Who’s afraid of Alex Otti, By Ruth Anriola Dede

The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire – Ferdinand Foch
Until recently, the above quote did not make much meaning to me. It was just one those inspirational quotes until I began to study the shades of Nigerian political characters. Among them you find the jokers, the ambivalent, the deceptive, the hypocrite, the compulsive liars and the passionate. It is amazing how all these characters parade themselves for elective positions.
As a woman married to Abia State from an obviously progressive State, I have wondered why the men in Abia are so easily deceived that even when a government is not working, the next season the same person is returned to power. What a tragedy. Why are men no longer men?
Having watched this scenario over the years, I switched off. Although my husband does not live here, he follows the trend and always urges me to partake in voting. Voting who, I will always ask while observing the charade called election?
I began to repent just recently after I encountered an article written on Dr Alex Otti, the present Labour Party candidate for Abia gubernatorial position. I heard about him in 2015 when he contested election in the state but I saw him then as one of pretenders drafted to be used by some Godfathers to feather their nest. How can a successful banker, the managing director of a highly successful bank leave that comfort to be mired in Abia Politics? That guy must be joking, I told my husband.
I however observed the trend, how the election went only to discover that he won the election but was swindled. That scenario jolted me a bit. 2019 came and went too.
In 2019 when he was asked by a newspaper reporter why he came again after his last experience, this is what he said, “Well, there was a reason I came out in 2015. There was a passion; there was something I wanted to do which has not been done. And to the extent that it has not been done, I cannot quit. If the person who hijacked my mandate has done it, then I would have considered quitting. I wasn’t looking for a job; I was in a job. I deliberately quit to come and do service to my people; to ensure that our place gets developed; to give good governance; to run a transparent economic management system; to ensure that our people have the basic necessities of life; to reduce to the barest minimum the poverty level in the state, to build infrastructure; to rescue the heartbeat of Abia State, which is Aba. None of those has been done.
“So, to the extent that they have not been done, I had to offer myself again. I don’t know if I have answered your question.”
This answer again blew me. Wow, I hadn’t seen such passion in a man. He didn’t say let me go back to my profession. He said he had something to achieve. It is only a man like this that can rescue the Abia that I am seeing. I don’t whether others are seeing what am seeing.
But how did I now completely repent? In the article I read, I discovered that among all the characters intending to rule Abia, it was only this banker, who I also discovered is a first class material and attended the highly prestigious Harvard school that exposed the ineptitude of the Okezie Ikpeazu led government.
In one of those exposures but which sounded like an advise, he said he was compelled again to passionately appeal to the governor because, despite the frightening dimension at which key Abia government institutions are getting grounded, Ikpeazu had failed to show concern and willingness to take decisive measures to tackle the situation.
The former Group Managing Director (GMD) of Diamond Bank added that he was also deeply worried about the reported salary and pension owed Abia workers.
He vowed not to be deterred by attacks and insults from Abia government officials whenever he offered advice or expressed opinion on matters that affect the state.
“Almost all the state’s critical institutions like Abia State University Teaching Hospital (ABSUTH), Abia State University (ABSU), Uturu, Abia State Polytechnic, School of Health Technology, Abia State College of Education Technical, Arochukwu (ASCETA), and others are being owed several months of salaries.”
Noting that Abia receives several billions of naira in monthly allocations from the Federal Government for the state and local governments, and generates internal revenue, just like other states, Otti said it beat the imagination of any sane mind why the Ikpeazu government could not pay salaries and pensions, not to talk of carrying out serious developmental projects.
How can a government a government be so wicked and corrupt, I asked my children that were just looking helpless.
Again I saw that Dr Alex Otti had called on well-meaning citizens of Abia to arise and save the state from further being plunged into indebtedness by the government.
Otti said his patriotic call became necessary following plans by the Governor Okezie Ikpeazu-led government to obtain a USD200 million foreign loan that he, Otti, had previously scuttled in 2017.
He said instead of angling to sink Abia State further into debt the Abia government should account to the citizens what it had been able to achieve with over N355 billion it had amassed from Federation Account and internally-generated revenue, in over four years of the administration.
Otti said it would be sad if well-meaning elders in the state continued to keep quiet and watch while Governor Ikpeazu and his government run Abia aground and further mortgage the future of generations of Abia people, born and unborn.
“At this point, I would want to call the attention and reawaken the consciousness of some well-to-do and respected citizens and elders of Abia state, especially those who have access to the government in Abia, to intervene and save this government from itself as well as save the future generation from being mortgaged.
“In line with the adage that an elder doesn’t stand idly by and watch, while a goat delivers in tethers, I therefore call on Abia elders, senior citizens, royal fathers, captains of industry, serving and former lawmakers at the state and national levels, elder statesmen and political stakeholders across political party lines, human rights activists and opinion leaders to rise to the challenge posed by the current destructive leadership ravaging Abia state.
“I call on our clergymen and women to speak out positively. There comes a time when silence is no longer golden. Your subjects are being owed salaries; your members are living in abject poverty and in filth. People are dying prematurely out of hardship and lack of good medical facilities. Businesses are closing down and some are relocating making it difficult for our children to get jobs. Crime is on the increase and life is becoming unbearable,” Otti recounted.
He acknowledged that a few had spoken up, but majority were either sitting on the fence or preaching peace.
“To all those who can speak but have chosen to be silent, I remind you of the words of Frantz Fanon thus, ‘every onlooker is either a coward or a traitor,” he told them.
My conclusion is that only God had sent this man and has also stopped him from quitting. If we tell ourselves the truth, of all the people am seeing angling to govern Abia, this is the only man with the fire we need to transform this state. I appeal to my people to read between the lines and save Abia. Let us not sell our birthright for a mess of pottage.
Ruth Dede, a Psychologist is an Abia indigene by marriage
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