By Henry Umoru & Joseph Erunke
ABUJA – FORMER Vice Chancellor and ministerial nominee from Imo State, Professor Anthony Anwukah, yesterday,said his nomination by President Muhammadu Buhari was based on competence rather than his relationship with the state governor,Rochas Okorocha.
He said the appoint was based on the president’s belief that he can deliver services to Nigeria contrary to reports that its was because he was the governor’s in-law.
Speaking yesterday,in Abuja,when he appeared before the Senator Samuel Anyanwu-led Senate Committee on Ethics and Public Petitions to defend petitions written against him by a group from the state,Prof. Anwuka insisted that he was not the candidate of the state governor, Chief Rochas Okorocha because he was an in-law of the governor.
The nominee, though admitted that he was indicted by a panel sst up by the state government to probe his tenure between 2000 and 2005, he said the panel chairman, Professor Anyawu was among the 25 candidates that contested to be vice chancellor with him,saying the alleged indictment which said,was quashed by a Federal High Court in the state,was done out of vengeance.
He told the committee that the white paper by the panel which indicted him was later declared null and void by a Federal High Court.
Answering question on whether he was an in-law of Okorocha, Anwukah said he had known the governor for over 20 years long before they became in-laws, stressing that he was nominated by President Muhammadu Buhari on personal grounds.
Hear him:”Though I am going to represent the people of Imo State if I am cleared to become a minister, I was nominated by President Muhammadu Buhari on my person.
“My first son, a medical doctor met the governor’s daughter in London and told me he wanted to marry her.
“I approached the governor, who told me that if my son has unbending principle like me, he will not allow his daughter to marry him.
“He (Okorocha) later directed me to his elder brother, which I did and the children later married. Two weeks ago, to the glory of God, they gave me my first grandchild”, he explained.”
The nominee, while speaking on his indictment as contained in the petition, said the visitation panel set up by the state government could not found any incriminating thing against him and submitted its report.
He went on: “After the panel, headed by Professor Anyanwu, who was among 25 candidates that sat for the interview of vice chancellorship position with me, submitted its report and could not found anything against me, the government asked the panel to do another investigation.
“At the end, all they could found against me was that I went away with a 13-seater bus, which cost N3.6million instead of a brand new (Peugeot) 406 car at the cost of N4.8million. I decided to ask for the bus because 406 was my official car as the vice chancellor.
“I decided to go for the bus, which was less than a million naira to the car due to the financial situation of the university.
“When I resumed as the vice chancellor in 2000, I inherited only N42, 000 and by the time I was leaving in 2005, I left N846million in the coffers of the university”, he stressed.
Anwukah also stated that the N800, 000 oral approval he gave the school bursar for the repairing of a perimeter fence at his official residence while he was attending a conference of commonwealth vice chancellors in Cape Town, South Africa, was within his powers as contained in the extant law of Nigerian universities.
In his remark,Chairman of the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, Samuel Anyanwu,PDP, Imo East, said the committee invited the nominee to give him fair hearing on the petitions against him, adding it would submit its report to the upper legislative chamber for its consideration.
The petioners did not come to defend their petition.But Senator Anyanwu said a date another date would be set for them to defend their petitions.