Governor Chukwuma Soludo of Anambra State has described the presidential candidate of Labour Party (LP) and former Anambra governor, Peter Obi as his brother, saying their differences are “fundamentally political.”
Under Soludo’s party, the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Obi governed Anambra State between 2006 and 2014. He joined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2014, contesting as Atiku Abubakar’s running mate in 2019 before clinching the LP’s presidential ticket on May 30 in Asaba, Delta State.
Soludo’s remarks came 10 days after his scathing opinion piece on Obi, in which he accused his predecessor of using his presidential bid to play a game he allegedly could not win.
However, photos surfaced of the two Anambra political titans embracing on Thursday at the 70th Birthday Thanksgiving celebration of the Catholic Bishop of Awka, Most Rev. Paulinus Ezeokafor, held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Awka.
According to a statement by Soludo’s press secretary, Christian Aburime, when Soludo arrived at the church, he promptly approached Obi and hugged him as people watched with surprise.
In his remarks, Soludo stated that he would soon meet with Obi to iron out their differences.
“Today is very special. When we came into the service, it was the first time, my brother, Peter Obi and I are meeting at a public event and in a Catholic Church which the two of us belong to. I think it was divine,” the governor said.
“Let me tell you, we spoke two times, just last night. We are brothers. You know I am not one of those politicians that speak from two sides of the mouth. I can’t pretend. I am a politician, but also want to make heaven. I will keep saying the truth.
“There is no rift between Obi and me at a personal level. Nobody snatched each other’s wife. What appears to be the rift between us is fundamentally political differences. Nothing else.”
The governor also dismissed allegations of $28m bribery received by him to run down the LP presidential candidate.
“For those forging blackmail and all that, including the one they said I collected a bribe to say what I said, I asked them to bring it so I will use it to construct roads. If Soludo is into bribery, I would have been a multi-trillionaire now.
“On the fundamental differences we have, we are going to meet in the next few weeks. We’ve agreed to discuss and iron out our differences. We must get it done. Anambra is for all of us.”
While thanking God for the life of the celebrant, Soludo pointed out that the cleric had had a great influence on him and his government.
“You changed my thinking when you visited my village house in 2019 and rejected the foreign wine offered to you in the place of palm wine. Today at the Governor’s lodge, the highest wine served there is palm wine,” he said.
“I was also humbled by the moderate type of car you drove to my house. You told me you chose not to go with a vehicle far above the average of those you are pastoring. I think this is exemplary.
“When you see me drive Innoson cars, that’s part of the inspiration I got from you. If not for security, I would have been riding bicycles to work.
“We are taking the prudence you taught us to the next level because when we came in, it cost us over N137m to clean offices. Now, it costs barely N11m. I can only promise to take the message to the world.”
Encomiums For Bishop Ezeokafor
In his goodwill message to the cleric, the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Ekwulobia, Peter Ebere Cardinal Okpalaeke said Bishop Ezeokafor’s footprints of committed, painstaking priestly and episcopal ministry were written all over the Catholic faith.
The Cardinal admired the bishop’s resilience and assured him of his prayers, wishing him many more years of fruitful and fulfilling ministry.
Most Rev. Ezeokafor, an ambassador of the Catholic Diocese of Awka who hails from Nanka, stated that apart from his birthday, he was also celebrating his 15th anniversary of Episcopy.
He described it as 15 years of excellence, dedicating a record number of churches, reconstruction of a retreat and pastoral centre in Okpuno and the building of Peter University, Achina.
Soludo was accompanied to the thanksgiving service by Deputy Governor Anambra State, Dr. Onyekachukwu Ibezim; Chief of Staff to the Governor, Mr. Ernest Ezeajughi; and Protocol Officer, Hon Chinedu Nwoye
Also at the occasion were the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Uche Okafor; Deputy Speaker, Dr. Paschal Agbodike; APGA Senatorial Candidate for Anambra Central, Senator Uche Ekwunife; Hon. Dozie Nwankwo; Labour Party Senatorial Candidate for Anambra Central, Sen. Victor Umeh; Senator Victor Umeh; and Archbishop of Onitsha, Most Rev. Valerian Okeke, among others.