Politics

Abia 2023: How the people see Alex Otti

Abia State was created in 1991. But since its creation, successive governments have not given the citizens anything meaningful to cheer.
2023 presents  a time for Abia citizens to wake up from slumber and take their destiny in their hands. It is time for them to rise and elect a governor who would pull the state out of the morass of underdevelopment.
Abia needs help and the help will come from the people through their positive votes for a new beginning and transformation. The transformation is needed quickly to bring Abia to the level of Anambra State that was carved out at the same time with it in 1991.
Without mincing words, if there is any state that should use the historic opportunity offered by the general elections to break the shackles of underdevelopment, it is Abia State.
 Abia State needs redemption. This once golden state that once was the industrial hub of the Eastern region has been raped and left forlorn. Abia is perhaps the only state that has not established a university. The extant Abia State University was the old Imo State University ceded to the state In 1991. The ball is in the court of the people to redeem the state.
Breaking Abia’s underdevelopment quagmire should be the concern of all Abians. There is no two ways about it. It is either the people recognise the abject condition of their state and liberate themselves or remain in squalor behind their peers. This is because from historical times, Abia people were not known to lag behind. They were known to be very active and enterprising.
In terms of vibrancy, clout and aggressive spirit that don’t take no for an answer, Abia people shared the same spirit with Anambra people. They were go getters and great achievers.
For instance, the foremost leaders of the defunct Eastern region hailed mostly from Abia and Anambra States. While icons like Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Dr. Nwafor Orizu and Emeka Odimegwu Ojukwu hailed from Anambra State, Dr. Michael Okpara, the iconic political leader, doctor and the premier of Eastern Nigeria from 1959 to 1966 hailed from Ohuhu-Igbo in Abia. Okpara revolutionised agriculture and was the brain behind many industrial establishments that marked the Eastern region like the Golden Guinea Brewery and Modern Ceramic Factory in Umuahia. At the age of 39, Okpara was the nation’s youngest premier.
Ironically, since the era of Dr. Michael Okpara, no other leader in his mould has emerged from Abia State. This is unlike Anambra State, where competent leaders in the mould of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Emeka Odimegwu Ojukwu and Dr. Alex Ekwueme continue to emerge. The current rave of the moment, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party for the 2023 elections, Peter Obi, is from Anambra State. The leadership jinx that has held Abia State needs to be broken. To pull Abia out of the cesspit of underdevelopment is a task that must be done.
Since 1999, three governors have presided over Abia State. Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu held sway for eight years from 1999 to 2007. Following him was Theodore Orji from 2007 to 2015. The incumbent Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, took office on May 29, 2015 and in 2023 he would have completed eight solid years in office.
The fact is that there has been no remarkable change in the fortunes of Abia State from any of these three men is glaring. No sector of Abia State’s economy is exempted from this underdevelopment quagmire. Whether you talk of education, healthcare, environmental or roads infrastructure, the story is the same – utter neglect of which something needs to be done. Aba, which is supposed to be Nigeria’s Taiwan, is an eyesore.
It is from this angle that a redeemer is being sought in the person of Dr. Alex Otti, as the redeeming force that would pull Abia State out of the quicksand of despair. Alex Otti is a celebrated financial expert. His track record in Nigeria’s banking industry is golden. As the chief executive of Diamond Bank Plc, Dr. Otti broke new grounds and took the bank to an enviable height before he decided to serve his people in a greater dimension as governor.
Having pitched his tent with the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), in 2015, Dr. Otti virtually clinched the governorship ticket but for unexplained political maneuvering, which the powers that be used to rob him of the victory. But the people of Abia State are not deterred. My investigation shows that the people still love him and want him to be their governor.
It is interesting that people are no longer blindly tied to any party. Instead, people are looking for credible individuals who could address their basic needs and aspirations.
There is reason to believe that with Dr. Otti in the saddle, what Abia has lost in 20 years could be recovered in four years. Reason is that here is a tested professional; a man who is not attached to any godfather. What the people should do is to rally round this man and then guard their votes to ensure that it is not stolen again. The die is cast; the people should act in their own interest.
This piece, with little editing, is culled from Guardian NeOpinion
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