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Obi replies Soludo as Atiku canvasses restructuring at LBS

By Kehinde Olatunji (Lagos) and John Akubo (Abuja)
16 November 2022   |   4:30 am
Presidential candidate of Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, yesterday, gave a response to the opinion piece penned by the governor of Anambra State, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, setting the stage for a feisty verbal exchange between the two leading lights of Anambra and the Southeast region.

• Obi: I did my little as Anambra governor, Soludo should do better as a professor
• We have dragged Soludo to deities over Obi, says Ohanaeze
• Soludo’s comments borne out of envy — LP
• Atiku, Obi set agenda on exchange rates, others

Presidential candidate of Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, yesterday, gave a response to the opinion piece penned by the governor of Anambra State, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, setting the stage for a feisty verbal exchange between the two leading lights of Anambra and the Southeast region.

Reacting to Soludo’s treatise titled, ‘History beckons and I will not be silent (Part 1), where the governor disclosed that the investment he (Obi) left in government was worth close to nothing and the LP candidate can’t win the 2023 presidential election, Obi said he did his little as governor of Anambra and urged the incumbent governor to do his best in the state as an economics professor.

Speaking at the 2022 Lagos Business School (LBS) Alumni Conference, Obi described Soludo as his brother.

“He (Soludo) remains my brother, we are very close. I remain prayerful for him. For other things, which I didn’t succeed, God has given him opportunity to do it and succeed. So, if there is anything pending, governance doesn’t finish, people are still in government in America, so, you stop where you will stop, other people will continue from there.

“He is the governor of the state; he is my senior brother, he is even more intelligent than me, because he is a professor, I am a trader, so, he knows more and will be able to do things better than I did.

“I have 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.”

The former governor said he left office with N75 billion savings, adding that his administration saved $50 million each in Access, Diamond and Fidelity banks with an interest rate of 6.5 per cent.

He further clarified: “The one they said is worthless, we invested N3.5 billion in International Breweries. That facility is there employing directly and indirectly over 10,000 Anambrarians. The shares were at a time being sold at N50, today, the share is about N5 or so.

“When you spread your investment, some will go up some will come down but overall the company is still there, the company is still doing well, it is still part of the global chain. I needed to explain it not because I am defending comments by my brother,” he said, adding that he left the office without owing any contractor or supplier who had executed his or her job.

ALSO joining the fray, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, lashed out at Soludo over his statement, saying it has dragged the governor to two deities in Igbo land, for discrediting the legacies of Obi.

The group in a statement signed by its Secretary-General, Okechukwu Isiguzoro, said: “Ndigbo have dragged Soludo to the two famous divinities and deities (Chokoleze in Mbaise and Ubiniukpabi in Arochukwu) for his unreasonable public behaviour.

“Soludo’s actions are ridiculous, unreasonable and premature; there was no locus for the governor’s outburst and the sanctions against Soludo to face Igbo deities will serve as a deterrent to Southeast politicians who have been hired by enemies of Ndigbo and Nigerians to derail Obi’s presidency in 2023.

“Soludo exposed and indicted himself of treachery when he discredited the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and LP presidential candidates as not viable alternatives to win the 2023 elections. How can a governor of two presidential candidates (APGA and LP) make such a public declaration?

“We advise Soludo to concentrate on the current crisis in Anambra and stop casting innuendo and aspersions on the person of Obi,” the statement said.

In the same vein, National Chairman of LP, Julius Abure, described comments made by Soludo as remarks borne out of jealousy.

Abure said Soludo, who was at some point the Governor of Central Bank, would first speak condescendingly about a sound investment decision made by Obi.

“Even Soludo rose on the legacy of Obi, because Obi was the first governor that rose to power through the APGA platform. Obi built the party, consolidated it and worked for the people of Anambra, which gave people confidence to continually vote for APGA.”

He further said that Soludo’s recent tirades is confirmation that Obi’s ambition is not an Igbo project but pan-Nigeria.

“This project is certainly not about Umunna! Even brothers and sisters normally disagree. It is a Nigeria project.”

MEANWHILE, the duo of Obi and presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, yesterday, revealed their security and economic plans for the country at the LBS conference.

The sessions, which was moderated by Franklin Ngwu, an associate professor of strategy, corporate governance and risk management at the Lagos Business School, and Muda Yusuf, founder/CEO, Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprises (CPPE), was tagged: “The Leadership Imperative.”

Specifically, Atiku said that the review of the Constitution is highly essential to the unity of Nigeria, as his administration will pursue it with all seriousness if he wins next year’s presidential election.

The former vice president maintained that there would be a convergence, noting that what is currently at play with multiple exchange rates hurts the private sector, which contributes about 79-80 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Atiku added that his administration would privatise the oil and gas sector to generate income for the country and make Nigeria the refinery hub of West Africa.

“Up till now, our moribund refineries are not functioning and yet we are spending money on them. As far as I am concerned, we would rather privatise them, we have about three of them and we have been spending money without any production. If we had privatised them, they would have been producing today, no private sector will buy a refinery and be spending money and allow it not to be in operation.”

Speaking on inflation, Atiku said inflation is a by-product of a bad economy and once the economy is put on the right track, inflation will be controlled.

Atiku further said his agenda for restructuring is to ensure that the government becomes more efficient.

To this end, he said that he would encourage the National Assembly and state Houses of Assembly to come up with Constitutional amendments that will give more powers and resources to state and local governments.

“As Vice President between 1999 to 2007, I headed the economic team that implemented fundamental economic reforms, including the design and implementation of a private sector revival strategy.

“We focused on macro-economic stability and transforming critical areas such as banking, insurance, oil and gas, telecommunications, pension and the civil service.

“We created novel institutions for laying the foundation for good governance and accountability such as the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPE), Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and SERVICOM.

“With many years in the private sector, I have a deep understanding of our economy and its challenges.”

Obi, on his part, called for the overhaul of the cost of governance, thereby making it functional, adding that the structure of the country is not working.

“The cost of governance in Nigeria is unacceptable. The entire system needs an overhaul, to make it more functional, to train people more so that it will be able to bring technology for efficiency and effectiveness.”

On foreign exchange, Obi said “the rate and volatility of your foreign exchange is a function of your foreign reserve, which is directly linked to your export, because you are not a country that is productive.”

He said to control and bring stability to the currency, there is a need to export and earn dollars, saying that Nigeria cannot be 80 per cent dependent on oil that gives less than $20 billion.

Obi said the country needs to start production and export of goods, saying it is the only way to earn dollars and curb scarcity.