Otti’s Redemptive Trajectory

Ebere Wabara

just one year into his credible administration, Governor Alex Chioma Otti is on the verge of reinventing Abia State after 24 years of fatalistic ruination by three back-to-back (to use a popular football terminology) governors. The profundity of the national and global acclaim for him has an ecology of unprecedented magnitude in Nigeria’s political history amid resounding leadership exemplifications exceeding 85 decibels!

Of especial interest to this writer is the fact that even the opposition are already celebrating this emancipator of our generation fondly called “Chioma Nde Abia”! The former Senate President, Dedem Adolphus Wabara (chairman of the PDP BoT), who I share cousinship with, has astonishingly endorsed Otti for a second term because of his gargantuan accomplishments even before marking one year in office! This is summative of Otti’s redemption profile in Abia.

On the heels of this public acclamation, if it were constitutionally possible, I tell you, Otti would get a third term without asking for it! The well-deserved and overflowing encomia trailing Otti from all parts of the country (and the world) are overwhelming such that multifariously diverse people now believe there had been no semblance of governorship or trace of leadership in the state in the past 24 years preceding May 29, 2023!

The moment Otti, a first-class economist, left Diamond Bank Plc as its third Group Managing Director/CEO to go into governance and public policy, there began a predictable reversal of his superlative accomplishments in the financial institution because of the paternal succession arising from its ownership! From there thence, the bank lost its bearing and was consequently hurriedly acquired by Access Bank Plc thus making it the bank with the largest customer-base in Nigeria simply because of the unsurprising acquisition.

In fact, Otti so transformed Diamond Bank that some people hardly remember the two gentlemen that were there before him—and, of course, the boyish fellow after him! It was such that after the ownership, the next name that supersonically comes to your mind is the multiple award-winning Alex Otti! His bullish scholastic dominance in the academic sphere that made him collect all the awards and prizes on graduation in his UNIPORT days will be a subject for another day! This is why he subscribes to the immutable fact that the key determinants in existentialism are distinctive intellect, professional quintessence and overall diligence—not mechanistic physicality or muscularity—all subsumed in God’s grace!

In 2015, when Otti attempted to liberate Abia State from the forces of darkness, official (state) instrumentalities were recklessly deployed to ensure he did not achieve his long-cherished goal. The moppets succeeded fleetingly in that season of unbridled political rascality. As should be expected, Otti—a long-distance runner–did not give up! Rather, he re-strategised ahead of the 2019 titanic polls in Abia. Again, the political papooses deployed known and unknown apparatuses to put on hold—for the last time—the people’s mandate still held on trust by Otti. 

As I had declared before the last election, if Otti did not win, Abia would have been doomed forever. The rest, as they say, is now history. I have the conviction that Otti’s messianic intervention in God’s Own State must have been ordained by the Almighty father to extricate the state from its backwardness engineered by its three successive governors who in the last 24 years before Otti’s emergence callously and irresponsibly ruined the state beyond recognition. The scars are still there for all to see.

Between 1999 and May 2023, Abia was mindlessly subjected to 24 years of massive degradation and totalistic non-development (not underdevelopment) due to poverty of leadership by the three back-to-back governors who were clueless and bereft of what governance and accountability entailed. Not just that, they saw leadership as a public ladder for the acquisition of wealth. Service or transformative ethos was not near their facultative shallowness throughout the 24 locust years such that the state became the least developed in the country, if not the hemisphere, by all parameters!

It must be put on record that while Orji Uzor Kalu tangentially laid the foundation for what was supposed to be one of the leading states in Nigeria, his stooge and successor, Theodore Ahamefule Orji, brazenly uprooted the foundation his political godfather put in place, while the immediate-past governor—yet another crony of Theodore Orji just as he was to Orji Kalu—despicably desecrated whatever marginal and negligible structures his two unimpressive predecessors in office had established.  

Otti’s candidacy and prospects right from 2015 to 2023, were never doubtful to those who know him deeply on grounds of his scholastic-cum-career excellence and most of the electorate who already knew his profuse and profound pedigree. What was particularly worrisome to me—much later in subsequent campaigns which I shared with him before the last election—was the ghastly and divisive “Ngwa factor” in Abia politics.

Before the outcome of the elections, this inexplicable and deleterious element was seemingly a present and clear danger going by electoral antecedents before the emergence of our subject! Astonishingly, Otti declared that it was a mirage! In other words, it did (and does) not really exist except for blackmail essentially. His epochal success last year debunked and demystified the suffocative concept. By his electoral triumphalism, Otti has ended sub-ethno inanities and clannishness in the politics of Abia. Henceforth, there is the assurance that elections in this state will be fair, free, transparent and credible based on Otti’s irreversible 2023 template that should be properly documented officially.

Otti’s interventionist turnaround in the fortunes of Abia is easily appreciated by one and all because of the 24-year degeneracy in the state. There was nothing to applaud or hold on to before the glorious advent of this liberator who almost the entirety of Abians—excluding the vanishing clan of disgruntled nippers—are taking off their hats to the economist reengineering my state in appreciation of his assiduity and manifest attainments within the short time-frame. In the days ahead, there will be more and more accolades coming his way for revolutionizing Abia and restoring it to its numero uno status shortly. In the next three years, Abia, by virtue of Otti’s strides, will flourishingly go atop other states not just in line with its alphabetical supremacy but holistic developmental sovereignty!

At times I wonder why it took almost three decades for a man not driven by official roguishness and kleptomaniac thievishness like Otti to be in the saddle. Here, as we shall read in the next paragraph, is a servant-leader who from the outset understood the challenges he was going to face and evolved a professorial blueprint on how to grapple with the enormous and daunting tasks ahead long before assuming office after a distinguished career at the apogee of first-tier banking. This is very critical and indispensable to successful and meaningful governance in any polity. In contradistinction, most of our so-called leaders (rulers, most appropriately) grab power at all costs, get to office and suddenly discover that they are empty like bunkums and nods!

Let us extrapolate this presentation with the governor’s justificatory declaration which aptly underscores the preceding submission while giving his inaugural speech: “We have a poorly motivated workforce, extreme youth unemployment, collapsed physical infrastructure, a terribly frail primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare delivery system. These are in addition to a broken educational system, urban waste disposal crisis and a large army of citizens, especially teachers, health workers, including medical doctors and nurses, lecturers in tertiary institutions, local government authority workers and, most painfully, our senior citizens, who feel blatantly betrayed by successive administrations that wilfully and unconscionably abandoned them to live in wretched sub-human conditions.”

It is obvious from the foregoing that the governor understood the challenges ahead and prepared himself to confront the seemingly overwhelming issues of governance that questioned the profile of the state. What are the things that the governor has done so far that have attracted universal commendations which his forerunners in office regrettably never did—all of them put together!

Otti’s superintendence over the state and his concomitant stewardship have hallmarked his commitment to road infrastructure, security, education, health, waste management, commerce and industry, ease of doing business, media engagements and the digitalization of the economy. Where are all those who asininely and mischievously called him “Facebook Governor” during electioneering? I hope they are still alive to see his good works and hear the illimitable applause for him nationwide and globally!

Because of space constraint, let me just briefly encapsulate in nugget-form a few strides of Otti in the past one year beginning with the rehabilitation of 79 roads using direct labour, inauguration of 10 roads with more than 23 others under reconstruction including Port Harcourt road in Aba being handled by Julius Berger Plc.

On security, there is a multi-agency patrol team known as “Operation Crush” that has restored peace ad safety to the state. The hub of kidnapping and other criminalities in Leru-Lomara-Lokpanta-Umunneochi LGA has been uprooted by this anti-crime outfit to the relief and delight of residents and passersby. There are equally the Abia State Security Advisory Council and the Abia State Security Trust Fund to rev the security machinery.

As regards industrialisation, the government in partnership with the private sector has established the Abia Innovation Industrial Park at Owaza envisaged to comprise a modular refinery, a manufacturing plant, an incubation centre and other industrial set-ups to be funded 90 per cent by the private investors. Otti has also provided infrastructural support for Geometrics which guarantees steady power supply in Aba.

Concerning education, the administration is remodeling 13 schools (10 primary and three secondary) per LGA. Teachers’ retirement age has been upped from 60 to 65 years.

On the issue of healthcare, three general hospitals in the three senatorial zones have been up-scaled. In the same breath, plans are afoot to redirect medical tourism traffic from overseas to Abia State via a planned state-of-the-art medical village that will house sophisticated gadgetry.

Otti from the outset of his tenure unprecedentedly cleared pension arrears with pensioners now getting their pension on the 28th of every month just like civil servants and other functionaries of the state.

One of the greatest things Otti has done is the enactment of the “Abia State of Nigeria Governors and Deputy Governors Pension (Repeal) Law 2024” which commendably abolishes payment of pension to former governors and deputy governors in Abia State. Other states should emulate the prudence of this governor in the interest of our nation. We have had enough of official banditry with compromised legislative endorsements by the skinhead s o-called lawmakers in this country!

Copious other developmental engagements, diverse social infrastructural interventions, pipeline projects, superhighway internet and general communicative initiatives that transcend telephony, investment prospects and anticipatory attainments that signpost massive urban renewal cannot be accommodated in this microcosm of space that circumscribes elucidation of vital issues of governance under the captainship of my—no, our—governor.

You can bank on my abridged assertions here: Otti is performing creditably. If it were not so, I would declare it, too. The ducklings who demonised me for believing in Otti since 2015 when the arduous redemptive journey crystalized should by now be appreciating my unassailable visionary thrust.

If you don’t believe what you have just read, ask the worst governor of Abia State, Theodore Orji, about this writer!

 Wabara ( writes from Surulere, Lagos.

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