By Chioma Gabriel
AWKA—Former Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi has described as scandalous and mind-boggling the news of the sale of the Dollars he saved and invested for the future of Anambra State termed, Anambra Future Growth Funds.
During his campaign speech at Head Bridge Market, Onitsha, yesterday, Obi said he first learnt of the sale when somebody he did not know sent a text to him on Friday to read a national daily of that day. Obi said he almost doubted the report until he heard it directly from the mouth of Gov. Willie Obiano during the gubernatorial debate on Channels on Sunday. The former governor said that more scandalous was the defence of the governor that it was useless saving for the future.
“That statement portrayed me as a useless man. Yes, if it is useless to save, the person that carried out a useless act must also be useless,” Obi argued.
On the reasons that made him to save, Obi said: “I saved N48, 629,473, 469 in local currency, some of which we tied to specific projects like payment of 2-year salary of civil servants we employed for him not to be encumbered, Agulu and Onitsha Hotel, Awka and Nnewi Malls and some critical roads like the completion of the dualization of the dual carriage road which we had got permission to do and be paid back by the Federal Government. We also left some for him to continue what we were doing.”
On the $156 million (about 27 billion Naira at that time and about 75 billion Naira now when the yields are added), Obi explained the purpose thus: “After our study of the Chinese phenomenal achievements, as we were coming to the end of MDGs, we learned that the Chinese regional governments were able to attract a number of investments because of the ability to contribute or partner with the investors in setting up productive facilities within their regions.
For example, some of them effectively made equity contributions of 10 – 20 %, which they were able to achieve due to their robust saving.
So, our calculation was that if the state would be able to save a particular amount ($18 – 20 million dollars) as we did in eight years, up until 2030 at the average interest rate of a little over 6%, we would be able to achieve about a billion dollars in savings and earnings. We would then use about 50% of this amount to attract investment, considering that the average Chinese Small and Medium scale Enterprise, SME, for example, was set up with about two million dollars. Our goal was that if we would be able to invest 25% in each enterprise, which is $500,000, we would be able to achieve 1000 SMEs facilities scattered all over Anambra State, which would jump start aggressive economic growth within the state, especially as income from oil is coming to an end. I personally explained this to him and we wrote it down in our comprehensive handover note.”