Former Vice Chancellor of Imo State University and ministerial nominee, Professor Anthony Anwukah, yesterday, said his nomination by President Muhammadu Buhari was based on competence rather than his relationship with the state governor, Rochas Okorocha.
Anwukah said the appointment was based on President Buhari’s belief that he can deliver services to Nigeria contrary to reports that it was because he is Okorocha’s in-law.
Making the clarifications yesterday in Abuja when he appeared before the Senator Samuel Anyanwu-led Senate Committee on Ethics and Public Petitions to clear himself of petitions written against him by a group from the state, Prof. Anwukah insisted that he was not the candidate of Gov. Okorocha because he is an in-law.
The nominee, who admitted that he was indicted by a panel set up by the state government to probe his tenure as vice chancellor of IMSU between 2000 and 2005, said the panel chairman, Professor Anyawu was among the 25 candidates that contested the position of vice chancellor with him, adding that the alleged indictment, which has since been quashed by a Federal High Court in the state, was done out of malice.
Anwukah, who is also a former Secretary to the Imo State Government, informed the committee that the white paper by the panel that indicted him was later declared null and void by a Federal High Court.
He said: Though I am going to represent the people of Imo State if I am cleared to become a minister, I was nominated by President Muhammadu Buhari on my person.
“My first son, a medical doctor met the governor’s daughter in London and told me he wanted to marry her.
“I approached the governor, who told me that if my son has unbending principle like me, he will not allow his daughter to marry him.
“He (Okorocha) later directed me to his elder brother, which I did and the children later married. Two weeks ago, to the glory of God, they gave me my first grandchild”, he explained.”
The nominee, while speaking on his indictment as contained in the petition, said the visitation panel set up by the state government could not find any incriminating evidence against him and submitted its report.
He went on: “After the panel, headed by Professor Anyanwu, who was among 25 candidates that sat for the interview of vice chancellorship position with me, submitted its report and could not find anything against me, the government asked the panel to do another investigation.
“At the end, all they could found against me was that I went away with a 13-seater bus, which cost N3.6million instead of a brand new (Peugeot) 406 car at the cost of N4.8million. I decided to ask for the bus because 406 was my official car as the vice chancellor.
“I decided to go for the bus, which was less than a million naira to the car due to the financial situation of the university.
“When I resumed as the vice chancellor in 2000, I inherited only N42, 000 and by the time I was leaving in 2005, I left N846million in the coffers of the university”, he stressed.
Anwukah also stated that the N800, 000 oral approval he gave the school bursar for the repairing of a perimeter fence at his official residence while he was attending a conference of commonwealth vice chancellors in Cape Town, South Africa, was within his powers as contained in the extant law of Nigerian universities.
In his remark, Chairman of the Committee, Samuel Anyanwu (PDP/Imo East), said the committee invited Prof. Anwukah to give him fair hearing on the petitions against him, adding it would submit its report to the upper legislative chamber for its consideration.
The petitioners, however, failed to appear to defend their petition. But Senator Anyanwu said a new date would be set aside for them to defend their petitions.