Dr. Alex Chioma Otti, former bank CEO and public intellectual, has declared his intention to run for governor of Abia State in 2023 under the platform for the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Dr. Otti, a two-time governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), widely believed to have the state’s governorship election in 2015, declared his intention to run for the office again on Sunday, at the Alex Otti Foundation headquarters, Library Avenue, Umuahia.
Otti who resigned his position as CEO of leading financial institution in the country in 2014 to run for governor in 2015, noted that his driving force remains to change the story of the state positively.
He emphasized that he is in the race for all Abians, and with the determination to make the state better.
“I’m in the race for the successful and the struggling Abians.
“I’m in the race for those breaking barriers in technology and discovering cures for diseases.
“I’m the race for petty traders who stand on their feet all day while hawking around the risky roads of Abia North, the dirty streets of Abia South and dangerous roads of Abia Central.
“I’m in the race for the nurses and doctors who work day and night under terrible conditions and yet receive the reward of stagnated wages.
“I’m in the race for the truckers, taxi and Keke drivers who drive for hours on our 3D roads – Dirty, Dangerous and Deadly.
“I’m in the race for the farmers who feed us.
“I’m in the race for the small business owners who took a risk to establish their businesses, but lack the enabling environment to succeed.
“I’m in the race for everyone who has ever been knocked down, but refused to be knocked out.
“I’m in the race for those civil servants and teachers who work so hard for the state, but have been rewarded with arrears of salaries.
“I’m in the race for those who have lost their properties and source of livelihood to political witch hunt for the mere ‘sin’ of joining in the fight against corruption, resisting their oppressors or lending their voices to speak against the ills in Abia.
“I’m in the race for those who have lost loved ones on the death traps we call roads, for those whose spirit have been dampened and are on the verge of a total breakdown.
“I’m not in the race for some Abians, I’m in the race for all Abians,” Otti told a cheering crowd of hopeful Abia residents who crammed his campaign office in Umuahia.
The ace economist who decried the state of Abia’s economy, promised to grow the economy, provide jobs for youths and provide enabling environment for businesses to thrive.
He also promised to tackle corruption in which according to him, has become endemic in the state.
“Majority of you already know the story of this struggle. It’s the story of a struggle motivated by sacrifice and sustained by tenacity. It’s a struggle inspired by conviction and advanced by courage. The problems which informed my decision to respond to the call of our people in 2014 for their liberation has now taken a new and a frightening dimension – complete breakdown of infrastructure, increase in inequality, non payment of wages of workers, high rate of unemployment, weak economy, corruption, abject poverty and poor healthcare and educational facilities,” he said.
“Now, we cannot blame historic forces beyond our control for these challenges, but the wrong leadership choices we had made as a state, elder statesmen and citizens.
“Without sounding immodest I would like to state that, as the GMD/CEO of a flourishing financial institution, with over six years of my tenure yet to expire, I voluntarily left my plum job, to the shock and disbelief of many who understood what the office I occupied meant, to answer the call to serve you.
“Venturing into the murky waters of Abia politics from such professional background was not an alluring adventure for the faint hearted, so the struggle was ab initio not motivated by the quest for affluence, luxury or comfort, but by an altruistic desire to audaciously dare and defeat the albatross of leadership ignominy that had suffocated the economic development of our dear state for a very long time, and made us a laughing stock in the comity of states. For instance, unemployment rate in Abia is presently 51% as against the National Average of 33% and best performers like Osun and Benue at less than 12%.
“When I set out on this journey, I didn’t come as a messiah, but that of a servant-leader who would serve as a mere rallying point for a project that bore the trademark of a revolution. Abians saw the seriousness and sincerity in us and and swiftly keyed into our vision as we preached the gospel of positive change while mobilising our people in every nook and cranny of the state.
“In spite of unprecedented acts of medieval threats, intimidation and brutal violence meted out to us and our supporters, we stood firm and got thousands of Abia voters out as they overwhelmingly voted for our victory. The climax of the violence was the invasion of the state collation centre by high-ranking government officials and leaders of the PDP who forced the alteration of the result of the election to ensure that a loser was returned as governor. These same people who had earlier lined the streets of Aba with caskets to threaten voters, followed up the heist by setting ablaze at least two LG INEC offices to destroy evidence.
“Many had asked why we didn’t counter those violent acts. Our response is that; we valued and still value the lives of innocent Abians at the collation centre, many of whom would have lost their lives in a crossfire if we took the same primitive extreme measures of counter violence. We are convinced that it was better that our victory was delayed for such citizens to be alive to see us preside over the affairs of Abia in 2023 and fulfil our promise, than to have secured a victory that would lead to the loss of lives of those whom the victory was meant for.
“Our attempt to retrieve our mandate from the courts succeeded until the Supreme Court reversed same by ruling that electronic accreditation of voters by card readers was not recognized by the electoral act. We are glad that that mischief has been cured by the recent amendment of the electoral act. Before the Supreme Court judgement of February 3, 2016, many attempts were made on my life by suspected opposition culminating in a bloody attack on my residence in Abuja in July 2015, a few hours after God had taken me away from there. Today, I remember the mobile police man attached to the residence who was shot dead by the attackers. May his soul continue to rest in peace.
“We were also encouraged by the fact that though we may not have been declared and sworn in as Governor, but God inspired and spurred us to permanently and positively open the Abia political space to the point that our people got more involved in politics and governance, and became more conscious of their democratic rights. I want to state here that most of the people both within and outside Abia who took part in this process to delay the course of history have continued to regret their actions as eight years speed through like lightening.
” Some have been courageous enough to confess to us and ask for forgiveness. To those, we have already forgiven them! Some have regretted their actions but have no courage to confess and seek forgiveness. To the people in this category, we have also forgiven. Like George Santayana opined, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
“The essence of this brief historical reference is not to mourn the tragedy of the past, but to educate and refresh the minds of those who may have forgotten; those who were not in Abia or never knew this part of our history; and those who may not have been of age as at the time this history was recorded,” he said as he gave the overview of his journey towards the government house in Umuahia.