The newly sworn-in Governor of Anambra State, Charles Chukwuma Soludo, has raised alarm over the state of the economy of Anambra, which he said was in a “bad shape”
Speaking on Arise News television interview, Soludo said that from the audited account of the state ending December 31, 2021, there is about N300 million to N400 million cash in various banks and over N100 billion debt.
He said: “In terms of finances, there is the detailed audited account which is a public document and anybody can assess it. The audited account up to 31st December 2021 has been published. It contains our assets and liabilities as of the end of the year.
“Everybody knows that the state finances are not robust. We have a debt of N100 and something billion and about 300 million cash. But we will still have reconciliation to make for the period between January and the day we were handed over. There is also contractor debt contingent liabilities. That is the baseline.
“We intend to be publishing our accounts for everybody to see and what our money is used for.”
Soludo also spoke on his embattled predecessor, Chief Willie Obiano, describing him as an honourable man.
According to him, what is rare in Nigeria today is that people don’t keep their words, but Obiano kept his.
He added: “We met in August, September, October and November of 2016 and I accepted his proposal for us to work together politically in 2017. Many people didn’t expect the partnership to work but it did after five years.
“For me, that is historic. It is easy for people to make promises and walk away, but Obiano didn’t.
“He loves Anambra; he loves his people and he did his best to the best of his ability. We are on continuity and we will continue from where he stopped. This is the APGA government and we will continue on the foundation he laid.
“Our job is to make amendments where he didn’t do quite well and continue the trajectory.
“I don’t expect him to pose any problems for us in terms of interference. He is not that kind of fellow who, after leaving office, would still want to impose himself and want to be the one calling the shots.
“So, I don’t envisage that kind of friction and I am eternally grateful to him.
“I saw somebody taking a video of him in the EFCC facility and that is not the way to go. If somebody is accused of something, it has to be investigated and not humiliate him. I’m happy he has been granted bail. If you say he did something, investigate it and not humiliate him”.
On the Ebele Obiano and Bianca Ojukwu incident that took place during his swearing-in, Soludo described it as a comedy that emerged that people are enjoying. “It had no distraction for me whatsoever. I think it was meant to be and it just added comic and for some time, there could even be a song that could emerge from it.
“I didn’t even notice much of what happened as it happened when I was trying to sign the oath of office and oath of allegiance.
“I just turned to that direction and turned back immediately to continue with what I was doing.
“I am rather intensely focused on what we want to deliver to the people every day.
“After the ceremony, I worked for nine hours and the following day I went to Okpoko. When we came back, I worked till 7 pm and on Sunday, we attended the church service after which we visited the Ekwulobia Correctional Centre and interacted with the inmates and inquired about their living conditions. On Monday, I was in the office from morning till night. There is work to be done and it is work, work, work.
“I applied to be the chief servant and I am here to work and not to be bothered about distractions.
“I first applied for the job 13 years ago and finally, the people have hired me and I am ready to work.
“In 2009 when I first applied for the job, I would say reluctantly because I was literarily dragged to contest. After going around the state campaigning and getting the feel of the people, it turned out from being a reluctant person to becoming a passion for me to work for the people. There are problems but they are not insurmountable”, he said.
He explained that his decision to patronize locally made goods was not just about him, noting that.it is the way the world works.
“That is the way to create jobs. The slip-on I’m wearing was made in Ogbunike. The next stage we want to go to is to encourage them and ensure that they are proud of their products by appropriately stamping them ‘Made in Anambra’. They should be proud of what they make by labelling them appropriately.
“Imagine where over 200 million Nigerians patronize locally made products. Since I started wearing the Akwete dress, the makers no longer meet the demand. We will help the women acquire technology to produce more.
“The Made in Anambra is an integral part of our administration. We will wear our clothes, wear our shoes and through that, create more jobs. So it is not a thing made temporary for the show, it is something we deeply believe in”, he added.
On the growing insecurity in the state fueled by unknown gunmen, the governor said discussions with stakeholders were ongoing, adding that he immediately held a security meeting after swearing-in, assuring that he would get the issue cracked.
He added: “The sit-at-home thing will definitely end and we are working with the stakeholders, including IPOB.
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“We will engage everybody. It is the people’s power that will prevail at the end of the day. The poor innocent drivers, the market women, keke drivers and artisans, the vulcanizers are the ones suffering and that is why it has to end.
“Our people are usually the loser like the people who would have come to shop in Anambra now go somewhere else on Mondays. We are determined to ensure law and order in this state because, without peace, we can’t get anywhere”.
Earlier on, the anti-graft agency had arrested Obiano on the night of Thursday, March 17, at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos, following his handover ceremony.
The former governor was later granted bail after spending five days in the EFCC’s detention, although he has not yet perfected his bail conditions as at the tile of filing this report.
Appoints former Mayor of London Chief of Staff, AVM Chiobi security adviser
Professor Charles Soludo has also appointed a former Mayor of London, Mr. Ernest Ezeajuyi as his Chief of Staff.
Also appointed were Air Vice Marshall Ben Chiobi (rtd) as the security adviser to the governor and Mr Richard Madiebo as the executive chairman of Anambra Internal Revenue Service.
The three new appointments bring to six the number of appointments so far made by the governor.
He had earlier appointed the former Secretary to the State Government, Professor Solo Chukwulobelu to continue in the office. Chinedu Nwoye was appointed Deputy Chief of Staff and Head of Protocol while Dr. Chukwudi Okoli is the new Accountant General of the state.
Put your words into action, HEDA urges Soludo
Meantime, the Human and Environmental Development Agenda, HEDA, has called on Governor Soludo of Anambra State to walk the talk in his inaugural address, saying the world’s eyes are on him to deliver on his promises.
The Chairman of HEDA, Mr Olanrewaju Suraju, made the appeal while reacting to the Governor’s address yesterday in a statement in Abuja.
Surajo described the Governor’s address as thoughtful, insightful, and an unequivocal manifestation of a determination to improve the people’s quality of life.
“We have heard so many promises from the governor for his people, however, he must not be like any of his ostrich predecessors and co-governors who promised much but delivered little.”