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Gov Otti welcomes EU-sponsored good governance programme in Abia

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Gov Otti welcomes EU-sponsored good governance programme

The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International Idea), an intergovernmental organisation with a mandate to support sustainable democracy worldwide, has chosen Abia State for its second phase of the European Union funded Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC) Programme.

International Idea, which has its headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden, with 35 countries as members, said it chose Abia as its focal state for the Phase II of its programme “following internal conversations at the EU and what has been said about the reforms that are taking place in Abia State”.

The organisation’s Head of Programme in Nigeria, Mr. Danladi Plang, who led a team of the EU partners on a working visit to the Abia State Governor, Dr. Alex Otti, OFR, on Monday, said the Phase I of the programme, which started in in 2017 had ended last year, 2023, and had five focal states participating.

Plang, who commended Governor Otti on his leadership qualities, said the programme has been extended for another five years and Abia and Plateau states were chosen to join Lagos, Anambra, Edo, Kano and Adamawa states for the Phase II, beginning this year.

Gov Otti welcomes EU-sponsored good governance programme

Governor Otti and some members of his cabinet with the visiting International Idea team.

“For us, it confirms what has been said about Abia, since His Excellency, the Governor, Alex Otti, assumed leadership. It is a testament to the good work that you’re doing and also a testament to the fact that the people of Abia State did not make a mistake in electing you, seeing the support that is coming from the other development partners,” Plang said while addressing the Governor.

He continued: “As we all know, nobody wants to be associated with failure, so it’s also in our own interest that we’re associated with the success that Abia State is recording through your leadership.

“The purpose of our coming is to introduce our organisation, International Idea, and also to introduce the programme that the European Union has extended to Abia State and to seek your support and cooperation as we begin this project.

“Your Excellency, I know that many times for politicians what is always a priority are some of these concrete things that we see; building of roads, building of hospitals. Sometimes, we lose sight of the things that are not just concrete but tangible, when we talk about justice, but I believe that with the interest that has been shown by members of your cabinet that we had met before now, I believe that there will be sufficient interest shown by your leadership for issues of justice.”

According to Plang, who requested for support from the Governor, the RoLAC programme aims at contributing to the consolidation of rule of law and good governance reforms within participating countries or states with specific objective to help improve the justice and anti corruption systems.

The International Idea through the programme hopes to enhance the performance, quality and oversight of the criminal justice system and justice services delivery of participating states; improve access to justice for vulnerable groups, among whom are women, children, juveniles, persons with disabilities and victims of sexual based gender violence; and increase transparency and accountability in anti corruption systems and reforms through support to Anti-Corruption Agencies, improved public procurement, reinforced complaints mechanisms, and enhanced civil society and citizen participation.

Governor Otti, according to a statement by Kazie Uko, his chief press secretary, thanked Plang and his team for their visit and for choosing Abia as one of the focal states for the programme in Nigeria, while pledging government’s support to help them succeed.

He said even though Abia has made significant progress from where his administration met her but the State is still no where near what he visioned as there is still so much to be done.

“There are a lot of things that we’re still struggling with. That’s why we are happy to have you. On our own, we had taken principled stand on a few issues that have to do with gender based violence, people with disabilities and women and children, vulnerable groups. So, while we were taking the decisions and appointing people to supervise those roles, we were actually not thinking about you or anybody. We just felt that was the right thing to do.

“Virtually everything that has been spoken about here revolves around good governance. So, if you’re talking about protection of the vulnerable, talking of anti corruption, transparency, due process and others, it’s all about good governance and that’s what this government stands for. We actually do have zero tolerance for corruption,” Governor Otti told his visitors.

Speaking earlier, the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Ikechukwu Uwanna, said the Abia State Government would leverage on the vast experience that International Idea has to ensure that Abia is better equipped to serve justice for the citizens.

Also speaking, the Commissioner for Women Affairs, Mrs. Ngozi Blessing Felix, described the inclusion of Abia State in the EU sponsored programme as “a dream come true” because of the benefits it would bring to Abians, especially women, children, persons with disabilities and all vulnerable groups.

“I’m very happy that this programme is going to be bringing that needed capacity building for judges, it’s also going to help strengthening the criminal justice system and ensure that prosecution for sex offenders is not just done but in a very timely manner,” she affirmed.

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The Secretary to the State Government, Professor Kenneth Kalu, who gave the vote of thanks, said Abia stands to benefit immensely from the values being offered through the RoLAC programme, even though such values cannot easily be discerned in the manner of other tangible developmental projects like roads and other physical structures. He described those values as the bedrock of good governance.

 

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