Anambra State Governor, Willie Obiano, has broken his silence on the controversial N7.5 billion allegedly demanded by his predecessor, Mr. Peter Obi, confirming same to be true.
In reaction, Obi dismissed the claims, and described Obiano as a desperate man not sure of survival and therefore, clutching at straws.
There have accusations and denials from the aides of both the governor and Obi, over the issue, with Obi personally denying ever making such demand, when he left over N75 billion for his successor while leaving office.
Addressing party faithful at Ezechima Primary School, Onitsha, during the inauguration of his re-election campaign in Onitsha North Council Area, Obiano said clarification on the matter became imperative because of recent accusations against him by the former governor.
Obiano stated that he refused to pay the N7.5 billion, which, according to him, Obi claimed to be for his election campaigns in 2013, because of his strong belief that “public funds should be used for public good.”
Noting that his refusal caused a strain in his relationship with Obi, the governor further said he also refused to pay the money because he was aware that enough money was raised for his campaign by his friends and associates, all of which were never accounted for by his predecessor.
On Obi’s claim of leaving billions of naira for him, Obiano insisted that he inherited a liability of about N127 billion debt from the contracts Obi awarded and other responsibilities which his administration has religiously undertaken, in the spirit of continuity.
Obiano assured the people of the state that, “I have my eyes on the ball and will not allow anything to distract me from fulfilling my promises to Ndi Anambra.”
Also speaking at the event, Chairman of the Governor Willie Obiano Re-election Campaign Committee, Chief Victor Umeh, stressed that the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), as the political spirit of Ndigbo, had, in the past three and half years, given Ndi Anambra good governance.
He reminded them that the forthcoming governorship election was not about Obiano but about ensuring that the state remains free from political godfatherism.
Former Central Bank (CBN) governor, Professor Chukwuma Soludo, also addressed the people and said the state, at this time, needs a tested hand like governor Obiano, who he said has the experience and expertise to effectively steer her affairs.
The member representing Onitsha North II Constituency in the House of Assembly, Mr. Eddie Ibuzo and his Onitsha North I counterpart, Mr. Chugbo Enwezor, commended governor Obiano for his good works,.
They said that he hasdone more in three years than any other governor, and pointed out that for their people, November 18 is a matter of sustaining good governance in the state.
Others who spoke in the same vain were the Transition Committee Chairman of the Council Area, Mr. Patrick Aghamba and an APGA stalwart, Chief Augustine Chukwuka.
Reacting to Obiano’s claim, Obi’s media aide, Mr. Valentine Obienyem, described it as “a desperate statement from a man not sure of his survival and, therefore, clutching at the straw.”
Obienyem said on December 23, 2016, how Obiano, for the first time since becoming governor, visited Obi with a Bishop and said he had come to beg the former to forgive him all the wrongs he had done and to help him win a re-election.
Obienyem said Obi asked him about the claim that he requested N7 billion from him, whereupon Obiano denied ever saying so, and blamed his aides and Chief Joe Martin Uzodike.
Obi’s aide said it was left for the bishop in question, and many others who have followed the falsehood, to gauge the character of a man entrusted into such a high position.
Said Obienyem: “It is unimaginable and unthinkable that Obi would leave $156 million, N25 billion in local currency and another N23. 6 billion set aside funds in local currency for Obiano and be demanding N7 billion from him, even when he had five months before handover, to take the money, and still have plenty to hand over to him.
“Our governor has made himself a laughing stock. How can he be soaking himself in lies? The other day, he said he exported $5 million worth of Ugu, exported Onugbu, rice and have orders to export $10 million tubers of yam even when Anambra buys yam from other states, and wants to be taken seriously?”
He asked Obiano to account for the over N400 billion he has received from the Federation Account.
Obienyem also said with election near and Anambra people asking him to tell them what he has done, Obiano is busy diverting attention by inventing lies.
“Let him show the Schedule of Debt he claimed Obi owed.
“I wonder how a man who calls himself an accountant would include unexecuted contracts as debt?” he added.