…set to recreate his 2015 feat
By Charles S. Uzoukwu
Although resident in Abuja, as a concerned Nigerian from the South East geo-political zone, I have been a keen observer of political developments in Abia State since the return to democratic governance in 1999. Like most honest and patriotic Abians, my observation is that the physical, social and economic condition of the state leaves much to be desired. That is, despite claims of performance by paid-pipers of the incumbent and past administrations of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). In fact, this makes one wonder why politicians, our Abia politicians seek public office: Is it to sincerely serve the people or take advantage of an ignorant and politically docile electorate as a means of acquiring monetary and material wealth and building self-serving bridges across geo-political zones? It’s quite unfortunate that most fits into this second mould.
Since professional politicians and retired public servants have failed Ndi Abia, concerned citizens of the state rose in excitement when, in 2015, Dr Alex Otti, who had just retired after a brilliant banking career, joined the gubernatorial race under the platform of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). The electorate gave him enough support that overwhelmed the clueless Peoples Democratic Party government of Theodore Ahamefule Orji. But the rigging machinery of the PDP administration at the centre was engaged at the state level to ensure that the status quo remained, even when it ran contrary to the will of the people; and available statistics showed that it did in that keenly contested poll.
According to the National Electoral Commission (INEC), the election was lost, but it was disputable because from zero level APGA even won 11 seats in the Abia State Assembly. So the stage was set for the election tribunal and court of law. Convinced of his victory in what observers saw as barefaced robbery, Otti did not give up. Not minding the financial and psychological cost, He trudged on as an experienced corporate warrior of note.
The seasoned technocrat and economist was no stranger to battles. He wrestled like a cat and shook the system in the three fronts of the electoral battlefield. Convinced of the mandate Abia people gave him, Otti fought gallantly: from the electoral tribunals to the Supreme Court. He proved his mettle at all the stages of the battle.
But ours is a peculiar model of democracy. Our judiciary too is peculiar to our socio-political milieu. And Nigerians are quite an individualistic lot. The moment they cast their votes, they’re no longer bothered what happens next, especially in post-war South East.”
That is why it is important for members of our Labour Party (LP) to be very observant and ready to defend our votes in the forthcoming 2023 general election. The two older parties often talk about having “political structure,” usually in reaction to the rising profile of Labour Party’s presidential hopeful, Mr. Peter Obi and his youthful patriotic followers who are now committed to a change of guard at the national level.
Unfortunately, any one that has had the opportunity of moving around Abia State or has contacts from people in various parts of the misgoverned God’s own State, both in the urban and rural areas, would easily tell you that not much has changed in the last eight years. The state of physical infrastructure seems to be getting worse. For example, whereas other states of same revenue-earning category as Abia build brand new specialist hospitals and primary health centres, government apologists are not ashamed of telling the world that in seven long years the governor was able to “update” four General Hospitals across the state.
The way some people defend our past incompetent administrations makes one wonder if some Abians have accepted mediocrity as a standard. As it is today, so it was under Theodore Orji’s administration.
Yet, no facts or contrary evidence were adduced to support their case. That is the same case today. They insult Otti whenever he makes any pronouncement on the decaying state of Abia and incompetence of the governors. But all hope is not lost as there are some Abians who cannot stomach the ugly situation.
However, it is gratifying to note that Dr Alex Otti is leaving no stone unturned to meet the expectations of our people: the Abia electorate who gave him their mandate in 2015 have more than enough reasons to replicate same in the forth-coming 2023 election, given that he is determined to deliver the state.
And right from the horse’s mouth came this assurance in a recent detailed interview with the New Telegraph newspaper by its Aba-based correspondent. In response to a direct question on why he is back after two previous attempts, the seasoned banker averred:
“Yes, we’ve been in this race since 2015 and we thank God that we are still strong and more than ever ready to conclude the project. There may be challenges on the way and some hiccups but we are more than ever ready to get to our destination and our destination is to fix Abia State. Anybody who is from Abia will agree with me that things are really bad here.
We are the real stakeholders of the place and since we have the capacity, skills and network to fixing it, why not.
In response to another poser, he continued: “Aba today is in a sorry state. As you make your way towards Ariaria Market, you may want to weep. That’s why we felt that these problems have not been solved and need to be solved. If these problems have been solved, then there wouldn’t have been any need for us to continue in the race. So, the major driving factor is to fix Abia State.
This is why all effort must be geared towards giving Otti the mandate to recreate Abia because he is the only one among all other candidates that has what it takes to fix Abia state. We must not miss this golden chance.
Charles Uzoukwu is an Abuja based fan of Dr Alex Otti
Pix: Dr Alex Otti