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Peter Obi reacts to reports claiming he destroyed existing structures while constructing roads during his tenure as Anambra state governor
By: Abara Blessing Oluchi
Thu, 2 May 2024   ||   Nigeria,

Former Presidential candidate of the Labour Party, (LP), Mr Peter Obi has reacted to reports claiming he destroyed existing structures while constructing new roads during his tenure as Anambra state governor.

This comes after the Minister of Works, Dave Umahi, on Wednesday, May 1, accused Obi of inciting the people of the South East (Igbos) against the Federal Government over the Lagos-Calabar coastal highway project.

Obi has openly kicked against the coastal highway project. The Labour party presidential candidate opines that destroying businesses and structures on the right of way of the road will only lead to more unemployment in the country. He lamented that thousands of jobs are about to be lost, with over 100,000 jobs in the leisure and hospitality sector facing imminent extinction, along with 80 small businesses and their 4,000 mostly youth employees.

While speaking on Wednesday, Umahi said Obi had done the same thing when he served governor of the state and did not compensate the affected individuals.

“It brings to some of the comments made by my brother, his Excellency Mr Peter Obi; I am not supposed to comment about it because some people have already done the work. And I know what Arise Television brought courtesy of Channels Television; they were bringing similar scenarios when His Excellency Peter Obi was the governor. He made a statement saying, ‘Any infrastructure that stands in the way of the road must go. And there would be no compensation paid.’ That’s what he said.

But look at me, by the human face of the Renewed Hope agenda administration, we are even paying for people who are illegally staying on the coastal line and don’t have valid infrastructure and valid documents. That is mercy, that’s mercy… You know, some people darken counsel without knowledge. You know there’s the devil in the details.

When you condemn people, you bring judgment upon yourself. And that is what he (Obi) has done. And I think he’s inciting some of the people in the southeast who are not well informed. He is inciting them. And gets them into trouble. And he doesn’t go to fight for them. Wisdom is a defence. And I want our people to have wisdom because I am involved''

Reacting to Umahi's comment. Obi in a statement posted on his X handle this morning, said that contrary to claims being made, when he served as governor, he only removed obstructions on existing roads and not that he destroyed properties because his administration intended to build new roads. He argued that the ongoing destruction and disruption of jobs and livelihoods associated with the Lagos-Calabar coastal road construction sharply contrasts with his administration's efforts to improve infrastructure while minimizing adverse impacts on communities.

He also dismissed claims he is inciting the Igbos against the Federal government because of his disapproval of the project.

Read his statement below…

‘’It has come to my attention, and I strongly denounce the distortion of facts surrounding my actions and statements during my tenure as governor of Anambra State, particularly concerning the ongoing demolitions for the construction of the Lagos-Calabar coastal super highway.

I aim to address these issues directly, devoid of political rhetoric, to ensure clarity for all. Let me be unequivocal: during my governorship, I made it abundantly clear that all structures obstructing existing roads and lacking approval would be removed.

The circulated video clearly stated this, and I only initiated removal when construction had already commenced. Any insinuation otherwise is a blatant misrepresentation of the truth. I challenge anyone to verify and show me where the demolished structures on existing roads or ongoing businesses were not encroaching on the road and built without government approval while I served as governor. To provide further clarity, consider concrete examples.

I decisively demolished the Onitsha North local government headquarters situated on the only existing stadium, relocated, and built a brand new structure for the local government office away from the stadium. This action was necessary to restore the stadium to its original purpose as a sporting facility for the people. Subsequently, the stadium was rightfully named after the first owner of the first football club figure in Nigerian sports, Chuba Ikpeazu, as a tribute to our commitment to honoring our heroes.

Similarly, the Onitsha South Stadium, the sole local playing ground for the community, was converted into a local government office. Recognizing the importance of recreational spaces, I reverted it to its original status by demolishing and relocating the local government office. I then renovated the stadium and renamed it after the longest-serving Green Eagles captain, Godwin Achebe.

My actions were strategic, aiming to prioritize the repair and maintenance of existing infrastructure over projects that risked disruption and destruction. This approach aimed to safeguard the livelihoods of Nigerians and ensure the efficient use of resources. It is crucial to clarify the false comparisons drawn between my actions on Brewery Road and the current coastal super highway project. I never proposed creating a new road that would disrupt existing structures.

Instead, I focused on removing obstructions on existing roads to enhance accessibility and safety for all. The ongoing destruction and disruption of jobs and livelihoods associated with the Lagos-Calabar coastal road construction sharply contrasts with my administration's efforts to improve infrastructure while minimizing adverse impacts on communities.

Regarding allegations of incitement against the government, I firmly reject these unfounded accusations aimed at tarnishing my character. My focus is on fostering constructive dialogue and inclusivity, rather than engaging in divisive politics. Claims of incitement are baseless distractions. I have always advocated for unity and advancement, refusing to partake in reactionary divisive politics. I refuse to be reduced to the level of those who wallow in ethnic politics.

Worse still, I have never and can never descend so low as to base my political aspirations on any sectional or ethnic interest. My commitment to serving with integrity remains steadfast, and I encourage all Nigerians to unite for a prosperous future. In conclusion, I stand by my record as governor and reject any attempts to distort the narrative for political gain.

My commitment remains unwavering: to advocate for the rights and well-being of all Nigerians, ensuring that development initiatives prioritize the needs of the people. Most importantly, I will continue to insist that our national resources be applied with maximum frugality.''


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