Early last Tuesday, the people of Anambra State, and, indeed, the nation, were treated to the shocking revelation by the new Governor of Anambra State, Prof Chukwuma Soludo, that the state he was inheriting was crippled by debt. He made the damning revelation on an Arise Television Programme.
He had stated inter alia: ‘In terms of debt I inherited, it runs into hundreds of billions of Naira. In that of cash, we met about 300 million Naira only. In fact let’s not talk about it. Our treasury is funny.
But I hope we shall make money henceforth to help us fulfill our promises for infrastructure and development of the state. But in terms of what I met in our coffers, my brother, it’s pathetic. Please let us not go there. God will help us.’
Those damning words just about painted the grim picture facing the state in the aftermath of the exit of the former helmsman, Chief Willie Obiano, who had been immediately picked up at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Lagos, on his way out of the country by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC; hours after he had handed over to Soludo.
Some people had questioned Obiano’s failure to make his handover notes public in order to enable the people he governed for eight long years to have an idea of the financial standing of the state.
But it had been shrouded in unnecessary secrecy; a far cry from what obtained when his predecessor, Peter Obi, was leaving. Some people also demanded that Soludo should make public what he was inheriting to avoid stories in the future.
It will recalled that Obi announced before the world and before Obiano who was then coming in, on the eve of Obi’s exit, how much he, Obi, was leaving behind and where the funds were.
Obiano had not complained until nearly two years after when he said the amount of money Obi announced that he left was not entirely true. People had asked him why he had kept silent all those months without getting a satisfactory answer.
It was therefore with apprehension that people hoped that Soludo would make public what he was inheriting, and that he did on the Arise TV programme. It was a revelation that proved that EFCC may be right after all in wanting to hold Obiano to account.
We are of the view that the unfolding events have nothing to do with Obiano as an individual but as a governor of a state who should give a proper account of his stewardship. That is what he owes the people and it has nothing to with sentiments.
That the EFCC has asked him to do so does not mean he is already guilty. He only has to answer those questions and walk away freely if his answers are satisfactory.
However, we urge the EFCC to go about their investigation professionally and without turning it into a witch hunt. Due process should be followed to the letter, without Obiano being subjected to ridicule as was seen in the leaked video of Obiano in the EFCC facility.
At the end of the day, it will be down to Obiano to prove the EFCC right or wrong.