The press statement issued by the defeated gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in Abia, Mr. Alex Otti, and which was concurrently published in two national dailies on Monday, May 30, is, to say the least, a bad case of self-betrayal.
In a wild flight of fancy, Otti assumes the position of a judge and prosecutor over the Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu-led administration, but inadvertently betrays a personhood suffering from deep depression and frustration. Such that, in the full-page advertorial, what is more audible is the voice of frustration than the voice of reason.
It is quite understandable that many desperate electoral losers suffer from such prolonged disillusionment, but a precious few are able to hold their heads high even in the face of defeat. How we wish Otti would have been counted among the number!
But, regrettably, he allows his feelings of despondency run away with him to the extent that he becomes blinded to the massive road infrastructural renewal work orchestrated by Governor Ikpeazu in just one year. He becomes so beclouded that he cannot reckon with the sacrifice and patriotism of a leader that has given vent to 65 active road construction works that cut across the three geo-political zones of the state with 27 dully commissioned in just one year.
Even as the son of an Adventist pastor, with all the early Christian exposure, Mr. Alex Otti could be so embittered over his colossal rejection and failure that he cannot be objective enough to recognize and appreciate the vision that saw to the experimentation with the high cost-intensive, cement/rigid pavement technology on five roads in Aba – just to provide quality service – even under a straitened economic downturn.
It’s quite unfortunate that a year after, Otti is still in the mode of electoral propaganda which is the hallmark of his APGA party. It would have been more reasonable for him to make a shift to constructive engagement with the government and speak to power on a day like this instead of latching on irrational allegations. Yet, we must stress the point that Governor Ikpeazu has long abandoned politics for governance and this is self evident in his one year scorecard of excellent performance.
Let us now address his key allegations against the Ikpeazu administration:
1. Shielding of former Govt Functionaries
Let me remind Mr. Otti that the Governor of Abia State has no power to protect any person from the reach of the law. As the custodian of Abia State account from his days at First Bank Plc until when he moved the account with him to Diamond Bank, he has enough information to reveal any spurious deals or illegal transactions conducted by any former or current official of the state. More than anyone else, he is in a good position to give account of the finances of Abia State.
Mr. Otti, with all his pretensions to being the Messiah of Abia, cannot claim not to be versed in money laundering activities. Otherwise, how else can an employee of a bank end up being richer than the bank that paid him salary. Those who can run a career in the bank and end up richer than the bank are economic saboteurs of the highest order. Since he left Diamond Bank, over 3000 staff have been sacked due to the misappropriations committed under his watch.
If he has something against our predecessor, Senator T A Orji, he should write a petition to EFCC and not recruit Governor Ikpeazu into a war of personal vendetta because Senator T A Orji rejected the 10 million dollars gratification he offered him to gain his support for his gubernatorial ambition.
2. Governor Ikpeazu’s Security Vote
The issue of security vote and its application is not a secret. Security vote is constitutionally provided and the terms for disbursing it also outlined. Whereas we will not submit to the whimper of a bitter looser, we wish to remind Otti that Abia has its own fair share of security challenges, from protecting over 150km of oil pipelines, protecting thousands of acreages of farmland from herdsmen, maintaining internal security through boundary surveillance with seven neigbouring states. We have been able to achieve all these through a modest and judicious application of resources at our disposal. Evidently, and to the glory of God, Abia is relatively peaceful and marching forward.
3. Giving Stakeholders N1 million Monthly
Otti’s disrespect and contempt for the elders of our land is a disguised mission of vendetta against the elders and stakeholders who rejected him during the 2015 elections. The elders stood firm against him on two justifiable reasons: (a) that Otti lied about his local Government of origin (2) That it was important to respect the Abia Charter of Equity in the spirit of togetherness and harmonious co-existence of all groups in the state.
The truth must be told: the Ikpeazu administration does not and has never paid any person one naira as an elder. This is not necessary as most of the Elders and stakeholders are men of proven integrity and visible means of livelihood, some of whom have raised children and relations that are capable of sustaining them.
Otti is clueless about security issues and government will not be drawn into publishing our security strategies on the pages of newspapers. He alleged that the traditional ruler of Nenu Autonomous Community in Obingwa was killed by gunmen but the monarch, HRM, Eze Senator Nguma Iroegbu, Eze Udo1 of Nenu, a retired headmaster, is alive, hale and hearty. How many times will somebody lie before he becomes a pathological liar? The DSS and other security agencies who are capable of empirical verification of our security status, know that Abia is upbeat in terms of security. The crime rate is now on the downward slide and the people can feel it. We are saluting the work of the Police, Army and the DSS in combating crime in Abia. They should not listen to the rantings of a bad loser, rather let our gallant security operatives draw strength from the support and solidarity of the ordinary citizens of Abia State.
5. Selected Activity of Aba Urban Renewal Authority
Let me remind Otti that the committee was established to drive the vision of infrastructural renewal and restoration of order and sanity in the badly deteriorated city of Aba and so far the committee enjoys the commendation of all well-meaning people and stakeholders of the city. The core mandate of the Aba Urban Renewal Authority is to restore sanity to Abia towns and this is beyond politics. Other states, such as Rivers, Lagos and Imo had embarked on a similar restoration in a bid to foster sanity and decency in their cities. Incidentally, all Abians today agree that we must clear all illegal structures and redesign our roads to make way for pedestrian walkways as has been demonstrated on Kamalu and Umuola roads. So The Living World Ministries is aware that they erected their fence on pedestrian walkway. It remains an undeniable truth that residents of Aba, both indigenes and settlers, have over the years contributed to the decay of the city through environmental pollution, haphazard erection of shops, kiosks and even building houses against city and country act. The government of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu is determined to change this ugly narrative of Aba and no amount of propaganda will distract or deter him from this vision.
6. Ibere Street
The most funny aspect of this allegation is that Otti does not even know the location of this street. Let me confirm to him that work is ongoing at Ibere and Ibadan Streets. These roads have not been done in the last forty years. And this government saw the need to bring succour to the people of this densely populated area of Aba. It is interesting to note despite managing Abia State account as the MD/CEO of Diamond Bank, Otti never deemed it right to do something under the aegis of Corporate/Community Social Responsibility (CSR) for the Ibere neigbourhood or any other place within Abia. When did this sudden compassion for Ibere start?
7. Workers Welfare
Just like any other state in the federation, we have managed to pay our civil servants up to March for the MDAs, February for pension and parastatals. Those with more than two months outstanding are the parastatals where we discovered fraud like ABSUTH and Health Management Board. The bio-metric capturing of these civil servants has resulted in savings of hundreds of millions. Before now, ABSUTH wage bill used to be N179million but now it is N128million. Health Management Board used to be N79 million but now it is N64 million. This is a kudos to Governor Ikpeazu. Once again, no amount of propaganda would make the Ikpeazu administration spare ghost workers. If they like, let them claim to be APGA card carrying members.
8. Financial Management
One would have expected that with his pedigree as a former Managing Director of a bank, Otti would have consulted widely on figures before going to press. In the first place, there was no report from the Debt Management Office (DMO) stating that Abia State is exposed to the tune of N78 billion. We challenge Otti to show evidence. The fact is that the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) published a report of loans accessed by individuals, state by state. Lagos came first while Abia came fifth.
This means that the total loans granted to individuals resident in Abia State is N78 billion which, for us, is good that banks still see our people as enterprising not minding our circumstances. Abia State has been prudently managed under Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, no wonder Abia is among the three states that judiciously managed the bailout funds recently granted by the federal government. This verdict was given by the ICPC. Fortunately, no amount of propaganda can sway the credibility of ICPC. Nigerians know those who created the conduit through which our funds disappeared and sooner or later, the searchlight will beam full circle on Otti and his accomplices.
By the time Otti joined the banking industry from Chikezie Nwokonko’s office in Lagos, he could not boast of N1,000 in his account and did not inherit a dime from his Pastor father. Yet, we cannot recollect in any way he has been useful to NdiAbia or NdiArochukwu, even with the wealth he amassed from the bank.
But, in just one year, Governor Ikpeazu, has taken the “tide at the flood” and it is clear the journey is leading to fortune.
Otti cannot continue to dwell in self-pity and self-anger and accept frustration when he can still look up to God. What makes a man is not his success neither is it his failure. Success and failure are but a journey. Otti must get out of this despondency. Abia people will continue to demand for justice as they did during the 2015 General Elections. The call will continue to be made: “Show what you have done for us.”
Chief Press Secretary to the Abia State Governor.