LAGOS (Sundiata Post) – Peter Obi, Presidential Candidate of Labour Party, on Tuesday reacted to the opinion article which Anambra State Governor Chukwuma Soludo wrote about his (Obi’s) 2023 presidential ambition.
The article, which was released on Monday afternoon, literally set the internet on fire.
In the 4008-word piece, Soludo dismissed Obi, one of his predecessors as a joker in the 2023 race, saying he would only deplete the votes of former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and widen the chances of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Tracing the multiple defections of Obi from the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) to PDP and Labour Party, which he described as “transit camp” for aspirants who lost primaries, the governor said Obi himself knows that he cannot win.
Soludo also took a swipe at Obi’s supporters whom he referred to as social media mob.
Reacting, while speaking to the alumni association of the Lagos Business School at an event on Tuesday, Obi said Soludo remains his brother.
The LBS Alumni Day themed, ‘The Leadership Imperative’ is one of the engagement platforms hosting political office seekers to answer questions and share their vision for the country.
Peter Obi’s Response to Soludo
On the comments by my very respectable elder brother, Soludo: I and Soludo have come a long way; he’s my brother, he’s my friend, he’s the governor of my state. And as governor of my state, I pray for him to do well. And I support him – it’s very important and critical. He has his own opinions. His opinion might not be the opinion of the people of Anambra State. It might not be the opinion of the Southeast or Nigerians. But I respect his opinion because it is his opinion. And he’s a respected person as far as I am concerned. And he is my governor.
But to clarify so that people can understand, the investment I did in Anambra state – before I talk about investment – the only measure of development while I was governor was Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). It is MDGs that India, China and Vietnam mainstreamed into their development agenda. For China, they used it to pull 439 million people out of poverty between year 2000 and 2015. India within this period pulled 276 million out of poverty. And Vietnam did almost 40 to 50 million out of poverty. I became governor in 2006, was impeached ending of 2006. Came back. When they said I should pay money for me not to be impeached, I said no, I can’t pay people for doing the wrong thing. I will rather go. But I came back (as governor). They started MDG in 2000. After my impeachment, I came back in 2007, and started implementing MDG. By the time Nigeria ended MDG in 2015, Anambra state was number 1. The person in charge of pulling people out of poverty, Dr Magnus Kpakol, go and ask him about certificate for being number one. He’s still alive. Go to department of statistics, I was the first governor to do a statistical record of poverty. I won a prize from Federal Ministry of Works for having the best road network. When I started, we were number 26 and 27 in WAEC and NECO (exams); by the time I left we were number one. I won Bill Gate prize for health. I can go on and on and say this is what we achieved. But the overall measure is MDG. I was number 1. I was even invited to United Nations to share my experience.
The day I left office, I was not owing any contractor who had executed his job. I didn’t say I was not owing for any contract awarded. You can only pay when the job is executed. I was not owing any supplier who supplied anything. Examples are (companies) like Innoson, Zinox Computers. I paid Zinox, and we bought the highest amount of computers ever bought by a government in Africa – they are here. HP will tell you the same thing. I paid them 6 months upfront before they supplied it to our schools. I paid Innoson one year before he delivered any car. You can go and verify all these. Above these, I decided from day one that we must have savings as a state. We must save at least 10% of my total receipt by the time I leave government. Total money received by Anambra state while I was governor – whether state, local government, IGR – everything was about 500 and something billion Naira, out of which the day I left office, we had savings of 75 billion naira, and this is how the money was shared: We saved in dollars in three banks in Nigeria: Access, Diamond and Fidelity banks. In each of these banks, I had savings of 50 million dollars. And they were invested at at least interest of six and a half per cent. If you calculate it today, as at that time it was the equivalent of 25 billion. If you calculate it today with interest, it is at least 250 million dollars. In each of these banks, I Invested at least 10 billion Naira, making it N30 billion at an average interest of about 10%. If you calculate it today, that money would be about 60 billion. Remember what I left is 75.
The third one is investment I did in various companies – like NIPP, we have 59 million dollars in it. The one they are saying is worthless is that we invested 3.5 billion in international breweries, a global company, part of a company which is the biggest brewer in the whole world. We had a policy while I was governor that any foreign investor who wants to invest in Anambra state we will buy 10% of the company, and under the condition that it will give Anambra people employment of not less than 40% of the workers. They built the facility in Anambra state. That facility is there today, employing directly and indirectly over 10,000 Anambrarians. They’ve been one of the highest revenue source for the state, even some of their waste, the biggest piggery we have in Anambra state collects waste from them, there are so many things that company has done in terms of helping the state, transporters, etc. The shares were at a time being sold at 50 naira. Today the shares are about 5 naira or so. Maybe that was what was referred to (by Soludo), but in the overall of what I left, its less than 5% – that particular investment (that Soludo mentioned) is less than 5%. So if you calculate what I left, I left 75 billion. If you go and sell the dollars today even at N600, it’s 150 billion, plus 60 billion of the naira, it’s 210 billion. Even if that one is wasted, three times what I invested is still there. When you spread your investment, some will go up, some will come down, but overall, the company is still there, still doing well, and it’s still part of a global chain.
I needed to explain it not because I’m defending (myself regarding) the comments by my brother; my brother is my brother and remains my brother; we’re very close, and I remain prayerful for him. For other things I didn’t succeed, God has given him opportunity to do it and succeed (smiles). If there’s anything pending, in governance you don’t finish (everything), you stop where you stop, other people will continue from there. I don’t look back, he’s the governor of my state, he’s my senior brother, he’s even more intelligent than me because he’s a professor, I’m a trader, he knows more, so he will be able to do things better than I did it. You know I’ve done my little as a trader. Now the professor is there. He will do his own as a professor. The schools I didn’t roof, he will roof them. That’s how government goes. Another person comes, does his own. Finally, please, get involved.
All of us (presidential candidates) are going to tell you a good story, say the same thing, but who can we trust? Even in this one they are talking about, some say he kept money and he did nothing, and I say ah ah even in the bible the man said since you couldn’t do this, why didn’t you save my money? If everybody who has led who did nothing kept money, would we have problem now? We would have had money to do something. At least I kept the money. But in this one, I did something and I kept money….
Nobody is a saint. I am not I have never claimed to be, and I don’t know everything. The little I know, I’ve tried. If you say you will fight corruption, let’s know where you passed through. How much did you leave there, how much was missing. At least today I’ve said where I left 150 million dollars, and 30 billion naira. Let others come and show where they left their own. Go to Anambra state, if you see a piece of land allocated to Peter obi, or his wife or anybody, directly or indirectly, come I will stop campaigning. So I say I will fight corruption head-on because I’ve experimented it somewhere.