Anambra 75 billion and the price of silence

Ikewena Muoghalu
On the 14th day of November, 2015, the government of Anambra state debunked the long-held opinion that ex-governor Peter Obi left a legacy of N75 billion for the government of Chief Willie Obiano. By this clarification the government has put a lie to media reports both in the print and online that Anambra was financially stable as at 17th March, 2014 on account of this money. Echoes of this humongous bequeathal have been heard in hallowed and ordinary places. Even some respected columnists have expressed similar sentiments.     
For Obi that offered him the opportunity to present himself before Nigerians as a benevolent legator. And he almost ran along with the credit.  A columnist (who once spoke for federal government) wrote glowingly about him. But he surmised his own opinion on the notion that if Obi could not afford a personal house in Abuja after 8 years and having left behind a whooping 75 billion for his successor then he was a good man. He claimed to witness where the former governor was instructing an estate agent to get him a rented apartment. It was obvious the respected columnist fell for Obi’s shenanigans. Buoyed by the silence of the Obiano government, Obi walked on cloud nine. Enthralled, the columnist saw Obi as a saint who went into government and came out unsullied; forgetting that if his NEXT conglomerate nestles in a large expanse of land in a choice area of Abuja, getting a personal house is not a problem.    
Some others were more direct in writing about the handsome bequeathal. One such columnist claimed that Obiano was able to hit the ground running because Obi left him good money. On the net the excoriation of Governor Obiano was more vicious. Anchored by Obi’s media aides, a coterie of internet rats was unleashed on the administration to shoot down every achievement of the government. For this category of writers Obiano increased and pays salaries because he has a reserve of funds. He builds infrastructure and attracts investors for the same reason. No credit was ever given the administration for engineering a complex economic principle that sustains the whole projects, including the over 5000 workers employed by Obi at the twilight of his administration. Part of the deceit about the Obi government was that in 8 years of his government he did not employ anybody until he was to handover. He claimed to have included salaries of the new staff for one year in the bequeathed N75 billion. No doubt most of the reading public was hoodwinked by the man’s goody-goody nature to ask question. For almost two years the Obiano administration bore the pain of having a cash of N9 billion, bond investment of N26.5 billion and about N106 billion in liabilities. So bad was it that every achievement of the administration was dismissed as the effort of the yesterday’s man. The administration was so vilified by unlettered e-rats that when rains slowed down the pace of work at sites allegations of abandonment rented the air.   

It became compellingly apt to debunk the N75 billion legacies when it became obvious that detractors do not intend to allow government secret to remain secret. It was clear that it has gone beyond careless reportage on the net. Serious-minded columnists who should know or ask questions, if in doubt, were already giving expression to the lies and half truths. Understandably, some of them were only repaying an 8year patronage to a man who very early realized the importance of the media and maximized the advantages.  
But even before the clarification by the Obiano government on the actual amount bequeathed, diligent observers knew Peter could not have left the speculated amount. With the kind of bazaar his government mounted in its twilight, issuing cheques indiscriminately to organizations both deserving and undeserving, it was difficult to leave the amount claimed. Again in answering why the clarification became necessary, it was obvious that detractors were determined to foist on the administration the perception of an extravagant administration which has spent the 75 billion and is about to take a loan.
Ordinarily, government secret ought to be kept secret, but Obi out of greed is fighting dirty just to recover N7 billion he claimed to have spent in putting Obiano in government. But Obiano is said not to decline refund but wants to do so in tranches which Peter refused. The question is if Obi left as much as 75 billion: why did he not settle himself as he did for many credible and non-credible organizations shortly before he left office? Truth is that he did not leave more than N9 billion as revealed by the government. And he already received undeserved plaudits from the then Jonathan government which he was targeting for appointment. With his eyes set on federal appointment and conscious of his public image (which contrasts seriously with his real person) it was difficult to tamper with existing figure. Those who blame Obiano for the long silence should recall that some concerned ndi Anambra refuted the bogus legacy in a paid advertorial early in his administration which forced Peter who had started to leverage on the bequeathal for appointment to do some clarifications.  
It is expected that Internet bullies would disprove government clarification but truth speaks for itself. Their argument is that government is broke and wants to justify its taking a loan. But these lies are not supported by prompt payment of salaries and sustained work at various sites in the state. If this is impecunious it is expected to have manifested beyond the realm of speculation. Detractors of the government are lost as to the magic with which the government has carried on with the business of governance. They should look at the Anambra model (ANSIPPA) a private partnership that works.
Ikewena Muoghalu
Olo Street


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