“Alex Otti has merely deployed the past three months in laying the building blocks that would ultimately catapult the state to higher heights.”
The beginning of any rational human endeavor is essentially critical in determining how far it can go and what the outcome will look like.
This popular belief underpins the imperatives and central role of planning to success.
It is a mere truism that no one can succeed without appropriate, pragmatic and deliberate action plan.
The former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Winston Churchill, lent credence to the postulation, when he said, “He who fails to plan is planning to fail”.
It is, no doubt, for the legendary failure by the previous governors of Abia to conscientiously and intentionally plan that the state suffered stunted growth of a scandalous dimension, being unable to make any significant progress for 24 years of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) maladministration.
Aware of this major drawback, and naturally not inclined to passing through a similar known route to failure, the state Governor, Dr Alex Chioma Otti, in his own idiosyncrasy and style, commenced his first four-year sojourn as the fifth Abia Chief Executive sufficiently meticulous and strategic in order to successfully execute his well-thought out plans and programmes targeted at the overall objective of rebuilding Abia, without having to give excuses for obviously avoidable failures.
This could be noticed in the choice of his personal aides and commissioners – all men and women of proven integrity and excellent track records – experts and super technocrats in their respective spheres.
So, upon his victory at the poll on March 23, and preparatory to his landmark inauguration on May 29, Gov. Otti set up a 101-member Transition Council that comprised the best brains within and beyond the shores of Abia.
The council’s assignment was specifically to fashion out a roadmap that would guide and direct his development agenda, drawing largely from his profound and rich people-based manifesto.
Expectedly, the Vincent Onyenkpa-led council turned in its report in record time and the recommendations thereof are now being systematically and methodically implemented by Otti, as promised.
The governor’s sure-footed, focused and progressive steps since his inauguration can be better appreciated, looking at the outcomes of his administration’s policies, programmes and activities sectors by sectors
(1) Prompt Payment of Salaries and Pensions: I have chosen to elevate this achievement well above every other so far recorded by the Otti-led government because the previous government of Dr Okezie Ikpeazu made life miserable for Abia workers.
Ikpeazu deliberately denied Abia workers their legitimate monthly earnings so callously for months. This is not only a sin against humanity but an unpardonable infraction against the divine injunction, which states that “The labourer is worthy of his wages” – See 1 Timothy 5:18.
Since his assumption of office, and effective June, the current administration has successfully changed the unwholesome narrative.
Today, Abia civil servants (both core and agencies) now get their salaries on or before the 28th of every month. In July, the government paid the April and May arrears to state and Local Government workers.
And, at the last count, the government has paid the June, July and August salaries. This means that Otti has successfully stabilised the payment of workers’ salaries and pensions too.
Thus, Abia workers are now sure of receiving the wages of their labour as and when due and can confidently plan their life and expenditure going forward. Of course, PDP is deaf and dumb on this feat!
(2) Environment: Given the regrettably poor and filthy state of the environment that unfortunately became the alternate sobriquet for God’s own state, Otti in his inaugural address, declared a state of emergency on refuse disposal in the two major cities of Aba and Umuahia.
He followed his pronouncement with the setting up of a task force to rid the two towns of refuse.
The result of this initiative is clear and evident for everyone to see. As lawyers would say, “Res ipsa locutur” (the fact speaks for itself), which in Igbo Language translates to “ihe agba naka, adighi eji enyo enyoya”.
Official information from the Abia State Environmental Protection Agency shows that over 4,000 truckloads of solid waste were evacuated from Aba and Umuahia in the four weeks of the operations of the task force.
The administration has also put measures in place for the overall restructuring of the agency for efficient regulatory performance.
Innovations have also been introduced for a system upgrade from the ineffective waste management structures characterised by overbearing government influence to a greater and more efficient private sector involvement.
And I dare to say that if Uche Aguoru and other incurably stupefied and frustrated PDP diehards do not appreciate this singular but lofty achievement, Abia people of good conscience are roundly applauding it to high heavens.
Of course, it would be hard for PDP to publicly appreciate the stride since they savoured the nauseating odour that oozed from the huge heaps of decomposing waste that ceaselessly defaced the landscape of Aba and Umuahia, posing avoidable health hazards under the PDP’s watch for 24 long years.
It is important to recall at this juncture, for emphasis, the scathing remarks made by the Anambra-born multi billionnaire oil and gas merchant, Chief Arthur Eze, during a visit to Umuahia in September 2014, when he chastised the uninspiring administration of then Gov. Theodore Orji, and announced in a public speech that “Abia is stinking”.
He further decried the decay in the road infrastructure and poor living conditions of the people made possible by the under-performance of the PDP-led government.
(2) Health: This is another critical sector that also elicited the governor’s attention; hence he declared a state of emergency in the area to squarely tackle the factors inhibiting efficient healthcare delivery in the state.
So far, the government has long commenced the renovation and equipping of the three General Hospitals in Aba (Abia South), Umuahia (Abia Central).and Umunneato (Abia North) to enable them to function optimally in meeting the people’s health needs.
The administration also launched free medical programme for Abia citizenry across board.
(3) Education: This is another sector that posed serious concern to the governor, where he also declared a state of emergency.
In the meantime, the administration has restructured the parastatals under the ministry to enhance their output and operational efficiency.
Plans had also been concluded to set up model primary and secondary schools in the 17 Local Government Areas.
(4) Security: Recently, the government launched a task force, codenamed “Operation Crush”, to underscore its commitment and urgent drive to secure the Abia socio-economic environment.
To facilitate the operations of the task force and ensure huge success, the government purchased 30 new Toyota Hilux vans with the state-of-the-art communication gadgets.
The governor’s initiative has already begun to yield positive results with the identification and busting of major notorious criminal hideouts in the state.
Today, calm and security have returned to kidnapping and armed robbery flashpoints in Isuikwuato, Isuochi as well as Lokpanta and Ihube axis on the Abia end of the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway after the task force launched several fatal attacks on the hideouts. Motorists and commuters can now travel through the areas without having their hearts in their mouths.
(5) Road Infrastructure: In consonance with its commitment to address the massive dilapidation of roads in the commercial city of Aba, government embarked on the rehabilitation and repairs of the affected internal roads, totalling eleven.
The roads include the University Road, Old Express Road, Umuimo Road, Udeagbala Road, Green Avenue, Shallom Road, Abak Road, Queen Street and Jubilee Road, Cemetery Road and Emelogu Road.
In Umuahia, the government also effected impressive repairs on the virtually impassable Ndume axis of the Ikot Ekpene Road and some failed portions of Aba Road and BCA Road, amongst others.
Plans have also been concluded for the major reconstruction of the abandoned Port Harcourt Road, Aba, while the reconstruction of Ossah Road, Umuahia from the four lanes to six lanes will soon commence, beginning from the Abia Tower on the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway to Okpara Square.
Works have also begun for a more effective and seamless flood control in Aba.
Indeed, one major highpoint deserving of mention is the administration’s paradigm shift from the scandalous old order by reintegrating the engineering corps of the Ministry of Works into road repairs and rehabilitation, inspection and other technical roles after decades of being rendered redundant by successive PDP governments.
(6) Power and Public Utilities: With the “Operation Light-up Umuahia” project recently launched by the government, major streets and roads in the capital city now glow at night, giving the area some befitting status similar to capital cities in the South-East as Enugu, Owerri and Abakiliki.
Moreover, concrete plans had been concluded with multilateral stakeholders to commence the rehabilitation of Ariaria/Ubakala Water Schemes.
(7) Petroleum and Solid Minerals: In furtherance to the development of the oil and gas sector, the governor has begun the development of a framework for the establishment of an innovation park in Ukwa West Local Government Area with interests from international and local business concerns.
Consequently, the government had already secured 1000 hectares of land at Owaza for the setting up of the Aba Industrial and Innovation Park.
Beyond the foregoing, government has also commenced the engagement of consultants for the purpose of establishing waste-to-energy plants and yards in some strategic parts of the state.
In all, the strides made by the Otti-led administration in its 100 days is only but a tip of the iceberg.
The governor had merely deployed the past three months in laying the building blocks that would ultimately catapult the state to higher heights.
In real life experience, some start well, and down the line slumber through, ending woefully.
Some also start sluggishly and lazily, stagger for a while, pick up midway and then end meritoriously.
However, some take off with the sizzling speed of a sprinter, burn out midway and saunter to a poor finishing.
Ironically, a few take off with dazzling speed, sustain the momentum all through and finish gloriously.
Evidently, Gov. Otti belongs to the latter category. A cursory glance at his profile, from his school days through his banking career, proves this mettle, substantially.
Those who have come in close contact with him are truly not surprised at the pace and speed so far displayed at the start of his administration.
He is aware that people’s expectations of him are high. He is also conscious that four years is not eternity and may, afterward, be too short to accomplish the huge and ardous task of rebuilding the state.
Therefore, everyday in the four-year tenure seriously counts. Hence, any scheduled task that is left undone but allowed to spill into the next day will certainly distort the work plan for his first tenure.
It is no surprise, therefore, that in the first 100 days in office, he has tried to cover substantial ground in different sectors, implementing strategic policies and actions with direct impact on the masses and the environment.
The governor, an enigma with the penchant and passion for great accomplisments as a First Class Degree holder in Economics, an astute banker and administrator per excellence, has put his hand to plough and there is no looking back until he finishes triumphantly.
He is sufficiently equipped to offer to Abia and its good people above and beyond what he promised them in his campaign manifesto.
Truly, Abia citizens “ain’t seen nothing yet” (apology to the famous Canadian songwriter, Randy Rachman).
The article was written by Sam Okoro, an Umuahia-based public affairs analyst.