Alex Otti: A Hero Of Our Time

By Nnanna Ijomah
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This write up is in response to the many concerned Abia citizens who have solicited my views or opinion regarding the recent Supreme Court ruling as it relates to Abia state or have wondered if I had nothing to say about it. The truth is that I do have my take on what happened but like most Nigerians, was shocked beyond belief by the verdict and needed some quiet solitude to ruminate and get over this obvious miscarriage of justice.

I guess it’s only in Nigeria that a Supreme Court needs two weeks or more to make public the reasons behind its decision. The fact that it is going to take this long for us to know the rationale behind the decisions they made does not portray them in good light. Until they make public whatever reasons they will be able to concoct we will all have to hold our fire for now. All the same in my opinion, I believe the entire judgment to say the least was a travesty of justice that defies any rational analysis.

The judgment may seem innocuous but it was indeed profound with consequences and repercussions, which if not rectified will render futile any future effort in sanitizing our electoral process, talk less about the damage already done to our judicial system and process. The fact that many Nigerians from all political persuasions and ethnic nationalities have voiced their dismay with the Supreme Court rulings as it relates to not just Abia but also Rivers and Akwa-Ibom states is proof positive that something went wrong somewhere and that we are yet to hear the gist of what really transpired behind the scenes.

The new Governor now seems to have a new favorite past time, that of paying courtesy calls to prominent religious leaders. A few weeks ago, it was Bishop Adebayo, then Uma Ukpai in Uyo. I guess Bishop Oyedepo will be next. Which makes me wonder if the guilt of how he came to power is bothering him. Personally i am all for seeking the face of God, but you have confess your sins first before seeking forgiveness.

While we eagerly await the Supreme Court explanations, my concern today is not only about the Abia people who voted for change and were denied their wish but also the hero of our time, Dr Alex Otti. A man who left the comfort of his banking profession to engage in the murky waters of Abia politics, though with good intentions but had his victory stolen by a group of unscrupulous thugs who were bent on achieving victory by all means possible. Just recently I read a newspaper interview given by Ex Abia Governor, T A Orji in which he invoked God’s name ceaselessly as he celebrated Ikpeazu’s Supreme Court victory.

Which got me wondering if it is the same God we all worship or some other god. The God that said, “thou shall not steal and thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s property”. He and others of his ilk may be smiling and celebrating, but their day will come surely and swiftly. If for any reason justice does not catch up with them, I do take consolation in the bible verse that says, “the sins of the father will be visited on their children and children’s children. There is no escaping the laws of retributive justice for all their acts of malfeasance and election rigging.

For many of us in diaspora both here in the United States, Asia and Europe, February the 3rd will forever remain a day in infamy. A day when the hopes and aspirations of us all for a new Abia went down in flames, courtesy of the Supreme Court verdict. For the many Abia professionals and technocrats who were looking forward to a new Government that had promised to facilitate their return and make use of their expertise with the creation of a department of Diaspora Affairs as Dr Otti promised, such plans have been placed on the back burner for now and in some cases completely abandoned. Some may say, they should think of the Abia people rather than the government in power.

But it is not that simple. You have to believe in the government and its mission or have enough confidence and faith in their ability to bring about change before giving up all you having going for you to a place where your safety is not even guaranteed. Besides it is not reassuring or comforting when you hear there is a resurgence of crime since the new Government came into power, so much so that the Governor had to restrict the operating hours of keke drivers.

To many discerning minds the fact that there is a resurgence of crime and kidnapping should not be a surprise, for as the saying goes, ‘the fish rots from the head”. This is a government that is filled up with thugs and rethreads from the Ochendo regime, so much so that in a recent Sun newspaper interview P B Apugo a former PDP and now APC stalwart described 80 percent of the commissioners appointed by the Governor as unqualified and not even fit enough to be office messengers.

To buttress this point I know of one of the new commissioners who has been sending me some hate mail, asking me to go and hug a transformer and that now that my candidate has lost I should die in diaspora . what he did was to send them under a fake name and e-mail address. Earlier the same commissioner whose name I will keep private for now had earlier sent me e-mails during the campaigns.

By comparing some of his favorite expressions from both e-mails and some computer forensic investigation, I discovered that that the two different e-mails were emanating from the same computer. He knows who he is and I’ve written to tell him his cover has been blown. This is the caliber of people we have as commissioners. I guess he has so much free time on his hands to engage in such pettiness unbecoming of a state commissioner.

There are some who have said I should congratulate the Governor, and my answer is no, for it will be like congratulating someone who stole something from you just because he was not found guilty for the crime. Just like someone recently pointed out in an article when he quoted a comment by the late Nwafor Orizu who once said, “it is not that the offended cannot forgive but has the offender repented”.

Call me a sore loser if you may, but nevertheless I wish him well and hope that he rules with the fear of God and bring the Abia people some much needed democracy dividend. I therefore join my principal, Dr Alex Otti who has implored all his supporters to cooperate with the Ikpeazu administration and to eschew peace and tranquility in the state. For me personally I will hold my fire and be less critical of the Ikpeazu administration until such a time when I feel there is need for some constructive criticism.

To the Abia people and the thousands of Otti supporters, I feel your pain. But as the scripture says “now we know in part but one day we will know in full’. There are things that happen in our lives that we don’t understand and we question why God let it happen. But it is not in our place to question God’s motive but to believe in him that he will plant a new seed in our lives to replace what we lost. Our destiny is not determined by our situation. God does not react to our pain or need, he rather reacts to our faith, since faith is the expectation of God’s blessing. Let us continue to keep the faith and remain hopeful for the change we want.

Let us use our recent setback for a comeback. As much as it is difficult to forget the past, forget we must if we want to move forward. George Benard Shaw , a 19th century Irish poet once wrote, “ we are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility of the future.” Just remember that the joys of life are poisoned by memories of past injustice and grievances.

To Alex Otti, what can I say. You remain my hero and a hero to thousands of Abia citizens. You fought a great fight and even though you lost the fight, you have not lost the battle. True fulfillment in life is being able to say, I did my best .Life is not about the values you seek, it is more about the values you stand for. You stood for integrity and truthfulness as truthfulness is the fundamental foundation of all human virtues.

At a time when most politicians were an exaggerated personalities of themselves, you were a transformative personality who traversed the cultural and political divide that has forever haunted Abia state. You persisted in your effort to let every Abia vote count. Your persistence was proof that you were not defeated , as failure is, waiting on the path of least persistence.

As the saying goes, “you have no right to something you have not pursued and since the world rates success by what you finish and not what you start, you are a success in my book. You must remain strong and patient. Do not let the noises of other people drown your own. Always have the courage to follow your heart and your intuition. It is nice and comforting to hear you say there is no shortage of what you will do. Life is so full of unknowns and when life turns you upside down you must learn to live right side up. Some on the other side may belittle you, just know that those who do so belittle themselves and when you get kicked in the rear, that means you are in front.

A good life is one that evolves slowly, patience is the difficult part. Take your time and be patient, for God is not done with you. Do not lose tomorrow by holding on to yesterday. More Important, you must remain active, visible and politically relevant. But be careful in picking what battles you fight.

For those of us in diaspora, we saw the light at the end of the tunnel before it turned out to be a train hurtling down the tracks. It is important that we turn our attention from what had been or what should have been to what should be. Our new focus should not be on how we can but why we must advocate for changes in our electoral process or else what happened in 2015 will repeat itself in 2019.

We must make our views known and not leave politics to thugs, unemployed youths and those who call themselves professional politicians. I look forward to an Abia state that will honor expertise over mediocrity, embrace competence over ethnic loyalties and celebrate wealth accumulated by hard work and honest means than stolen from Government offers.

I hope for an electoral process devoid of poster and billboard destructions, the burning of public structures or the display and parading of empty coffins. I pray for an Abia state where there will no fear of being kidnapped or harmed while visiting home from diaspora, where those who call themselves elders will act like one and a government that uses our federal allocation and IGR for the benefit of the people and don’t put them in private bank accounts. I thank all my fellow comrades for their unwavering support for Alex Otti.

All is not lost and should he want to try again in the future, God willing, I for one will once again be on the frontlines advocating for him. Long Live Alex Otti, our hero, long live the Abia people and my best wishes to the Ikpeazu administration.

NNANNA IJOMAH is a resident of New York City.

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