Obi of Onitsha, His Majesty, Nnaemeka Achebe, has reacted to the claim of Nigerian Presidency that he was involved in sod turning ceremony for the Second Niger Bridge during the first term of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Achebe said there was no such ceremony in Obasanjo’s first term that he attended.
Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, had in a statement issued in response to Obasanjo’s open letter that criticised the current administration, said that the former president laid the sod of the Second Niger Bridge and that the Onitsha Monarch was present.
Obasanjo had in the six-page letter where he endorsed the Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi, for 2023, criticised Buhari’s administration, saying that the last seven and half years had been very stressful for many Nigerians and called on the youth to rise up and make a wise choice of good leadership for the common good of the country.
In a statement titled “Morally Squalid Obasanjo Attacks Leaders out of Frustration,” Shehu who was countering the ex-president’s assertion, said that he only attacks Buhari’s administration out of jealousy and frustration.
While recounting Buhari’s achievement such as completion of the Second Niger Bridge, Shehu said: “Obasanjo laid the sod for the bridge in his first term as elected President and work never started.
“When he (Obasanjo) sought re-election for his second term in office, he returned to the site to turn the sod for the bridge the second time. When the Obi of Onitsha, forthright and scholarly, reminded him that he had done this in the past, Obasanjo told the foremost Southeast traditional ruler that he was a liar, in the full presence of the Chiefs and Oracles in his palace. Obasanjo lied to the Southeast to get their votes.”
The Obi of Onitsha, in a statement released on Tuesday and signed by Chinyelugo Osita Anionwu, Chief of Staff of Ime Obi Onicha, said he was never involved in any sod laying ceremony in Obasanjo’s first tenure and could not have been engaged in any altercation with the former president about the so-called project.
The head of the Onitsha Traditional Council said he ordinarily do not engage in public exchange about issues of state or political affairs, but wished to put the facts straight on public statements about the throne. Part of the statement reads:
“The attention of Ime Obi Onicha (The Palace) has been drawn to a State House press release of January 2, 2023 by Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media & Publicity), titled Morally Squalid Obasanjo Attacks Leaders out of Frustration.
“His Majesty, Nnaemeka Achebe, CFR, mni, Obi of Onitsha, by his position as traditional and natural ruler, should normally not engage publicly in high level discourse on affairs of State between two of our highly respected national leaders, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR and former President Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR. However, the Palace deems it absolutely necessary to ensure that public statements relating to our monarch are factually correct.
“Accordingly, the Palace would like to state categorically that His Majesty was never involved in any sod turning ceremony for the second River Niger Bridge during the first tenure of President Obasanjo as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and, therefore, could not have engaged in any altercation with the then President as stated in the above press release.
“The only involvement of His Majesty with President Obasanjo regarding the Second River Niger Bridge was at the very tail end of his second term as President during a low-keyed flag-off of the project when His Majesty prayed that the succeeding administration would construct the bridge expeditiously,” Achebe stated.
He added that Onitsha people remain grateful to President Buhari for completing the project.
“Onitsha people will continue to express their utmost gratitude to President Buhari and his Government for successfully constructing the magnificent bridge.
“This is solely a statement of facts and nothing more or less,” Achebe added.