November 15, 2015

Obiano denies Obi’s N75bn handover

By Vincent Ujumadu, Awka

GOVERNOR Willie Obiano yesterday denied the claim by predecessor, Mr. Peter Obi that he left over N75 billion to his successor.

But Obi said the state government’s statement was full of inaccuracies.

Addressing reporters yesterday, the Secretary to the State Government, Prof Solo Chukwulobelu, described Obi’s claim as a hoax.

He said: “The N75 billion was not there; it was not handed over to anybody. At best it can be half truth”

Chukwulobelu said instead, the state government inherited a total contract sum of N185.1 billion as liability from the Obi administration.

He said the explanation had become pertinent because of the ground the rumour of the N75 billion was gaining, both in the social and traditional media.

Chukwulobelu said it took the state government this long to reply to the claim in other to put the rumour finally to rest, urging the public to discountenance the claim because it does not exist.

He said: “In the real sense, what the Obiano administration inherited from Obi was N9billion cash and N26billion near cash.

“Based on the figures detailed above, which are taken from the handover notes from the previous administration to the current administration, it is evident that the actual and voluntary cash investments made by the previous administration amounts to approximately N35.5billion consisting of mobilization paid on contracts for shopping malls and hotels, cost of two business parks in Onitsha, investments in Eurobonds, amongst a few others.

“Items such as counterpart funds held jointly with domestic 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 totaling approximately N39.5bliilon have been reclassified as “illiquid investments, FGN receivables and involuntary investments.

“However, to provide a true and fair picture of the state’s net position on March 17, 2014, the investments handover notes ought to have captured current liabilities and contingent liabilities also borne by the previous administration as at the time of handover.

“To put this to context, the total portfolio of inherited projects valued at approximately N185 billion was however not captured in the breakdown of the handover notes.”

But in a swift reaction, Obi described the state government’s statement as untrue.

Speaking through his media aide, Mr. Valentine Obienyem, Obi said it was a deliberate attempt by the state government to misrepresent facts.

Obienyem insisted: “Obi left over N75 Billion in cash and investment. The breakdown is as follows: N27 billion in local currency investment; N26. 5 billion in foreign currency investment and N28.1 billion in Certified State/ MDS balances.

“Even in the final handover document, Obi deducted N10 billion approved Federal Government refund, as well as the salary, pension, gratuity, money on certificates raised on contracts for the month of March which all amounted to N5 billion before arriving at the balance of over 75 billion he bequeathed his successor.

“As a financial expert, Obi went to his end of tenure event with Gov. Willie Obiano and said all these in the presence of all the bank MDs in whose banks the monies are lodged. In fact, as at March 17th he handed over, he got all the certified statements of Anambra’s accounts from the banks this monies were and handed them over to his successor. If they were confused on where the monies were , why would they not call Obi who kept them to explain the whereabouts to them as much as he knew?”.

He said it was good that the state government did not deny the fact that before leaving office, Obi paid billions of naira for the completion of Agulu Lake Hotel, Onitsha Hotel, Awka and Nnewi shopping malls, and invested in SABMiller Breweries in Onitsha, value of which, he said, has tripled.

He added: “It is curious that the denial came at a time the state government had concluded arrangement to massively borrow money from banks and financial institutions”, adding that they did not need to paint Obi black to do so, especially when the man, since leaving office, has not for a day commented on what is happening in Anambra, even with the daily drench of blame coming his way as being responsible for whatever, right or wrong, that are happening in the state for making his successor a governor, single handedly.”