Photo: Flanking Prof. Chukwulobelu at the press conference were the Chief of Staff, Prof Joe Asike, Commissioner for Finance Okey Muoka and Commissioner for Local Government, Mr. Greg Obi, Information, Culture and Tourism, Dr. (Mrs) Uju Nwogu, Principal Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Willie Nwokoye among other Cabinet members
The Governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano has finally broken his silence on the controversial claim of his predecessor, former Governor Peter Obi, that he left the sum of N75bn in cash when he handed over power to him on March 17, 2014.
Addressing a press conference in Awka, the Anambra State capital at the weekend, Governor Obiano dismissed Obi’s claims as “half-truths” pointing out that the former governor left the state with a heavy debt overhang of N106.2 billion when his tenure expired on March 17, 2014.
Wondering how Obi could have given Ndi Anambra a rosy picture of the Assets he left behind without showing them the Liabilities he incurred, Governor Obiano who spoke through the Secretary to the State Government, Prof Solomon Osita Chukwulobelu maintained that out of the N185.1bn, the Obi administration could only pay the sum of N78.9bn when it handed over power in March last year bringing total Liabilities to N106.2bn.
According to him, in pursuance of its Continuity Promise, the Obiano administration has so far paid the sum of N35.1 billion on the projects it inherited from the Obi administration between March 2014 and August 2015.
Similarly, contrary to the spurious figures being bandied about by the opposition on the administration’s level of exposure on capital projects, Governor Obiano revealed that his administration has so far spent the sum of N11.7bn on the projects it initiated in fulfillment of his electoral promises to the people.
Throwing more light on his administration’s resolve not to have any abandoned projects in the state, governor Obiano revealed that as at March 17, 2014, the previous administration had achieved only 42.6% completion on all projects it initiated but as at July 31, 2015, the Obiano administration had achieved additional 19.0%, taking the completion rate to 61.6% on all projects it inherited from the outgone administration.
Stretching the narrative further for a clearer understanding, Governor Obiano revealed that his administration has spent 50.8% of its FAAC Revenue on settling payment certificates that arose from the administration of his predecessor.
Reacting to questions from pressmen, Governor Obiano explained that the decision to break his silence on the controversial legacy followed endless spurious claims in the media that the only reason why his administration has been able to pay salaries and meet its numerous financial obligations was because of the alleged N75bn legacy it inherited from its predecessor.
Frowning at the inclusion of items such as counterpart funds that are jointly held with 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 totalling approximately N39.5bn as part of the so called liquid savings left by the Obi administration, Governor Obiano revealed that these items have been reclassified as “illiquid Investments,” “Not Investments,” “FGN Receivable,” and “Involuntary Investments,” accordingly.
Listed among these category of investments over which the previous administration seemed to have made false claims are – the N1.5bn contribution made by the Anambra State Government and all the 21 local council areas to the NSIA, the N500m investment made by the state with the Bank of Industry to support SMEs in Anambra State, the N500m investment made as counterpart fund with the Bank of Industry to support Micro Credit Bank in Anambra State, the N480m investment with Agriculture Bank to support credit to farmers in the state and finally, the N1.0bn borrowed from the federal government under the commercial agricultural scheme for onward lending to farmers in the state through the Ministry of Agriculture and the All Farmers Association of Nigeria.
Justifying his earlier submission that Obi’s handover note was cleverly riddled with half-truths, Governor Obiano also expressed surprise that the state’s share of the equity investment made in Emenite Limited by the government of Dr. M. I Okpara, former Premier of the Eastern Region in 1961 totalling to the sum of N750m was also listed as part of Obi’s trumpeted savings which he bequeathed his administration in March 2014.
Lending more credence to the claim that Obis handover note was a clever stunt, the governor also cited the N9bn investment made in the Nigeria Independent Power Project which he described as an involuntary investment made by the federal government with no consent whatsoever required from the state government. “This investment was effected by the Federal Government of Nigeria wherein the Federal Ministry of Finance charged a percentage of all State and Local Government FAAC revenues,” he further clarified.
Casting more light on the skeletons neatly buried in Obi’s handover notes, the governor fingered the Federal Government Approved refund of N10.0bn to Anambra State as payment for the costs incurred from the repair of federal roads in the state.
Classifying it as another “Non Investment,” Governor Obiano revealed that though this figure is at least 100% higher given the investment in Federal infrastructure by his administration over the last 18 months, it is difficult to estimate the time frame for the receipt of the refund due to the current economic situation in the country. This cannot therefore be classified as part of the liquid assets left by Obi.
Still exhuming more skeletons, Governor Obiano expressed concerns about the N250m investment made by the previous administration in the Anambra State Independent Power Generating Company Limited because the project developer, Denca Resources has been playing mind games with the state government. “Since the commencement of the new administration, Denca Resources has not been forthcoming with any information. The Company has also not honoured any invitations for an Executive briefing session,” he further explained.
Governor Obiano also faulted the claim that the state government invested a whooping N3.5bn in Intafact Beverages Limited, pointing out that the actual investment made by his predecessor was N1.4bn. Revealing that his administration invested N540m to finance expansion plans in April, 2014, the governor stated that the current standing of the state’s equity share in Intafact should be revised to the total sum of N1.97bn.
Until he broke his silence on the matter, various commentators on online and mainstream media had erroneously attributed every progress made by his administration to the N75bn liquid assets supposedly left behind by the Peter Obi administration.
Governor Obiano however admitted that the state’s cash balance as at March 2014 when he took over the reins of leadership was N9bn, a far cry from the widely advertised N75bn purportedly left behind by the Peter Obi administration.
Flanking Prof. Chukwulobelu at the press conference were the Chief of Staff, Prof Joe Asike, Commissioner for Finance Okey Muoka and Commissioner for Local Government, Mr. Greg Obi, Information, Culture and Tourism, Dr. (Mrs) Uju Nwogu, Principal Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Willie Nwokoye among other Cabinet members.