Tag Archives: John Okiyi Kalu

No teacher was sacked by Abia State Government – Commissioner

Abia State Commissioner for Information, Chief John Okiyi Kalu had debunked claims that the state governor sacked 5 666 teachers from the State Civil Service.

In an Opinion authored by Kalu, and published earlier by this media, he explained that the 5,666 teachers were never employed by the state government, as there has been a long standing embargo on employment in the civil service.

He also stated that whereas some of the teachers were employed by the Parents Teachers Associations of various schools, with internal arrangements for their renumeration, many fell victim to fraudulent persons who claimed to be insiders in government and would help them become full civil servants.

His words “There is a long existing embargo on new employment in Abia State Civil Service and only the Governor of the state can validly issue a waiver to employ anyone or group of persons to fill any vacancy within the service.

“Every civil servant, no matter the level, is aware of this fact and its implication for those wishing to join the civil service: only a valid waiver, in this circumstance, from the Governor, or a lifting of the embargo by the Governor, can genuinely give employment.

“Between 2018 and March 2020, Secondary Education Management Board (SEMB) hired some teachers ostensibly as PTA-teachers who were supposed to be paid by the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) of some schools that needed them to fill some vacancies. They were never meant to draw their wages from the civil service of the state as no budgetary provision was made for that purpose and the Governor never issued any employment waiver for their hiring.

“According to information released from the office of the Chief of Staff (COS) to the Governor, about 5,666 persons were involved in this PTA arrangement without the necessary employment waivers. None of them ever received wages from the state government, in line with the terms of their hiring by SEMB, whereas 187 teachers employed by sane SEMB with valid waivers within the same period were receiving wages from the state government.

“Nobody was sacked, please.

“Obviously, some unscrupulous persons took money from the PTA teachers and others in need of teaching jobs, and promised them full government employment as teachers whereas those involved knew they could only hire PTA teachers at the request of the schools. One of the affected persons told me she was made to part with thousands of naira and told to go and work as the Governor would ultimately be compelled to approve their full employment and authorize their salary payment from the state government coffers.

“That is a SCAM.

“When the Governor found out about this scam, he empaneled a committee to review what happened and report back to him. The committee’s report pointed to all sorts of malfeasance including extortion, deception, manipulation of records etc and the government decided to make public its position via relevant announcements regarding the illegality so that those affected would not fall into the venture of making false claims of being owed for some work supposedly done for the state government.

“In the announcement signed by the Chief of Staff to the Governor, Dr ACB Agbazuere, government never claimed to have sacked any teacher because you simply can’t sack someone you never hired. None of the affected persons received any employment waiver from the Governor and those validly given waivers are continuing with their job.

“There are windows available to those PTA teachers and others: approach the schools where you were supposedly working to write the Commissioner for Education and request for your services as a teacher giving cogent reasons for the request with the letter copied to the COS. If the Honorable Commissioner finds merit in the request, he will recommend to the Governor for a waiver to be issued. Only the issuance of such waivers validates your employment with the state government. The other window is to wait for the state government to do a general audit of teachers in the state with a view to identifying where vacancies exist and fill same. According to the announcement, the government is ready to consider the 5,666 persons first, before others, to fill such gaps, if in existence.

“As per the argument that they met the then Commisioner for Education, please find out if they met him as newly employed teachers in the civil service or simply as PTA teachers”, he stated.

COVID-19: Before the next round of national lockdown

By John Okiyi Kalu

There is no doubt that locking down helps to slow down the spread of the novel coronavirus especially when applied stringently with other measures such as regular washing of hands under running water, wearing of face mask and social distancing.

But it is not a silver bullet that ends coronavirus and also has other deleterious socio-economic implications that must be considered even while taking the necessary measures.

This note was provoked by an article I read concerning the projection that Lagos will likely record 120,000 cases of COVID-19 by July 2020. Of course, that projection must have come out of some modeling system being used by the authorities in Lagos State. Yet, I beg to disagree with the numbers and will later share my reasons.

While media reports suggest that the Federal Government is mulling another round of national lockdown, permit me to suggest what I consider the most urgent priority for us in the fight:against COVID-19 which is the availability of accurate testing facilities in all the senatorial districts of Nigeria as a minimum.

According to Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC), so far, we have tested 23,835 samples from our population of about 200 million people. Out of that meagre figure tested, we have confirmed 4,151 cases of COVID-19 in the country with about 3,278 cases currently active. That means that 17.41% of those tested returned positive results. When we extrapolate to the national population it means that if we test 200 million Nigerians we MIGHT likely find about 34,820,000 positive cases in the country.

I capitalized the word might to show that other variables will likely come to play with regard to the numbers. For instance, the stringency of the case definition means that only those that are very likely to be positive would have been tested thereby giving rise to high positive outcomes. On the other hand, the stringent case definition might also allow many positive cases to escape the loop. For instance, if the stringent case definition existing at the time had prevailed with the two index cases in Abia State, who are above 70 years old, home bound with underlying medical conditions usually associated with senior citizens and no recent travel history, they would have been missed even though they had the virus.

It is my considered opinion that while locking down is good to slow down the spread of the virus, it is even more important to be able to test as many people as are willing to be tested to know exactly what we are dealing with in order to prescribe the right solutions and in time, too. On its own, locking down is not an end and indeed comes with numerous deleterious socio-Economic consequences.

Above all, I was personally taught in Business School to ensure I see the end before taking a dive. Where exactly is the end we are seeing with the lockdown strategy? We can’t possibly lockdown the country forever.

Before we declare the next round of national lockdown, let’s do the following:

1. Establish one testing center in each senatorial district of the country. That should give us 109 new testing centers or a little less because of the existing ones.

2. Ensure total closure of inter state boundaries to stop people from spreading the disease far and wide. Circle the disease wherever found and deal with it there. All our states need not record cases and, indeed, if we had implemented this measure earlier, we would have been dealing with lockdown in only Lagos and FCT whereas other states would have continued with production to support the entire country.

3. Fund large scale research on local drugs to manage patients of the disease. While COVID-19 is a novel disease, there are previous infections that mimick its biochemical attributes. A good starting point is to find out how those past outbreaks were managed with local herbs before the coming of the white man?

4. Enforce national wearing of face masks to minimize the spreading of the disease. If we achieve 80% compliance with face masking in the country, we would have reduced the likelihood of spreading the disease by more than 60%.

At the moment, it makes little or no sense to impose curfews when we cannot enforce inter-state movement restrictions. Granted that people need to spend as much time as possible locked down at home, our peculiar situation with absence of steady power supply and adequate security makes it a fortuitous measure, in the main.

It is also an indisputable fact that the number of cases we have recorded so far is directly proportional to the number of tests we have conducted. My private investigations indicate that some states recording low or zero infection rates may not have been testing as much as others like Lagos and Abuja. If some of those states do not start testing as many as need to be tested, let’s start building morgues and mass graves early enough.

Finally, it is laughable that we are yet to identify what exactly is killing Nigerians in Kano. The resort to paper surveys as against autopsies is a joke. If we say that it is unIslamic to conduct autopsies is it also the case that only Muslims in Kano are affected by this so called “strange” illness? Can’t we examine corpses of the non Muslim victims and use the result to pinpoint what is killing our people? And if, like many suspect, it is actually COVID-19 that is on rampage in Kano, Gombe and Bauchi, why won’t the authorities say so and then take measures to contain the situation before things nosedive further south?

In all these, I accept the risk of being called a fear monger if it will make us think harder as a nation, but what I am seeing is not good and it is not the product of malaria induced dream or “odumbaka” prophecies. I see tens of thousands of Nigerians being camped in open fields as isolation centers because no state can afford to build a 120,000 bed capacity isolation facility fast enough. Not even Lagos that is conservatively projecting the “meagre” infection figure of 120,000 by July 2020. Large swathes of residential areas might have to become isolation zones as we navigate through the months of June and July. Let’s wake up before it is late.

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

COVID-19: We are not out of the woods yet, protect yourself at all cost, by John Okiyi Kalu

The decision to temporarily relax some elements of the lockdown in Abia State was a tough one. On one hand was the need to keep our people at home to prevent any chance of the coronavirus rapidly spreading from person to person, while on the other hand was the need to ensure that our people do not suffer serious economic hardship that will even compromise their capacity to fight the disease if ever they get infected.

The medically correct decision was to keep all the elements of the lockdown in place for longer and with even tighter enforcement procedures till there is no imminent threat to our people, or until a vaccine or cure is found and we can all safely go out from our houses without fear or doubt.

As it stands today, nobody can reasonably predict when a vaccine or cure will be found for COVID-19 though there are some recommended management drugs already available to our medics. None of the available drugs offer certainty with regard to nursing a patient back to life for now but generally, the world is in some form of agreement that a combination of chloroquine, azithromycin and zinc sulphate have produced verifiable good results in the management of COVID-19 patients. While chloroquine is believed to affect the capacity of coronavirus to bind on receptor cells in the body, the more provable effect is that for a malaria endemic area like ours, it should also help in eliminating malaria parasites caused fever which aid in reducing the strength of our immune response to an infection.

Other drugs in the bouquet are mostly involved in managing symptoms and possibly boosting immune response to the viral antigen. In summary, the world is yet to have any definite cure that can at least guarantee that when people go down with COVID-19, medics will know straightaway what to give and save the patient. If and when we have a definite treatment then COVID-19 will be like other common infectious illnesses like cold or flu.

On the other hand, one certainty is the expected response from a hungry people locked down for long with no expectation of an end in sight: the hunger can lead to anger, high crime rate and starvation-related illnesses. There is no amount of security deployment that can keep a hungry people locked down and if they break through security measures meant to keep them locked down, clustering will more likely lead to the rapid spread of COVID-19 from person to person.

Whether at the state or federal level of leadership, the dilemma remains same, particularly because you can’t keep people locked down forever; whichever option chosen has consequences that are not desirable. What we have therefore done in Abia State is to think things through and evolve measures that retain some essential elements of the lockdown, such as border and school closure while permitting limited relaxation that will yield minimum and manageable negative outcome.

Those measures are not cast in stone and will be continuously reviewed for necessary adjustments. Nobody dare claim that the graduated relaxation protocols that will come into full effect on Monday, May 11th, 2020, are perfect in the light of the current challenges. But our people can actually help themselves to survive this phase of the pandemic and even beyond by simply taking responsibility for their safety from the virus:

1. Wear face mask to cover your nose and mouth before leaving your house and encourage those around you to do same. If you observe the rule and any one of those you meet at home when you return fail to do same you are fully at risk of infection along with others around you. Similarly, using your face mask as “chin mask” is one of the riskiest things to do at this time because it leaves you exposed even though it might help you beat enforcement agents. Ideally, you shouldn’t need enforcement agents or mobile courts to remind you to protect yourself from illness or death.

2. Avoid crowded places and maintain social distance of 2 meters when transacting with others and you should be fine. In fact, you are well advised to stay at home unless you must go out.

3. Wash your hands regularly with soap under running water and, please, don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands. The hand washing with soap and running water should be vigorous for at least 20 seconds. Alternatively, buy original hand sanitizers and rub vigorously on your hands before touching any part of your face. Wearing of eye glasses will help to reduce contact with your eyes, especially when used in combination with a face mask.

Even among those who believe COVID-19 is not real, there is a behavioral pattern I find interesting. If someone coughs repeatedly in public all of us without an exception will scamper away to safety even without prompting. Likewise, none of the “unbelievers” have yet agreed to spend one night to nurse a confirmed COVID-19 patient who is in isolation ward unprotected.

That to me speaks to the fact that we all know the dangers of getting infected with COVID-19 even when some publicly live in denial of its existence or capacity to harm us. Yet, we show different levels of disdain for simple measures highlighted above that can help protect us and ensure early return to normalcy in our state and country.

Governments at all levels will immediately end lockdown measures if citizens voluntarily abide by protective guidelines such as compulsory wearing of face masks, maintenance of social distance and good hygiene practices. After all, the Government is also losing enormously from the ongoing lockdown and wish it will end immediately. The constraint is the need to protect our people from a disease that has invaded our land from distant places without our permission.

Finally, if we don’t take personal measures to protect ourselves, I am sorry to say that we will all pay heavily in the coming days as individuals and as a people. The current reality is that the relaxation of the lockdown will expose us to infection much more than before. Anyone who tells you otherwise is misleading you and I honestly fear for our people and our individual and collective safety if we do not abide by the laid down procedures for protecting ourselves.

Let us do the right things, always!

JOK

COVID 19: Why Abia will maintain total lockdown- John Okiyi Kalu

Abia is one of the states in the country that has continued to be on total lockdown since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria.

Now, the Abia State Commissioner for Information, Chief John Okiyi Kalu insists that despite the clashes between security operatives and civilians, his government won’t back down on the total lockdown.

In this telephone interview with Editor-in-chief of Jungle Journalist Media Limited, Kalu enunerates the dangers of relaxing the lockdown, and the challenges facing the state in the wake of the pandemic:

There have been cases of clashes between security operatives clashing with civilians, leading to death. This has been the case in states like Abia, Anambra and Delta where there is total lockdown. Don’t you think the total lockdown is endangering your citizens?

The fact is that we need to lock down to prevent people from coming into our state. We are surrounded by seven states,and among the seven, five have COVID 19 cases. As we speak now, we are chasing down somebody that came into our state from a neighbouring state for testing. The guy is running. We are using DSS and every apparatus to look for him. We have declared him wanted because we need to test him.

You should be aware of the fact that this thing does not have legs. It can only move into our state from another state. It is more important for us to prevent it from coming, but even during this lockdown, we are continuing to show human face.

Apart from the palliative we are distributing, we are allowing people a window to shop. Again, we are opening the state tomorrow and next tomorrow for them to shop. We are returning to an indefinite shutdown from Monday.

We are not happy to be doing all these,but we are doing it because we care about our people and their health.

Now with regards to the clashes, let me start with the one that happened at Uratta this morning.
A group of unidentified persons, a keke man was carrying passengers in this lockdown. He was caught by the police and quickly, a group of unidentified persons started spreading rumours that the man was dead. The young man is alive and was taken into custody with his keke, I will soon release his picture.
Then, those unidentified persons attacked police after they had spread rumours that the man was dead.

It was in the process of the attack that the second police patrol van arrived and was also attacked, and they shot somebody, and the person died. That was very unfortunate. People should stop attacking armed police men. On the one that happened yesterday, we are fully investigating, because we don’t believe there was any basis to shoot that unarmed civilian.

We are talking to security agents in the state to see how we can end this confrontations and shooting.
But our people will do well to remain indoors during the lockdown, please.

Don’t you think in order to save lives, our security operatives should start using rubber bullets and stop the use of live ammunition?

When you attack a police officer, he has the right to self defense. Let us discourage our people from from attacking pokice officers, and let us encourage our people to stay locked down till we rise through this thing. Abians did not bring Covid 19 to Nigeria but if we don’t protect them, they will be at the recieving end. Look at our market like Ariaria. Imagine if that thing enters there. Imagine where it enters Ngwa Road. Imagine the number of deaths we will have. Look at the Kano situation. Two days before, Kano had just one case and suddenly they have 20.
And you can easily bet that they will keep increasing because one person can infect so many people.
Kano is on lockdown now.

Our problem in Abia is that, while the federal government says there’s a lockdown in Abuja and Lagos, people keep escaping from those areas into Abia. People are going back with luxurious buses, how do they move from there to Abia? Delta, Edo, Anambra are all on lockdown, how do they get to these places.

If the federal government has tackled the lockdown properly from the beginning, especially the borders, we don’t be battling here to lock down. They are not supporting those states to shut their borders too, which is wrong. If they close their borders, they will ensure that this thing does not spread.

COVID-19: Abia reveals measures to protect residents

Abia State Government has revealed diverse measures it has taken to protect Abians from the attack of the deadly coronavirus.

John Okiyi Kalu, who is the State Commissioner for Information enumerated these in a Press Release, where he said the Government took proactive measures since the first confirmation of a positive patient on the shores of Nigeria.

He wrote “As soon as COVID-19 became a global heath challenge, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu directed the State Ministry of Health to mobilize and prepare a plan to protect our people from it. When the first case was recorded in Nigeria, Governor Ikpeazu went a step further to set up an inter-ministerial committee to manage our preparation and response to the disease with the state Commssioner for Health, Dr Joe Osuji, leading other Commissioners including those of Information, Homeland Security and Science & Technology.

“The committee has since set out to work and started by identifying available intervention resources within the state including the following:

” 1. Two isolation centers in Umuahia: Federal Medical Center (FMC) and Amachara Specialist Hospital, with the former having good experience in management of patients with infectious diseases such as those infected with Lassa Fever. The facilities are purpose-equipped for isolation of patients with such infectious diseases including those who may present with Coronavirus.

“The Committee has also identified and readied a third Isolation center at Abia State University Teaching Hospital (ABSUTH), Aba, and we are working to prepare another one in Abia North Senatorial District of the State.

” 2. Over 10,000 face masks and 1,000 digital thermometers with the state ministry of health for distribution to health institutions and others were in place and are currently being distributed.

“3. Adequate media resources to launch aggressive sensitization campaign in the state through partnership with private and government owned media houses in the state and beyond were identified. We have since launched the sensitization campaign and released phone lines to contact both local and national responders.

“Currently, the committee has advised all electronic broadcast institutions in the state to emphasize Igbo versions of their sensitization materials in order to reach more Abians in rural areas. In the same vein, all LGA Transition Council Chairmen in the state have been directed to enlist the services of town criers to support the sensitization effort.

“4. Full activation of Abia State Tele-Health facility to respond to enquiries as well as coordinate with all the primary, secondary and tertiary health care facilities in the state is in place.

A very capable and well trained Abia Tele-health team is currently training staff of all 722 Primary Heathcare Centers (PHCs) and Officers in Charge (OiCs) across all 17 LGAs on how to remotely (on the phone) prevent, identify, manage, control and report and follow-up any suspected Coronavirus cases. And the protocol is to step-down same to all staff members of their PHCs.

“The training is scheduled to be completed in the shortest possible time for deployment to assist those already on the facility.

“5. Sanitizers have been distributed to health workers in the state and automatic sanitizers are presently being mounted in government health institutions and offices.

“The committee has reviewed proposals to close both public and private schools in the state, measures to stop any gathering of more than 50 persons, and protection of our markets without disrupting normal activities and/or creating panic.

” Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, who will henceforth take over the leadership of the COVID-19 response structure in the state, has directed that all public and private primary and secondary schools in the state make efforts to commence end of term examinations from Monday, March 23, 2020 and close on April 3, 2020. In the interim, all schools have been directed, through the state Commssioner for Education, Dr KCK Nwangwa, to provide materials for hand washing, preferably running water, before students enter and leave the school as well as during school hours.

“As events unfold, the Government will review the decision to keep the schools open and take necessary measures that will be in the overriding interest of Abians.

“The state ministry of health has also been directed to compulsorily position hand sanitizers, digital thermometers and hand washing facilities in all government offices as well as work with churches, market unions, hotel owners, banks and such other institutions to ensure that they also provide the materials as well as ensure good sanitary conditions. These materials should be positioned at the entry point to the facilities with designated persons, who must wear appropriate protective gears, including face masks, manning them.

“The government will immediately shut down, without further notice, private and public premises where adequate measures, including the above stated, are not in place to protect the people, residents and visitors to Abia State.

“We are currently reviewing suggestions on banning public gathering of more than 50 persons and will communicate the decision reached in due course. Similarly, we are considering measures to further protect our markets, malls and other places of commerce and will communicate decision in due course.

“Finally, we currently do not have any case of Coronavirus infection in Abia State and we are hopeful that God will continue to protect us but we are also proactively working to help ourselves. We wish to call on the federal government to consider providing COVID-19 confirmation testing facilities in all the thirty six states of the federation and FCT, or, at the least, consider providing one per geopolitical zone for easier access.

“Thank you.

Chief John Okiyi Kalu
Honorable Commssioner for Information, Abia State.
20/3/2020

Abia Govt Image Makers Host Jungle Journalist

Jungle Journalist Media Limited was hosted earlier this week by two top image makers of the Abia State Government.

Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of the media, ThankGod Ofoelue who visited Umuahia, the Abia State capital last Monday, was a guest of the Special Adviser to the Governor, Mr Enyinnaya Apollos, who gave him a warm welcome.

The two journalists spent over three hours discussing issues around the media industry, its challenges and prospects, as well as issues bordering public relations and governance, which is part of the business of the governor’s adviser.

Apollos also spoke about his career as a successful journalist, and said that he looked forward to returning to the newsroom, when his service to Abia State is over.
“The newsroom is my first address, and I look forward to it when I complete my service to my Principal, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu and my dear state”.

“I for one admire what you have been able to do with Jungle Journalist Media Limited, and I must advise that you continue to write for the common man”, he stated.

Later in the day, the Abia State Honourable Commissioner for Information, Chief John Okiyi Kalu also had a lengthy chat with Ofoelue.

The workaholic commissioner enumerated the various projects and programmes of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu.

Also speaking about Jungle Journalist Media Limited, Kalu described its reportage as ‘precise, accurate and timely’. He encouraged the publisher to keep up the good work of ‘fair and unbiased journalism’, which he said is the hallmark of success in any venture.

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.

We will work with federal agencies to develop Abia – Commisioner

Abia State Commissioner for Information, Chief John Okiyi Kalu, has assured that the state government will continue to work with federal agencies in the state to ensure her rapid development, peace and progress.

He gave this assurance when a delegation from the National Orientation Agency (NOA), led by the State Director, Lady Ngozi Okechukwu, paid him a courtesy visit in his office.

The Information Boss who harped on the need for patriotism by citizens commended the Agency for its work in sensitizing and mobilizing the people to achieve national cohesion as well as promoting essential family practices through advocacy and engagement with Abia women, used the occasion to call for the release of Miss Leah Sharibu. He described her abduction and continuing incarceration as a collective blight on the nation’s conscience.

Chief Okiyi who congratulated former Minister of information, Alhaji Lai Muhammed, on his reappointment and successful screening by the Senate, called for a more effective social mobilization effort to help citizens buy into government programs with confidence. He pointed out that efforts at social reorientation sound like Sunday choir songs when people have lost sense of patriotism as a result of the failure of government to effectively engage and mobilize the people to support her programs.

He further called on the Federal Government to deploy all available security resources to ensure the immediate release of Sharibu and other abducted citizens to give people more reasons to be patriotic, love thier country and commit to national unity.

Earlier in her address, Lady Ngozi Okechukwu, congratulated the Commissioner on his reappointment and applauded the existing synergy between her agency and the state ministry of Information. She assured that the agency is ready to continue to collaborate with the ministry and state Government to expand the sensitization of women on the 5 essential family practices that UNICEF is promoting, including exclusive breastfeeding, Immunization, war against open defecation, proper child care and antenatal care.

No RUGA Settlement In Abia State – John Okiyi Kalu

Abia State Commissioner for Information, Chief John Okiyi Kalu, says there is no RUGA settlement existing anywhere in Abia State.

The Commissioner made the clarification while interacting with some journalists at International Conference Centre Umuahia, during the flagging-off of 2019 Farming Season held in the State.

According to the Commissioner “we do not have any RUGA settlement in Abia State and we do not intend to have RUGA settlements in Abia State. What we have are cattle markets such as the one at Lokpanta and Waterside Aba cattle market”. He said Abia State does not even have enough land for agriculture and other uses not to talk of ceding any part of the state for cattle colony or RUGA settlement

The State information boss regretted a statement recently credited to a former Governor of the State suggesting that the State has a RUGA settlement and made it categorically clear that “no cattle colony or RUGA exist in Abia State”. He explained that

cattle rearing is a private business and should strictly be seen in that light, maintaining that if cattle herders find Abia grasses good for their cattle, Abia farmers could grow the grasses the more and sell the grasses to them in exchange for money or cows. He emphasized that cattle owners are expected to transport their animals to the state using trailers or trains, when available, and offload same only inside the designated cattle markets in the state.

Chief John Okiyi Kalu revealed that Governor Okezie Ikpeazu has taken agriculture in the State to a higher level with many innovations introduced, including the new emphasis on value adding to primary agricultural products from the state, stating that hosting of the National Farming Season programme in the State is an acknowledgement of what the Governor has done in agriculture. According to him, Abia rice production has increased, more than four million tenera palm oil seedlings planted, mushroom farm graduates already making revenue and the state is set to launch a first of its kind agro-industrial cluster at Ubani Ibeku Umuahia.

He used the opportunity to inform Abia farmers that the state government would sustain and improve the needed financial support to them, in partnership with international donor agencies, CBN and Bank of Agriculture to ensure they produce enough food to sustain the people of the State and grow the economy.

Enachioken Dissolves Abiriba Community group, ACIU

The paramount ruler of the Ancient Kingdom of Abiriba in Ohafia Local Government Area of Abia State, HRM Eze Kalu Kalu Ogbu (IV) has announced the immediate dissolution of the current executive members of Abiriba Communal Improvement Union (ACIU) led by Mr Eke Agbai.

Speaking during the traditional “Itu Eye” ceremony of the Kingdom, held in Amaukwu Square, Amaeke, Abiriba, to mark this year’s Iriama Festival, the Enachioken directed the executive members of the union to hand over all properties belonging to the union and account for financial resources of the organization. He informed that an interim leadership will be announced for the union.

Speaking to newsmen after the ceremony, Abia State Commisioner for Infornation, Chief John Okiyi Kalu, expressed appreciation to Governor Okezie Ikpeazu for granting protocol recognition to the Effa of Agboji Abiriba, Eze Benjamin UCHE Agu and Ukpaghari of Amaogudu Abiriba, Eze Eme Uguru Ikpoka, stating that the Governor who is the Otuba Okwojie of Abiriba Kingdom is determined to support development and peace in the Kingdom.

It will be recalled that following presentations made to the Governor by Enachioken of Abiriba and others, Governor Ikpeazu approved protocol recognition for the two Ezes and directed the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs to accord them relevant official courtesies.