“The person who started godfatherism in Anambra State was former President Obasanjo”
Former governor of Anambra state, Chinwoke Mbadinuju in an exclusive interview with The Punch, spoke on the controversies that trailed his administration while he was governor.
Mbadinuju also fingered the issue of godfatherism in Nigerian politics and Anambra state, saying it hindered his ability to perform as governor during his tenure.
With your experience as governor, what would you say about godfatherism?
Well, a godfather has many connotations. You could have positive godfathers and negative ones. The good ones work towards making things work and succeed but if you have a godfather that is always challenging, he wants to make appointments, if you have 10 commissioners, he would want to have three or four.
After you have given him two commissioners, he will say he wants Special Advisers, Special Assistants and he will even want to choose their portfolios but I said these things are not done like that and they said it is done like that, that is controversy.
You are the governor and you run your administration the way you want it. I know some people helped us.
There is nobody who campaigned for elections or any position who was not assisted. I have not seen one person who will come out and say I didn’t have any help and it was the same type of help I got and I was in trouble. Some of them wrote a petition to the President and the petition was carried by the then Vice-President Atiku Abubakar to the President.
They said I had N3.5bn abroad and I told the President- we were in his office that I never saw such money in Awka. After attending the federal allocation meeting, sometimes Anambra State will get N200m, sometimes N600m; it was never straight. I couldn’t pay salaries in some of the months so where could I get such money to send N3.5bn abroad?
I told him it was not possible, he said, if he didn’t approve it for investigations, some people would think that he was colluding with me. I said okay. Atiku brought the petition and Obasanjo looked at the petition and said but there is no covering letter, Atiku put his hands into his pocket and brought out a covering letter.
These people were ready, everything that they could do to get me jailed or killed, what did I do? I was doing well. Christ was doing good, healing all types of diseases. It is my experience to be doing good while people that run me down go through all sorts of problems, it was terrible I must tell you.
In any case, they went to Europe, London where I studied, they went to Russia where we visited when I played football, I played in Spain, everywhere, they saw my CV and thought that all the places I went, I put money there, they went to America where I also studied and saw nothing and at the end, President Obasanjo called me on phone and said “Governor Anambra,” I said sir, he said you can walk with your head high and I said I told you sir.
The only thing I had was three pounds in London at the University of Southampton where I studied Law and I had left in Lloyds Bank three pounds, I couldn’t have finished it. I kept it there.
Godfather or no godfather, in my own case, they were negative even in the case of those who came after me, they had it rough with godfathers. The person who started godfatherism in Anambra State was former President Obasanjo because he wanted his boys to be governor.
In my own case, he wanted his boy Andy Uba to rule Anambra and indeed his nominee became governor for a few weeks. Anambra State is not an easy state where you can go and do two terms, it’s tough. You can ask Peter Obi what he went through to get a second term; he succeeded because he had godfathers who were positive. In the case of the PDP, we had godfathers who were negative. I was sent to prison pending bail but 5,000 hoodlums were hired to start a riot and attack the prison with the aim of killing me.
They came to the prison where I was. They trampled upon the prison gate and came to my cell but I was gone. One judge told me their aim was to arrest me, tie my hands and feet and drive me through the streets of Onitsha main market in an open van, the same market I go to for prayers, before killing me.
Is it correct then to say that godfatherism hindered your performance?
If you performed 90 per cent with all these distractions, there is no way you can tell anyone that you performed 100 per cent but the important thing is if you go to Anambra State today, they will tell you that my four-year administration was the only time politicians could come to Akwa and go back home with money to take care of their families. No governor from then till date has done it.
I did the best anybody in my circumstance could do, I am happy with what I was able to achieve. When you read my book which I entitled: “How I governed Anambra State,” after reading it you can read: “Legacies and Challenges” and you will know what I went through to achieve whatever we achieved in Anambra State.
Was there an agreement you had with these godfathers that you reneged on?
How can anybody say I was paying godfathers while at the same time they said I reneged on an agreement? There is a godfather who had an arrangement with the military that he would be paid N10m every month, I wasn’t there when the agreement was made.
When I tried to stop it, I was dragged to President Obasanjo’s office and I told Obasanjo this is the situation I found on ground and Obasanjo said I had to go back and continue paying it; that it was legal. At what stage did I renege?
They will always try to give a dog a bad name in order to hang it. Obasanjo gave them contracts worth billions of naira, they were super rich, there was nothing I could give to them.
You mean Obasanjo asked you to pay this godfather; who is he?
Yes, Obasanjo asked me to pay. The godfather is one of the Uba family.
For stories, feedbck or additional information:
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or
BBM: Pin:2226ED42 or