Here’s a brief part of a chat ex-Governor Peter Obi had with Vanguard on the coming Anambra poll:
Sir, how is the campaign going?
Going on very well. Electioneering is tough, especially in our country where truth is in short supply. As somebody who has gone through elections, I often tell people to restrict their promises during an election to what is realistic. In essence, I always advocate for respect for the truth.
I read Cicero’s Manual of electioneering written for his relative called Quintus. Cicero advised him to tell lies about his opponent and to even invent scandals – this is what I see in Anambra State. I am at the centre of the campaign and every day they invent stories about me. They sponsored people to comment, N7 billion, and when it appeared it was not working the man in question started wondering to himself! You are left to wonder the extent people will go because of an election.
As some one campaigning for my party, I have restricted myself to the truth, and I will continue to do so. Every statement I make to buttress the need for a change in the governance of Anambra is the truth. All you hear me say about money I left; the accruals, total absence of projects, my savings, are all verifiable.
As the issue is becoming controversial, how much exactly did you leave?
There is nothing controversial about it. Some people are deliberately introducing controversy where none exists. All my life, I have managed money. I started business early in life, right from my primary school. By the time I got to the university, I was already travelling outside the country for business. Even as a student, other students gave me money to hold for them, because they knew that with me, their money was secured.
Whether in business or government, my attitude to money remains essentially one- prudence. Now to your question of how much I left. On the 17th of March, 2014, that I left office, I left a total of N25 billion cash; another N23,600,000,000 set aside to execute some projects already identified or to finish critical projects already on. It was part of the two- year salary for the last set of civil servants we recruited – we did so in order not to encumber the new governor. Ironically, because these funds were tied to specific projects like the Amawbia to Amansea road, the NYSC main office at Umuawulu/Mbaukwu, the hotels, malls.
We also had critical projects like the Three Arms Zone, which included Governor’s Lodge. We did not include them in our hand over notes. So if you are talking about total naira I left, it is actually N48,600,000,000. I will give you the breakdown of all the banks. (Showed all the bank statements, account names, banks and certified bank statements.) In dollar component, I left $156 million. We had $56 million in Fidelity Bank, $50 million in Access Bank and $50 million in Diamond Bank. Today, going by the current dollar rate, the accruals and others, the money is about N200 billion. We laid a solid foundation for my successor to start strong.
Let me give you an example, toward the end of our government; we decided to build the new three arms zone, comprising the lodge, legislative building, and the judiciary complex. We awarded the contract at N8 billion and paid N2 billion. We awarded and commenced some roads, paid mobilisation and left my predecessor to perform their flag-off. We also did a lot of ground work in our relationship with the Federal Government in different ways.
We, for instance, commenced the roadwork from the Head Bridge to Umunya, after obtaining the written permission of the Federal Government to pay us back. After that portion, we got the permission to do Amawbia junction to Amansea, which I started. Part of the plan was to do Amawbia Junction to Umunya until the entire Express is completed. We are not losing anything since we will be paid back. There was also the dualisation of a road that we call ‘Three-Three’ (Onitsha to Otuocha Junction.) These were some of the roads we set aside money for, among other things.
The government claims you left a debt of N127 billion?
The day I left office, I did not have any unpaid certificate of work that had been executed. I did not have any certificate of supply that was delivered that was not paid for. As an accountant I expect him to know that contracts are not debts until executed. He was just trying to confuse the people through half-truths. Let him explain to the people that he included contracts yet to be executed.
When I became Governor in 2006, Dr. Chris Ngige awarded the reconstruction of Zik’s Avenue – the major road in Awka, and a lot of other roads. These were ongoing projects. Because he paid for all the certificates generated, I did not say, based on the contracts unexecuted, that he left me with debts. No contractor came to me saying Ngige owed him.
Likewise, ask the governor to tell you how many contractors came to complain that Peter Obi owed them
. The biggest contractor we had when I was in office was RCC and IDC, go and ask them if I owed them. Our biggest supplier was Innoson, Coscharis, and HP. In each case, I paid them in advance. I bought over 1000 vehicles from Innoson and paid him at least six months to one year before he supplied me one; the same with HP. As Governor, I had dedicated amount I shared among the contractors once allocations came. That was why, under me, work went on non-stop.
What is happening shows the quality they’ve reduced governance to in my state today. It shouldn’t be. It’s like a situation where they say “my government was able to export vegetables worth $5 million.” Where was that vegetable produced? What was the refrigeration process? Where is the documentation process?
It is like also saying “my government is exporting rice.” You saw the president on October 1, thanking states that are producing rice, he did not even include Anambra State that is now, according to the governor, a net exporter of rice. They say, “my government had the order to export 10 million tubers of yam,” but everybody knows that in Anambra State most of the yams we eat come from Benue and Taraba states.
I think what is happening is that in the absence of executed projects to use to campaign, as Cicero advised Quintus, they are inventing lies and dressing them as the truth. Have you asked yourself why all this controversy about the money I left now that there is an election?
How would you react to the claim by Obiano that you demanded N7.5 billion from him?
This is another regrettable lie. On 23rd December 2016, he came to my house for the first time after he became governor. He came with an ordained bishop, to plead for reconciliation and to ask for my support for his re-election bid.
There, I asked him about the N7.5 billion (story of me asking him for N7.5 billion), and he said it did not come from him, that he only heard it from people. Now he is the one saying it. I’m sure the bishop will be listening to us. And other people who have been in the same meeting with him and I where I have reiterated that I do not want any kobo from him will know that I have never, on my own honour, asked Obiano to pay me money. I have not even been paid my severance allowance since I left office, which I am entitled to. I just told you what I left in office. Nobody has ever left one dollar.
If I were desperate, I could have comfortably taken just $30m, and it will remain $126m. Nobody on earth will leave money and go and beg the person he left the money for to give him some.