Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, former Minister of Education, has noted that Dr Alex Otti, governor of Abia State, going by his trajectory, has what it takes to surpass the record of Michael Okpara, Premier of the defunct Eastern Region of Nigeria.
This is as she offered solutions on the way forward for a new Abia as Otti unveiled the State Orientation Agency in Umuahia, the state capital.
Ezekwesili, who offered this solution during the anniversary lecture she delivered to mark the 2023 Abia Day celebration and the inauguration of the Abia State Orientation Agency on Tuesday, advised Governor Alex Otti to deploy technology and sound policies in order to achieve his vision for the state.
The former minister said Otti has all it takes to beat the governance record of the late Micheal Okpara in the state.
She said technology is what would transform Abia beyond all expectations and make the state a heaven for local and foreign investments, adding, “Using technology to promote all government businesses is critical to good governance hence Otti should not shy away from running a technology-driven government.”
She urged the state governor to formulate sound policies, pointing out that sound policies must be complemented by a conducive environment and infrastructural facilities to promote economic growth.
“A lot is expected from Abia, given its huge potential in human capital and natural resources waiting to be maximised by a visionary leader”, Ezekwesili advised, regretting that the state has a problem of “leadership ambition gap” despite the fact that it once produced a great leader, late Michael Iheonukara Okpara, who is credited with “visionary transformation” of the former eastern region.
Ezekwesili assured that “the possibility of achieving and even surpassing what Okpara had done in the past is there depending on how the new leadership pilots the State affairs”, adding that the governance approach of Otti would determine if he would unleash Abia’s great potential and anchor the state on the path of sustainable development or not.
Ezekwesili advised Otti to do away with all impediments of the past that stagnated Abia’s growth and underutilized its richly talented population, stating that a public financial management system must be put in place, as it was poor management of resources and corrupt enrichment by leaders that has always been the problem of Abia, Nigeria and Africa at large.
Earlier in his speech after formally launching the State Orientation Agency, Otti lamented that even the most visionary leader will be helpless if the people are not in tune with his vision and mission.
In his speech entitled “To a new path”, the governor said the inauguration of the new Abia State Orientation Agency “is a way of hitting the reset button” to get Abia moving on the right track, stating that a lot has gone wrong in the way things are done in public and private lives of Abia people hence the need for reorientation in the governance and socio-economic aspects of Abia life to usher in a new Abia.
“In a new Abia it will be anathema for any traditional ruler to confer chieftaincy title on any person with questionable character,” he said and vowed that with his transformational governance, Abia would, at the end of the day, remain a reference point for good governance and active responsible citizenry.
In his remarks, the former president of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa advised Abia government to heed the advice of Ezekwesili in order to make the state great again.