Only the other day, I read a published piece titled Peter Obi and the Rest of Us, written under the name of Donatus Ikem Nwabugwu. I later scanned through a follow-up piece he did under the name of Israel Chinedu. Going by his and his cohorts’ infamous style of hack-writing, I dare state that both poison potions were brewed in the same pot. Indeed, their style gives no credit to the pen profession; it being the equivalent of going round the asylum.
Be that as it may, I need to commence my responses within the framework of a little reference to their themes. In the first instance, both articles ostensibly celebrated the Press Release from the Government of Anambra State entitled “Anambra’s Prudence in Financial Management will Remain Exemplary”; signed by the Commissioner for Information, Mr. C. Don Adinuba. However, the leitmotif of the two pieces was a condemnation of former Governor of the State, Mr. Peter Obi for supposedly not paying the salaries of the staff of Anambra State Water Corporation and the extolling incumbent Governor Willie Obiano for doing the opposite.
In essence, it is revealing that the piece featured on January 15, 2010, took the “appeal to pity” a higher notch by recalling how fanatical the staff of Water Corporation campaigned for Obi and how badly he treated them. On a first note, of all the Ministries, Departments and Agencies [MDAs] of Anambra State, Awka is telling the world that Peter Obi, as Governor, side-lined only the Water Corporation staff after they had campaigned for him. It will also be interesting for the public to know the total staff strength of that Agency and their probable impact on election outcomes.
On the Press Release by the said Commissioner Adinuba, I start by quoting the reaction by Mr. Valentine Obienyem, Obi’s Media Aide in full: “The concern of many is not with the factual details of the Release as much as the irreverent reference to Mr. Peter Obi who left office as Governor of Anambra State in 2014- — 5 years ago! Severally, the Obiano administration and their cohorts have been cautioned by well-meaning Anambrarians, Nigerians and friends of Anambra to let Peter Obi be and not even remotely associate him with their two-term tenure of ineptitude, mediocrity and palpable lack of vision in the management of the affairs of Anambra State.
“The irony of their fixation on Peter Obi is that anytime they mention his name, they draw further attention to their crass misadventure in governance. The world knows that Peter Obi has since moved on; actively involved in more value-added pursuits, particularly his School Apostolate Programnme – which, interestingly is benefitting the State”.
“Even paying some attention to the said Press Release: of all the Ministries, Departments & Agencies [MDAs], Peter “owed salaries” for just the State Water Corporation all through his 8-year tenure. When he assumed office as Governor, the State owed over N35 billion on arrears of gratuities and pensions alone. With painstaking planning, the Obi Administration cleared everything before handing over to his successor, Willie Obiano. On the State Water Corporation issue, though the enabling law for the agency states that it will generate revenue and pay its personnel and fulfil some other expenditure, Obi started paying them, called them to a meeting towards resuscitation, but they were lethargic. So, how could Government be indebted to an agency that should be generating revenue to pay its way and even remit some revenue to the public coffers? In any case, in progressive societies sound economic management delineates social services from commercial services. At the Federal level of governance, for instance, does the Federal Government pay the salaries of the NNPC and CBN as compared to say, the Ministries of Youth Development and Labour?
“It is an indelible record that as Governor, Peter Obi on more than one occasion requested the management of the State Water Corporation to submit proposals on how to rehabilitate the agency for sustainability – which they failed to respond to. The so-called payment indicated in the Obiano Press Release is obviously bogus. The reality is that soon after Peter Obi left office as Governor, the Corporation management secured a garnishee order from the Court, leeching on one account housing the over N75 billion the Obi administration bequeathed its successor. It is instructive to note that since that court-induced payment – some five years ago – Governor Willie Obiano has not paid them anything. The extant law establishing the Corporation still subsists.”
“By the machinations of a warped mind-set, the Obiano administration has always tried to claim credit through a non-existent association with Peter Obi. Among other laughable subterfuges, Willie Obiano has even removed Peter Obi’s names from plaques and replaced same with his name – on projects initiated and implemented by Peter Obi.
“Concerned Anambrarians and friends of Anambra State are alarmed at the current trend of the Obiano administration. In his first term, Obiano stridently denied that Peter Obi left over N75 billion in the State Treasury, and in 2018, shamefully acknowledged that bequeath to his administration.
“Yes, he got a second term and the people of Anambra State are paying the price. It is not Peter Obi’s loss, but the bottom-line is that they be advised, indeed warned to focus on whatever it is they interpret as governance; and leave Obi out of it. Their errors will continue to float and offend our sensibilities”.
As the Commissioner for Information variously under Obi and Obiano, I attended EXCO meetings and can confirm that the issue of not funding a long-moribund organisation like the Water Corporation was agreed by both Administrations. As factually reported, what happened was that on leaving office, Peter Obi left over 75 Billion Naira in the coffers of the State. When Obiano was denying through the neologism of “near Cash” and similar inanities before he suddenly accepted, Obi published the details, including Account Names and Banks where those monies were lodged. It could be verified that Anambra State’s Internally-Generated Revenue [IGR] Account with First Bank (Account Number 2018779464) had the 2.1 Billion Naira from which the Water Corporation got 1.86 Billion Naira paid themselves in August 2014. In effect, the money they took was that saved by the Obi Administration.
Out of the blues, Obiano who at his EXCO meetings also insisted he would not pay them for non-performance, turned round to claim it was a deliberate act and indeed an exemplification of his benevolence. Ha!
Another critical question is how was the garnished money even paid? Let Mr. Gregory Obi who was the Commissioner for Finance at that time tell us all he knows. Why is it that almost six years after the supposed payment, the State Government still discussed during the EXCO meeting of December 2019 and some members even suggested reporting to the EFCC? Could they get the schedule of the payment from the Water Corporation and publish same? It is not enough saying that some staff of the corporation died in the office.
One of the points to note here is that after that initial “garnisheral push”, Obiano has not paid one single Kobo to the Water Corporation. What then is the rationale for the perennial celebration? It did not take much prying to reveal that the authors of those pieces are hands-in-glove with the staff of Water Corporation to induce Obiano to pay them further, with the assurances of a cut for their efforts. The motives of the said Commissioner C. Don Adinuba are clearly open to question.
Be that as it may, again, has the perennial celebration of payment of salaries to staff of the Anambra State Water Corporation in any way contributed to revamping the Agency? Certainly not, as regular customers of the Corporation across the State would attest to. On the side, is there any evidence of even a bore-hole sunk by the Obiano administration as a supplement or palliative?
The reality is that the Obiano administration is steadily pillaging the assets of the Water Corporation – including landed properties – across the State and allocating to themselves and their cronies. As we speak, for instance, the State Borehole Site near Shoprite at Onitsha is being partitioned.
As universally acknowledged, Peter Obi did well for Anambra State and it is a disservice to compare him with any other Chief Executive of the State. If, however, C. Don Adinuba and his troupe are looking for comparison, they should start now to inform the people of Anambra State what real value they have added to the bequeaths from the Obi Administration – whether in savings, low-indebtedness, infrastructure, education, health, industries, security, federal and donor-assisted projects and the general well-being of the people.
Going further, in what ways can the Obiano administration compare with the Peter Obi tenure on road networks, financial stability, performance in external examinations, equipment of educational institutions, accreditation of courses in tertiary institutions and the like. The records of the Obi Administration are well-documented and widely-acclaimed
During the build-up to the 2019 presidential elections, the Willie Obiano administration spent billions of Naira to de-market Obi through various platforms. In spite of the expensive folly, the choice of Peter Obi as Vice-Presidential candidate for the PDP attracted spontaneous joy across the country. As if fixed in their folly, the Willie Obiano train is taking the same route with an already predictable outcome of disgrace.
Chief Barr. Joe-Martins Uzodike was the Commissioner for Information in the Administrations of Peter Obi as well as political adviser to Willie Obiano