As the campaign for the November 18 governorship election in Anambra State gathers momentum, the war of words has heightened between Governor Willie Obiano and his predecessor, Peter Obi, over the state of the finances of the state.
Messrs. Obiano and Obi were friends before they joined politics having served together on the board of a Nigerian bank. As Mr. Obi rounded off his second term, he brought Mr. Obiano back to the country and campaigned for him to succeed him as the governor of the state under the platform of the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA.
But they later fell apart after the elections, culminating in Mr. Obi defecting to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Mr. Obi has thrown his weight behind his former Secretary to the State Government, Oseloka Obaze, of the PDP to unseat Mr. Obiano as governor.
While Mr. Obi has accused his successor of non-performance and frittering of billions of naira he met in the state’s coffers, Mr. Obiano said the former governor was working against him because he refused to give him N7 billion he allegedly claimed to have spent on Mr. Obiano’s election.
Mr. Obi at an interaction with PDP officers in Nnewi North Local Government Area on Wednesday said Governor Obiano has nothing to show for the mandate he was given by the people of the state and therefore does not deserve re-election.
According to him, most of the projects he started and could not complete have remained the way he left them when he was bowing out of office.
But Mr. Obiano in a statement on Sunday by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Strategic Communication, Oliver Okpala, said the former governor by making the statement has again exposed himself to public ridicule, odium and contempt.
“It is shameful for Obi to be lying so openly and playing on the intelligence of the people of Anambra State. Governor Obiano has not only exceedingly surpassed what he met on the ground by completing most of the existing projects, he has gone ahead to embark on very strategic projects”, he said.
Mr. Okpala further queried: “Why did Obi not work for the governorship candidate of the PDP Obaze Oseloka when he was handing over despite the fact that Oseloka was his SSG? What has changed between then and now?”
The governor’s aide said the real crux of the matter was not bad governance but the proceeds of godfatherism which Mr. Obiano has reportedly refused to pay to Mr. Obi.
“This is the reason for Obi’s sudden negative turn against Governor Obiano. The governor’s refusal to pay the N7 billion he claimed to have expended on his election is the bone of contention. This is the financial disagreement which is fuelling this sudden bad blood.
“Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah confirmed this during a recent interview and challenged Obi to a public debate. Obiano has said he would not pay and that there is no room for godfatherism in Anambra.”
According to him, for a governor tasked with uplifting the people of the state, popular projects and policies are his only godfather and are what would speak for him in November.
“He cannot subscribe to servicing godfatherism as it hampers development”.
Mr. Okpala wondered why Mr. Obi who campaigned and promoted Mr. Obiano as the best candidate to take over from him is now singing a different tune.
“It is reprehensible that the former governor is speaking like this because one is forced to recall how vehement he was when he was pushing for Chief Obiano to emerge as governor.
“In 2003 he fought everyone, insulted all those who opposed him and abandoned all other aspirants at home and went abroad to get Chief Obiano who was an outstanding technocrat based in the US.
“He thereafter traversed the length and breadth of the state telling people of the sterling qualities of Chief Obiano. After few years he is now telling us the opposite. Was he insane or under the influence of alcohol when he was telling the whole world then that Obiano was the best man for the job?”
“If one may ask, what has changed between then and now when he described Obiano as the best candidate amongst all the aspirants? He said he was a man of character going by his antecedents.
“So, one is surprised by his sudden reversal. He is indeed talking from the two sides of his mouth and it is shameful for him to descend to that level.”
“Obi was a board member and Director of the Bank where Obiano worked and retired. If Obiano was not a good professional and a competent administrator as well as a good manager of resources, could he have risen to the apex of the bank as the Executive Director of the bank?”
“Obi cannot keep on deceiving the people. Obiano has performed excellently, and the people of Anambra State will surely cast their votes for him come November 18th, 2017 Governorship Election”.
But Mr. Obi in a reaction denied demanding N7billion from his successor.
The ex-governor said he left about $156 million in the bank, N25 billion cash and N25 billion in local investment, adding that he has never supported any candidate for personal benefits.
“It is on record in this country and documented, I can prove it with every clear documented evidence that when I left office, I left over N25 billion in local investment for Anambra State. I left over N25 billion in cash in the bank. I also left $156 million in the bank in Nigeria. Do you think anyone can leave such money and go to beg the person he is handing over to give him N7 billion when I left over N75 billion?”
“I would have taken the N7billion first, then give them the balance and I will still be in good shape. Let me use the dollar as example. Nobody has ever left $1 in any state in Nigeria. I left $156 million. About $30 million alone is over N7 billion. If I had taken chances and left $120 million, I will still be a champion. So why will I leave that one and go begging for peanut?”