BY SUNNY A. DAVID:
Facts have emerged that former Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State left well over fourteen billion naira (N14bn) cash for his successor, and not between three hundred million and four hundred million naira (N300m-N440m) reported in the media shortly after he left office on March 17.
Documents from both the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning show that the Anambra State government had as at March 17 twelve billion, nine hundred and two million nine hundred and nineteen thousand three hundred and forty three naira (N12,902,919,343 plus two hundred thousand one hundred dollars ($200,100) in Fidelity Bank alone and nine hundred and forty one million two hundred and ten thousand one hundred and forty one naira (N941,210,141) in eight other banks, bringing the total amount in naira in all the banks to thirteen billion, eight hundred and forty four million one hundred and twenty nine thousand four hundred and eighty four naira(N13,844,129,484).
If the $200,100 in the domiciliary account is converted at the Central Bank of Nigeria exchange rate of N415.69 to a dollar, the naira value will be eighty three million one hundred and seventy nine thousand give hundred and sixty nine naira (N83,179,569m) and if the autonomous market rate of N590 to one dollar is used, it will be one hundred and eighteen million and fifty nine thousand naira (N118,059m).
Media reports that only between N300m and N400m was left in the banks apparently emanated from a television interview which the new Governor, Professor Chukwuma Soludo, granted.
But government sources are not blaming him for the figures.
“Prof. Soludo, a highly respected Economics Professor and a celebrated former Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, spoke based on figures from the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning”, according to the government sources who asked not to named in the press.
“None of the Ministries should have provided the new Governor the figures without obtaining accurate data from the financial institutions, even if they were under pressure of beating the deadline.”
A breakdown of the 39-page report of the state of the government finance as of the date of the handover shows that the highest amounts in the Fidelity Bank accounts are two billion seven hundred and twenty nine million three hundred and fifty six thousand one hundred and fifty two naira (N2,729,356,152) in account number 5090741452 designated the Nigeria Erosion & Watershed Management Project and two billion three hundred and forty three million eighty nine thousand nine hundred and fifty one naira (N2,343,089,951) in account number 5030125119 which belongs to the Anambra State Government Bridging Facility.
The government has 57 accounts with Fidelity Bank used by various ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) as well as for various projects, programmes and routine issues.
The highest amounts in the other banks are Two hundred and ninety four million six hundred and thirteen thousand three hundred and sixty one naira (N294,613,361) in Access Bank with account number 0038860332 named Payment Account; seventy five million one hundred and forty eight thousand seven hundred and six naira (N75,148,706) for security kept in account number 1014105695 with Zenith Bank; one hundred and thirty nine million six hundred and eighty nine thousand four hundred and seventy four naira (N139,689,474) in UBA with account number 1014848347 for Pension Administration; eighty three million eight hundred and forty six thousand nine hundred and sixty one naira (N83,846,961) in FCMB account number 0881190015 named IGR Consolidated; and sixty seven million four hundred and seventy thousand six hundred and twenty five naira (N67,470,625) in Ecobank with account number 4662027660 also named IGR Consolidated.
The Obiano administration, noted Mr. Macaulay Atasie, the Chief Executive of Nextzon Business Services in Lagos which served the government as the leading economic consultant for eight years, would have left far more cash for the new government but for such capital intensive projects as the Anambra International Cargo and Passenger Airport, the International Convention Centre and the Awka City Stadium which were completed on the eve of Obiano’s departure, apart from 13 long bridges. “These are critical projects,” he said.
He recalled that BudgIt, an influential civic organization which applies technology to promote transparency and accountability based in Lagos and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, ranked Anambra and Rivers to have the best financial health of all 36 States in the country in 2020 and the next year rated Rivers, Ebonyi and Anambra States to be the best.
The Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Ifeatu Onejeme, had yet to respond to the request for his response to the discrepancies between the earlier reported figures about the amount the Obiano administration left for the Soludo government and the amount found in the new documents from his Ministry.