Obi Left Me With N127bn Debt – Obiano
From Obiora Aghadinuno
The Governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano has revealed that contrary to the sanctimonious posturing of his predecessor, former governor Peter Obi, the state was saddled with a huge domestic debt of N127bn when Obi left office in March 2014.
Speaking in the Governor’s Lodge, Amawbia on Tuesday, Governor Obiano explained that his silence over the monstrous debt his predecessor sought to tie his hands with had been mainly because he did not want to allow his regime to be distracted at inception so that he would concentrate on the delivering his promise of good governance to Ndi Anambra.
According to him, the N127bn debt came mostly from the 101 road contracts that the former governor hurriedly awarded at the dying minutes of his regime without making any provision whatsoever for them in order to wrong-foot his administration from the very first day.
Governor Obiano further listed other disingenuous designs by his successor to make sure that his regime never really took off as the last minute employment of 6000 workers without provision for their welfare as well as the various hotels and independent power projects which he had no plans to complete.
He however revealed that he has quietly completed 51 out of the 101 roads that Obi saddled him with and assured Ndi Anambra that the remaining 50 would soon be completed too.
Governor Obiano’s revelation came on the heels of the growing inconsistencies in the figures being thrown up by former governor Obi which have left many discerning observers wondering just how much the former governor actually left behind.
They point at Obi’s sudden volte-face from his earlier declaration that he handed N75bn cash to his successor to declare at the flag off of the PDP campaign in Onitsha yesterday that the actual amount he left when he handed over was N48,626bn.
While delivering an address that has been mostly castigated by political analysts as suicidal, former governor Obi was caught on camera saying “when I was leaving this place, we left in savings N26bn. We set aside for important projects, N23,629bn. If you put the two together, it will come to N48, 626bn.”
The former governor’s contradictory accounts of the exact amount he bequeathed his successor leaves huge gaps in the emerging narrative of dubious accountability and an even more doubtful integrity.
This becomes more so in the light of the revelation that in former governor Obi’s so called N75bn handover are embedded all manner of moribund and toxic assets which the former governor cleverly reported as profitable investments in the handover note.
For instance, Obi’s reportage of the 16.5% equity stake in Emenite, a fibre cement roof and ceiling manufacturing company set up by the Premier of the old Eastern Region, Dr M.I. Okpara which was shared between the five states that made up the old Eastern Region as part of the trumpeted investments he had handed over to Obiano is nothing but pure fraud.
Observers also complained that it speaks volumes about Obi’s vaunted integrity to realize that the former governor also reported that he had invested the sum of N3.5bn in Interfact Beverages Limited when in reality what he invested was N1.4bn only. This followed Governor Obiano’s announcement that his administration would soon revise the discrepancy to reflect the actual equity stake of the state in the company.
Other dead bodies buried in Obi’s handover note include the N9bn involuntary investment in the Nigerian Independent Power Project, conceived in 2004 by the Obasanjo regime which the Federation Account was charged to fund on behalf of the 36 states of the federation. One wonders how this investment could have found its way into Obi’s phantom savings that he handed over to Obiano in cash.
Other components of Obi’s “famous” N75bn cash handover include the N4bn estimated value of the land resources of Anambra State on which the oil installations of Orient Petroleum Resources stands which Mr Obi “cleverly” converted into the state’s shareholding in Orient Petroleum Plc and quickly reported as his own wise investment while in actuality, the only investment in the company when Obi handed over was the N100m invested by former governor Chris Ngige who also issued the C of O for the land.
Another embarrassing falsehood reported as part of the N75bn cash handover is the federal government refund to Anambra State on the repair of federal roads in the state which stood at N10bn during Obi’s regime. It smacks of utter mischief to report this debt owed the state by the federal government as a part of the cash handover as the federal government has yet to clear the debt while the Obiano regime has responded to more distress calls on federal roads in the state, pushing the debt overhang now to N43.8bn to date.
Indeed, former governor Obi’s ill-advised decision to speak up on the actual amount he left his successor has blown up on the faces of his admirers who cringe at the embarrassing inconsistencies in his accounts which now dangles between N75bn and N48,626 bn.
At this rate many political observers wager that Mr Obi may not have any reputational capital left by the end of the current electoral campaign in Anambra State.