The Ime Obi (the Palace) of the traditional ruler of Onitsha, Obi Nnaemeka Afred Achebe has reacted to Monday’s statement by the Presidency, linking the monarch with the turning of the sod ceremony for the second Niger Bridge during the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media & Publicity, had in a reply to Obasanjo’s New Year message where he asked Nigerians to vote for Labour Party Presidential candidate, Mr Peter Obi, described the former president as jealous.
The presidential aide’s statement titled ‘Morally Squalid Obasanjo Attacks Leaders Out Of Frustration’ had said former President Obasanjo will not stop attacking President Muhammadu Buhari because he won’t stop being jealous of anyone who beats him to a new record in the nation’s development process.
He insisted that President Buhari is ahead of Chief Obasanjo in all fields of national development and “to do that is cardinal sin to Obasanjo whose hallucinations tell him that he is the best ever to lead Nigeria and there will never be another one better than him.
“President Buhari just completed the world class edifice that is the Second Niger Bridge after three decades of failed promises. It is now awaiting commissioning.
“Obasanjo laid the sod for the bridge in his first term as elected President and work never started.
“When he 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. President Buhari didn’t get their votes but built the bridge because he believed it is the right thing to do.
“Obasanjo’s vengeful attitude towards President Buhari is the height of selfishness and little short of moral squalor.”
But the Imeobi Onitsha in a statement on Wednesday signed by the Palace Chief of Staff, Chinyelugo Osita Abionwu stated categorically that Obi Achebe 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.
According to him, the monarch therefore, could not have engaged in any altercation with the then President as stated in the press release.
The Palace statement read; “His Majesty, Nnaemeka Achebe, Obi of Onitsha, by his position as traditional and natural ruler, should normally not engage publicly in the 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 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 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.
“Onitsha people will continue to express their utmost gratitude to President Buhari and his Government for successfully constructing the magnificent bridge.”