Is Alex Otti’s Heart Big Enough for Abia?

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Awa Kalu

In Abia, something appears to be playing out as the state inches closer to the February 2019 governorship and other elections. It may not be entirely about parties this time! What with the number of parties long hitting past the four score mark-or so the-‘parties’ registration efficient’- INEC has told us.

What is up and playing out in Abia, is that the denied but enlightened people of our state appear set not to again, miss the glorious opportunity to change the script of how things are run in Umuahia. So long for settling for more of the same! Let’s however try to be ‘very’ patronising and believe this: That since 1999, Abia has gotten those leaders who seemed to have done their best. Or so it has seemed. Respect therefore has to be given to Orji Uzor Kalu, Theodore Orji and Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu. That said, any day set aside for inquest into how these three performed in office will be a good one.

It will however amount to poor ‘matching reading tactics’-a sad one at that- to see Abia stuck in a time-warp when the world is changing around her. No. In Abia, we lead and others follow. That perhaps explains why across Umuahia to Aba, the United States, Asia and Europe, there is an awakened consciousness amongst Abians of all classes to get it right this time. In Europe, Mr. Dan Ochonma, a banker, financial expert  and influential stakeholder in Abia State, is busy rallying Abians in the Diaspora and at home with one single message: Let’s get Alex elected. In November, Mr. Ochonma and his Europe support Group for Otti will hold road shows and other interactive events in London for him. Otti certainly has to convince his people that he has it.

Convinced that Abia has never had an aspiring governor more prepared, experienced and ready for the job as Dr. Otti, Ochonma believes the time has come to give his state, the modern, accountable leadership it deserves. Abians in the United States are not left out. This weekend they are holding ‘Live Town Hall’ events in New York and Houston for Otti.

Does Otti appear to talk in a way that defines the way forward for his people? Writing last week on what he termed ‘It’s Still the Economy, Stupid outside the Box’, the former Group Managing Director of Diamond Bank lamented the slow response of the Eastern part of the country where he hails from to some developments in the economy. Even with some unsavory developments in the country, painted in clear signs of general despondency and spike in many of the social ills that plague any failing society, Dr. Otti singles out a rather curious interest from the developed economies in the Nigerian economy:”In spite of these developments, there is the curious growth of interest among the developed economies in the Nigerian market.

In quick succession, the Western countries, Asia, Russia and China have practically been tripping over each other either visiting the country or inviting Nigeria’s top officials to visit them in their countries. Even more curiously is the fact that lately, those who visited simply touched Abuja, the nation’s capital just to say ‘hi’ to the President and fulfill all righteousness and the next minute they zoom off to Lagos to spend the night, sign deals and even dance Afrobeat? Macron was quick to seize on his days here in Nigeria to come visiting and dancing.

“On a sad note” however, the Eastern axis of the country is not in the picture at all. “None of them has even thought of visiting any city in the East. The last major event of that magnitude was when the World Bank President visited Ariaria market clusters in Aba, Abia State and stayed a couple of days there. That was several years ago. I remember having a chat with the then Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala after that visit. She shared with me the embarrassing question the World Bank President put to her. According to her, the visitor who may have been in the same car with her asked, “I can understand that the people here are poor, but must poverty and filth go together?”

––Awa a multi-sectoral expert and Mobiliser wrote in from London, United Kingdom