They have looted Abia State, misgoverned our people, and inflicted sufferings on the people of the state. It is time to send them packing.
Dr Alex Otti is the Abia State standard bearer on the platform of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) for next year’s election. He speaks on the need to end poor governance in Abia State and other issues.
They say poor governance has been the bane of Abia State. Do you agree?
There is no doubt that we have had poor governance in Abia State since with its sad consequences on the people of the state. Many people know that I was until 2014 a typical Lagosian, doing my work at the helm of a commercial bank. And like many people in Lagos, I was also living a successful and comfortable life, but like any of the Abians, I was also worried about the state and future of our children. The state has suffered in the hands of selfish and corrupt leaders. But what is not commonly known is the depth of the poor leadership and poverty it has spread on Abia indigenes. It is my sad duty to take Abians into Abia State of today, and reveal the realities of poor governance. The story of Abia success, which we see especially on paid TV commercials, is that the state is working, and all things in Abia are bright and beautiful. Those who watched those commercials saw how some of our respected Nollywood actors and actresses were used to ‘act’ the success story of Abia, which was not a reality. The numerous TV commercials only created the impression that government is working; that new roads were constructed, markets, schools were being built and rehabilitated, workers salaries and pensions are paid but those were not true. The reality is that Abia State is not working.
I was in Aba few days ago to visit the Ngwo Ngwa market gutted by fire, what I saw on ground made me cry. Aba became the pride of Igbo after the devastating civil war in 1970; Igbo from all parts of Igboland flocked to Aba and demonstrated the spirit of industry, enterprise, and determination, which has made them renowned globally, and people built a thriving commercial city out of the hash lib of the war. And God gave us a dynamic leader, a person of history in the person of late Sir Sam Mbakwe after the war who did everything humanly possible including ‘crying’, to attract the attention of the Federal Government to the pitiable ragtag in Aba. Those who were old enough would remember that late Mbakwe was christened ‘The weeping governor.’ He gave Aba facelift. What he did to Owerri, he also did to Umuahia.
In what ways did you try to check these excesses?
In 2015, I challenged the past government of Theodore Orji to explain to the people of Abia state what he did with the money that accrued to the state for eight years. I also challenged him to come to Aba, Ngwo and Umuangasi roads, to explain the people of Aba what he did with the money allocated to the state by pointing at any projects in Aba that justified the huge sums of money. I stood in Umuahia, the state capital, during the 2015 campaign asking him to tell me and the people of Umuahia, what he has done with the money accruing to the people of the state: to show anywhere in Umuahia that looks like a state capital, but he didn’t provide any answers to my questions, hence the people of the state turned out en masse to vote for me. Evidence at disposal showed that APGA won the election in every local government in Abia State except two, where elections did not hold. We also won the election in the polling booths at Umuobasi, Umuahia, which is TA Orji’s village. He was the incumbent governor then, running for the senate but we defeated him in his polling unit. The people of Ibeku stood
against their son and voted for APGA.
What are your strategies toward ensuring you are not allegedly rigged out again in 2019?
Let me say emphatically that we can do it again. I used the word ‘we,’ in the sense that it is a collective responsibility, 2015 is different from 2019. Yes, we learnt our lessons the bitter way, but now we are more, and better prepared to face the ruling party in 2019. Enough is enough! We are glad the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has changed the process and modalities for the election. When I say ‘we can,’ what I expect is that at the time we are through with any election, all young men should remain at the polling booths, from there to anywhere they are carrying the results to, and collectively falsification of results would be a thing of the past. We cannot continue to allow evil to thrive. They have looted Abia State, misgoverned our people, and inflicted sufferings on the people of the state. It is time to send them packing. There is a common Igbo proverb, which says: ‘Every day is for the thief, but one day is for the owner of the house,’ 2019 is the day the owner of the house would take back his house. A time comes in the life of every slave within which to be freed. The time of the freedom of Abians has come, and the opportunity beckons for every man and woman from Abia State, and in Diaspora to stand up and say no to poor governance, corruption, and lack of ideas; lootocracy, and division. We should raise our voices loud and clear, and say; ‘yes to competence, honest leadership, vision and development. ‘Why would a state that is alphabetically number one in Nigeria, and known as God’s own state be the worst fate. Who did this to Abians? When did it happen to us? What would we tell our forefathers: Michael Okpara of blessed memory, General Aguiyi Ironsi, Jaja Nwachukwu, and our children; that we allowed a group of morally bankrupt people to hold Abia State hostage; people who are today prejudices to the law. It cannot happen again. Every state in South-East has overtaken Abia State: especially Ebonyi that was mocked many years ago. One needs to visit Abakiliki to see what it has become today. What about Anambra? The state has become national model of good governance and sustained development, even Imo State. At least, if you go to Owerri, you would know that it has a semblance of a state capital irrespective of what they have done to it. It is only Abia State that is a lost case. The capital, Umuahia looks like the boys quarters of Anambra State. Umuahia does not look like a state capital. Sam Mbakwe built the best roads. Yet a son of Umuahia governed Abia State for eight years. One can now understand why the people of Umuahia rejected him resoundingly at the last election. Even in Aba where one of my kinsmen has been the governor for close to four years, nothing has changed in the lives of our people in Ngwaland. I see them as people who are not ready to do anything that would improve Abia State. They can only do things that would improve their pockets, families, and girl friends. But let them continue, their expiry date is just few months away. Anyone who is observant in the country would realise that our cites are changing unlike what obtains in years back; being a non-indigene has increasingly become a huge challenge to fulfilling our visions; your state of origin has become critical to your ability to thrive and prosper. The solution to this emerging trend is to ensure that our states of origin are well developed. It is now imperative that we protect our homelands, just in case of the unexpected. We all have a role to play as moulders of opinion, and influencers, so, we must show the light for our people to be free. I implore all Abians, whether a registered voter in Abia or not, whether you have a Permanent Voter Card (PVC), or not, once you are from Abia State, you must get involved, and ensure you call your people in the families, villages, and communities, and tell them to forget the propaganda of the ruling PDP in Abia State that has failed; their ‘handouts,’ bags of rice, salt, and the ‘chicken,’ change they give every election year, to deceive people, after the election, they forget them, and disappear, waiting for another election year. Yes, it is another election year, and they are at it again; going round, giving people handouts. Abians should collect the money. It is their money but on the day of election, when they get into the booth they must send them packing with their votes, by voting for all APGA candidates.
What advice do you have for youths ahead of the election?
I will advise youths to ensure that they vote for the right candidates. The major problem that the country has had is leadership. And there is a saying that every society gets the kind of leadership it deserves. So, if we believe that leadership has been our problem, I think it is time for us to decide who would lead us, by electing the right quality of people. If we decide on the basis of emotions, religion, ethnicity; rather than competence, skill and capacity, then we miss it again. And once we miss it, we would be in the situation for the next four years. I believe that 2019 affords us the opportunity across board to elect the kind of quality leadership that we desire in Nigeria.