Chief Joe-Martins Uzodike, who was the Commissioner for Information during the tenure of Governor Peter Obi, has described as lies, the statement by the Secretary to the Anambra State Government, Prof. Solo Chukwulobelu, claiming that Obi bequeathed various categories of debts to his successor, Gov. Willie Obiano.
Uzodike spoke through a press release made available to the Media on Friday.
The former Commissioner, who regretted what he called the “insensitivity of the timing, coming when serious minds are concerned with the present crisis in the country,” said except the aim “was purposely to divert attention or circumvent questions the protesting Anambrarians would ask, including the whereabouts of the billions Obiano inherited from Obi.”
Uzodike made reference to the “self-indicting reference to Obi’s savings by Obiano’s people as ‘near cash’, saying that when the same people denied Obi’s savings, that he took time to compile the amounts saved, the banks where they are, the account numbers and the names of the banks, and wondered why the Government of Anambra State could not, after almost seven years, come up with the so-called comprehensive list of debts it inherited rather than always speaking amorphously and in general terms.
He, therefore, challenged the SSG to avail Nigerians of the details in order to prove their assertion beyond doubts.
On the claim that Obiano inherited debts on long term programmes – State Education Programme Investment Project (SEPIP) and Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP) which are done using World Bank credit, Uzodike described it as half truth.
He said: “As the Chairman of the South East Governors’ Forum, Obi masterminded both programmes and paid Anambra’s counterpart fundings. It is on record that though what one can call credit facility was worked out during Obi’s time, he did not draw one kobo from it. The moment Gov. Willie Obiano came on board, he started withdrawing as if there would be no tomorrow.
“Now that tomorrow has come, they started experimenting with all manner of falsehoods. Those of us who were part of his government in the beginning, who had the courage to advice against profligacy, such as my opposition to the signing of N5 billion for the celebration of first hundred days in office, were sacked.”
On the claim of what he called ‘Standard Payment Orders that were signed and deductions were going on’, Uzodike again challenged him to mention specific names.
As for the amounts he claimed that he paid, such as the one to Chams, Uzodike said that as at the day Obi left, nobody was owed. Organisations such as Chams already had their cheques written and money for them deducted from the balances handed Obiano.
“What he did was to stop all the cheques, such that till today some of those people are yet to be paid,” he said.
Uzodike, who insisted that only Gov. Obiano should come out to say what he met or did not meet or what debts he inherited, wondered “why he keeps hiding under the shadows of others.”
Reflecting on what he called “Obi’s truncated dream for the state”, he said that one person that understands the mess Obiano has plunged Anambra was the former Managing Director of Diamond Bank, who, besides clarifying that Obi saved huge dollars denominated bonds in his bank and other banks, said if the money was left untouched, it would now be over N100 billion. “This excludes naira savings,” Uzodike said.
Describing Obi’s administration as the most financially prudent, Uzodike said that while other states inherited debts running into hundreds of billions, that Obiano inherited a state with surplus of over N75 billion; a state that never owed any contractor and with the money for some projects like Awka and Nnewi Shopping Malls, Ndiukwuenu, Awgbu-Okpeze, Amawbia-Amansea dual carriage road, money for Onitsha and Agulu hotels already set aside.
He said what should occupy Chukwulobelu’s mind is how to explain to Ndi Anambra why those projects were yet to be completed and where the money set aside for them went to.
“He should also explain why he stopped support to schools and hospitals in the state as well as what happened to the last tranche of MDGs money Obi meant for projects in Local Governments such as Aguata which paid the counter parts, the money released, but was used for nothing.
“Even when the Government of Obi recruited civil servants towards the end of his tenure, he set aside money for the payment of their salaries for over two years for Obiano not to be encumbered,” Uzodike further said.
“Most importantly,” according to him, “what Anambra people are desirous to hear now is how much Obiano has added to Obi’s savings; how many hospitals he has built or rehabilitated; how many schools he has rebuilt; more structures he added to places like Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University (campuses and teaching hospital in Awka); if he sustained payment of gratuities to retirees (which is not the case as retirees since 2016 are yet to be paid); if he had completed the rehabilitation of Onitsha Water Scheme which Obi started, among others and not engage in plain falsehood.”