Abia launches urban renewal development initiatives
Dr. Alex Otti, Abia State governor

By Ori Martins

“We are in a new era of peace, security, prosperity and massive development”, His Excellency, Dr Alex Otti, reassured the people and residents of Abia State as ‘God’s Own State’ marked her 32 years of existence, recently.

The area now known and addressed as Abia State was created on August 27, 1991, by the then head of state, retired General Ibrahim Babangida. It was carved out of the old Imo State.

She derived her name from the acronym, ABIA, from the first letters of four divisions or four zones that distinctively made up the enclave. They were Aba, Bende, Isuikwuato and Afikpo (now in Ebonyi State).

Many believe that since the creation of the state, it was only the brief period of its pioneer military administrator, Frank Ajobena, who had really worked round the clock to contribute to the growth and development of Abia, that could be said to be outstanding. All the other military governors who came after him are regarded in Abia State as “soldiers of fortune”.

“I can tell you that since Abia State was created in1991, the only leader or governor who actually worked for the growth, development and positive progression of the state and her citizenry was the first military administrator, Frank Ajobena. He had ideas. He had vision. And he had courage to carry out the mission that brought him here. It is sad to note that after his exit, all the other military governors just came here to observe their military postings”, Chief Kalu Ukwa Kalu, a resident of Umuahia, the capital city, noted.

When democracy returned in 1999, expectations were high that Abia, blessed with ingenious men and women in virtually all aspects of human endeavour, would arise and shine. But it was to the contrary.

Majority of the people are of the view that the military who returned power to the civilians did not conduct a credible election, and so, very credible leaders did not emerge in the state in 1999. Thereafter, the civilians continued exchanging the mantle of leadership among one another. And in most cases, to their godsons – for the purposes of political and group interest’ protection rather than for public good enhancement.

“We can forgive the military administrators on two grounds. First, they never canvased for our votes; and we never voted for them. That is, we didn’t give them our mandate. They came here with the mindset of command and control. Second, the fact remains that virtually all the military governors were never from Abia State. Thus, there was no communal and traditional bond between the military leaders and the people.

“But we can never forgive the politicians. The reasons are simple. They came to us for votes. They presented their manifestos to us. And on paper, we voted for them. Thus, they had our mandate. And they are our people. This is why we are holding them accountable”, Mazi Uka, from Ikwuano, submitted.

However, at 32, eight years before the much quoted proverbial saying of “a fool at forty is a fool forever”, the lamentations and cries of Kalu, Uka and indeed the Abia people and her residents seemed to have been answered.

The emergence of Dr Alex Otti, through the resolve and revolt of the electorate, is gradually but steadily changing the Abia negativity into positive inclinations. In his first 100 days, Otti has proved that things can work in the state.

“Let us be very factual. The number one point you have to note about Otti is, he was the choice of the masses. The people wanted him and the electorate voted for him and his Labour Party, LP, during the March 18, 2023, governorship election.

“This is a clear difference between him and the other three civilian governor before him. His predecessors were either foisted on Abians by the military brass or, they were forced on the masses as godsons by their respective godfathers. Look at it properly, you will discover that Otti was prepared for leadership and he has genuinely worked for it”, Kalu stated.

The moment he took over power, Otti quickly moved into action. Convinced that the root of Abia’s problems has been official corruption, Otti declared a war on graft and its allied forms. Since dirt in the physical translates to dirt in the fiscal and other leanings, Otti also frontally declared a state of emergency on refuse in Umuahia and Aba cities.

In the past 10 years, the two cities had been ravaged by acute environmental challenges that even hinder business and commercial transactions as well as activities in those two centres.

in order to ensure that his administration’s mantra of a new era of peace, security, prosperity and massive development is achieved, Otti dissolved all boards and removed agencies’ heads in the state. The move, according to financial administrative experts, was to ensure sanity, prudence, diligence and transparency in governance. He equally constituted an administrative panel of enquiry to investigate the workings of all the agencies’ boards dissolved.

As Aba is a commercial hub, Otti has awarded the reconstruction of about 30 roads across the state, particularly in the Aba area.

“In the last 100 days, life has returned to Aba and other local councils of Abia State because Governor Alex Otti has commenced the reconstruction of some strategic roads in the state. This is quite commendable and admirable. And it is symbolic because his performance in his first 100 days has drastically uplifted Abia State that celebrated her 32 years of creation on August 27th”, Abariukwu Onyendicho, a property development agent in Aba, contributed.

In about 24 years now, insecurity – killing, kidnapping, armed robbery and other forms of criminal activities – have been a major concern to Abia people and her residents. Thousands of people have been killed, kidnapped or robbed just as properties worth millions of naira have been destroyed since 1999.

Realizing that the primary function of a governor who also doubles as the chief executive/ security officer of the state, is to guarantee the safety of lives and properties, Otti effectively and efficiently directed his administrative tentacles and searchlight on how to improve the security of the state which was at its lowest ebb at his inauguration on May 29, 2023.

For this noble dream to be attained, Otti upgraded and beefed up the operational management of the Abia State security agencies with 20 Toyota patrol vehicles in a mission he codenamed Operation Crush.

While presenting and handling over those vehicles to the leaders of security agencies in the state, Otti said, “My government cannot negotiate with criminals. I call on all security agencies in Abia to identify and work with us in this noble fight against insecurity and criminal activities in the state for us to return to peace and stability”.

So far in his first 100 days in office which coincided with Abia’s 32 years of creation, Otti has also taken steps towards the revival of healthcare delivery, quality education system as well as massive infrastructural development. He has equally waded into sports, entertainment and tourism, aiming at ensuring that Abia State is a home of sports, centre of entertainment attraction and tourists’ destination.

“I think the whole essence of appointing Nwankwo Kanu as the chairman of Enyimba FC of Aba is to make the former African champions and still the reigning Nigerian champions, better, bigger and more attractive to football investors for more lucrative and exciting deals. Kanu has seen it all both locally and internationally and so his appointment by Governor Otti will surely be very rewarding to the team, the fans and the state in general”, a football expert, opined.

It will be recalled that Enyimba became the first team that lifted the CAF Champions League title among other Nigerian teams that had competed for honours in the elite African club competition. The Aba giants smiled with the trophy in 2003 and defended it back-to-back in 2004. The team has also been Premier League champions nine times and Federation Cup winners seven times. Yet, Otti wants Enyimba to do more.

As Afam Echi, a public analyst put it, “Otti came into office when Abia State needed a responsible person like him, thus he cannot afford to fail. Otti is a banker who reached the pinnacle of his profession. Therefore he is a professional.

“He is very much aware of what Abia as a state represents to both her people and the entire Igbo race. For instance, the man still touted as the best visionary sub-national leader the Igbo country has ever produced, the late Dr M.I. Okpara, hailed from Umuahia. Nigeria’s first military head of statem a most patriotic and most nationalistic leader, General Aguiyi Ironsi, was a son of Abia State.

“During the civil war – a struggle for the survival of Ndigbo – when Enugu and indeed all other cities became apparently insecure for the General of the People’s Army, Odumegwu Ojukwu, Umuahia was converted as the quasi-administrative headquarters of Biafra whereupon he lived and operated from”.

He added, “Of course, it took several years before the Federal Government of Nigeria announced an Igbo as the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN. And when it eventually came, it was Dr Paul Ogwuma, a scion of Abia State that occupied that elite position. Remember also the historic and great contributions of Government College Umuahia to the country’s education development”.

As a matter of fact, Otti’s first 100 days in office have boosted and pointed at Abia’s march to peace, security, prosperity and massive development. We now await the complete first year scorecard, and going forward.


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