Living the True Spirit of Christmas
...BEING THE TEXT OF GOVERNOR ALEX OTTI'S CHRISTMAS MESSAGE TO NDI ABIA ON DECEMBER 25, 2023
1. Umu nne m Ndi Abia, I am most specially delighted and grateful to God for the blessings of this year’s Christmas season. I am also honoured to note that this is our first Christmas as members of the larger New Abia family, united at a time like this in joyful celebration of the anniversary of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ more than 2, 000 years ago in the little town of Bethlehem.
2. The 2023 Christmas season is very special and significant for us in the State because in addition to marking the anniversary of Christ’s birth, we have so much to be thankful for. We joyfully welcome our brothers and sisters who have travelled from far and near to celebrate with us and see for themselves, the great things God is doing in our land, especially in the areas of infrastructural development, improved urban sanitation and most importantly, the new sense of optimism amongst our people.
3. As I mentioned in my speech recently, serving this great state at this point in our history is the singular most significant honour of my life. I thank you for believing in us and for trusting that we shall be the team to turn things around. We are grateful for your immense support since we came into office around the middle of the year. You have shown great understanding and patience, encouraging us with your goodwill and consistently pointing us to areas of improvement.
4. On this Christmas morning, we say thank you. May I also assure you that while we certainly cannot run a perfect administration, we shall continue to do our best to improve, to listen more to your needs and make sure that in every decision we take as a government, the input of the people must count.
5. As we celebrate, we must imbibe the true spirit of Christmas, sharing the joy and blessings of the season with everyone around us. There is no better time to love and care for our friends and neighbours than now. As members of the New Abia family, we have a sacred duty to remember the less privileged amongst us, and others who due to no fault of life, may not have much for themselves and their families.
6. In addition to sharing what we have with those in need, we are also encouraged to be very responsible and disciplined in all that we do. Reckless driving, excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages, consumption of hard drugs and illicit substances, and acts that may endanger our lives, health and wellbeing must be avoided.
7. I call for peace in all the communities. Traditional rulers, leaders of development and age-grade associations, women and youth groups are encouraged to come together in the spirit of Christmas to drive the process of reconciliation in places where there had been disputes as nothing can be achieved in an atmosphere of strife and social anxiety. At all times, we must bear in mind that maintaining the peace in our homes and communities is everyone’s responsibility but as stakeholders, we must be at the forefront.
8. This is also a good time to initiate community development projects. It is gratifying to note that many influential community leaders have bought into our message of holistic development in every part of the state and would be launching several projects this Christmas to drive human capital development, expand community infrastructure and support the vulnerable.
9. I congratulate every community that would be launching or commissioning one project or the other this Christmas. Let me also encourage all of us to always think of what we can do for our villages and clans all the time.
10. While we shall continue to work as a government to make every part of the state attractive to domestic and foreign investors, we are reminded that much more can be achieved when the elites in the communities get involved, driving the development process according to the most pressing needs of the people.
11. I am aware that many families travelling home for Christmas experienced difficulties along some of the roads where reconstruction and rehabilitation works are on-going. We regret the inconveniences and promise that by the time you come home next year, things will be a lot different.
12. To assist commuters this season, we have deployed personnel of the Abia State Road Traffic and Safety Management Agency and the State Emergency Services at strategic roads to help direct the flow of traffic and support those in emergency situations. We also have other personnel of federal and state agencies to support our people as they travel across the state this Christmas. You are encouraged to cooperate with them at all times as they will be on round-the-clock operations this season.
13. Security remains a priority for the state and we have taken extraordinary measures to guarantee the safety of life and property in all parts of the state. All security formations in the state have been placed on high alert to respond promptly to distress calls. We have also expanded our intelligence gathering network to thwart any criminal operations before they are executed. We also encourage community leaders to work closely with the formal security agencies in setting up their independent security arrangements. My assurance, umu nne m, is that every part of the state is safe and secure.
14. For those who may wish to invest or expand their investments in any part of the state, this is the right time. The relevant government offices shall remain open to offer useful assistance when called upon. I am specially appealing to our brothers and sisters to think home. We are making all parts of the state an attractive investment destination by improving security, building public infrastructure, and developing the stock of human capital.
15. Abia is our home and we must work collectively to build it into the great society we have always dreamt of. From my family to yours and on behalf of the Government of Abia State, have a merry Christmas celebration.
Dr Alex C. Otti, OFR.