Obi, Obiano in war of words over Anambra finances

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The immediate past Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, and his successor, Willie Obiano, are currently embroiled in a war of words over the status of the state’s finances.

While Obi said he left N75 billion in the treasury, Obiano said his predecessor left only N9 billion and a debt of N185 billion.

Obiano, at a news conference addressed by the Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Solo Chukwulobelu, said the N185 billion was the debt from projects inherited from Obi, who paid only N78.9 billion on inherited debts.

According to Chukwulobelu, Obi’s administration paid N35.1 billion on inherited projects between March 2014 and August 2015, while the incumbent paid N11.7 billion within the same period.

He said as at March 17, 2014, Obi’s administration had achieved 42.6 per cent completion of the total inherited projects, while the present administration had as at July 31, 2015 achieved an additional 19 per cent taking the completion rate to 61.6 per cent on inherited projects from the past administration.

“There was no N75 billion found in the treasury of Anambra State and the liquidity assets were far below what is on record.

“Based on the figure 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 N35.6 billion, consisting of mobilisation paid on contracts for shopping malls and hotels, cost of two Business Parks in Onitsha, investments in Eurobonds, among 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 billion have been reclassified as ‘liquid investments, FGN Receivables and Involuntary Investments.”

However, Obi, in a statement by his media aide, Vincent Obienyem, said the facts and figures presented by the Obiano administration were false in their entirety.

Obi wondered why it took the Obiano government two years to come up with the figures being bandied around.

Obi said he left over N75 billion in cash and investment, made up of N27 billion in local currency investment; N26.5 billion in foreign currency investment; and N28.1 billion in Certified State/MDS balances.

He added in the statement by Obienyem: “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 N75 billion he bequeathed his successor.

“As a financial expert, Obi went to his end of tenure event with Gov. Willie Obiano and said all this in the presence of all the Bank MDS in whose banks the monies are.

“In fact, as at March 17th he handed over, he got all the certified statements of Anambra’s accounts from the banks these 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?”

On the diminished value of the foreign currency investment, Obienyem said it was a clear lie and challenged the state government to make the calculation public for financial experts to debunk or better still set up a committee to do proper analyses.

“They should know that the dollar investment is to be held till maturity. It is not to be sold and I hope somebody is not salivating to sell them. As at Friday, the money, originally $156m is now $176m. This means it has gained $20m (over N8 billion). This is not guess work but financial exactitude any expert can figure out.”

On the liabilities Obi left, Obienyem described it as another misrepresentation of facts.

He said not only that the figures given were incorrect, Obienyem said that Obi paid contractors being owned by his predecessors and did not owe a single contractor before leaving office.

He asked: “Are they saying he should pay for contracts awarded but not yet executed before he left office? Did his successor not run his campaign on the premise of continuity before the people voted him?”

After listing defences to other issues raised by the Obiano government, Obienyem added: “The denial coming at a time the State Government had concluded arrangement to massively borrow money from banks and financial institutions.”

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