Governor Otti and Comrade Aliyu
While you were away, a few things about Governor Alex Otti caught the attention of this medium as regards certain steps taken by the Governor in the last one week or there about which casts him in the mould of a man with a purpose. Remember some ahead of him were more of ceremony loving and junketting not caring whose ox was gored.
So let’s catch-up with some these events. The latest is The Northern Consensus Movement (NCM), an amalgamation of community based socio-cultural and economically inclined northern organisations, which has withdrawn a 14-day ultimatum issued to Igbos resident in the North to evacuate.
The NCM rescinded its order after a meeting convened at the instance of the Abia State Governor, Dr. Alex Otti, with the leadership of the Umuchieze Cattle Market regarding the state government’s decision to make the cattle market a daily one.
The decision to withdraw the quit notice was announced by the president of the group, Comrade Awwal Abdullahi Aliyu, who led the leadership of the Umuchieze cattle dealers to the meeting at the Governor’s residence on Tuesday.
Aliyu said that after the meeting with Governor Otti, they have realised that there was no tribal sentiment attached to the Abia State government’s decision.
He declared that Governor Otti means well and is interested in the security and safety of the traders at the cattle market, contrary to earlier circulated allegations that he had asked northern residents in Abia State to leave.
He said, “That is how governance and leadership should be. Communication is very important. Governor Otti is a leader that understands the importance of communication and also the feelings of the people. And this talk had truly brought out a peaceful atmosphere.
“I’m using this medium to say that we’ve cancelled that 14-day ultimatum that was given to easterners.”
He commended the Governor for his promise to assist the vulnerable members of the northern community in the market rent accommodation outside the market as well as to hold periodic meetings with them on issues concerning their wellbeing.
Comrade Aliyu advised the northern community resident in Abia State to be law abiding, respect constituted authorities and be good ambassadors of the Northern people, wherever they find themselves.
“Respect leaders, respect elders, do not break the law, this is what our culture had taught us,” Aliyu cautioned, adding: “We will continue to pray for peace, unity and good governance in Abia, and the south east and Nigeria as a whole.
Governor Otti while receiving his guests restated that his interest in making the Umuchieze Cattle Market a daily one is to end the killings, kidnappings and other criminal activities going on in the market.
The Governor emphasised that he is a detribalised Nigerian, noting that he does not know about segregation and can never be associated with tribalism.
He stated that government’s earlier directive was misunderstood and pointed out that the aim of making the market a daily one was to secure the place in the overall interest of the traders and residents alike.
Governor Otti said that the meeting, convened at his instance, was to explain the true position of government, adding that without security, there would be no development.
“Anytime we allow religion and ethnicity to play a role in what we are doing, we are missing the point. What I have come to do in governance is to give service to the people. We want everyone living in Abia State to live in peace and harmony,” he said.
The Governor told his guests that the state government had decided to enforce the use of markets as markets and had devoted a lot of money to rebuild the cattle market and make it a proper market.
“Wherever you come from, you will agree with me, even in Kano, Kaduna, everywhere, markets are markets and homes are different from markets.
“We are going to divide the market into different sections. You’ll have the cattle section, you’ll have the electronic section, you’ll have the textile section and everything that anybody wants to buy. We will upgrade it in such a way that those who are operating in the market will be very happy.
“We are not going to tolerate any brothels or hotels or where people will be pretending that they are accommodating people meanwhile they’re selling (hard) drugs and selling mkpurumiri (methamphetamine), I’m sure you’ve heard about that.
“I have also said that we will secure the entire market and fence it round and there will be a gate to enter and a gate to exit,” Governor Otti explained.
In his contribution, the special adviser to the Governor on security, Navy Commander Macdonald Uba, (Rtd) said the incessant crimes in and around the cattle market necessitated the measures put in place by the government.
He disclosed that in the past two months, the crime rate in the market has reduced.
The Governor’s Aide said the state governments intention in making the market a daily one and non residential is to ensure the safety of the traders and residents of Umunneochi LGA.
GOV OTTI EXPRESSES DESIRE TO SEE TRAIN SERVICE RETURN IN ABIA, PLEDGES GOVT SUPPORT
Another interesting step the governor took which you missed is Governor, Alex Otti expressed strong desire to see train services return to the Eastern tracks after many years of inactivity.
Governor Otti stated this recently when he met with officials of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), Eastern District, who came on a business visit to him.
Governor Otti noted that rail used to be the most viable means of transportation in the country but suddenly disappeared in the last three decades.
He promised that Abia would support the corporation to function in the state and requested that they continue to update him with developments regarding the on-going rehabilitation of the rail tracks in the state.
The Governor pledged to address the request for security and further engage the people on the need to protect and safeguard railway installations in their localities.
He warned that any person caught engaging in vandalisation of railway tracks would be dealt with.
Earlier, the railway District Manager, Mr. Modibbo Mohammed, who led the team, said their visit was to brief the Governor about the on-going rehabilitation of the railway tracks from Port Harcourt to Aba.
Modibbo stated that the first phase of the laying of new rail tracks, covering 63kms from Port Harcourt to Aba, would be completed by the end of this year while the second phase from Aba to Umuahia would be delivered in the first quarter of 2024.
He solicited the support of the Governor in tackling the issue of vandalisation of the rail tracks stacked in some locations in the state and appealed for a patrol vehicle to assist them in security.
Mr. Modibbo said that the railway services when fully operational would create jobs for the youths as well as provide alternative means of transportation to the populace.
He commended the Governor for the massive infrastructural development witnessed in the state within his short time in office.
The Principal Secretary to the Governor/Chief Strategy Officer, Mr. Chinenye Mba-Uzoukwu; the Commissioner for Power and public Utilities Engr. Ikechukwu Monday; Commissioner for Information and Culture, Prince Okey Kanu; Commissioner for Trade, Commerce and Industry, Dr. Chimezie Ukaegbu; Commissioner for Transport, Comrade Sunny Onwuma; Special Adviser to the Governor on Trade, Commerce and Industry, Chief Nwaka Inem; Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Due process, Dr. Oluebube Chukwu; the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Homeland Security, Mr. Chukwunenye Alajemba, among others were present during the meeting.
ALEX OTTI FOUNDATION INCREASES FUNDING FOR SCHOLARSHIP AWARDS
Again, Founder of the Alex Otti Foundation (AOF) and Governor of Abia State, Dr. Alex Otti announced an increase in the funding package of the scholarship scheme.
Dr. Otti said henceforth beneficiaries of the Foundation’s scholarship programme will receive the sum of N250,000, each, up from N150,000.
Governor Otti, who spoke during the 2022-2023 Alex Otti Scholarship Banquet, held at the Sacramento Event Centre, Olokoro, Umuahia South LGA, also pledged continued support to beneficiaries to enable them achieve their full potential.
A total of 34 university students received the scholarship awards at the end of this year’s selection process. No fewer than 200 students are currently receiving financial support from the Alex Otti scholarship programme.
According to Dr. Otti, the scholarship scheme which started many years ago but formally became part of the Foundation’s programme about seven years ago, is modelled in such a way that beneficiaries do not need to know anyone to receive.
He stated emphatically that the foundation has no relationship with Abia State Government neither does it benefit financially in any way from the state, describing it as a private initiative aimed at investing in the future. He charged the beneficiaries not to disappoint but rather put in their best to continue to excel.
The Governor said that the scholarship programme targets bright but indigent students of Abia origin or those resident in the state. Benefitting students are expected to maintain GPA (Grade Point Average) of no less than 3.5 to continue to stay on the scheme throughout their studies.
He appreciated the management committee of the scholarship scheme for their input and for remaining objective to the vision of the foundation without compromise.
Speaking, the Deputy Chief of Staff to the Governor and immediate past Executive Secretary of the foundation, Mr. Chinedu Ekeke, said the selection process was transparent, adding that the scholarship award is just an arm of the Alex Otti Foundation which had continued to empower the citizens.
He thanked the Governor for giving himself for the venture, adding that the Governor never played politics with excellence.
Ekeke urged the beneficiaries to maintain high standard in education, pointing out that the foundation made sure that beneficiaries must come from public tertiary institutions.
In his remarks, the Chairman planning committee and Head, Logistics, Mr. Marcel Umesi, on behalf of the beneficiaries of the 2023 batch, thanked Governor Otti for giving them the latitude to conduct the selection process transparently, noting that all beneficiaries were selected based on merit.
He noted that the foundation had over the years produced about six first-class students, noting that the Governor is determined to building a generation of accomplished individuals who would continue to do great in their chosen fields and urged them to remain worthy ambassadors of the foundation and state at large.
Speaking on behalf of other beneficiaries, one of the first class graduates, Mr Kelvin Ikeoha thanked Governor Alex Otti for giving them a future through the foundation and pledged to also give back to the society.
The event was attended by the wife of the Governor, Mrs. Priscilla Otti, and some senior functionaries of the government, among other dignitaries.
ABIA SAYS NO PLAN TO SEND NORTHERNERS PACKING, INSISTS CATTLE MARKET NON-RESIDENTIAL
Earlier before the meeting Tuesday with NCM, Abia State Government has described as false news making the rounds that it has directed Northerners, who live and conduct their businesses at the Lokpanta Cattle Market, around the Enugu-Umuahia-Aba-Port Harcourt Expressway by Umunneochi, to leave the state.
The government said there was no iota of truth in the fake news as those Northerners “are the second and third generations of Igbos” living in Lokpanta.
The Special Adviser to the Governor on Security, Navy Commander Macdonald Ubah (rtd), made this clarification while briefing Journalists at the Government House, Umuahia, on Monday.
Ubah noted that the Lokpanta-Uturu axis of the state has been under siege by criminal elements in the last couple of years, prompting the major steps recently taken by the State Government to eliminate the spate of kidnappings and other criminal activities in the area.
He said preliminary investigation points to the Lokpanta Cattle Market as a major hide out for all kinds of individuals involved in different criminal activities, including kidnappings, organ harvesting, armed robbery and other violent crimes.
The retired Naval Commander said ransom for kidnap victims around the Uturu-Umunneochi axis were paid in the market, a situation which prompted the government to, among other measures, carry out deliberate actions including demolition of brothels and shanties in the market.
Ubah, who described Governor Alex Otti, as a detribalised Nigerian, having appointed non-Abians into his cabinet, noted that most of the cattle dealers in the state are second and third generations of Igbos, and therefore the Governor Otti-led government could not have given such directive.
He said that the stand of government is that the market would no longer be residential, but a daily market. He maintained that government’s decision to make the Lokpanta Cattle Market a daily market is in the interest of the citizens and the cattle dealers, adding that government will not rescind the decision.
He told the media that he had on two ocassions held meetings with the leadership of the market unions, where he informed them of government’s decision to make the market a daily one for security reasons.
The Day Alex Otti Charmed UNN.
This was captured by Professor Bennett Nwanguma, Chairman of Senate Ceremonials Committee of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
The University of Nigeria, Nsukka recently rolled out the the customary red carpet, the brass drums and their traditional green and white drapes to receive Dr Alex Otti, the Governor of Abia State, who is also a revered recipient of the Honorary Doctorate Degree of the University.
The occasion was the 63rd edition of the Founders’ Day Lecture of the University which held on Thursday, October 5, 2023, at the Nsukka campus of the University. The Founders’ Day ceremony of the University is held annually to remember, celebrate and honour the Rt. Hon. (Dr) Nnamdi Azikiwe and his contemporaries who founded the university in the wake of Nigeria’s independence in October 1960.
The befitting venue was the Princess Alexandra Auditorium and Unity Hall (PAA) – a magnificent venue that holds its share of the unique history of the university.
The auditorium is named after Princess Alexandra of Kent, who represented Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain at the independence ceremonies (held in Lagos on 1st October, 1960) and at the inauguration of the University of Nigeria (held at Nsukka six days later). The PAA, as it is called, still adorns the portraits of the Princess and that of Rt. Hon. Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, who also became the first Chancellor of the University. The auditorium was bombed out during the civil war by federal forces because the university, whose name had been changed to the University of Biafra, was conducting a graduation ceremony at the hall. The convocation ceremony was held at night to evade detection by the federal. The top management of the university and the graduation class of 1967, known fondly as “Circle ’67, escaped with their lives because the short convocation ceremony ended just before the bombs rained down and destroyed the auditorium.
In delivering the lecture, Dr Alex Otti was following in the footsteps of Engr Dave Umahi, the former Governor of Ebonyi State, and the present Minister of Works, Mr Peter Obi, the former Governor of Anambra State and the presidential candidate of the Labour Party and Mr Udom Emmanuel, the former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, who delivered the 59th, 60th and 61st editions of the prestigious lecture series, respectively.
The 63rd edition of the lecture was chaired by Professor Elochukwu Amucheazi, the pioneer Director General of the National Orientation Agency, who set the stage by giving a short history of the university. It was indeed a unique and colourful occasion, and it was made even more special by the presence of Professor Frank Ndili, the highly regarded 7th Vice-Chancellor of the University, who was visiting the University after 15 years. Frank Ndili is credited with building the most magnificent buildings at the University, and his tenure (1980 – 1985) is still considered the golden era of the University. Understandably, Professor Ndili deliberately preserved the bombed out remnants of PAA to serve as a relic and a monument of the civil war. But, one of his successors, Professor Umaru Gomwalk, a sole administrator, decided otherwise, and rebuilt the auditorium, arguing that it was better to forget the impact of the war on the campus than to remember it.
In his address as the host, the Vice – Chancellor of the University, Professor Charles Igwe, narrated how Dr Otti emerged the most desired guest lecturer out of a shortlist of 6 potential guest speakers who were considered for the 63rd edition of the lecture.
In anticipation of a massive turnout of staff and students who wanted to behold and listen to Alex Otti, the man of the moment, provisions had to be made for an overflow in the form of canopies, screens and additional seats that were kept outside the hall.
The topic of Otti’s lecture was “Removal of the petrol subsidy: dealing with the challenges and harnessing the opportunities’. Dr Otti, the economist and banker turned politician, had wisely chosen to speak on a subject that was both topical, interesting and almost sensational. He went ahead to deliver a rich and engaging lecture that left the audience wishing for more. In Otti’s opinion, removing the subsidy was the right thing to do, and should have happened a decade earlier. But, he criticized the manner in which the subsidy was removed, especially how such a far-reaching policy was communicated to the people. He also condemned the fact that adequate buffers, which would have minimized the impact of subsidy removal on the citizens, especially those of lower socioeconomic status, were not put in place before the eventual removal of the subsidy. He went on to identify what preparations the federal government should have put in place before the removal of the subsidy. Expectedly, the guest lecturer also took advantage of the big stage to highlight some of the many policies which his government had put in place to help alleviate or cushion the impact of the removal of subsidy on civil servants in his state of Abia. Dr Otti went further to present and justify a long list of other policies and programmes which he intends to use to transform and change the narrative of Abia State. Obviously, these policies and programmes attracted the loudest applause from the audience, which included a good number of staff, students and other citizens of Abia State who live in Nsukka.
Remarkably, Dr Otti stayed on the subject and succeeded in sustaining the interest and attention of the audience until the very last minute. In appreciation, the audience applauded over 20 times, including a resounding and standing ovation at the end. The consensus was that It was an excellent lecture and it was well-received. At the end, the audience was left in awe and utter admiration of the man who many people now see as “man of the moment”, the “messiah” who has come to wipe the tears off the people of Abia State.
The choice of Alex Otti as the guest lecturer at Nigeria’s oldest indigenous university must be seen as a form of approval or endorsement of the first steps he has taken as the Governor of Abia State. Many may argue, however, that these are early days, and it may be rather hasty to judge Otti and other governors who assumed office only 5 months ago. In contrast, the Igbo adage, “ubochi oma na esi na ututu awara anwu”, offers a perfect description of the scenario. This translates to: “a sunny morning often serves as a good predictor of a glorious day”. This proverb explains and justifies why the people of Abia State are suddenly walking with a new-found swag and with their shoulders held high. To be honest, no one should blame the long-suffering people of Abia State for celebrating what promises to be a glorious future under the leadership of Dr. Alex Otti. From the look of things, he is aware of the great expectations which he now bears on those tested shoulders of his. One can only wish Alex Otti and the people of Abia the very best of luck.
GOV OTTI LEADS PROMINENT NIGERIANS, ABIANS TO BID OHANAEZE EX-PRESIDENT, IRUKWU, FAREWELL
Abia State Governor, Dr. Alex Otti, led a cream of prominent Nigerians and Abians as the body of the former President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Late Professor Joseph Ogbonnaya Irukwu, was laid to rest.
Prof Irukwu, who died in July at the age of 89, was buried on Saturday in his hometown, Amokwe Item, Bende Local Government Area, Abia State, after funeral ceremonies that traversed London, Lagos and Umuahia.
The body of the erudite insurer, lawyer and administrator was committed to mother earth after an inter-denominational church service at Jane Egbichi Oteh Mini-stadium, Amokwe Item, where the virtues of the late elder statesman were generously captured in tributes and eulogies.
Governor Otti recalled expressing shock at the news of the death of Prof Irukwu, regretting that he missed an opportunity to have “a sit down” with him to discuss the deceased’s desire to see a positive change in Abia. Prof Irukwu died barely one and half months after Governor Otti assumed office on May 29.
“I can tell you that the departure of Dee Ogbo got me with some kind of shock not because I expected he would be here forever, but at 90 with the kind of good health that God had blessed him with, the kind of effort he made to see a change in Abia, I thought he would be here for a longer while,” the Governor explained.
Governor Otti acknowledged the significant achievements of late prof Irukwu in various fields, such as insurance, law, and his leadership within Ohanaeze, but stressed that the most profound accomplishment of the late insurance guru was his devotion to the Christian faith.
The Governor encouraged the guests to emulate Prof Irukwu, saying, “If you believe you’ve achieved great success in life but have neglected to sit and pray to God, it’s time to reconsider your priorities.”
He expressed hope that Irukwu would rise again on the resurrection morning alongside all those who had devoted their lives to Christ. He urged the family of the late Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) to bear the loss with fortitude.
In his tribute, former President-General, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Chief Gary Igariwe, on behalf of the apex Igbo socio cultural group, said Irukwu was an exceptional leader who distinguished himself in service and prayed God to console the family he left behind.
Also, the President-General of Item Development Association (IDA), Sir Onwuka Orji, asserted that the late Prof Irukwu trained and mentored many Item professionals and captains of industry, who are excelling all over the world, maintaining that his passage had created a big vacuum in Item land and Nigeria as a whole.
The event attracted an array of dignitaries from all walks of life including former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel; former governor of old Imo State, General Ike Nwachukwu (Rtd); Sen Enyinnaya Abaribe, former senate president, Adolphus Wabara; President-General, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu; a former Director General of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and prominent daughter of Item, Arunma Oteh; a former gubernatorial candidate in Rivers State, Tonye Cole; as well as other distinguished Nigerians and sons and daughters of Item Okpi.
GOV OTTI HONOURS OPM OVERSEER APOSTLE CHIBUZO CHINYERE AT 50
Abia State Governor, Dr. Alex Otti, congratulated Apostle Chibuzo Gift Chinyere, the General Overseer and Founder of Omega Power Ministries (OPM) on his 50th birthday celebration.
Governor Otti, who was a special guest at the headquarters of the church at Dr. Jesus City, Aluu, Port Harcourt, Rivers State also felicitated Apostle Chibuzo and the congregation on the church’s 17th anniversary.
He described the OPM founder as a true man of God, recalling the prophetic statement Apostle Chibuzo made way back in January, when the Governor visited the church as a candidate of the Labour Party for the Abia governorship election in March 2023.
The cleric had said: “In this church, there are different people from different (political) parties. There is PDP here. There is APC here, there is APGA, there are different, different parties. But I will say my own opinion, and you know me, I don’t mince words.
“I strongly believe that Alex Otti is the answer we have been waiting for. I believe that his governorship is going to bring a mighty turnaround, a liberation, a transformation in the decay going on in Abia State.
“Abia is in a decayed state and it needs deliverance. This is my state, I’m ashamed of going to my state.”
Governor Otti said he returned to the church to, first of all, give thanks to God and, secondly, congratulate Apostle Chibuzo on his 50th birthday; thirdly, to congratulate the church on its 17th anniversary as well as appreciate the parishioners for their support in the last governorship election, where he emerged victorious.
He likened his return to the church to the story of the 10 lepers in the Bible, where 10 of them were healed but only one returned to give thanks.
“Man of God, I have come back to say, thank you for letting God speak through you,” the Governor told Apostle Chibuzo.
Governor Otti was accompanied to the service by his Chief of Staff, Dr. Caleb Ajagba; Commissioner for Information, Prince Okey Kanu and some other senior aides.
This is a select few among the packed up itinerary in the last few days. Expect more update.
Picture: Governor Otti with the Northern group after the heart to heart discussion.