The Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe, has said that he did not have any disagreement with former President Olusegun Obasanjo over the Second Niger Bridge.
The monarch’s position was contained in a statement issued on Tuesday by Chinyelugo Anionwu, chief of staff to the Onitsha traditional council.
In a statement on Monday, Garba Shehu, presidential spokesman, criticised Obasanjo over the latter’s recent remarks criticising the President Muhammadu Buhari Administration.
Shehu had also said Obasanjo deceived the South-East during the flag-off for the construction of the Second Niger Bridge, adding that the Obi of Onitsha had some altercation with the former president.
“Obasanjo laid the sod for the bridge in his first term as elected President and work never started,” Shehu had said.
“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 South-East traditional ruler that he was a liar, in the full presence of the Chiefs and Oracles in his palace.”
However, in the statement on Tuesday, the Obi of Onitsha said he wasn’t involved in any sod-turning ceremony for the bridge during Obasanjo’s first tenure.
“His Majesty, Nnaemeka Achebe, 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,” the statement reads.
“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.
“Onitsha people will continue to express their utmost gratitude to President Buhari and his Government for successfully constructing the magnificent bridge.”
The current Obi of Onitsha celebrated his 20-year reign in October 2022, while Obasanjo served two terms as president, from 1999 to 2007.