The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has reportedly reached out to Anambra State governor, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, to aid in it’s investigations of alleged corrupt practices under his immediate predecessor, Willie Obiano.
A source close to the anti-graft agency disclosed to First News that the step was predicated on Soludo:s declaration during a television interview during the week, that Obiano left a debt of about N109 billion.
Soludo said the last administration left N300 in the government coffers.
Soludo made the disclosure while speaking in an interview with Arise TV.
“Already, the EFCC has reached out to the governor to help give its investigators unfettered access to relevant files and documents to assist in it’s investigations,” the source, who preferred anonymity owing to the sensitivity of the issue, disclosed.
The former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), said that although the problems confronting Anambra State remained daunting, the new administration was poised to record huge successes with the backing of the people.
He added that he had in possession a blueprint and that with the various documents at his disposal, he fully understands where the state is headed in the coming years.
Soludo disclosed that there was already an audited account, which he said was a public document as of December 31, 2021, adding that a lot of reconciliations will still need to be done.
The governor, when asked about the state of the state’s finances and where the funding for his numerous projects will come from, he answered that although the resources were paltry and “almost zero”, he knew about the problems before applying for the job.
He said: “But we are undaunted, as I said in my inaugural speech. We’ll get water out of the stone, with the people working with us, mobilising with us, we will be able to get water out of stone. Anambra has all the potential, but also equally matched with the challenges.
“And given the available resources that we have, we’re going to explore all kinds of creative means of revenues beyond the usual, so to speak, to be able to collect revenues to do these things.”
Soludo added: “But everybody knows that the state finances are not quite robust, to put it mildly. Debt is probably in the range of a hundred and something billion. Then cash a few hundred million. That’s what I saw. That’s the base.
“But we are still going to have reconciliations and have all the accounts from January to the date that we took over. And I think it’s best practice actually when you ask this question. We intend to have a very transparent public finance management system where we will publish everything.
“Everybody will know what is there and what is not there, what penny comes in what and what it is used for, and that is the aspiration. That’s part of what we promised in our manifesto. Very transparent public finance management.
“If I remember correctly, the cash in various banks is about N300 million or N400 and then the audited accountants as of December would be debt of about N109 billion. That’s what I saw.
“But we will take it from there. For me, that’s the baseline. When we do the other contingent liabilities, contractor debts and the other issues. It’s not what happened, but it’s where we draw the line and then move on, but that’s the baseline.”
He, however, described his predecessor, Obiano, as a good an honourable man, adding that he wasn’t envisaging any friction with him and his (Soludo’ds) deputy in the future.
Speaking on security, the former CBN Governor said there were ongoing discussions with all stakeholders, including the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), noting that the weekly forced stay-at-home will soon become a thing of the past.
Soludo said: “The discussions are ongoing. As I announced in my inaugural speech, my first meeting was on security. So I am fully briefed, the conversations are going on and I believe strongly that we’ll get it cracked, probably not going to be done in one day, but we’re going to crack it.
“The sit-at-home thing will definitely end and we are having conversations with all the stakeholders, IPOB and everybody else, trying to engage everybody. It is the people’s power that will prevail at the end of the day.
“And I know that that will definitely stop and we’re working on that. Like I said, we are determined to restore law and order.”
Soludo, who also spoke on the scuffle between Bianca, the wife of the late Igbo leader, Odimegwu Ojukwu, and the wife of the immediate past governor, Mrs. Ebelechukwu Obiano, during his inauguration, described the fight as comic relief.
The governor said: “When you were talking about the cat fight, I was just laughing and because of all the funny videos that have emerged from this, for me it’s just a comic relief.
“It’s the comedy that has emerged from it all that I have enjoyed. There is no distraction whatsoever. I think it was meant to be. Sometime to come, there will even be some movies or comedies and even a song out of that.
“As you saw, I didn’t even notice much of what happened. I think it happened while I was going to sign the oath of allegiance. It was just like a one-second thing. I turned again and continued signing my thing and I have not had one minute discussing it, other than the comic relief you see posted. We are intensely focused on what we must deliver to our people.”
Soludo said that he has four years to make good his plans, noting that there’s no time to waste on frivolities.
He, therefore, promised the people of Anambra State that his administration would focus on delivering the dividends of democracy.