Senator Rochas Okorocha of Imo West claims that when he became governor of Imo State, he became poorer.
Before becoming a senator, Okorocha served as governor of Imo State from 2011 to 2019.
The state administration accused the senator of stealing public funds after he left office as governor, though he denied any wrongdoing.
Okorocha formally confirmed his interest in running for president in 2023 on Monday. A few hours later, the EFCC charged him with 17 counts of corruption.
In a Monday interview with Channels Television, Okorocha said the corruption charges against him are “political propaganda” intended to smear his reputation.
He stated that he was rich with properties in Abuja, the country’s capital, before he became governor, adding that becoming a governor made him “poorer”.
The former governor said those saying he was broke before he became governor are “liars”, adding that he “fed himself” throughout when he was in the Imo state government house.
He claimed that the state is owing him N8 billion as money meant for security votes he did not collect.
“Those who say I was broke are liars, that is a fabricated fallacy. If you talked about Nigerians blessed by God, I raised my hands to say I’m one of them,” he said.
“Sometimes, it makes me want to sound boisterous, that is not good for me, I don’t like doing that but recently I begin to talk and clarify issues.
“One, I want to say to you that I was Rochas before I became governor, in fact governor made me poorer.
“If you could go to the code of conduct bureau before I became governor, my real estate alone in Abuja here I’m sure you can find one, two, three and four people who can count on it.
“Let me say something that might shock you, I had Rochas Foundation schools, so many of them. At that time before I became governor, over 18,000 (referring to his schools.
“I know that to feed these children and educate them it does not cost anything less than N500 a day. Calculate that and know whether there is any day I wake up that N10 million, N15 million does not go out of my pocket.
“How much is Imo state government money? Imo state is really owing me because I never collected my security votes. I am supposed to collect from Imo state now N8 billion if I have to make claims for security votes I did not collect.
“I fed myself throughout in the government house when I was there, I used my personal cars for me to introduce free education in Imo state.”