TO realize his ambition of being the presidential candidate of a political party in the 2019 general elections, the immediate past Anambra State governor, Peter Obi, has been sounding sanctimonious. The sanctimoniousness is most pronounced in the area of management of public resources. The magic of it all is that some Nigerians take him seriously except those of us in Anambra State. He was our governor for eight years, so we know what to believe.

Take his management of Internally Generated Revenue (IGR). Despite being in office when the national economy was booming because crude oil was selling for as much as 147 per barrel and Nigeria was exporting some 2.4 million barrels per day, the Peter Obi administration never announced that it received more than N400 million monthly. Note that this was when states like Cross River which had no important markets or businesses were generating N600 million a month (the manufacturing firms in the Calabar Free Trade Zone don’t pay taxes to the state government).

 Immediately Willie Obiano became governor, the Anambra State Government announced that IGR had jumped from a miserable N400 million to an unbelievable N1.3bn per month. Governor Obiano was then emboldened to announce a 15% increase in the salaries of all government employees, including the 7,000 people that Obi employed just as he was departing. Obiano even went a step further to announce that he would increase the salaries across board again if the IGR moved to N2 billion monthly. The IGR was moving above N1.4bn when Nigeria officially entered economic recession. Yet, Anambra’s IGR has not been less than N1.2 billion per month since Governor Obiano took over leadership.

 It is no surprise that states like Kogi have been sending high-powered delegations to Anambra State to understudy how Governor Obiano raised internal revenue by over 300% on assumption of office and has been managing the state’s resources most prudently. In terms of rate of development, Lagos is probably the only state which rivals Anambra State, but not in security, agriculture and education, as one analyst observed recently. While the recession has made most states unable to pay salaries, gratuities and pensions, meeting such financial obligations is taken for granted in Anambra State. Economic activity is here at an all-time high, despite the national recession.

 It is usual for analysts to ascribe the good economic times in Anambra State to Governor Obiano’s solid academic and professional training in accounting, banking, auditing and general management. After all, he is not only a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) but also Patron of the Institute. He is also a chartered auditor. True, Obiano’s strong economic and accounting background has been beneficial to Anambra State. But the background alone does not explain why the state’s IGR skyrocketed from a paltry N400m to N1.4 billion monthly no sooner than he took over.

 Obiano merely decided to block numerous leakages deliberately put in place in Anambra State’s economic system. He started with IGR. Take management of markets. As everyone knows, Anambra people are born entrepreneurs. Commerce is at the centre of their individual and collective existence. Markets of various sizes are ubiquitous in every city, town, village and hamlet in the state. Like the Jews, the people ingeniously turn every little available space into a market, and before you know it they have become tycoons. Find out how Cosmas Maduka of Coscharis and Chidi Anyaegbu of Chisco Motors began.

 I am sorry to report that during the Obi administration, markets, the most important internal source of revenue for the government and people of Anambra State, were toyed with, to put it euphemistically. Peter Obi handed over the markets to his uncle to superintend. The result was that under Governor Obi’s leadership for a whole eight years, the state could not declare more than N400 million as IGR for even a month at a time of economic boom.

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 It was not just all the markets in Anambra State that Peter Obi handed over to his uncle to superintend. He also handed over to him all the motor parks in the state. As you must have known, NdiAnambra excel in motor transport business. It has been so right from the time of Sir Phillip Odumegwu-Ojukwu, the father of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, General of the People’s Army and Patron Saint of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). Proprietors of Ekene Dili Chukwu, Chisco Motors, The Young Shall Grow Motors, GUO Transport, Eddyson Motors, Izuchukwu Motors, Eekeson Motors, etc, are all from Anambra State. And they all have big parks in the state. There are other numerous parks by those who run smaller transport businesses. Was Peter Obi naïve to make his uncle the person to collect IGR from all markets but also all the motor parks in the state?

 Let us cite another example. Ex-governor Obi made a show of how he developed an integrated development scheme called ANIDS, for short. One of the ANIDS success symbols is the Anambra State Transport Company (TRACAS), whose numerous commercial buses and minivans traverse the country daily. The government invested N300 million in TRACAS. But as Obi was leaving office three and a half years ago, TRACAS was declared a private venture and handed over to a private company! ANIDS did not pay even one kobo to the state government for the eight years Obi was our governor! Does anybody still wonder why Anambra’s IGR was never above a mere N400 million during Obi’s leadership?

 We have carefully avoided mentioning how the police in Lagos under Marvel Akpoyibo  arrested on Sunday, June 1, 2009, an Anambra State Government vehicle with N250 million raw cash at 7 Aerodrome Street in Apapa, the corporate headquarters of Obi’s companies. We have also carefully overlooked the demand for a refund of N7 billion as expenses purportedly incurred on Anambra’s governorship election four years ago, which is the genesis of the current fight between godfather and godson. Godson wonders if there will still be money for workers’ salaries and for building infrastructure, etc, if one person alone receives N7 billion. We have also carefully avoided talking about Obi’s claim last May at a public lecture in Lagos of wearing only one watch for 13 years, only for the media to publish photographs of him wearing several watches in just one year.

 It is befuddling how our former governor Obi insists, without any sense of embarrassment, that he is the only living saint in Nigeria and needs only formal canonization in his lifetime. NdiAnambra are no longer amused by such theatricals. Jesus Christ used strong language to refer to the Pharisees because of their hypocrisy, calling them “you brood of vipers” (Matthew 12: 34). Saint Peter Gregory Obi is enjoined to meditate on this biblical line.

  Okolie, a sociologist and indigene of Anambra State, is a businessman in Lagos.

Editor’s note: Funke Egbemode returns next week