Former Governor of Anambra State and the Vice Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the 2019 elections, Mr. Peter Obi, was the foremost voice during his tenure that fully backed the proposal that the Federal Government should save “excess” earnings for the future. His media aide, Valentine Obienyem, stated this in a statement made available to the press on Saturday in response to a tape released by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), where Obi supposedly lamented that the country could not save because the Governors at that time were against the practice. He observed that the “spurious APC tape is meant to imply that Obi also opposed savings and was part of the crisis of inflation presently plaguing the country”.
Contending that though that lack of savings was a contributory factor to inflation, Obienyem asserted that the prevalent hardship in the country is largely due to ineptitude in the management of the economy. He revealed that Peter Obi’s comments on the issue was in the spirit of collective responsibility, which dictated that he would not go behind the scenes to indicate which Governor was for or against the savings initiative.
Obienyem advised APC and discerning Nigerians desirous of knowing what went behind the scenes during the “Great Debate on National Savings” to read the book, Fighting Corruption is Dangerous: The Story Behind the Headlines, written by a former, highly-respected Minister of Finance & Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. “In the said book,” Obienyem noted, “the former Minister and one of the most renowned economists in the world today, went behind the scenes and told us what happened. In Chapter 4, Page 61, Line 20, after mentioning the names of State Governors that opposed savings, she indicated clearly that ‘Others, such as Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State argued for savings but were not supported. Their voices were drowned out, and National Economic Council (NEC) sessions became unpleasant when this topic arose’. What more evidence do we need on who played what part?”
Further, Obienyem said it was the failure to agree on savings at the centre that informed a determined Peter Obi to focus on savings for Anambra State where he was in charge. His words: “This is one of the reasons he was able to leave over 75 billion Naira in the Treasury of Anambra State at the end of his tenure. This was unusual as he achieved that feat without owing any contractor, supplier or civil servant. To the amazement of many observers, he did not borrow money from any financial institution. Perplexing, still, was that Obi cleared the indebtedness of the state to various bodies, including over N35 billion arrears owed pensioners in Anambra State since 1999.”
Expressing confidence in Peter Obi’s demonstrable prudence and sound resource management of resources, Obienyem recalled that the majority of Nigerians across the country rejoiced when the former Governor was chosen as running mate for the 2019 polls by PDP Presidential Candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
He thanked APC and other critics for offering the opportunity, though unintended, to clear issues such as Peter Obi’s unchanged position the necessity of savings by government at all levels, especially at the centre.