By OBINNA EZUGWU
Today, February 18, 2020, an illustrious son of Abia State, Dr. Alex Chioma Otti, OFR, achieved another milestone in his already eventful life. He has added another year to his days on earth. Today, he clocked 55. Abians and all those who wish that God’s Own State well have good reason to celebrate.
Here is a man who has since dedicated his time, energy and resources to the course of changing Abia’s sad story for the better. And even at the price of threats to his life by forces that seek to hold the state perpetually down to her knees, he has remained focused in his quest to liberate her from the shackles of poor governance.
At 55, but looking ten years younger, Otti is a man in his prime. He is full of energy, wisdom and commitment. But more importantly, conviction and dogged determination. In the midst of Abia’s present state of near hopelessness, he is the one to look up to for some confidence in the future. Abia’s child of promise, Otti, equipped with experience, knowledge and connections, holds the key to her eventual liberation.
A humble, kind hearted person, Otti disarms even the most vicious enemy with his infectious smile. An extraordinarily intelligent fellow, he comes evidently prepared to save Abia from the plague of mediocrity.
When in 2014, Otti rebuffed pleas to continue as head of a commercial bank he had, within four years, taken from a little more than fringe player in the intensely competitive Nigerian environment, to one of the biggest in the country, with significant presence on the continent and beyond, to join the murky waters of Nigerian politics, many would have thought him insane.
Indeed, who in his proper frame of mind would leave the plumb job of managing a big bank to dabble into politics, the kind played in Nigeria? But Otti is surely not the ‘normal human being’. He is a rare breed who has continued to demonstrate uncommon capacity to sacrifice personal comfort for the good of all.
Of course, Nigeria’s political environment boasts of few men of principles. And in a clime where quest for power is driven mostly by greed, one might be tempted to dismiss Otti’s determination as one of the usual. But it’s not. In Otti is a man deeply pained by the state of affairs in his home state, and who has turned that pain into a burning determination to make a difference.
Beset by bad governance, the like of which is rare even in a country notorious for producing bad leaders, Abia, remains a state desperate for salvation, a giant cursed with immovable clay foot.
Aba, the state’s commercial city, the would be Japan of Africa is reeling from decayed infrastructure and mindless neglect. A post civil war industrial city, Aba was once top choice destination for many an Igbo leaving the villages in search of the good life.
Time was when he either lived in Aba, Onitsha or Lagos. Today, however, bogged down by infrastructural decay, Aba has become a shadow of its old self. It has gone from being a vibrant commercial city to a butt of jokes among Nigerians. Still, however, Aba’s people, armed with inherent determination to succeed, continues to put the city on the map against the odds.
The state itself has gone from a leading State in the Southeast to one now cited as a convenient example of of bad governance in the zone. This is the state of affairs that must have compelled Otti to leave the corporate world where he had achieved great feat to join politics in 2014 ahead of the elections in 2015.
Armed with practical ideas, he soon won the support of the masses. And in the election of that year, was clearly headed for victory. But it was not to be and the rest have become history.
But winners never quit. Knowing what he wants to achieve, Otti has continued to persist. In 2019, he faced many obstacles. With no godfather, contending against an incumbent that had deployed huge financial resources to buy over anyone who was ready to be bought, and a ruling party now “famous” for taking electoral fraud to a whole new level, he placed third.
But at 55, Abia is lucky. He is still willing, it would seem, to present himself. Abians will have another opportunity to change their story in the next election cycle. For a state that has clearly lost a quarter of a century to poor leadership, missing the Otti opportunity would be a betrayal of the next generation of Abia people.