From PETER OKORE, Umuahia
Activities are in top gear to ensure smooth and hitch-free exchange of baton between the PDP government and the in-coming administration of Dr. Alex Otti, governor-elect of Abia State, on Monday May, 29, 2023.
A survey round the Umuahia town shows that the spontaneous reaction and mood of the people that greeted the victory of Alex Otti is still high, full of enthusiasm and expectations.
The Umuahia Township Stadium and Ochendo International Conference Centre, Ogurube Layout have been mapped out as venues for the occasion; which would run in two phases.
To ensure Abians and visitors alike, derive the full benefits of the celebration, the Alex Otti Inauguration committee has appealed to Abia civil servants , currently on strike, to sheath their swords, embrace peace and call-off the strike in the interest of good governance in the state.
In a statement in Umuahia , the state capital, the committee argued that a continuation of the strike action would look as if it is directed against the in-coming government in the state; whereas, this new administration is solely coming to release Abia from the bondage she found herself in the past 24 years.
Meanwhile the two venues designed for the swearing in ceremony of the governor-elect, Otti and the deputy governor-elect, Engr . Ikechukwu Emetu, are now wearing new looks.
BusinessHallmark went round to see the level of preparedness by the Abia state government and noticed that the state government is not showing much zeal in the exercise, unlike in previous years, when the hand-over used to be a serious business.
In those 24 years, it had always been the party handing over to itself, with big merriments amonst party members. But this time, the situation has changed. It is the ruling party, PDP, handing over to another party, the Labour Party (LP).
Amid the looting spree allegedly reported in many government offices, like Aba Teaching Hospital, some institutions and offices, the spectators plastic seats in Umuahia Township stadium and the International Conference centre, have all been either carted away or rendered useless. According to our reports, they are now being replaced with new ones.
Both the Township stadium and Conference Centre are receiving facelifts to ensure grand outing for the ceremony. Spectators’ rubber seats were being replaced at the time of our visit.
Extensive renovation works have been carried out at the Township stadium, with the state Box receiving a new layer of floor tiles. A new set of befitting furniture have been put in place. Both the inside and outside of the stadium have equally receive fresh coatings with paints, while the grasses have been mowed to give effect of carpet. When asked who was behind the innovations, labourers found on site said the renovations were being undertaken by the efforts of the in-coming governor. The two venues are the only spots in town showing that anything is being expected to happen in Abia on the 29th of May 2023.
Nothing serious was seen going on at the Umuahia Government House, except people seen cutting the grasses and trimming the herbs. But the new Government House at Ogurube Layout is witnessing a beehive of activities, maybe, to catch-up with time.
But sources say the out-going governor, Okezie Ikpeazu might commission the new Government House as a legacy he is bequitting to the new administration and to Abians. According to the source, the main Lodge is ready, as seen from the outside, while serious works are still going on the walks and the gates.
It will be recalled that Alex Otti was overwhelmingly elected on March 18, 2023, under the platform of the Labour Party and declared winner of the governorship election by the Independent National Electoral Commission,(INEC), on Wednesday, March 22, 2023.
Otti won his election by a landslide with 175,467 votes. He beat his closest rivals, the PDP candidate Mr. Okechukwu Ahiwe, who scored 88,529 votes and Enyinnaya Nwafor of Young Progressies Party(YPP), who got 28,972 votes. Otti and his deputy Emetu were duly issued their Certificates of Return on March 29, 2023.
Addressing journalists at the Alex Otti 2023 Election Campaign Office, along Bank Road in Umuahia on the preparedness of the committee for a smooth transition, the coordinator of Alex Otti Inauguration Committee, Chief Iheanacho Obioma, confirmed that Alex Otti was responsible for the whole renovations going on in town.
He was full of joy when he hinted that the outcome of the demolition of the ugly drama that played out over the years at Obingwa local government area headquarters during elections , is what Abians are celebrating today.
“Abia is ready to join the league of progressive states in Nigeria,” he said.
According to him, all is set for a successful swearing in ceremony, stressing that the committee has received a formal document of hand-over note from the out-going administration. He hinted that in view of what they are passing through with the out-going government, that the committee is not expecting much assistance from them. He also disclosed that Primary school grounds may be used for other activities lined out for the ceremony.
Obioma said that world-class personalities, Musicians and Artists from far and near as well as governors, who contested the last election but lost, have been invited to grace the formal swearing-in ceremony and luncheon on May 29, 2023 at the Umuahia Township Stadium. “Many home-based singers and performers lined up the comedy cadre. He hinted that adequate security arrangements have been made to make sure that Abians participate fully in the transition programmes.