Ikechukwu Emeka Onyia
Anambra State Governor Willie Obiano has cashed in on some of the dollar components of the tenured savings left by his predecessor, Mr. Peter Obi, The Nation has learnt.
According to sources, the transaction consummated on December 16, 2015, through the Anambra State Investment Promotion Agency (ANSIPA) saw the disposal of 8.25 per cent of First Bank of Nigeria Plc Bonds from which about $10.2 million was realised. This amounted to about N3 billion, going by the present exchange rate.
The bond, which was to mature in August 2020, had an annual coupon yield of 8.25 per cent and was purchased by Access Bank at a much discounted rate on December 18, 2015.
The sale was carried out ‘over the counter’ to keep it away from public glare, it was alleged.
This sale is coming after the Obiano administration is said to have reaped over N8.7 billion in total interest yields from the savings and investment portfolio left by Obi.
Obiano is also alleged to have borrowed heavily in less than two years of his administration.
A few months ago, there was a furore over the actual amount left by Obi. The Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Solo Chukwulobelu said there was no plan to dispose of the saving which he described as “near cash” and which he insisted was only about N9 billion only.
However, Obi’s former aides insisted that $156 million (N26.5 billion) was saved by Obi’s administration, which was valued at $176 million (N35 billion) as at November 2015.
When the Accountant-General of the state, Mrs Ngozi Okonkwo, was contacted on the sale, she declined to comment on the matter, saying it has to do with the finances of the state. She, however, warned that Obiano and Obi are good friends and the press should not create a crisis between them.
“You cannot ask me to comment on the state’s finance, it is not done. How many Accountant-Generals have you asked about their state’s finances? Is that how you people do?
“Can I ask you how much was the soup your wife cooked? So please don’t ask me that question because I don’t know you. The two governors are friends; you should not do anything against them,” she said.
Special Adviser to Governor Obiano Mr. Mark Okoye said he was at a meeting and he did not reply to text messages.
But another of Obiano’s aide’s, who desired anonymity, described the transaction as timely. He said the former governor was “wicked” for tying the state’s funds to long maturity dates. He praised Obiano for breaking what he described as “bondage”.
“Have you not been to Awka recently? At least work is ongoing on three flyovers, which means that the money Obiano borrowed and the one he realised from the sale of the bonds are being put into good use”, the aide said. He urged Obiano to sell the entire savings and use the proceeds to complete many projects he is executing, including those he said ”Obi hanged on his neck as yoke”, to make the people happy.
Media aide to Obi Mr. Valentine Obienyem said both he and his boss would rather not be drawn into the matter. ”All I can tell you is that Mr. Peter Obi saved the money under Anambra’s Future Growth Funds; he had a vision of a sustainable state.”
The savings Obi left for Obiano have been controversial. A few weeks ago, both camps engaged in a war of words following Obiano’s insistence that Obi left N9 billion in the treasury.
Obi’s camp, which insisted that he left over N50 billion cash in local currency, said Obiano was merely seeking justification to squander the funds and to justify his plan to borrow massively, raise bonds and sell the state’s savings, including Euro bonds and shares in INTAFACT Breweries Ltd.
Source: The Nation Newspaper