I neither demolished Mosques nor sent Hausas out of Anambra – Obi

By Valentine Amanze

The former Governor of Anambra State and Vice-Presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Peter Obi, has described as sheer fabrication, wicked and inhuman, the allegation being circulated by the opposition that he demolished mosques as the governor of Anambra State, snubbed the Sultan, Alhaji Muhammadu Sa'ad Abubakar III, drove Hausas away from Anambra State and shunned the then Minister of Finance, Dr. Shamsuddeen Usman’s attempt at mediation and  did not visit schools in the North.

  Obi, who spoke in Lagos yesterday, regretted that rather than some political elite focusing on resolving the plight of millions of Nigerians without livelihood, over 10 million of out-of-school children and many unemployed youths, they were busily engaged in emitting hate speeches and spreading falsehoods in their desperation to be elected into public office so that they will continue with impoverishing the nation and the generality of the people.

   Recalling the circumstances under which he became Governor in 2006, Obi revealed that he neither had malicious relationship with any group resident in Anambra State nor demolished any mosque in the state as alleged.

  Besides, he pointed out that the mosque at Onitsha was destroyed before he became Governor.

    “During that crisis, many groups, including Northerners, took shelter in the Army Barracks. Indeed, some of the first measures I took on assumption of office was to visit those displaced persons, restored normalcy and encouraged everybody to return to their normal, peaceful life in the state,” Obi said.

  While describing the allegation that he snubbed the Sultan of Sokoto, who was in the state as ridiculous, Obi asserted that irresponsibility and disrespect for elders and leaders were not in his character.

  According to him, “The irony of this concoction is that I have been a friend of His Eminence, the Sultan, right from my first year at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, in 1980 through his tenure as Nigeria’s Defence Attaché in Pakistan till the present. The fact is that the visit of his Eminence, during which I was alleged to have snubbed him was purely a courtesy call after which I personally accompanied him to see the Obi of Onitsha, Obi Alfred Achebe, with whom he had a meeting. I also requested His Eminence to visit the Hausa community in the state; and in their interaction, the Hausas complained about the destruction of their mosque before I became Governor, which I offered to rebuild and subsequently gave them the funds for that purpose. Thank God, the Sultan and the Obi of Onitsha are still alive and available to confirm my submission”.

  Obi also revealed that after the visit to the Hausa community, he accompanied the Sultan to the state-owned Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu University, which conferred an honorary degree on him.  His words: “I did not have to be there, but I accompanied him to receive the award as a gesture of friendship. If we were not on good terms as my traducers alleged, he could have still be given the honour in the spirit of university autonomy, but I would not have accompanied him to the event”.

  On the allegation of having driven away Hausas from the state, Obi asserted that the only groups which could have run away from Anambra State during his tenure as Governor were kidnappers, armed robbers and predators on the State Treasury.

  He said that the Head-Bridge Dual Carriageway the “wicked liars” were referring to was merely cleared of several groups of squatters and illegal markets that occupied three of the four-lane carriageway.

  He said that the clearance was done without any recourse to ethnicity or religion at a time his government was collaborating with the Federal Government to expand the road to six lanes, which has solved the traffic gridlock in that area to the admiration of all commuters, vehicle owners and transporters.

As for not visiting schools in the North, Obi said that it was unfortunate trying to politicise the visit to school he was just engaged in as a passion borne out of his love for education. “In any case”, Obi said, “I have visited schools in all the states of Nigeria. Last  year, I visited two schools in Sokoto State, the seat of the Caliphate.”

  On how he had a disagreement with the then Minister of Finance, Dr. Shamsuddeen Usman, Obi said that he had known the gentleman before he became governor, when he was the CEO of one of the commercial banks and thereafter as the Deputy Governor of the Central Bank and since then, they had remained friends and had not had any reason to disagree on any issue.

  Besides, Obi called on all hands to be on deck to save Nigeria from collapse rather than engage in idle talk and fabrication of tales as a substitute for State Policy. “What we need now”, he said, “is building a society and a bright future for millions of poor Nigerians all over the country. That should occupy and agitate us unceasingly rather than how to run others down through lies and character assassination”.

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