The former national chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, Victor Umeh, has said claims by the former Anambra State governor, Peter Obi, that he left N75 billion in the state coffers for his successor are untrue.
Mr. Umeh, who spoke to journalists in Awka on Friday, said he was present when Mr. Obi handed over to Governor Willie Obiano and there was no mention of money left for the new governor.
Mr. Umeh’s claims came amidst a renewed war of words between Messrs .Obi and Obiano ahead of November’s gubernatorial election.
Mr. Obi, a two term APGA governor in the state, defected to the Peoples’ Democratic Party months after spearheading the emergence of Mr. Obiano as his successor.
Last week, Mr. Obi, who is now campaigning for Oseloka Obaze, the PDP gubernatorial candidate in the election, said Mr. Obiano had performed poorly despite the enormous resources at his disposal.
The former governor also denied claims that his successor’s refusal to reimburse him the N7 billion he purportedly spent during the 2013 election had led to their falling out.
“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,” Mr. Obi had said.
“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 to give him N7 billion when I left over N75 billion?”
But at his press conference on Friday, Mr. Umeh stated that there was no mention of N75 billion in Mr. Obi’s handover notes to Mr. Obiano.
“The figures emanating from his (Mr. Obi’s) aides are a shock,” said Mr. Umeh, who campaigned alongside the former governor in 2013.
“He, Peter Obi was just busy flagging off projects, N185 billion debt was left for this administration. Two weeks before handing over, he signed over 6,000 workers and said money has been set aside, where?
“That’s why I am in this campaign to set the records straight. The day Obiano was sworn in, I followed him to the governor’s lodge and Obi in his hand over note never mentioned any N75 billion. The dollars invested abroad by his government as bonds cannot even be assessed by this government. Some will mature in 2030.
Obiano will hand over and the money will remain there for another government.”
Mr. Umeh urged the federal government to ensure a free and fair election in the forthcoming polls.
“We are also calling on the politicians to eschew from occurrences that can mar this election; the time for manipulating elections is far gone,” he said.
“We want to believe that President Buhari whose victory ushered in hope of democratic victory in Nigeria will work hard to continue the legacy. We hope he can ensure that his own party APC will not do anything to intimidate anybody in this process to ensure that democracy is preserved.
“Before he became president, we are aware that he witnessed bullying during electoral processes by the party he took over from in Nigeria. So, what we are looking towards under his watch is an electoral process that will be devoid of any manipulation and intimidations.
“I say this because we have read in the papers, not once, not twice but even this morning when the national chairman of APC, Chief John Oyegun said that APC must take Anambra State. That is not a democratic language. It is not a civilized political language that a party must take a political State, this must be left entirely to the electorate.”
The former APGA leader highlighted the achievements of Mr. Obiano since assumption of office in 2013.
“We have heard it said that Obiano has not done anything in Anambra State,” he said.
“Our work is there to show, in every local government in Anambra State, we have painstakingly gone to all the communities in Anambra State to chronicle what the governor has done apart from the normal services of the government and they are there for all to see.
“The prompt payment of workers salary and pensions are also there for all to see. If you approach any worker, they will agree with this story that on every 25th of every month, workers and pensioners in Anambra State are paid with or without the governor being around. It is not a small achievement, people can’t wish it away. If you compare it with what obtains in other states such as Imo State, you will agree with us.”
On infrastructural development in the state, he said Mr. Obiano’s performance is there for everyone to see.
“Beyond the flyovers in the state capital with beautiful flowers, operation light Anambra State is another landmine achievement.
“From Amansea to Onitsha in the night, whether EEDC provides energy or not, Anambra State is lit at night. This is replicated all over the state. I want to assert without any fear of contradiction that this government has strived in its mandate to make this state a great state.
“There is no symptom of bad governance that you can locate in this state. This would have started from nonpayment of salary in the state which could have made people resort to desperate means to survive hence creating crimes.”
Other areas he identified as thriving sectors under the present government in Anambra State is the educational sector where, according to him, the result of the West African Examinations Council from 2014 to present showed a great improvement.
“We have made progress in education; our WAEC results can prove this,” he said.
“We really would not take credit for 2014 because he came in 17th March and two months after, that exam was conducted. Students of Anambra State in that year that got five credits and above stood at 60.8%.
“In 2015, Anambra State students that sat for WAEC and got five credits including Math’s and English stood at 65%. In 2016, the figure rose to 71.8%.
“In 2017, the results have been released, Anambra State students in same way stood at 75%.”.