Otti’s Double Speak And The Need For Honest Reconciliation And Integration In Abia
It is a common Igbo saying that in preparing an eye solution, pepper is not one of the ingredients. Page 43 of THISDAY, Saturday, February 6, 2016 blazoned a title: ‘Abia State election: Otti concedes defeat, calls for cleansing of the Judiciary.’ According to Otti in the said interview repeated in the Daily Sun of Tuesday, Feb, 9, 2016, ‘After watching the future of Abia wane for decades, we stood for an election to provide for an alternative for the status quo.
All those who followed the events leading to the election can confirm that we provided credible opposition during the electioneering process and as a result, the 2015 elections in Abia were unlike any the state has ever witnessed…. As a party, we accept the ruling of the Supreme Court which is composed of human beings, is not infallible. We believe this ruling was a mistake, but we know that one cannot expect to receive justice every time.’
This excerpt from Otti’s speech above reveals that Dr. Otti is not in a hurry to reconcile. Viewed critically and analytically, Otti’s speech smacked of defiance and disdain for Abia leadership and the judiciary. It could be recalled that when Otti lost at the polls as declared by INEC in April 2015 and subsequent governorship election tribunal that stated that Otti was asking to be declared winner in an election he argued was not credible, all hell was let loose in the print and electronic media.
The Lagos and Abuja press had field days either with Otti’s adverts or his interviews where unimaginable vitriol was poured on Abia Government. If they stopped at the incumbent Governor Chief T A Orji or the incoming Okezie Ikpeazu, it would have been seen as the normal electioneering propaganda but he and his team tore the first family of T. A. Orji to pieces with slander.
Decorum was thrown to the dogs, his fortune to have the military in his campaign trail really resulted in physical battles, especially the cases in Ikwuano where people were shot with live bullets, and a polling station in Aba South where voters were brutalized and scared from the polling station.
Alex Otti had the best of relations with the Administration of Chief T. A. Orji where he made official visits and consultations about his governorship ambition. I am aware that Senator T. A. Orji intimated him with the decision of the elders of Abia, the PDP stakeholders and other oracular figures of Abia, that power should shift to Abia South. As the governor stated, God is God of equity.
The founding fathers of Abia drew a charter of equity to forestall domination by any group against the other and PDP as a party in its preambles has zoning as its guiding principle. In Abia State, the Abia South Senatorial Zone, in fact the whole Ukwa na Ngwa Land has not tasted governorship before, dating back to 1914, the amalgamation of Nigeria and subsequent independence of 1960.
Appointments of Military administrators and civilians alike, all eluded the Ukwa na Ngwa ethnic agglomeration to the extent that they were called the land of deputies. It is on record that Abia has been presided over by two blocs, Old Aba and Old Bende divisions. A large chunk of Old Bende went with Ebonyi State leaving Old Aba Zone intact with more Local Government Areas. Unfortunately this numerical strength did not manifest into political superiority.
These facts fell on deaf ears of Otti and he bulldozed into APGA and sent Reagan Ufomba who had become the professional Gubernatorial candidate scampering. Most people who knew Alex Otti before saw him as a man of integrity but his stratagem and the unfolding campaign line of attack made many shudder in awe, doubting if it was the same Otti that employed all the arsenals of political assault.
Of all his zealous approaches, his swift hegira from PDP to APGA and his mindless tampering of bio-data already in public domain was taken too far that if taken to court will result in perjury. He became an Ngwa man overnight forgetting that when he went to Babcock University USA for an award, his citation read Arochukwu as place of birth. Highly implicating was his PDP registration card in Arochukwu which he thought was of no consequence.
Otti had an enviable career in the bank and bankers are known for prudence but Otti’s spending was an unhindered spree. His billboards towered to high heavens unlike his height and his jingles were laden with lies, poisonous messages and blackmail to the extent that you would hardly believe that he was ever in PDP. In one of his speeches, he alleged that hospitals and other medicals were at the state they were before the civil war. How can this be? This meant that all the military administrators and their civilian successors ranging from Frank Ajobena, Ike Nwosu, Moses Fasanya, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, Orji Uzo Kalu and T A Orji never touched the Health sector but the records are there and evidently physical that T A Orji raised the health delivery to the 21st century standard with the Specialist Hospital and Diagnostic Centre and other related places that brought Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, former minister of Health to Abia for not less than two official visits, cutting tapes of exquisite medical installations.
His statement in THISDAY which we expected would have been conciliatory was still laden with defiance as he still insinuated that Abia had had bad governance for 16 years? If we should take this serious, did he complain during the era? He had limitless access T. A. Orji, did he send any suggestions or even writing an open letter? With all his financial arsenals in the bank, did he initiate or direct any of their corporate social responsibilities to Arochukwu or Isiala Ngwa South? Look at his choice of Deputy. Mrs Uche is of Arochukwu descent and married to an Ohafia man, was she the best choice as deputy considering political spread and balance? Was it not a clear neglect of the zoning convention and an insult to the Ngwas?
His campaign slogans leaned too much on the diversionary. Many jingles talked about workers pay who were not owed in essence. He promised traders in Umuahia to bring them back to Ogwumabiri Umuahia. While he claimed to be onye Ngwa, he told traders in Aba that if Ikpeazu wins, that non indigenes would be driven from Ariaria Market. He sowed deep hatred that Aba got polarized and may need a lot of efforts to reintegrate.
Still on his speech, he did not even congratulate Ikpeazu, so he may still be bitter and spoiling for war which would be delivered with his usual guerilla warfare tactics.
Well as T. A. Orji said in one of his messages, the election is won and lost; there is only one governor at a time which is Ikpeazu. All should support him in the interest of Abia. Interestingly, Dr. Ikpeazu has put out an olive branch across, urging all to come back, if Otti accepts Abia will be good for all.
In truth, a lot of work is needed to disabuse the minds of most artisans and civil servants who were meant to believe that they were cheated. A genuine reconciliation and integration would serve as a template with rippling effect. A good example was the case with Chief Onyema Ugochukwu who addressed his supporters telling them that having tried everything possible, that it may not have been the wish of God for him to govern Abia. Since then, he has championed integrative initiatives.
Abia needs peace urgently! Abia is greater than any personal ambition. As suggested by one Ijeoma Nwogwugwu, Otti can read the balance sheet, let him forward his lofty ideas, Abia needs them for growth.