A group of concerned technocrats, professionals, businessmen and religious leaders under the aegis of Abia Freedom Alliance (AFA), have called on former bank CEO and chieftain of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Dr. Alex Otti to declare his intention to run for the governorship of the state ahead of the 2023 general election.
The association which made the call in a communique signed by Prince Uzor Nwachukwu, its Convener; Dr Caleb Ajagba; Chief Joe Ezearu; Bishop Bernard Nwaogu and Mr. Okey Kanu and issued at the end of its third quarter meeting in Umuahia last week, noted that Dr. Otti remained the best man for the Abia governorship job.
“Abia State needs in 2023 is an individual equipped with the necessary economic, political and social leadership skills, training and intellect to drive the engine of growth and development so as to move the state forward, having stagnated, indeed regressed, for the past 23 years under PDP,” the communique read.
“AFA finds such quality of candidate in the person of Dr Alex Otti, OFR, a consummate first-class economist and accomplished former Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Diamond Bank Plc; a man who through his Alex Otti Foundation has touched and continues to touch the lives of residents of Abia State, through award of scholarships for university students, building and equipping of medical centres, provision of financial supports for small and micro enterprises, Churches, widows, orphans and the down-trodden.
“AFA calls on Dr Alex Otti, OFR, to make his intention to serve Abia State known, and that AFA will endorse and support his candidacy if and when he chooses to step out.”
The group which decried what it described as years of bad governance in the state, called on the incumbent governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, to endeavour to pay state civil servants their salaries.
The group also condemned strongly, the various acts of insecurity, including killings, rape, arson and kidnappings for ransom, against innocent citizens of the state and security agents, often blamed on the “Unknown Gunmen” and called on perpetrators to stop, even as it raised concern over the prevalence of drug abuse by a segment of the youth population.
It commiserated with families and individuals who have lost loved ones or have been victims of these heinous acts, while calling on the leadership of the Nigerian security agencies, especially the armed forces and police, to restrain their personnel from acts of brutality and torture unleashed on the youths of Abia State, as they seek to contain various acts of insecurity in the state.
Likewise, the association cautioned Abia youths to be law abiding and refrain from acts that would put them at loggerheads with the security agencies.
“That AFA totally condemns the abuse of various mind-bending substances, especially Methamphetamine, otherwise known simply as Meth or Mkpuru mmiri in Igbo language and called on the narcotic agencies, the NDLEA and NAFDAC, to do their utmost to unravel the source and suppliers of this destructive hard drug with a view to cutting off the supply and rehabilitating the abusers,” the communique continued.
“That AFA frowns at the attitude of the state governor, Okezie Victor Ikpeazu and his government, towards outstanding salary arrears, pensions and non-payment of workers’ salaries as and when due, despite various grants and Paris Club Refund monies running into tens of billions of Naira, received by the administration from Federal Government, meant purposefully for such and other developmental projects in the state.
“That AFA notes with regret and embarrassment the continued non-payment of outstanding salary arrears, pensions and gratuities to serving and retired civil servants, respectively, running into several months and years. It becomes even more disheartening when some of those owed are saddled with the responsibility to provide services in the area of health care and education for the citizens, in the case of those in service; and the aged, weak and sickly with regard to the retirees.
“That AFA frowns at the dilapidated state of infrastructure in all of Abia State, especially Aba, the commercial capital. The association condemns in strongest terms the state of roads in Abia and the amount of monies purported to have been sunk into road projects in the state that have not seen the light of the day.
“AFA calls on Governor Okezie Ikpeazu to be mindful of the kind of legacy he wants to leave behind in Abia State, after eight years in office. Whether he wants to be remembered as the governor who could not provide his state with the most basic infrastructure and pay workers’ salaries or one whose non-performance led to the untimely death of numerous retirees because they could not raise the necessary finances to take care of themselves due to non-payment of their pensions and gratuities.
“AFA calls on all well-meaning sons and daughters of Abia State to rise up and condemn the attitude of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu and PDP, towards the governance of the state and hold him and his party to account, at least for the remaining period of the governor’s stay in office.
“AFA calls on the political elites in Abia State to get out of their lethargy and begin to mobilise the people with a view to dispensing with the PDP government which has held Abia State down without progress for the past 23 years, as the momentum towards the general elections in 2023 begins to gather.”