Within a week, we have read three back-page articles on Mr. Peter Obi – the first two-term Governor of Anambra State and the vice presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 general election. One of them, published on Monday by Mr. Henry Okolie, has the imprimatur of the media office of the incumbent Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State. Indeed, the first paragraph gave at once the taste and smell of the whole piece. Henry Okolie vainly tried to prove that everything I affirmed in my reply to his principal’s on-going fable on the Anambra State Water Corporation was wrong, while everything denied in it was true. After reading it, one could observe the antics of overrated media aides seeking the keys to their master’s heart. At most, it only sustained my conviction that Agu Awka is infinitely capable of everything.
The articles remind us of Agu Awka’s peculiar method of dealing with whoever they consider a dissenting voice. Last year, 2019, for instance, Governor Willie Obiano called the President-General of Ohanaeze, Chief Nnia Nwodo, an idiot for leading Ohanaeze to support Obi’s nomination as the vice presidential candidate of the PDP. When Chief Nwodo confirmed that Obiano really called him an idiot, he let some 2,000 of his aides loose on him through torrents of diatribes. Similarly, last year, as a response to Chief Bianca Ojukwu’s innocuous counsel to him to show appreciation for good deeds of people, the same rabble of 2,000 aides came charging and barking at her – to the extent of even fabricating the unthinkable she was supposed to have done during the time of Adam. A close observation would reveal that majority of Anambrarians and friends of Anambra have become exasperated with the Obiano administration as a national embarrassment. Today, we have a situation where freedom of speech is understood to depend on quiescence.
In his piece, Henry Okolie pretended not to understand what I wrote. He said that I extolled Mr. Peter Obi for blatant refusal to pay workers of Anambra State Water Corporation and that the Obiano administration finally paid them. I had made it clear that I attended the executive council meeting during the Obi and Obiano administrations and would confirm that the Obiano administration did not pay a kobo to the Water Corporation; rather, they forcefully took the state’s funds after a garnishee order.
Among others, I wrote: “It could be verified that Anambra State’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) account with First Bank (account Number 2018779464) had the N2.1 billion from which the Water Corporation got N1.86 billion they paid themselves in August 2014. In effect, the money they took was that saved by the Obi administration. Out of the blues, Obiano, who at his exco meetings also insisted he would not pay them for non-performance, turned round to claim it was a deliberate act and indeed an exemplification of his benevolence. Haba!
“The irony of the fact is that, today, Obiano cannot point at any single improvement in water delivery in the state. He has not paid them one kobo since that garnishee order.”
I do not know what the said Henry Okolie had in mind by questioning Obi’s integrity. Integrity is not a matter of theoretical guesswork, but rather functions actively in the society. Thinking about Mr. Peter Obi and Obiano in matters of integrity is like thinking about life and death. How would Henry Okolie define integrity? Is it by claiming the export of phantom ugwu vegetables supposedly worth billions of naira? Is it by taking credit for Obi’s projects as he recently did with the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu Teaching Hospital?
The defenders of the Obiano administration are very good at generalisations without pointing at specifics. On the issue of accredited health institutions under Obi, which they questioned, let me reiterate that, before Obi’s tenure, no health institution was accredited in Anambra State but, with his tenure, 12 were accredited, including Onitsha General Hospital; Odumegwu-Ojukwu Teaching Hospital; School of Nursing, Nkpor; School of Midwifery, Nkpor; College of Health Technology, Obosi; School of Medical Laboratory, Our Lady of Lourdes, Ihiala; School of Midwifery, Ihiala; and School of Nursing, Ihiala. Would the defenders of the Obiano administration name one health institution that has been accredited in Anambra under his watch? It is revealing that his aides are even claiming that he accredited the teaching hospital he has not erected one building in. He may well go ahead to perform some magic and claim that he developed the Igboariam Campus of the state university, where he is yet to add any structure after Peter Obi. He has already claimed credit for the School of Agriculture simply because he changed its name.
What should worry the people of Anambra State the most is the several incredible but truthful news that come out of the state such as the Obiano government’s planned sale of the government-owned Agulu Hotel. As I alerted the people of Anambra State in my last piece, “The reality is that the Obiano administration is steadily pillaging the assets of the Water Corporation – including landed properties – across the state and allocating to themselves and their cronies. As we speak, for instance, the State Borehole Site near Shoprite at Onitsha is being partitioned.”
It is happening again, this time with the state-owned hotel.
It is laughable that the said Henry Okolie questioned my insistence on the goodness of Obi. Let me re-assert that, while those that work with the Obiano administration do not like being associated with him directly, everybody that has ever worked with Obi remains proud of him. There are many reasons to be proud of Obi. In contemplating the man’s wisdom and nobility of character, we find it beyond our powers to forget him, or, in remembering him, to refrain from appreciating him. Have you seen him deliver papers? No intellectual exercise can be more invigorating than to watch the workings of his mind. Attempting to criticise his masterly use of figures will not make the likes of the Henry Okoli’s principal, Obiano, to come anywhere near that.
After the issue of over N75 billion Obi left in the state’s coffers had been settled, I was surprised Henry Okolie raised it again. How do I respond to him? Thisday Newspaper offered reason for bestowing Peter Obi with the award of the Governor of the Decade. Part of the rationale was that: “Beyond other former governors, he introduced civility to government; left over N75 billion in the treasury of the state, which has been investigated and proved as correct.”
On his part, the highly respected elder statesman, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, who presented the award, said to Obi: “We have watched you over the years, you will go higher, my son.”
Do I need to say any more for now?
• Barr. Uzodike was commissioner for information in the administrations of Peter Obi and adviser to Willie Obiano.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the last article we will publish on the exchanges between supporters of ex-Anambra State Governor Peter Obi and incumbent Governor Willie Obiano.