Otti Throws Lifeline for Youngsters to Fly High

Emmanuel Ugwu-Nwogo in Umuahia

After rising to the peak of his banking career with the attendant affluence, Mr. Alex Otti has not stopped looking back to the difficult road he travelled before he became a man of means.

 He is  never ashamed to confess that his days as a student at the University of Port Harcourt was anything but rosy.

“I managed through the rigours of academics, with barely enough stipends to get by,” he said. Even before making his way to the University, Otti said he had equally “struggled” through secondary school because “my father, a poor clergyman with eight children had (barely) managed to send me to school in spite of his daily struggles to cater for the family”.

Having waded through the rough waters of life and came out a successful person, the former bank chief executive has taken it upon himself to throw lifeline to young persons that find themselves on the same rough road he had passed through. 

With the Alex Otti Foundation, the renowned economist has over the years offered scholarships to brilliant but indigent students in the universities and other tertiary institutions “in recognition of the transformational powers of education, a social leveller, (which) takes people from nothing to everything”

On July 23, 2022 a ‘Scholarship Banquet’ was staged at the Centenary Hall, Mater Dei Catholic Church Umuahia to induct a new batch of 26 beneficiaries into the Alex Otti Scholarship scheme. 

The new set of beneficiaries formally added to the list of “Otti scholars” are all 200 level students from 11 tertiary institutions across the country. The event was graced by many dignitaries including the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Mr. Peter Obi. 

The presidential hopeful, who was represented by the senator representing Anambra Central, Senator Victor Umeh, lauded Otti for “giving hope to people who desire education but lack the means to realise their dreams”. “This is a legacy of service,” he pointed out.

The Executive Director, Alex Otti Foundation, Mr. Chinedu Ekeke said that the scholarship offer was not politically  motivated (though Otti is a politician and the governorship candidate of Labour Party in Abia for the 2023 General election).

 “What we are doing here is a celebration of opportunity because in the villages talents abound but opportunities are limited,” he said.

He explained that by giving scholarships to young persons, Otti is helping to develop their talents hence he should be appreciated. 

Ekeke further explained that the “scholarship we run is very competitive”, adding that Otti doesn’t know any of the beneficiaries whose number has now grown to over 100. 

He said that to qualify to compete for the scholarship a student must have a minimum of cumulative grade point average(CGPA) of 3.5 for those in university and 2.8 for the ones in other tertiary institutions. Not only that, the applicant must be a resident of Abia State irrespective of his/her state of origin.

For the new Otti scholars, their selection to enjoy the full scholarship scheme has become a great opportunity to fly high. It has also lifted heavy burden off their parents’ shoulders. 

Miss Chidinma Nwatu, a computer science student of the University of Ibadan, who spoke at the event  on behalf of other scholarship awardees, acknowledged the impact the Otti scholarship would make on their academic pursuits and ultimate goal in life.

Addressing Otti she said: “You are touching lives and you have touched our lives. We are inspired to aim high. This is a stepping stone to greatness. We are going to make you proud in our academics and in our (future) professions because you are proud of us”.

According to Otti, the scholarship lasts throughout the duration of the recipient’s academic programme irrespective of the course of study. 

Apart from tuition fees, the scholarship also takes care of “few other costs” till graduation in order “to free (the scholars) from all forms of distraction”.

 However, after winning the scholarship, retaining it comes with a caveat: the Otti scholar must not fall below the benchmark of 3.5 CGPA for universities or 2.8 for other tertiary institutions throughout the duration of the academic programme.

“We want you to focus wholly on your academics and engage in only extracurricular activities that will help develop you physically and mentally,” Otti admonished his scholars. 

He wants them to become a generation of leaders amongst who are “top career men and women, successful business owners, tech giants, great researchers, professors, and others”.

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