The political animosity between Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State and his benefactor, ex-Governor Peter Obi, took a different dimension yesterday as the State Government publicly dismissed repeated claims by Obi that he left N75 billion in the state coffers as untrue.
It said contrary to the impression created by Obi that he bequeathed a tidy purse for his successor, the Obiano administration inherited only “N9 billion cash and N26 billion near cash” as well as contract liabilities to the tune of N185.1 billion.
But the former governor in a swift reaction yesterday, said the government’s action was a deliberate attempt to misrepresent facts.
Addressing reporters yesterday at the Government House, Awka, the Secretary to the State Government, Professor Solo Chukwulobelu, said the clarification had become necessary in view of the rumour flying around in the social and traditional media space that Obi left behind N75 billion.
He said: “The N75 billion was not there; it was not handed over to anybody. At best it can be half-truth”.
Chukwulobelu said it took the state government this long to reply to the claim in order to put the rumour finally to rest, urging the public to discountenance the claim because it does not exist.
He said: “In the real sense, what the Obiano administration inherited from Obi was N9billion cash and N26billion near cash.
“Based on the figures detailed above, which are taken from the handover notes from the previous administration to the current administration, it is evident that the actual and voluntary cash investments made by the previous administration amounts to approximately N35.5billion consisting of mobilization paid on contracts for shopping malls and hotels, cost of two business parks in Onitsha, investments in Eurobonds, amongst a few others.
“Items such as counterpart funds held jointly with domestic development finance institutions, land contributions, FGN refunds differences in bank balances and investments made directly by the federal government on behalf of the three tiers of government totaling approximately N39.5bliilon have been reclassified as “illiquid investments, FGN receivables and involuntary investments.
“However, to provide a true and fair picture of the state’s net position on March 17, 2014, the investments handover notes ought to have captured current liabilities and contingent liabilities also borne by the previous administration as at the time of handover.
“To put this to context, the total portfolio of inherited projects valued at approximately N185 billion was however not captured in the breakdown of the handover notes.”
Speaking through his media aide, Mr. Valentine Obienyem, in response to the allegation, Obi insisted that he left behind N75 billion in cash and investment.
According to Obienyem: “Obi left over N75 Billion in cash and investment. The breakdown is as follows: N27 billion in local currency investment; N26. 5 billion in foreign currency investment and N28.1 billion in Certified State/ MDS balances.
“Even in the final handover document, Obi deducted N10 billion approved Federal Government refund, as well as the salary, pension, gratuity, money on certificates raised on contracts for the month of March which all amounted to N5 billion before arriving at the balance of over 75 billion he bequeathed his successor.
“As a financial expert, Obi went to his end of tenure event with Gov. Willie Obiano and said all these in the presence of all the bank MDs in whose banks the monies are lodged. In fact, as at March 17th he handed over, he got all the certified statements of Anambra’s accounts from the banks this monies were and handed them over to his successor. If they were confused on where the monies were, why would they not call Obi who kept them to explain the whereabouts to them as much as he knew?”
Obienyem, however, said it was good that the state government did not deny the fact that before leaving office, Obi paid billions of naira for the completion of Agulu Lake Hotel, Onitsha Hotel, Awka and Nnewi shopping malls, and invested in SABMiller Breweries in Onitsha, value of which, he said, has tripled.
He added: “It is curious that the denial came at a time the state government had concluded arrangement to massively borrow money from banks and financial institutions”, adding that they did not need to paint Obi black to do so, especially when the man, since leaving office, has not for a day commented on what is happening in Anambra, even with the daily drench of blame coming his way as being responsible for whatever, right or wrong, that are happening in the state for making his successor a governor, single handedly”.