BY VALENTINE OBIENYEM
IN my last piece on the garrulous Peter Obih, I raised some issues bordering on his claims that he is owed and deliberately too by the Government of Anambra State for a contract executed under the illegal government of Dr. Chris Ngige. I submitted that the veracity of the claims had not been substantiated. I stand by my submission.
I did explain the reason why it should be contested. On assumption of office, the government of Peter Obi was harangued by a myriad of fake contractors and freight forwarders claiming that they were being owed for jobs executed. The Governor had problem dealing with them. Some even claimed with certainty that their papers got burnt during the mayhem of 2004, when disagreement between Ngige and his godfathers led to the burning down of the State in one of the worst orgies of violence the South-East had witnessed. Then, rape and rapine did havoc to the State.
I remember Ngige after the mayhem, probably remembering his history, said of Anambra what Cato the Elder said about Carthage, during the Third Punic War: Carthago delenda est (Carthage must be destroyed). Indeed, not even Hannibal could stop the savagery of that destruction. And likewise, Anambra was destroyed that even Ngige himself put the cost of its rebuilding at over N30 billion. Happily, except the Ikenga Hotel, which is under mortgage by the Mbadinuju government, other destroyed structures have all been rebuilt even better than they were before the mayhem.
Schooled in prudence and administration, Gov. Obi, when the claims of being owed by contractors became the order of the day, bypassed the Contract Review Committee and took it upon himself to physically verify most of those claims. Surprisingly, a contractor who said he did erosion job under Dr. Chris Ngige was exposed as fake when the Governor visited the site where he claimed it was done and noticed no signs of erosion not to talk of a once menacing erosion that had been checked.
We went to a particular site where a contractor under Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju claimed to have built a hospital, behold it was a primary school built in the ’70s that had always been there as testified by the people of the town. We went to a site that was burnt, which a contractor under Dr Ngige claimed had been rehabilitated: behold, the building was still as it was when it was razed down.
In the midst of all this, any governor who does not want to play ball will be careful in paying inherited debts. Again, we have seen situations where some of these contractors had the effrontery to offer the Governor 50 per cent of the money they planned to be paid under fictitious contracts executed. The moment the Governor handed two of them to the police, the others ran away.
As the Governor of Anambra State, Obi faced the issue of repaying contractors that did jobs mostly under Mbadinuju. What this means is that Dr. Ngige did not pay for these contracts. But Mr. Peter Obih shouts that he is owed as if his hero, Ngige, paid all the debt he inherited from Mbadinuju.
Obi spent billions paying pension liabilities inherited from Mbadinuju, which Ngige did not touch. Supposing government really owes Obih, on what authority does he want Gov Obi to pay it?
The man wanted and did pay those who genuinely worked for the State, and were owed, like pensioners, and not all manner of charlatans, speaking in general terms now, who are interested in cutting deals and all that.
A few days ago, the man placed an advert in the papers. Reasonable people could not make sense of what he was saying. A sample: “One will be tempted to believe that one Valentine Obienyem, meaning Obi (Gov.) has settled me…”. Haba! What childishness! What has trying to interpret my name to do with his claims! He interpreted it so childishly literally, for us to mirror the quality of his comprehension.
But a few days after that publication, something curious happened: I got a call from all the local newspapers in Anambra and one of them based in Awka said to me: “Onwa people brought an advert for publication, signed by one Sea map company, it was so childish and plainly litigious that we did not waste time rejecting it”.
As if they held a meeting, each of them said their legal department refused its publication on the ground that it lacked merit and would affect the credibility and integrity of their papers. But what is worth seeking here is the relationship between that advert and the one they called Onwa, whom I did not bother to find out. As you know, we have many Onwas in Anambra, most of them, perhaps with the exception of people like Nwobu Alor, are purveyors of darkness trying to deceive people to see them as agents of light.
What can be deduced from the foregoing is that the one we thought as garrulous may not be so. He might turn out to be a victim being used by Onwa. This is close to the Igbo saying: Na anarugo mmadu uche ya. At worst he may have exhibited brave stupidity!
Studying characters such as Obih, one is more and more convinced on the factors that had held Anambra State down for many years. If you read his releases, you would understand that he is one of those under the great delusion that Dr. Ngige, whose abracadabra with his godfathers led to the burning of Anambra State, will become the Governor of Anambra State in 2014.
Is he not one of those who oversaw the mutations of morals and manners in our State? What Anambra would need at that time is a man of proven integrity who is not tainted by the politics of Anambra State as Peter Obi was not in 2006 when he became Governor, which allowed him to resist the temptation from contactors and freight forwarders who wanted to be used to steal the resources of the State. When they noticed that the man was not ready to play ball, they switched over to willing godsons and started telling us monkey stories.
Those who love Anambra State must start now to read and understand the workings of the minds of these people. Some of them, like Obih, are deluded to believe that an Ngige would emerge in 2014 and have started to sow political seeds.
Mr. Obienyem is SA to Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State.