Tag Archives: Dr Alex Otti

APC membership registration: Alex Otti sends message to Abians

A renowned economist and Chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Abia State, Alex Otti, has called on Abians to make use of the opportunity provided by the forthcoming membership registration exercise of the APC to get registered and become card-carrying members of the party.

Speaking through his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Ferdinand Ekeoma, on the forthcoming registration exercise, Otti who joined the APC last year with thousands of supporters from his former party, explained that the membership registration exercise billed to commence on Monday, 25th January 2021 would provide members with the opportunity to enjoy the necessary rights and privileges accorded to members of the party, as well as the platform to make critical decisions that would assist the party achieve huge success in future elections.

According to Otti, “What our party the APC is about to do is an exercise that would ensure that the membership of the party is captured in an electronic database, and would give us the opportunity to review our membership record, get to know our numerical strength, and above all, provide willing Nigerians the opportunity to become members of the APC, and the platform to participate in critical decisions of the party geared towards the advancement of democracy and upliftment of the welfare of the people.”

The ex-bank chief made it clear that he will align with other progressives in the party to ensure that the party was rejigged and repositioned to become more formidable so as to robustly play its role as the alternative party in Abia state with the ultimate desire of ensuring that Abians reap the benefits of democracy which has been denied them by successive governments, while also leveraging the opportunity of being the ruling party at the federal level to demand for what is due to Abia from the federal government at all times.

Otti, however, called on party leaders and stakeholders at all levels, especially at the wards to ensure a hitch free process that would encourage people to troop out and register with the party.

Recall that the leadership of the All Progressives Congress, APC, had announced January 25th, 2021 for the commencement of Registration and Revalidation of membership of the party.

How Abia APC can win 2023 elections – Primate Ayodele

Leader of INRI Evangelical spiritual church, Primate Elijah Ayodele has sent warnings to the All Progressive Congress (APC) in Abia State on the choice of its governorship candidate in 2023.

Primate Ayodele said that for the APC to succeed in 2023, it must choose a former APGA member who decamped to APC.

His words “If APC makes use of Alex Otti, he will deliver for APC. He is the only one that can stand in APC come 2023.’’

I left APGA because of Its Incompetent Leadership  — Alex Otti

By George Samuel, Abuja

Former gubernatorial candidate of All Progressives Grand Alliance( APGA) and former Managing Director of defunct Diamond Bank, Dr Alex Otti, OFR, in this interview with ‘The Nigeria Daily’ revealed his reasons for dumping his former political party, APGA. According to Otti, the executive Governor of Anambra State who doubles as the national leader of APGA refused to consider the complaints of party stakeholders against the national Chairman, Chief Victor Oye and returned him for a second term . The former Bank chief also discussed his new political party among other issues.

Excerpts:

Your article on the mismanagement of monies saved by former Governor of Anambra state, Mr Peter Obi by his successor Gov. Willie Obiano was controversial, considering you belong to the same polital party with him. Is there any rift with the governor?

First of all, the article in question did not mention Governor Willie Obiano and I am not in a position to discuss the management of Anambra funds by Obiano. The article was on Leadership and the six ‘Cs’ of leadership. I used the example of Peter Obi to celebrate Prudence as against Profligacy.

As a former CEO of Diamond bank I knew about the money Peter Obi invested in Nigerian banks for Anambra State. The money were in Tier 2 capital of three banks: Access Bank- 50 million dollars, Diamond bank- 50 million dollars and Fidelity Bank- 55 million dollars. I concentrated on dollars only to drive home my point. I chose to ignore the Naira savings for the purpose of the write up.

The exchange rate at the time of these investments in 2014 was about N160 per dollar. In 2019 when the investments would have matured, because they were Tier 2 capital of these banks exchange rate had moved to about N360. If you add the Naira equivalent to the interest rate of about 9%, the net balance would be about N95B.

So, what was I trying to say? My point was that if you are able to cut your coat according to your cloth, you will be able to save. There is no need pretending that we are rich when we are poor. I gave an example with Peter Obi, he could have been flying private jets, but you will see him all the time in the economy cabin of planes both local and international and he would travel alone, I was not saying that everybody should do that. I was just saying that you need to look at the resources available to you, and that applies to the federal and local governments too not only the state governments.

Today we spend over 70% of our budget on recurrent expenditure so we have less than 30% for capital expenditure and I dare say that that is why we have infrastructural decay everywhere. We can’t develop with that kind of arrangement. Today we are owning about N79.3billion dollars, we are still going to borrow anywhere between 10 and 15bilion dollars this year to fund the budget, even though it has been reviewed. We are spending close to 60% of our revenue on servicing debt, no economy runs that way.

So, the essence of that article is that we need to hit the reset button and think of our economy again, can we afford funding up to 469 legislators in National Assembly. Can we cut it down, can we even afford 36 states? Why can’t we re-organize ourselves into regions and save on the cost of governance? It is the cost of governance that wouldn’t let us breath and the corona virus has given us the opportunity to look at it again. Look at healthcare, we spend about 6%-7% of our budget on healthcare. World Health Organization requires us to spend a minimum of 15% of our budget on public healthcare. I had written extensively on this.

Today we are all on lockdown, nobody can go anywhere, people are dying daily, and the public healthcare is decrepit , so we just need to change things. That my article was about leadership and unfortunately people have left the issue I was talking about and they are talking about governors, I am not interested in that narrative.

You ran for governor twice under All Progressives Grand Alliance ( APGA) , What’s your relationship with Governor of Anambra state who is the leader of the party?

I don’t have any issue with Governor Obiano as a person, I only disagreed with him on the way he returned the former chairman of the party, Victor Oye who messed up the last primaries in some states, particularly Imo and Abia. Many people complained about being extorted by the former Chairman promising to hand them tickets which he failed to do. There were a lot of protests against the former Chairman and but the leader of the party insisted on imposing him for a second term. That action led to the factionalisation of the party. Unfortunately, two other people are laying claims to the Chairmanship of the party at the moment. I sincerely believe that if we sat down to organize ourselves, the party wouldn’t be having the problems it has today. But he insisted that he wanted to give Victor Oye a second tenure as the leader of the party, so it’s for members of the party to decide how they want to react to that. I have taken my own decision. There is an election coming up in Anambra soon and I believe that if the party continues to carry on with impunity ignoring many voices that have raised objections against the way things are done, it will be a miracle for the party to hold on to the State. Other than that, Obiano and I have great relationship, we are friends, we were in the banking industry together and I gave my little support to his second term bid.

Your Excellency, you are a political leader in Abia state, you are very popular and people are still looking up to you for this leadership we are talking about. Recently there is this rumour that some of your loyal members from APGA decamped to APC and there is this rumour going around that Alex Otti is now an APC member. Is it true? Are you now an APC member?

Well, when I’m going to join any party, I’ll be the one to make the announcement. Until that announcement is made, people should not railroad me into any political party. Everybody has the right to join any political party that they wish to join , some of my members that joined APC have the right to. When the time comes for me to make a public announcement about my future politically, I’ll do that. That is where I’ll leave for now.

So, are you trying to say your loyalists decamped without consulting you?

If you understand politics, it is about choice and freewill. People decide what they want to do, you can advise them but at the end of the day, they take their decisions. So, if anybody has joined APC based on their dissatisfaction with the present party, I can’t hold them. So at the appointed time like I said, I’ll make an announcement. But what I know is that I have already indicated my intention to leave APGA, that one is clear. Where I’m going to, I’ll make the announcement at the appointed time.

Are you satisfied with the current leadership in Abia? You have ran for governor twice and came out unsuccessful. Would you still run for governor in 2023?

As a mark of respect for the governor who had been sick in the last few weeks, I will make no comment on the leadership of the state.

On 2023, it is a whopping 3 years from now. Nobody knows what is going to happen in 2023, I think it is still too early to decide . For now, we are contributing our little quota by giving advise and suggestions in our fortnightly column, “Outside The Box”. We also give pieces of advice both solicited and non-solicited to ensure that our governments work. That is what we are doing. So, when the time comes for decisions to be made, you will be amongst the first to know.

BREAKING! Otti Alex dumps APGA for APC

All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) Abia State governorship candidate in the 2015 and 2019 elections, Dr. Alex Otti has dumped the party he financed in the past five years for the All Progressives Congress (APC).Otti’s political associate, Chief David Ogba (Bourdex) who contested the Abia North senatorial zone seat in 2015 and 2019 on the platform of APGA, had already joined APC, while another of his political associates, Chief Chris Nkwonta, who vied for the Abia South senatorial district seat on the platform of APGA in the last election, is also expected to join APC alongside Otti.Otti, former managing director/chief executive of defunct Diamond bank, contested the governor of the state on the platform of APGA in 2015 and 2019 is believed to have joined APC with his numerous supporters in the state.The ex-banker investigation revealed had already registered in his ward and was waiting for the appropriate time to make his move and that of his supporters over to APC public.A chieftain of the APC in the state who wouldn’t want his name in print confirmed that Otti had joined the party, although it had not been made public due to logistics reasons.The party chieftain said but for the coronavirus and the subsequent lockdown, APC in the state could have received the former APGA governorship candidate into the party in the first week of April, stressing that plans are still afloat to formerly receive Otti and his group into APC.According to the party chieftain, “APC Abia chapter had concluded plans to receive Alex Otti and his supporters into the party in the first week of April at the Umuahia Township stadium, but for the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, after this period of the coronavirus, we are going to formerly receive him and his supporters into APC at an elaborate reception”.When contacted, Otti’s media aide, Ferdinand Ekeoma could not confirm or deny the report.Ekeoma said his principal would in due course make public his decision on the issue.

Lessons from Appeal Court verdict on Abia guber election

By Chuks Nwankwo

If there is a medal for overcoming odds and difficulties, and a prize for overcoming obstacles and antagonism, only very few elected leaders would deserve it ahead of the governor of Abia State, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu. Since 2015 when he was first elected as governor, every obstacle had been thrown his way, but he had trumped all.

On Saturday November 16, he overcame yet another legal hurdle when the Owerri division of the Appeal Court gave affirmation to his victory at the February 2019 Governorship election. Justice R.A Adah struck out the appeal filed by the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) candidate in the 2019 governorship election in Abia State, Alex Otti. The court held that Otti had failed to prove that the election was marred by over-voting and non-compliance to the INEC election guideline and the electoral act.

The Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Umuahia had similarly upheld the victory of Okezie Ikpeazu of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), as the governor of Abia State earlier in September.

Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Lekan Ogumonye while delivering a unanimous judgement held that the candidate of APGA in the election, Alex Otti, failed to prove his allegations of over-voting and non-compliance with the electoral act in the conduct of the election.

The decision of the appellate court has strong implications for the state and it must come as a relief to all lovers of Abia State. For one, it confers legitimacy on the election victory of Governor Ikpeazu as affirmed him as the true choice of the people. If there was any doubt about his re-election, the appeal court affirmation of the lower tribunal’s verdict must have rendered any such insinuations as pollical mischief.

But more critical is the opportunity it offers the governor to recoup his energy and focus and turn them on the task of governance and delivering on his mandate to continue the transformation he started in 2015. In truth, a similar legal distraction which had trailed his governorship victory in 2015 inflicted a toll on governance as it dragged on for nearly two years up to the Supreme Court.

It is hoped that Alex Otti, the candidate of APGA, will let go and allow the will of the people prevail by dropping any ambition to go to the Supreme Court. Matters like this cause distraction for all parties, including the people elected to lead the state. It is time for Otti to give up and allow the will of the people to prevail.

For the governor, it is time to pick up and refocus as residents of the state expect. He had demonstrated uncommon courage and leadership at difficult moments since 2015. Many expect him to continue along that line and not allow the challenges of governance to dampen his spirit. He is tough, determined and has a vision of a destination for the state. That was why the people re-elected him.

Expectations of him are high now as they were in the state when he was first elected as successor to Theodore Orji. The state had suffered prolonged underdevelopment slow infrastructural growth. He inherited many challenges but tackled them one after the other. He was determined to make a difference and set his priorities.

He was focused on providing essential social amenities to guarantee improved welfare and boost trading activities. He wanted economic transformation of the state and saw Aba, the commercial city of the state, as the linchpin for that. Since then the story of Abia State has changed.

Judging by his performance in promotion of trade and commerce, agriculture, oil and gas, education, health care delivery, and infrastructure development. As the governor himself noted in a recent interview, the people believed he had lived up to expectations in his first term and delivered on his campaign promises. That was why they rewarded him with a second term.

Governor Ikpeazu had commissioned several infrastructural projects and his record and achievements speak for itself. To achieve as much at a time of significant financial constraints is a testimony to his commitment to the people and fidelity to his vision. There is no doubt in my mind that performance was the major reason he was re-elected by the people.

Ikpeazu was an academic who came into government and betrayed no significant public service experience. He had eased into governance as any leader deserving of the name. Perhaps, his is a case study of innate leadership acumen. He was bequeathed a state slow on all governance indexes but has turned things around, and now Abia must be one of the fasted developing states in the country. He had frog-jumped the state by nearly 10 years in less than four years.

But despite his lofty achievements, a lot remains to be done. Ikpeazu must try to spread infrastructural development to all parts of the state and deepen his urban renewal projects across the three senatorial districts of the state. His promotion of trade and commerce must stretch beyond Aba to every town in the state. Such a stretch would ensure that the drive to transform the internally generated revenue of the state succeeds and becomes irreversible.

As a writer noted recently, Ikpeazu is on his last lap as governor of Abia and must be concern about what he intends to bequeath as legacy. While he is unarguably a successful governor, he must consolidate his successes and turn them to his legacy. He cannot afford to turn down his guard and wallow in self-praise.

He must start with those he picks into his cabinet. And he appeared to have started well with the choices he has made so far. His appointees must be those who share his vision for Abia and are willing to show passionate commitment and determination to succeed.

Governing a state like Abia is challenging. There are huge gaps in every sector and managing peoples’ expectations is no less daunting. Governor Ikpeazu did it from 2015 to 2019. Now he must do even more from 2019 to 2023. That is the only way to cement his legacy. But Ikpeazu is up to it.

Chuks Nwankwo wrote in from Aba, Abia State

Breaking News: Appeal Court dismisses Otti’s suit against Ikpeazu

The Owerri division of the Appeal Court has dismissed the appeal of All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) candidate in the 2019 governorship election in Abia State, Alex Otti, and declared Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) validly re-elected.

Details later…

What does Alex Otti really want? by John Okiyi Kalu

The Scriptures in the Book of John Chapter 10 verse 10, our Lord Jesus Christ defined his mission on earth and that of the devil thus:

“The thief (Satan) comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (NIV).

Since the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Umuahia, Abia State, dismissed the petition of the serially defeated All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) candidate in the March 9, 2019 election, many in the state and beyond have asked a poignant question: what does Alex Otti really want? As a citizen of the state, permit me to answer that question.

My candid opinion, based on verifiable facts, is that Alex Otti is on a mission to disrupt governance in Abia State, punish Abians for not voting for him in 2 consecutive elections and finally do his best to distract Governor Ikpeazu from doing his work while at the same time attempting to make himself politically relevant continuously.

It is no longer news that since Otti lost in 2015, he has done everything in his book of political mischiefmaking to disrupt governance in Abia State. Aside from hiring professional propagandists to needlessly attack Governor Ikpeazu and Abia State, he directly engages in disruption of governance in the State.

For instance, when Governor Ikpeazu arranged for a $200m African Development Bank (AfDB) facility that would help the state fund the construction of 500km new roads, Otti did not only fund media propaganda against the availment of the facility to the state he also left the comfort of his home in Lagos to travel to the National Assembly and the Federal Ministry of Finance, Abuja, to frustrate the approval of the facility. When his efforts failed, he reportedly traveled to the headquarters of AfDB in Cote D’Ivoire to further push against the facility after writing multiple petitions to whoever has something to do with the bank.

It is important to note that Abia state was not the only state offered similar facility as other 10 states also benefited. All the other states had defeated Governorship candidates but it was only Abia’s Otti that raised needless dust even when Abia was the least borrowed among the benefiting states and even more so when the State and her people would be the ultimate beneficiaries of the facility.

If Abia State Government had received that needed support in 2017, like Anambra State did under Peter Obi, not only would the state have been able to improve its road infrastructure capital, much needed funds would have been freed up to pay outstanding pensions and gratuities dating back to military government era to date. Even distressed state parastatals such as Abia State Polytechnic, Aba, and Abia State College of Education (Technical) Arochukwu would have benefited from needed financial intervention by the Ikpeazu administration.

Alas, the facility is yet to be availed to Abia State and during the 2019 round of election campaigns, Otti simply campaigned on the sufferings of state pensioners and infrastructure deficit in the state. He went as far as launching his campaign at Ngwa High School, Aba, by propping up frail pensioners as campaign tools while lying to the rest of the world that Governor Ikpeazu has done nothing about road infrastructure and regular salary payment even when civil servants working with state ministries, departments and agencies were up to date with salary payment.

Indeed it took a Channels Television anchor to remind Otti that Governor Ikpeazu invited media practitioners, including the anchor, to come and see the over 70 roads he reconstructed in the state. A visibly shaken Otti insisted that “Ikpeazu has done nothing” until he returned to Abia to face voters in a debate with the Governor where he reluctantly admitted that he “personally counted only 59 roads done by the Governor”.

Many concerned observers of Abia politics must have wondered the source of orchestrated bad press against Abia State since 2015 even when many know that Governor Ikpeazu has obviously done a lot of good things in the state.

In his desperate bid to become Governor of the state by all means, fair or foul, Otti permanently hired propagandists who daily churn out outright falsehood against the state and her people.

Otti’s attempt to distract the Governor is legendary but thankfully, evidence on the ground shows that at best he has had limited success as Governor Ikpeazu has continued to push his 5 point development agenda anchored around education, agriculture, SME development, Industrialization and oil & gas development. To the chagrin of Otti who would never stop wishing the worse for the State, Abia has maintained first position in performance ranking for West Africa School Certificate Examinations, back to back, for 4 years, grown public school enrollment from 142,000 to more than 650,000 students, constructed more than 359 new classroom blocks, four model schools and retrained Abia teachers using local and international education service providers.

In agriculture, Abia is the only state in Nigeria to plant more than four million tenera specie palm seedlings, and just recently, Governor Ikpeazu delivered more than N2bn worth of new improved rice seedlings to Abia rice farmers and constructed 4 new rice mills. He has long changed focus to support the setting up of an Agro-Industrial cluster at Ubani-Ibeku for the processing of cassava, rice and oil palm products.

Under the watch of Governor Ikpeazu, Golden Guinea breweries that Otti described as “moribund” during the elections is back in production while the first ever automated shoe making factory is set to be unveiled in Aba. The state is also benefiting from a $1.8bn Foreign Direct Investment, making it the 3rd highest beneficiary in Nigeria as at the 3rd quarter of 2018.

Since Governor Ikpeazu, who has never hidden his desire to work with the federal government and multilateral development finance institutions to accelerate the development of the state announced the corroborative efforts with the private sector and federal government to launch Enyimba Economic City, Otti has gone to work to discredit the project which has potential to deliver more than 700,000 jobs to Abians within 10 years.

Not many know that recently a petition was sponsored and sent to the Presidency to the effect that the counterpart fund of N20bn provided by the federal government in lieu of their 20% share in Enyimba Economic City has been looted by those promoting the project in league with the Government of Dr Ikpeazu. Governor Ikpeazu had to visit the President to point out that the money is still with the Central Bank of Nigeria and, hence, could not have been looted.

Otti is not only attempting to distract the Governor, he is also deliberately disrupting governance in Abia State.

It is no secret that Otti believes that whatever is not done by him is bad for the state or any organization he is associated with. That is why his former employers at Diamond Bank lost all their investment for daring to shunt Otti aside thereby compelling him to resign and join partisan politics to the detriment of Abia State and her people. His chosen political party, APGA, after leaving PDP, is now in ruins because of Otti’s poor leadership qualities that do not see anything good in any other person other than Alex Chioma Otti. Even today, elected APGA members of the state House of Assembly are more comfortable associating with Governor Ikpeazu than with Otti. Indeed the party leadership in the state have long disowned Otti as their leader or member and installed Honorable Ossy Prestige whom they believe have better leadership credentials as their leader.

Even while fighting to destroy the administration of Governor Ikpeazu, Otti has not spared the state and national leadership of APGA and a recent publication by the party’s national chairman is enough to show people that Otti’s mission everywhere he goes is appropriate or destroy.

Otti came a distant third during the last election, having polled 64,366 votes as against Governor Ikpeazu/PDP who polled 261,127 votes and Uche Ogah/APC who polled 99,574 votes. Yet, Otti went to the tribunal to canvass the cancellation of the results in 15 LGAs where he lost while upholding the two he marginally won. That Otti expects to win Arochukwu his home LGA while Governor Ikpeazu should lose Obingwa and Uche Ogah must have lost in Isuikwuato is the kind of mindset that only men with symptoms of exaggerated messianic complex have.

Meanwhile, for Otti to even canvass a cancellation and repeat of the most peaceful election that more than 400,000 Abians left everything they were doing to come out and vote in is a statement in gross disrespect for the people whom Otti wishes to punish for not voting for him. Indeed, those who followed Abia election campaigns will point to Otti’s disappointment that his elaborate scheme to engineer bloodshed in the state failed and he possibly wants to try again.

Throughout the campaigns, Otti’s campaign rhetoric was full of anger and bile. From his assertion in Lagos that he was coming to Abia with blood shot “red eyes” to his “enough is enough” campaign message, Otti obviously wanted to incite violence with a view to benefiting from it. When on election day the state experienced the most peaceful election in Nigeria, Otti quickly hoodwinked the APC candidate, Uche Ogah, to show up with him for a press conference to call for cancellation and repeat of the election. Those present during the press conference he called while early results showed him heading for certain electoral disgrace will confirm that the APC candidate hardly spoke during the conference. It was all about Otti.

While Governor Ikpeazu has offered his hand of fellowship to Otti, after the tribunal ruling, nobody should be deceived into believing that Otti will accept it and work with the Governor to positively advance the Abia project. Otti will appeal the tribunal ruling simply to remain politically relevant, find a platform to disrupt governance in Abia and distract Governor Ikpeazu from doing the work he was elected to do. Unless the Governor will accept to step down for Otti, the self acclaimed messiah, nobody should expect Otti to stop pursuing his disruptive mission.

In all these, Otti will never consider the interest of Abians. He wants Abia and her Government to fail as a punishment to those who refused to vote for him. But I am confident that the state will continue to make progress under the watch of Governor Ikpeazu who acknowledges that while his administration has done a lot of good things there is still much more work that must be done.

With God on his side, Governor Ikpeazu will certainly succeed in changing the Abia narrative for the better notwithstanding the shenanigans of characters like Otti

-JOK (John Okiyi Kalu) is the Commissioner for Information in Abia State.

I have no grudge against Otti and Ogah — Ikpeazu

Ugochukwu Alaribe – Umuahia

Abia State governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, said on Saturday he has no grudge against his opponents in the March 9 governorship election in the state, saying the duo only exercised their rights.

Chief Uche Ogah and Dr. Alex Otti represented the All Progressive Congress (APC) and All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) respectively in the poll and, had approached the election petition tribunal to upturn the results of the election.

However, the tribunal on Friday upheld the governor’s victory in the election and declared the petitions filed by the challengers as unmeritorious.

Ikpeazu, who spoke at the Abia State Government House in Umuahia, urged Otti and Ogah to sheathe their swords and join him in rebuilding the state.

The governor commended the tribunal for the verdict and also expressed gratitude to people of the state for giving him their mandate.

He said the victory would energize him to work harder for the good of the state.

“More than ever before, we shall henceforth be relentless in the vigorous pursuit of our developmental agenda for the people of Abia State,” the governor said.

PARTIES ADOPT FINAL WRITTEN ADDRESSES IN THE GOVERNORSHIP ELECTION PETITION IN ABIA STATE

The written addresses of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, PDP, INEC and the APGA governorship candidate for the 2019 governorship election in Abia State, Dr. Alex Otti, have been adopted by the various parties involved in the Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Umuahia.

After hearing the addresses, The Chairman, Governorship and House of Assembly Elections Petition Panel siting in Umuahia, Justice Lekan Ogumoye, announced that the judgment date for the matter will be communicated to the parties involved.

Adopting his address, the petitioner through his counsel, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), said that there is a totally new regime regarding voting and urged the tribunal to dismiss the objections of the respondents.

The counsel for the first respondent and Abia State Governor, Wole Olanipekun, SAN, urged the panel to discountenance the petition saying that the main document the petitioner was relying upon was procured after the petition was filed.

Also, counsel to the 2nd respondent and INEC, Mr. Garba said Local Government evidence are hearsay evidence that cannot be realied upon while Counsel to the 3rd respondent, the PDP, Onyinyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), argued that the case was erected on a very wrong premise and should be dismissed.

The State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, was accompanied to the sitting by the State Commissioner for Information, Chief John Okiyi Kalu, his Justice counterpart, Chief Uche Ihediwa, PDP State Chairman, Sir Johnson Onuigbo among others were present at the court sitting today.

Otti who came a distant third in the Governorship election in the state held in March is asking the tribunal to cancel the results from all the local government areas where he lost and uphold the two local governments won by him.

Matters Arising from Abia Debates, by John Okiyi Kalu

I witnessed the two Governorship debates so far and I am happy that we have good candidates contesting.

Tuesday’s debate reinforced my belief that Governor Ikpeazu remains the best hand to pilot the affairs of the state from May 29, 2019 to 2023. Unlike Monday when he was unavoidably absent from the debate due to communication issues and necessity to attend an important state event outside Abia, he sat today and engaged his accusers and opponents head-on with the self assurance of a man who is on top of his job.

For once, Alex Otti stepped down his “Okezie has done nothing” pitch and even agreed that he personally visited more than 55 completed road projects by Governor Ikpeazu but, as usual, claimed they are not enough.

No problem, the governor will do more.

Yet, Governor Ikpeazu has actually completed 68 road projects and I will, as usual, publish the list with pictures for all to independently verify. The Governor is also working at 96 other project sites in the state and will complete all of them and then add another 500km of rural roads to the mix from the recently approved AfDB facility granted the state.

Obviously, Otti may have been saying what he was saying in the past because he does not live in Abia State and does not have public sector leadership experience. His position on several issues betrayed that fact and also explained why he has lost more than 80% of APGA house of assembly members elected in 2015. One needs public sector experience to manage even the loyalty of those in their party and use them to deliver good results. Otherwise one will end up losing them and the people they purport to work for their good.

Mazi Otti’s straight line analysis of cost of road projects also betrays the absence of public sector work experience and of course the limiting nature of long engagement in one professional area. It is common knowledge that the cost of a road project is determined by the scope of work to be done, topography of the area and other variables like funding plan. It is therefore naive to expect that construction of a kilometer of road in the northern region with less rainfall, strong soil and less requirement for elaborate drainage plan will be same with a kilometer of road at Aba which is low lying, receives heavy annual rainfall and necessarily requires elaborate drainage system to channel storm water to the collection point. Even the widths of roads are not the same. So the notion in the mind of Otti that every kilometre of road must cost the same is deceptively wrong.

It is also instructive that Otti did not know the location of the 4 model schools built by Governor Ikpeazu and had to ask the Governor. Mazi Otti, the model schools are at Osusu Amaukwa in Obingwa on the same Ururuka Road that also leads to your adopted Isiala Ngwa home through Ogbor Hill. The second one is at Abayi in Aba, opposite the Anglican Church, while the third one is at Ossa-Ibeku in Umuahia along Mission Hill, with the 4th one at Ohafia where your deputy hails from.

Mazi Otti, in addition to the four model schools, Governor Ikpeazu also constructed 340 new classroom blocks and rehabilitated 19 others to bring it all to 359 classroom blocks. Kindly check out the ones in Arochukwu including the one close to your house and revert to Abians.

New school blocks constructed by Governor Ikpeazu in Arochukwu LGA include the following:

I . Idima Abam Community School, Abam Arochukwu
2. Akasi Primary School
3. Obiene Primary School, Ututu
4. Atani Community School

Renovation works were also done at:
1. Ndiokpo Community School
2. Ugwuakuma Community School
3. Umunnabuo Junior Secondary School

At Ohafia LGA where your deputy hails from, the Governor constructed the following

1. Onukwu Primary School
2. Ametiti Primary School
3. Etitiama Community School, Nkporo

Renovation works were done at:
1. Nkporo Central School
2. Enuds Community School
3. Collins Memorial Model School
4. Ohafia Junior Girls Secondary School

Frankly, Alex, my brother, I knew that the previous positions you took on the performance of Governor Ikpeazu were because you actually do not live in Abia. As a resident of Port Harcourt in those days, I applauded your friend, Rotimi Amaechi, because of the public schools he reconstructed. As at 2012 he constructed 250 new classroom blocks after 5 years of his administration. I make bold to state that your Governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, has done more classroom blocks within the past 3 years.

On salary payment, I am glad that Mazi Otti has finally been patiently lectured by Governor Ikpeazu on the difference between workers in Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the state whose wage payments are the direct responsibility of the state government as against parastatals who make and keep their revenue and are expected to pay their staff from what they generate as revenue. He can verify from other states and the federal government if they pay parastatal workers directly.

Hopefully, workers of Abiapoly, Abia State College of Education and others have taken note of Otti’s recommendation of sacking and downsizing. Governor Ikpeazu will rather help ailing state parastatals to rejig their operational template, generate more revenue and pay their workers as first priority as against drastic measures like retrenchment. It is hypocritical for Otti to recommend that the government takes over the payment of salaries of the workers because “they are Abia workers” and in same debate recommended sack of the same “Abia workers” whose family depend on what they make to survive. How does retrenchment of workers add to Otti’s economic theory centered on payment of workers as the only economic development tool?

Anyway, I will allow staff of parastatals decide for themselves their fate based on the different positions taken by the candidates. It is now established that Governor Ikpeazu is not owing the workers he is statutorily expected to pay.

One other striking thing from Tuesday’s debate was Otti’s response to the Governor’s question on whether he believes that equity and social justice are necessary for peaceful co-existence and progress in a state or nation. He responded that Abia is a sick patient that requires help and won’t care where the doctor is from or who the doctor is. While I saw that as a smart response, I would have loved to ask Otti if it doesn’t matter that the doctor previously mismanaged his patients and killed them. Will he submit, as a patient, to a doctor known to have killed his patients in the line of duty in the past?

Think about that, Alex.

Our doctor, Otti, managed Diamond Bank previously and now the bank is gone. That was exactly what Governor Ikpeazu made reference to when he introduced himself by stating that he previously worked in a University as a HOD of Biochemistry and since he left the school the department is still standing and making progress. His point is that good managers or “doctors”, in this case, should not have a record of all their previous patients dying after they have managed them, otherwise they become Dr Death. If Abia is sick, we certainly neither need a Dr Death to save her nor an undertaker to bury her alive!

More importantly, Governor Ikpeazu confronted Otti with evidence of his performance in office and not only did Otti acknowledge some of them, other co-debaters including the Accord Party candidate, all also acknowledged improvements in security and infrastructure contrary to what Otti stated at the Catholic Church debate just the previous day.

Mazi Otti, I wish to place here for your readership the report of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) survey on crime rate in the 36 states of the federation. According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Katsina and Abia States recorded the lowest percentage share of total cases reported in 2016, under Governor Ikpeazu’s watch. See http://www.nigerianstat.gov.ng/download/567 for details. A total of 364 crimes were reported in Abia State with 230 being offences against persons, 113 offences against properties and 21 offences committed against lawful authority. That report placed Abia as having 0.29% crime rate compared to Otti’s permanent state of residence, Lagos, which had a whopping 36.08% crime rate. One then wonders why Otti would prefer to live in Lagos with so much reported crime rate but falsely claimed in his interview with Channels TV that people are relocating from Abia due to security issues. The sensible question to ask Otti at this point is, if not for hypocrisy, why stay put in Lagos with so much high crime rate while castigating Abia with such a low rate?

Also, a 2018 report published by Vanguard Newspaper on violent deaths in Nigeria placed Abia on top of the log among the south east states in terms of security. Also see https://www.vanguardngr.com/2018/03/violent-deaths-1351-killed-10-weeks/

Otti’s quoted unemployment data was a fake one. Please, do not engage in such things again. Erudite scholars, including economists, make available academic or institutional sources of their reports as against citing reports from social media. Where did Otti get the data that unemployment rate is 28% in Abia State whereas the national average as at the 3rd quarter of 2018 was 23.7%?

Now that Otti has acknowledged his Arochukwu origin which I have always known because I am aware that he registered at the University of Port Harcourt as a student from Arochukwu/Ohafia LGA of old Imo State, does he still feel it is right for Abians to vote for an Arochukwu candidate with an Ohafia Deputy after 8 years of Orji Uzor Kalu of Abia North and another 8 years of Senator T.A. Orji (Ochendo) of Abia Central? Does the prospect of a major socio-political upheaval in Abia State not bother him and his supporters? If Otti were from Abia South, would he have been comfortable with that situation, knowing that the first Abia Governor of Ukwa Ngwa origin has so far outperformed his predecessors who were all re-elected for second term?

Frankly, it is obvious from the debates that Otti’s campaign pitch is simply premised on “Ikpeazu has not done everything there is to do”. Even the Governor acknowledged yesterday that he has not done everything but has done many good things for our people to re-elect him to do more. It is unrealistic to pitch a position that within 4 years anyone would have fixed all Abia roads including the more than 400 roads at Aba alone and much more outside it. That type of campaign pitch is tantamount to obtaining votes by tricks and our people should be reminded that the Buhari-led federal government made a similar pitch in 2014. We now know how far so far, as far as NIGERIA is concerned.

On the whole, I am proud of our state for the quality of candidates vying for her governorship position. From high performing Governor Okezie Ikpeazu through Uche Ogah, whom I briefly chatted with on Monday at the Catholic Church debate, to Alex Otti and Mrs Blessing Nwagba; even the fringe candidates are also good and possibly better than some frontline candidates in many other states of the federation. Obviously, Abia has turned a positive corner under Governor Ikpeazu who remains focused and open to objective critical views.

I have no doubt in my mind that Governor Ikpeazu will be re-elected by landslide margins next March. While Uche Ogah has continued to insist on a divine call to contest, I will personally suggest to him to also take note of what Christians refer to as divine timing. If he is sure that it is God that told him he will govern Abia State then he should go back and ask God when his divine time would come. God has not abandoned Dr Okezie Ikpeazu whom He chose to make our Governor In 2015. He will do the job till 2023 and then God, through the people of Abia State, will decide who next.

Thank you Mazi Otti for enriching the governorship contest a second time but power belongs to God Almighty and to Him alone. It was God that guided our founding fathers, stakeholders and voters to choose Dr Ikpeazu in 2015. If Ochendo T. A. Orji had supported you when you asked for his support and even made financial overtures to him, you wouldn’t have been talking about “godfatherism” today. Would you?

On the whole, I enjoyed the verbal fireworks between the candidates and the post-debate camaraderie exhibited by them.

Apparently, they are better personalities than some of their social media supporters who would rather abuse, lie and hound each other on their behalf.

I also appreciate the organizers of both debates for their efforts and hope they learned from the experience. We are making progress all round and remain a blessed people of God’s own state. Nobody should engage in acts of violence on behalf of these candidates because they publicly demonstrated that they are peaceful persons.

God bless Abia State.

JOK