By Phil Okose, Onitsha
Former Commissioner for Information in Anambra state during the tenure of ex-Governor Peter Obi, Chief Joe-Martins Uzodike, has described as lies, the statement by the Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Solo Chukwulobelu, which claimed that Obi bequeathed various categories of debts to his successor, Gov. Willie Obiano.
Uzodike, in a press release made available to newsmen in Onitsha, regretted what he called the “insensitivity of the timing, coming when serious minds are concerned about the present crisis in the country.”
According to him, except the aim was purposely to divert attention or circumvent questions the protesting Anambrarians would ask, including the whereabouts of the billions Obiano inherited from Obi.
Uzodike, who recalled the reference to Obi’s savings by Obiano’s people as “near cash,” said that when the same people denied Obi’s savings that he took time to compile the amounts saved, the banks where they are, the account numbers and the names of the banks, wondered why the government of Anambra state could not, after almost seven years, come up with the so-called comprehensive list of debts it inherited rather than always speaking amorphously and in general terms.
He, therefore, challenged the Secretary to the State Government, SSG, to avail Nigerians of the details in order to prove their assertion beyond doubts.
On the claim that Obiano inherited debts on long term programmes -State Education Programme Investment Project (SEPIP) and Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP), which were done using World Bank credit, Uzodike described it as half truth.
He said: “As the chairman of the South East Governors’ Forum, Obi masterminded both programmes and paid Anambra’s counterpart fundings. It is on record that though what one could call credit facility was worked out during Obi’s time, he did not draw one kobo from it. The moment Gov. Willie Obiano came on board. he started withdrawing as if there would be no tomorrow.
“Now that tomorrow has come, they started peddling all manner of falsehoods. Those of us who were part of his government from the beginning, who had the courage to advice against profligacy, such as my opposition to the signing of N5 billion for the celebration of first hundred days in office, were sacked,” Uzodike stated.
On the claim of what he called ‘Standard Payment Orders’ that were signed and deductions were going on’, Uzodike again challenged him to mention specific names.
As for the amounts he claimed that he paid, such as the one to Charms, Uzodike said that as at the day Obi left, nobody was owed. “Organisations such as Charms already had their cheques written and money for them deducted from the balances handed Obiano. What he did was to stop all the cheques, such that till today some of those people are yet to be paid,” he said.
Uzodike, who insisted that only Gov. Willie Obiano should come out to say what he met or did not meet or what debts he inherited, wondered why he keeps hiding under the shadows of others.
Reflecting on what he called “Obi’s truncated dream for the state,” he said that one person that understands the mess Obiano has plunged Anambra was the former managing Director of Diamond Bank, who, besides clarifying that Obi saved huge dollars denominated bonds in his bank and other banks, said if the money was left untouched, it would now be over N100 billion.
“This excludes naira savings,” Uzodike said.
Describing Obi’s administration as the most financially prudent, Uzodike said that while other states inherited debts running into hundreds of billions, Obiano inherited a state with surplus of over N75 billion, which Obiano himself acknowledged during the gubernatorial debate; a state that never owed any contractor and with the money for some projects like Awka and Nnewi Shopping Malls, Ndiukwuenu, Awgbu-Okpeze, Amawbia-Amansea dual carriage road; money for Onitsha and Agulu hotels already set aside.