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Alex Otti at 59: Imprints of a Great Leader for a New Abia

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Alex Otti to flag off another major road project in Abia on Tuesday

The Abia State governor, Dr Alex Otti, OFR, is 59 today, Sunday, February 18, 2024. He is among the few professionals who left their high-flying executive spots to swim in the murky waters of Nigerian politics with the sole aim of rescuing people in dire straits and who are in dire need of redemption.

For almost 15 years now, Otti has been a regular player in the Abia State governorship battles and he eventually won a landslide victory in the March 18, 2023 contest following the masses’ high regard and absolute confidence in him due to his avowed character, competence and courage.

Before his unexpected but well-planned leap into the world of politics, Otti had through share hard work, dedication, determination, and an acute passion for professionalism, registered his name in gold in the private sector as one of the most dignified and best bankers in both Nigeria and Africa.

To that extent, Otti, a man of principle who has always operated and followed laid down procedures rather than playing to sentiments and emotions, had worked assiduously to emerge one of the most recognizable as well as respected bank chief executive officers in Nigeria.

He started, perhaps unnoticed and uncelebrated, at the Nigerian International Bank (currently Citi Bank), as a greenhorn in the Operations Department, from where he eventually traversed the banking latitude and sphere. Climbing systematically, Otti proved his mettle as a man with leadership and administrative ingenuity when he worked briefly at the United Bank for Africa as a Principal Manager before a headburst movement to First Bank of Nigeria, where he became a high-ranking Executive Director after serving meritoriously as Assistant General Manager and Deputy General Manager.

His appointment in March 2011 as the Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Diamond Bank (now Access Bank) expectedly shook the banking foundations as many who were not well informed wondered why should somebody leave First Bank, a formidable bank, for Diamond Bank, a baby financial institution.

However, Otti has his game plan tucked in his sleeves. Reaching Diamond Bank Plc as the Managing Director/ Chief Executive Officer, Otti made it one of the first 10 banks in Nigeria. Otti made Diamond Bank the fifth most profitable bank in the country. With Otti, Diamond Bank became an attractive brand as he brought many workable innovations to it.

According to a publication, “Governor Otti’s years as the Managing Director and CEO of Diamond Bank eventually became the crowning glory of his active banking career. He took the relatively unknown bank, which was stereotyped by many as a tribal, sectional enterprise, from its struggling loss position and built it into the fifth most profitable bank and one of the eight systemically important banks in Nigeria within a short period of about three years”.

In fact, following his resignation, the management, workers, shareholders as well as the entire public who transacted with the bank while he held sway, made it clear that Otti’s years as the MD/CEO were the most remarkable, profound, and rewarding in the history of the bank. Therefore, Otti exited on a high.
A man who believes in hard work and discipline, Otti’s eventual election as the governor of Abia State didn’t just happen as a happenstance. He diligently worked for it. First in 2015 when he won the election but was not declared. Despite the huge humiliation and credible loss of financial resources, Otti refused to accept he was brutally knocked down. Rather, he soldiered on. Marketing himself as it were to the Abia masses on what he represents and will achieve when elected.

For the second time in 2019, he again contested for the governorship but the Abia oligarchy still blocked him and they had their way. However, the people of Abia stood their ground and insisted that enough was enough in governorship election rigging. Thus, the voters who massively voted for the Labour Party, LP, and Alex Otti as the governor, refused to be intimidated and therefore defended their votes. In the process, Otti was returned as the governor-elect.

Otti has always described himself as a man of honor and integrity whose word is his bond. Thus, the moment he assumed office, he ensured he immediately without delay started implementing all that he promised during campaigns.

Otti tackled insecurity by creating a standard security outfit. Operation Crush has almost flushed out all the criminals in the state as kidnapping, abduction, killing, and armed robbery have drastically reduced in the state. Even, the dreaded Lopkanta Forest has been cleared of kidnappers.

Before Otti came on board, roads in Aba, Umuahia, and other major towns in the state were in deplorable conditions. Today, Otti has been constructing and reconstructing roads in Aba and if he continues like this, at the end of four years, Otti will have succeeded in placing Abia as one of the states with the best roads in the country.

One aspect of governance Otti took seriously was the issue of workers’ and pensioners’ salaries and payments. For about eight years, there was the lamentation of some workers who were tagged as not being core civil servants whose salaries were not paid on time, and who never enjoyed their status as civil servants. The first move of Otti was to quash that dichotomy and there was joy.

Again, the inconsistency in payment of pensioners was also neutralized by Otti as he has regularized the payment of pensioners who now get paid monthly since Otti’s administration came on board.

Probably, Otti’s sincere move in making Aba a real and true commercial city is a dream all have been applauding. According to Igwe Onu, a public affairs analyst “Decency in the Enyimba City is improved. Security is restored. Ease of doing business is provided while construction and reconstruction of roads are ongoing. This has made productions go high once more and the beauty of Aba as the commercial hub center of Igbo Nation is recreated”.

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Born to the late Pastor and Mrs Lazarus Otti of Umuehim, Ehi Na Uguru in Isialangwa South Local Government Area of Abia State, After primary school, he attended Ngwa High School, Aba, Secondary Technical School, Okpuala Ngwa, Abia State. At the University of Port Harcourt, he graduated with a First Class Honours degree in Economics in 1988. And later got a Master’s Degree (MBA) from the University of Lagos just as he attended various international courses including the Executive Development Programmes of the Columbia Business School, Stanford Business School, and Wharton Business School, all in the United States of America. He also did an executive program at INSEAD, Fontainebleau, France. In 2009 he was conferred with an honorary doctorate by Babcock University and in 2012, an honorary Doctor of Science (D.Sc.) Degree from the University of Port Harcourt. In 2013, he received yet another honorary doctorate, this time from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

Otti is a great man with great accomplishments and he is now poised to take up the Herculean task of reshaping a New Abia State where peace, progress, prosperity, growth, and development in all fields of human endeavor will be the order of the day.

 

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