Obi’s N86.65 Billion Credit Balance & Problem Of Huge States’ Debts In Nigeria (Part One)

Victor Umeh, Peter Obi and Willie Obiano

Victor Umeh, Peter Obi and Willie Obiano

(Public Statement, Onitsha Nigeria, 5th day of April, 2014)-Following
sustained attempts by politicians of underworld to blacken the towering
image of Anambra State and her people over the outstanding leadership
qualities and legacy shown and left by immediate governor of the State,
Mr. Peter Obi, especially as it concerns public finances and their
management, the leadership of International Society for Civil Liberties &
the Rule of Law has re-visited the state of finances contained in Mr.
Obi’s public stewardship account and handover note. While information
contained in his public stewardship account was made public, that
contained in his statutory handover note was sought by our leadership
through friendly and Freedom of Information Act premises.
Introduction: Mr. Peter Obi governed Anambra State democratically from
17th March, 2006 to 17th March, 2014. Nine days to his handover, on 8th of
March, 2014, to be precise, he publicly gave the account of his
stewardship and presented a “blue book” containing many tangible and
intangible projects he executed in office. One of the findings we made
after perusing the contents of his “blue book” stewardship account, which
is in the public domain with provable indexes, is that not all his
completed projects are captured. The highlight of his stewardship
presentation was his thunderous announcement of a surplus cash and
investment balances of “N75 billion” for the State. This, being clearly
unheard of in recent times in Nigeria, or any part thereof, made some
never-do-well citizens including failed politicians unsettled. As a
result, faceless groups and other malicious individuals were hired and
recruited to place adverts in newspapers claiming that Mr. Peter Obi’s
public stewardship account was a fiction.
Among indisputable and provable achievements associated with Mr. Peter
Obi’s glorious administration were tarring and completion of over 800
kilometers of Trunk B & C roads, reconstruction of a number of strategic
Federal roads on “ reconstruct and be reimbursed” basis, construction and
completion of over 25 large and medium scale bridges, attraction of a
number of strategic Federal projects to the State and the Southeast zone,
which include Akanu Ibiam International Airport, commencement of work on
Second Niger Bridge and construction of Onitsha- Nkpor Flyover.
Other provably completed projects of the former Obi’s administration are
procurement and distribution of over 1, 700 vehicles to important
organizations including security agencies, missionary, public and private
schools and hospitals, distribution of over N20 billion saved since 2006
to organizations above named, distribution of 22, 000 computers and
laptops, 1000 distribution transformers and hundreds of industrial
generators to schools, hospitals and communities, reconstruction of
various dilapidated public and missionary schools and hospitals,
transformation and upgrading of a hitherto “glorified secondary school”
called “Anambra State University” to befitting “Chukwuemeka Odumegwu
Ojukwu University” and a number of State owned tertiary hospitals and
schools with full accreditation of their key programs.
Mr. Peter Obi’s celebrated records in the area of “intangible projects”
include his ingenuity and masterfulness in resources mobilization and less
reliance on statutory allocations and raising of bonds or engaging in
public borrowings, payment and liquidation of pension and gratuity arrears
owed State and LGA serving and retired workers amounting to over N35
billion accumulated since 1995, reduction of the State’s previous debts
from over N20 billion in 2006 to N10.7 billion as at December 31, 2013,
restoration of decency and tolerance in politics of the State and
invention of “economic governance” approach as against “political
governance” approach.
Issuance of stewardship account in public governance under democracy and
its provable scrutiny are not only important, but also a fundamental
yardstick to measure the performance index of elected public office
holders. Our archive vividly recalls that in March 2006, when the Enugu
Division of the Court of Appeal, removed Dr. Chris Nwabueze Ngige as
Anambra governor, he hurriedly issued a public statement saying that he
left a staggering sum of N12.8 billion in the State coffers. Thorough
checks that followed immediately after, revealed that unpaid certificates
for projects completed by contractors amounted to N9 billion. When
deducted from the cash balance, the actual cash left in the State coffers
was N3.8 billion. It was further found that arrears of gratuities,
pensions and salaries amounting to billions of naira were owed. There was
also over N20 billion public domestic and foreign debts inherited from the
Mbadinuju’s disastrous administration. In other words, the state of
finance under Ngige, just like under Mbadinuju, was in huge deficit
amounting to tens of billions of naira.
Our Investigation Of Peter Obi’s Credit Balances: Under the Freedom of
Information Act of the Federation 2011, the corporate and private
citizens’ right to seek and obtain public information from the
constituted authorities for public interest is ensured. To this end,
investigation of Mr. Peter Obi’s public stewardship account was recently
carried out by our leadership. Provable facts at our disposal gathered
from the investigation showed that as at Monday, 17th of March, 2014, the
total investments and cash left for Anambra State amounted to N86, 665,
985, 574,066 (eighty six billion, six hundred & sixty five million, nine
hundred & eighty five thousand, sixty six kobo). This alters the former
governor’s earlier public declaration of N75 billion, which was made nine
days to his handover date of 17th day of March, 2014. The latest
investigated figure was arrived at after final updates and addition of
cash left by ministries, departments and MDGs as well as certified bank
In the course of our investigation under reference, we saw signed
documents from heads of respective ministries and departments certifying
the credit balances with banks domiciling them. We also saw certified bank
accounts backing the cash balances including Fidelity, Access and Diamond
Banks certified documents containing the dollar bonds of $156M or N26.5B
bought by Anambra State, which includes their procurement and due dates
together with expected accrued interests. We saw the statutory handover
note of the former governor to his successor where all the fiscal and
investment data were contained.
The highlight and striking thing we found in the course of our
investigation is that no serving and retired civil servant salaries,
pensions and gratuities both at the State and Local Government levels were
outstanding as at 17th of March, 2014. This corroborated calls we received
from some aggrieved LGA staff retirees approximately one month to the
handover date (17/03/2014). The said aggrieved LGA retirees were afraid
that since their names got missing from the compiled list of retirees,
they might not be included in Obi’s pension and gratuity liquidation of
arrears’ “final push”. Few weeks after, they called us to inform us that
they were part of the last liquidation of LGA pension and gratuity
arrears, amounting to N2.3 billion after the omission of their names was
rectified. In the area of State contractors’ payment warrants or
certificates, we found that under Mr. Obi’s policy of ‘be paid as you
execute or complete’, all certificates bearing ‘completed projects’ were
fully crosschecked and paid. Under the policy, contractors are not paid
for jobs not completed. This explains why they now work in phases and get
paid in phases. As a matter of fact, payment of contractual certificates
for public projects completed, amounting to N5 billion, was cleared as at
17th day of March, 2014. It is a standing policy in the State of Anambra
State, according to our investigation, that public contractors are not
paid for jobs not completed.
Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chairman
International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law
08180103912, 08033601078,
Comrade Justus Uche Ijeoma, Head, Publicity Desk
Mazi Odera
Truth is our standard,accept it in good faith or
we shove it down your throat.The Choice is yours.
I am off but on

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