By kazie Onyebuchi
Dr Alex Otti, first class economist and reputed banker who is the Labour Party gubernatorial candidate for Abia State in the 2023 elections has this to say:
“Majority of you already know the story of this struggle. It’s the story of a struggle motivated by sacrifice and sustained by tenacity. It’s a struggle inspired by conviction and advanced by courage. The problems which informed my decision to respond to the call of our people in 2014 for their liberation has now taken a new and a frightening dimension – complete breakdown of infrastructure, increase in inequality, non payment of wages of workers, high rate of unemployment, weak economy, corruption, abject poverty and poor healthcare and educational facilities.
Now, we cannot blame historic forces beyond our control for these challenges, but the wrong leadership choices we had made as a state, elder statesmen and citizens.”
Abia’s unemployment rate at 51 percent above national average
“Venturing into the murky waters of Abia politics from such professional background was not an alluring adventure for the faint hearted, so the struggle was ab initio not motivated by the quest for affluence, luxury or comfort, but by an altruistic desire to audaciously dare and defeat the albatross of leadership ignominy that had suffocated the economic development of our dear state for a very long time, and made us a laughing stock in the comity of states. For instance, unemployment rate in Abia is presently 51% as against the National Average of 33% and best performers like Osun and Benue at less than 12%.”
How they invaded Collation Centre, stole my victory in 2015
“When I set out on this journey, I didn’t come as a messiah, but that of a servant-leader who would serve as a mere rallying point for a project that bore the trademark of a revolution. Abians saw the seriousness and sincerity in us and swiftly keyed into our vision as we preached the gospel of positive change while mobilising our people in every nook and cranny of the state.
“In spite of unprecedented acts of medieval threats, intimidation and brutal violence meted out to us and our supporters, we stood firm and got thousands of Abia voters out as they overwhelmingly voted for our victory. The climax of the violence was the invasion of the state collation centre by high ranking government officials and leaders of the PDP who forced the alteration of the result of the election to ensure that a loser was returned as governor. These same people who had earlier lined the streets of Aba with caskets to threaten voters, followed up the heist by setting ablaze at least two LG INEC offices to destroy evidence.
“Many had asked why we didn’t counter those violent acts. Our response is that; we valued and still value the lives of innocent Abians at the collation centre, many of whom would have lost their lives in crossfire if we took the same primitive extreme measures of counter violence.
What we intend to do
“Ladies and gentlemen, considering the numerous challenges facing our people and our state at this time, coupled with the global economic downturn, it becomes expedient that we do things differently to achieve a different result. We have worked very hard to put up formidable structures from the polling units to wards, local governments and at the state level to take back our state.
For those of you who are wondering on the direction we intend to go, our vision and mission have not changed. We have resolved once again to bring change to Abia State and have the plan to do things differently.
“We plan to pursue economic policies for shared prosperity and immediate attention on youth employment.
We plan to create quality education for development, modernization and social mobility.
“We plan to ensure the modernization of agriculture and its value chains to take millions out of poverty and ensure food security in the state.
We plan to revive moribund industries and create new ones to generate employment and manufacture goods, not just to remain hawkers of other people’s goods. We plan to support the establishment of modern healthcare facilities and guarantee the healthcare needs of our people
“We plan to deploy modern infrastructure to aid ease of doing business, particularly in Aba, the commercial nerve centre of the state. We plan to move Abia from its present unenviable position of one of the dirtiest states in the country to the cleanest state. We plan to restore honour and integrity in public service by motivating, attracting and retaining the best.
“We plan to tackle corruption which has become synonymous with the state. The rest of the states in Nigeria look at Abia State as a cesspit of corruption.
We plan to prioritize the protection of lives and property
“And we plan to respect the principles of separation of powers between the executive, legislatures and judiciary as well as respect the rights of citizens. That is why I’m in the race for the Governor of Abia State.
“I ’m in the race for the successful and the struggling Abians. I’m in the race for those breaking barriers in technology and discovering cures for diseases. I’m the race for petty traders who stand on their feet all day while hawking around the risky roads of Abia North, the dirty streets of Abia South and dangerous roads of Abia Central. I ’m in the race for the nurses and doctors who work day and night under terrible conditions and yet receive the reward of stagnated wages.
“I’ m in the race for the truckers, taxi and Keke drivers who drive for hours on our 3D roads – (Dirty, Dangerous and Deadly).
I’m in the race for the farmers who feed us. I’m in the race for the small business owners who took a risk to establish their businesses, but lack the enabling environment to succeed. I’m in the race for everyone who has ever been knocked down, but refused to be knocked out. I’m in the race for those civil servants and teachers who work so hard for the state, but have been rewarded with arrears of salaries.
“I’m in the race for those who have lost their properties and source of livelihood to political witch hunt for the mere ‘sin’ of joining in the fight against corruption, resisting their oppressors or lending their voices to speak against the ills in Abia.
I’m in the race for those who have lost loved ones on the death traps we call roads, for those whose spirit have been dampened and are on the verge of a total breakdown. I’m not in the race for some Abians, I’m in the race for all Abians.
The Ariaria trader and tax payer who is submerged by flood whenever it rains needs good and hygienic environment to do his business. The Bende rice farmer requires access road to evacuate his produce and the Obingwa maize farmer who is surrounded by arable lands requires government financial incentives to boost productivity and yield. We shall assist these hard working Abians turn their fortunes around, and make their output competitive.
“We shall courageously restore the lost glory of Aba through well planned and well executed infrastructural revolution.
“We do not consider payment of salaries and pensions as gestures to workers and pensioners and thus would not expect songs of adulation and appreciation when we would begin to rewrite this sad part of our history.”
“I therefore, ask you to join me in helping to make this an age of greatness for our people and for our state.