It has jumped to 200,000 metric tons, with the expectation that, in another two years, production will match the 320,000 metric tons of Anambra’s annual rice consumption. Rice supply to other states already commenced. It all says one thing: Willie Is Working!

While Nigerians and the international community are feting and celebrating Governor Obiano for his achievements, Peter Obi and his hatchet men are busy belting discordant tunes, claiming that he had underperformed, following which his stooge, Mr. Oseloka Obaze, must replace him. Nearly four years ago, Peter Obi tried to impose Obaze as Governor. He failed woefully. He is back with a vengeance, touting the same Obaze. The man is primed for comeuppance. While still a governor, he had tried to place the late Professor Dora Akunyili in the Senate. He lost tragically. As a matter of fact he couldn’t even deliver a single Senatorial seat for APGA. The same tragic defeat awaits him in the ill-fated Obaze Project. Anambra people are not eager to have a stooge-governor. Anambra people are not keen on Peter Obi appropriating their N7 billion. Ndi Anambra are fed up with Peter Obi’s hypocritical chicanery. They want him out of their political space, he and his ventriloquist dummy. They dour duo will be shown the Red Card on the Governorship Election Day of November 18, 2017.

Amalunweze, an Awka-based retiree wrote via  amaluagunanya@gmail.com

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