Reputed Economist and Banker and Labour Party candidate for the 2023 elections in Abia state, Dr Alex Otti has revealed some of the plans he has to make Abia a model state by taking advantage of the rich mineral resources to generate revenue for the state and jobs for the people.
In a recent interaction with journalists under the auspices of Abia Media Forum (AMF), Dr Otti who said his plans and programmes for the state are fully documented in his manifesto noted that rather than pursuing white elephant projects for political grandstanding, his leadership will take advantage of the rich mineral deposits in the state to create wealth.
While responding to a question on whether he intends to do anything about the Enyimba Economic City, Abia Airport and Dry Port projects which the Okezie Ikpeazu administration bandied but it never saw the light of the day, Dr Otti said, “there are more economically viable projects that I have in my manifesto, I believe it will be available to you when you download it.
“For instance, we do have kaolin in commercial quantity that is why the past administration before the present civilian administration built modern ceramics industry in Umuahia before it died, so why don’t we take advantage of the kaolin we have in Ohia, and set another ceramics industry so that all our tiles, granite, sanitary wares will be produced here and we can even export them. That would be a priority for us rather than building an airport. Lignite is found in commercial quantity in Ikwuano. So why don’t we set up a power company that will generate electricity using lignite which is brown coal as fuel to power steam engines . Phosphate is in Bende . Why don’t we set up for instance a fertilizer plant in Bende so that we can use the phosphate? Am sure you know that fertilizer is called NPK, the N is nitrogen, P is phosphorours K is potassium. You have a large chunk of it in Bende. What has happened to that belt in Itutu, Ihechiowa and Arochukwu where limestone is found?
“These are the things the government ought to be at the forefront pushing. When I talked about creating jobs, I know what I am talking about. By the time all these industries are up and running, even if they are set up with any model, PPP, management contract, call it whatever you like, these industries will attract human beings to work there, and it will generate income for the state and generally increase the GDP of the state. “These are my priorities now and not white elephant projects, that are mentioned for political purposes and nobody follows up after elections have been declared in their favour,” Dr Otti noted.
Explaining why he expressed reservations when the Okezie Ikpeazu administration was using the said projects as campaign tools, Dr Otti, a frontrunner in the 2o23 guber elections said, “When I talked about Enyimba Economic City, I knew it was a political project at that time and I knew going by track record, a man that has not built a simple road in Aba wants to build an Economic City. I laughed in Chinese and today, the things I have said have come to be. So if you were one of those that believed he has the capacity to build Enyimba Economic City, you must have been mistaken if you look at the track record.
“But having said that, we are going to take a look at it, since it has been mentioned, we will look at how it can be delivered. But before you talk of a new city, you must at least rehabilitate the cities that exist. You have not rehabilitated Aba, Aba is not working and then you are talking of a new city. I don’t know how that will go.
“The airport was also a scam and I had said that airport is very important but it is not a priority for me because there are more fundamental problems that need to be dealt with before we begin to think of luxuries like airport. So it is important that we do the first things first and then by the time we have time for luxury, of course, we can go into that.
“You talked of the dry port. I am not an expert in that but it had been on the table for a long time. But some people that I have spoken to, I had asked a few questions around the dry port. Can we actually have a seaport? I believe the answer is yes. I understand if you go to Ukwa East, that Azumini Blue River is a few nautical miles to the high sea. If that is correct, then the logistics of running a dry port may make it uneconomical, because what it means is that goods will still come from the seaport and they would have to be evacuated to the dry port and cleared from the dry port, so if the working seaport today is Lagos, it means goods will come to Lagos and you have to find a way to ferry them to Isialangwa. So the questions importers will ask is how long it will take to bring those goods to Isialangwa. Is it not cheaper and more straightforward to go and clear it in Lagos and take them to my warehouse? So these are questions that need to be asked but am not in a position to answer them now because I always work on facts. So I will like that experts advise me as to whether that is workable or not.”
Dr Otti who has been touring the local governments to canvass for votes challenged Abians to vote for a better candidate if they find anyone among those jostling to occupy Abia government house that beats his track record.
He said that Abians should be wise to judge who is better among even the pretenders to the number one seat in the state, adding, like our people used to say, “ihe agba na aka adighi eji enyo ele ya.”
He advised Abians to get involved in what is going on to help choose who will lead them.
“Every society gets the government it deserves. If we sit down and the wrong people are imposed on us, we shouldn’t complain. That is why I think we should get involved and if we do we can ask questions, but if we don’t, there is no way we can know what is going on,” he declared.
Picture: Dr Alex Otti