During the 56th Independence Anniversary celebration, the former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi was a guest at the “Platform”, a forum initiated by Pastor Poju Oyemade of the Covenant Christian Centre. There, he spoke on the culture of waste by Nigerian leaders. He used his eight years stewardship in Anambra as example of how to curtail government expenditure.
However, a close aide and kinsman, Chief Ben Obi has picked holes in Peter Obi’s presentation, saying they were a contrast of what he did as governor. It is now a case of who is telling the truth.
During Peter Obi’s eight-year tenure, he and Ben Obi were allies. As Special Assistant on Inter party matters, Ben Obi wielded enormous powers and was considered close to his boss.
Since Peter Obi appeared on “The Platform” many, especially persons from Anambra who know the strained relationship between him and his successor, Chief Willie Obiano believe Obi was only using the speech to denigrate Obiano.
In that speech,Obi exonerated himself from some of the wastages indulged by some state governors, saying throughout his tenure, he did not travel with official outriders, bulletproof SUVs, and not more than five convoy cars at anytime. He added that government houses are not places for partying all night, but where governors are housed to work for their states. He frowned at the consumption of expensive wines and use of private jets by governors’ at taxpayers’ expense. He said he flew economy class but regretted that governors now embark on wasteful and expensive trips with no bearing on infrastructural development in their respective states.
Obi’s speech received a national applause. However, some former aides are accusing now him of hypocrisy. Ben Obi decried the level of hypocrisy and revealed how his former boss administered Anambra.
“Peter Obi travelled in private jets as often as any other state governor. He also travelled by helicopters alone or with an aide. When he went for burial of his wife’s sister, he flew in a helicopter from the government house. He also flew in helicopter to visit Olumba Olumba Obu in the company of Valentine Obieyem.
Moreover, Peter Obi increased money for the kitchen at government house to N2million monthly and the feeding of Police Officers to N7million monthly, which he always pocketed. What he did was to sack the former cooks and butlers and employed more than 30 cooks, butlers and stewards from Akwa Ibom State. Prof. Emenike Obi, Principal Secretary withdraws the money every month for him.
Peter Obi’s ban of Champagne at the government house was laughable”, Ben Obi said.
He pointed to the Squash Court at government house which was converted to makeshift warehouse for drinks distributed by Peter Obi’s company.
“During festive periods, Peter Obi will use the beverages as gifts to important personalities. The gifts would be labelled as coming from the state government. All contractors must have accounts with Fidelity Bank. Peter Obi claimed his administration is not owing any contractor, this is a lie because contractors were owed, and Obiano is now paying them”.
He expressed worry that Peter Obi uses every opportunity to castigate Willie Obiano who has even humbly pleaded for forgiveness of any known and unknown wrong. “Dr. Chris Ngige did not vilify him the way he is doing to Obiano. Obiano does not want to probe him, so he should shut up,” Ben Obi added.
The issue has become controversial and is discussed in beer parlours, market places and offices. While most people affirmed to Peter Obi as a humble person, others say, he should let his successor be. Some say, Obi should emulate other former governors who have left quietly.
Even as as Obi is influential in Anambra, Obiano is also equally loved due to his sterling achievements. Mr Lawrence Nwangwuta, a commercial motorcyclist said, “I have been in Anambra for 10 years now, and can tell that Peter Obi did well while Obiano is following in his footsteps.” Obi has done his work, he should let Obiano do his own”.
Another respondent, Barthlomew Ejike, a lecturer said, “People just want to remain the only superstar in their locality. I think that is why Obi is distracting Obiano. Anyone who watched Obi’s at the “Platform” will know whom he was referring. It was clear Obiano was the target. He should let Obiano be.
A school proprietor, Barth Nwosu said, even though Peter Obi performed creditably, he needs to leave the stage for Obiano to do his job”.
Meanwhile, following the failed reconciliation brokered in Onitsha months ago, during the burial of late, Rev. Fr Nicholas Tagbo, Catholic Bishops are making fresh moves to reconcile them again. Until this is done both gladiators would continue to throw darts at each other.