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The raging controversy over the actual sum of money left in liquid currency when former governor Peter Obi of Anambra State handed over power in March last year has driven home the saying by British statesman, Winston Churchill that – “a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.” This is more so because since Obi’s successor decided to break his 19-month old silence on the controversy, further revelations have shown Nigerians the factual account of Obi’s Handover Notes. A fierce duel between the representatives of the warring parties on Channels Television on Tuesday, November 18, 2015 offers us a veritable insight into the dispute.

After the crossfire between former governor Peter Obi’s media aide Mr. Valentine Obienyem and Governor Obiano’s Principal Secretary, Mr. Willie Nwokoye on the live television programme, the question agitating the minds of many people is why did Mr. Obi hand over a castle of lies? Another question is whether Mr. Obi will now let peace reign in Anambra State.

Apparently responding to the challenge thrown by Mr. Obienyem for a televised debate over the contentious N75bn cash asset purportedly left by his boss, Mr. Nwokoye had shown up on Sunrise, a popular programme on Channels Television where he had deftly pried open the N75bn Pandora’s Box and displayed the actual contents for all to see. Nwokoye’s performance established without a shred of doubt that Obi’s claim about leaving N75bn for his successor was absolutely incorrect. While not denying that the former governor left some money behind, Nwokoye maintained the position earlier taken by the Obiano administration that the actual sum left behind in liquid cash by Obi was N9bn.

Interestingly, when prodded by the Channels Interview panel, Obi’s media aide, valentine Obienyem sensationally corroborated Nwokoye’s position on the actual sum left by his boss and admitted for the first time that the so-called N75bn cash legacy was essentially in investment and in cash. This is contrary to the spurious and almost criminal claims frequently bandied by Obi’s coterie of media aides insisting that the former governor left a cash sum of N75bn behind when he exited office in March 2014. Obieneym has been leading a band of attack dogs whose sole mission is to embarrass and discredit the
governor and his family for reasons that are not known to the people since the man they are supposedly working for is not standing election in the state.

In the Channels TV programme, Obienyem had arrived with spurious documents containing curious account numbers where the former governor had supposedly left hefty sums of money for his successor. However, under the intense probing of the Channels crew, it became clear that the documents that Obienyem was brandishing were not the same Handover Notes submitted by his master on the day he handed over power to Chief Obiano. When Maupe Ogun, one of the interviewers reminded him that the issue in contention was not whether his boss had left some money behind, but whether he had actually left N75bn in liquid cash, Obienyem became tongue-tied. “How much in total would you say was the cash left at the time your boss handed over?” Maupe insisted. Cornered into a box where he had no choice than to mention a figure, Obienyem blurted out “N37bn in liquid currency,” thereby establishing a solid basis for doubt about the actual sum of money left by his boss. Again when prodded by the same interviewer on whether he had any problems with the decision of the Anambra State Government to clear the air on the inconsistencies in the handover note since the bogus claim was affecting its credibility before the people, Obienyem seemed momentarily lost for words before finally lacing his comment with a dose of comedy. He reasoned that “whoever is in charge in Awka should have called my boss before going public.” How preposterous!

Obienyem’s timid performance culminating in his frank admission that former governor Obi did not leave the sum of N75bn cash asset behind fully underscores the strong arm tactics that had been deployed against governor Obiano in the past 19 months to frustrate his efforts to make a mark in Anambra State. Obienyem’s admission that the claim of bequeathing Obiano the sum of N75bn was flawed and his failed attempt to smuggle yet another bank statement into public consciousness on live television signposted a dangerous desperation to score a cheap political point without the scantiest regard for what mattered to the people.

What finally came out of the so called “debate” which Obieneyem had cockily brought upon himself is a convincing confirmation that former governor Peter Obi did not leave N75bn in liquid cash for his successor as had been widely bandied about. It is not clear whether Obienyem knew the implication of admitting that the actual figure left was N37bn but basic accounting principles state that once an error is admitted in a financial claim, it impugns the integrity of the entire financial profile. In other words, a discerning audience has no basis to believe that even the “N37bn in liquid currency” which Obienyem is suddenly waving as the new legacy is factual.

Meanwhile, away from Obienyem’s regrettable television appearance, many people are wondering whether former governor Obi would be prepared to work for peace now that the contentious N75bn has been tabled before the Nigerian public. Many people wonder whether the high drama surrounding the matter that has played itself out since last weekend would serve as a perfect closure to this avoidable exchange between the erstwhile friends who attended the same secondary school. But perhaps more importantly, many people are actually hopeful that when the storm raised by Obiano’s disclaimer of the N75bn cash legacy finally settles, Peter Obi would allow his successor to continue the good work he is doing in Anambra State.

This piece written by Ikem Odenigbo is Nothing but the Truth!

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