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FACT CHECK: Claim that Anambra’s debt profile is over N200bn is FALSE

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A VIRAL post on Twitter claimed that Anambra State owes a combined debt of over N200 billion.

The claim was made by a Twitter user with the handle @NnamdiChife on January 10, 2021.

The handle currently has over 15,100 followers.

The tweet also stated that the former Anambra State governor, Peter Obi, handed over N72 billion in cash and $150 million in Anambra Generational Fund to his successor, Willie Obiano.

The tweet reads: “I am incredibly heartbroken.  Anambra State is owing a combined debt of over N200 billion!!! Peter Obi handed over this state to Obiano with N72 billion in cash and $150M in Anambra Generational Fund.  All frittered away, broken infrastructure, debt, and profligacy.”

The tweet, which also appeared on a blog here, has been retweeted more than 1,900 times and liked more than 2,700 times as of 8 p.m. on January 10.

A screenshot of the tweet.

THE CLAIMS

From the tweet, these two claims were established:

  1. Anambra State has a combined debt profile of over N200 billion.
  2. Former Governor Peter Obi handed over N72 billion in cash and $150 million to Governor Willie Obiano.

THE FINDINGS

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CLAIM 1: Did Anambra State have a combined debt profile of over N200 billion?

Data show that this claim is FALSE.

The FactCheckHub checked Nigeria’s Debt Management Office (DMO)’s website, the government agency in charge of collating the total debts owed by the federal government of Nigeria as well as each state of the federation.

According to the latest data released by the DMO on 31st of December, 2020, for the domestic debt, Anambra State owed N59.013 billion as of September 30, 2020.

Screenshot of domestic debt. Source: DMO

Also, according to the latest data released by the DMO on September 9, 2020, for external debt, Anambra State owed $115.886 million as of 30th June 2020.

  Screenshot of external debt. Source: DMO

The FactCheckHub converted the total external debt owed by the state from dollar to naira.

As of June 30, 2020, the official exchange rate of dollar to naira rate was N360 to a dollar. When $115.886 million is multiplied by N360, it equals to N41.719 billion.

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The FactCheckHub then added the total domestic debt owed together with the total external debt. (N59,013,845,976.50+N41,719,101,286 = N100,732,947,262).

From the findings, the total debt owed by the Anambra State currently stands at N100.732 billion

CLAIM 2: Did Peter Obi hand over N72 billion in cash and $150 million in Generational Fund to Willie Obiano?

It would be recalled that Peter Obi handed over the leadership mantle of Anambra State to Willie Obiano on March 17, 2014.

There is no publicly available data or document that shows that former Anambra State governor, Peter Obi,  handed over N72 billion in cash and $150 million in Anambra Generational Fund to his successor. There have also been several controversies surrounding the actual amount Peter Obi handed over to Willie Obiano.

For instance, in a report published here, Solo Chukwulobelu, professor and secretary to Anambra State Government, stated that the rumour that Peter Obi handed over N75 billion to Willie Obiano was far from the truth.

He said, “The N75 billion was not there; it was not handed over to anybody. At best, it can be half-truth.”

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Chukwulobelu stated that what Obiano’s administration inherited from Obi was N9 billion cash and N26 billion near cash.

In addition, in 2015, Willie Nwokoye, principal secretary to Governor Obiano, said the amount in question included quoted stocks, state counterpart fund, long-term investments that were non-earning, including a refund from the federal government for road construction which was still an IOU, among others.

In the article titled, Dissecting The N75 Billion Handover Brouhaha In Anambra where he gave a breakdown of the items in the handover note, Nwokoye  said, “The nearest to cash in the foregoing is item 20, which is a USD 155 million investment in Eurobond and other foreign currency-denominated securities made by the previous administration (Peter Obi) at its twilight. In naira terms, this was worth N26.5 billion at handover.”

In response, Valentine Obienyem, media aide to Peter Obi, said that the former governor handed over N75 billion in cash and investment to his successor.

He stated that the breakdown was as follows: N27 billion in local currency investment; N26.5 billion in foreign currency investment and N28.1 billion in certified state/ MDS balances.

Also, data from DMO website revealed that as of December 2013, Anambra State under the leadership of Peter Obi owed N3.026 billion in domestic debt and a total sum of $30.324 million in external debt.

While it is difficult to ascertain which of the two parties is right, it is easy to conclude that the claim is MOSTLY FALSE, as the amount in contention has always been N75 billion and not N72 billion as stated in the claim.

In addition, from the reactions of the two parties it can be surmised that the amount in question is made up of cash and long term investments, which the Obiano camp said were mostly non-earning yet.

THE VERDICT

The claim that Anambra State has a combined debt profile of over N200 billion is FALSE.

The claim that Peter Obi handed over N72 billion in cash and $150 million in Generational Fund to Obiano is MOSTLY FALSE.

This report was originally published by FactCheckHub

'Niyi works with The ICIR as an investigative reporter and fact-checker. You can shoot him an email via [email protected] You can as well follow him on Twitter via @niyi_oyedeji.

If you or someone you know has a lead, tip or personal experience about this report, our WhatsApp line is open and confidential for a conversation

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