Meeting With The Kingmakers

...Being the Text of a Remark Presented by Governor Alex C. Otti, OFR, at a Town Hall Meeting in Umuahia to Mark the One Year Anniversary of His Administration in the Abia Central Senatorial District on May 24, 2024

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1. Umunne m Ndi Abia, it is my singular honour to be in your midst today as we begin the anniversary of the first year of our administration. Thank you for coming, and for believing that this Town Hall event is worth your time. As the title of my speech suggests, this is a meeting with kingmakers because in a democracy, the people are the ultimate decision makers in matters of leadership selection and social stability.

2. Let me specially thank the Mayors of Umuahia North and South, Isiala Ngwa North and South, Ikwuano and Osisioma for actively supporting the organisation of this event. We are also grateful to the State House of Assembly members, Federal lawmakers, senior appointees of the Abia State Government, and leaders of our great Party, the Labour Party, from this Zone for effectively mobilising our people to be part of this event.

3. I have also seen the leaders of the various pro-groups, our women and youth coordinators and the members with their beautiful uniforms and banners. Thank you for coming in your numbers, and for your continued support for the programmes and policies of the Government.

4. It is equally heart-warming to see many of our dearly beloved traditional and religious leaders. Your esteemed presence at this Town Hall meeting is indeed a clear testimony to the growing interest of our people in the issues of governance and public sector leadership. It also buttresses the ageless wisdom captured in the quote by the revered French leader, Charles de Gaulle, ‘‘that politics is too serious a matter to be left exclusively to politicians.’’

5. As I had repeatedly told close associates, adults who claim to be apolitical can only be likened to the ostrich that claims to be hiding merely by burying its head in the sand. Interestingly, the most treasured asset in the arsenal of certain professional politicians is the indifference of the general public. In the New Abia, however, we want you to be involved, to ask questions, make suggestions and assist us with your informed criticisms. We need you to be active participants in the governance process that will ultimately lead us to a better society.

6. As we told our people yesterday in Ohafia, this event is structured to achieve two objectives. Firstly, to say thank you to our people at the grassroots who are the pillars of our political movement for their faith in the administration; and to hear directly from you, get your feedbacks and know what we can do better in pursuit of the connected goals of accelerated economic development, improved security of life and property, and social cohesion in our various communities.

7. Our goal is to create a platform where the people can speak freely, tell us what we have done well and what we can do better for their communities, and in advancement of the wellbeing of the common man. The present administration in Abia is about the people and how we can use the levers of power to tackle the problems of poverty and unemployment and elevate the dignity and pride of our people.

8. Every initiative and programme we have executed in the last one year has been designed to improve the living conditions and the economic capacity of our hardworking and resilient population. You may recall that when we took over, we had mountains of refuse on almost every street in the capital city, even as the major roads were littered with potholes. Workers in the public health institutions, the judiciary and other critical institutions of the civil service were on strike owing to non-payment of their entitlements. Our senior citizens were practically abandoned and, in many families, children had to drop out of school to become child workers.

9. We cannot claim to have gotten it all right but as every objective observer can see, the State Environmental Protection Agency (ASEPA) is once again alive to its responsibilities; our ‘Light up Abia’ project is not only supporting movement and genuine economic activities after sunset but has made things difficult for criminal elements who prowl at night.

10. Our zero-pothole policy has led to marked improvement in the condition of the roads within and around Umuahia making it possible to transport people and goods quicker, and safely.

11. As you are already aware, our one year in office shall be marked, not by wild celebrations and jamborees, but by commissioning many completed roads and other infrastructural development projects. The highlight of these activities shall be the commissioning of the road leading to Michael Okpara Square from the Abia Tower through Ossah.

12. The smooth execution of the project and the quality of work done speak to our commitment to excellence and higher standards. Under our watch, we shall strive to deliver projects that will stand the test of time, serve the social and economic needs of the people, and give credence to the New Abia mantra because we shall do things better.

13. Beyond our efforts at improving the quality of road infrastructure in the State, we are also fixing public buildings to support the productivity of our civil servants. We shall commission the Joint Accounts Allocation Committee (JAAC) Building later in the month, and for those who understand the significance of JAAC in the structure of relationship between the State and the LGAs, the import of this achievement cannot be lost.

14. We are presently rehabilitating scores of primary and secondary school buildings in the State as part of our commitment to return education to its pride of place in our development process. More than 50 of the school buildings are located within the 6 LGAs in this Zone. When completed, these buildings will serve as comfortable learning environment for our pupils and students.

15. We are also adding staff quarters to help ease the burden of accommodation for teachers. Our budget for the education sector in the 2024 fiscal year is 20% of the entire budgetary outlay and I can assure you that these investments are targeted at supporting the learning and intellectual development of our children who are our greatest assets as a State.

16. We are also making efforts to turn things around in the other critical sectors of our economy especially health, agriculture, sports development and the ICT sector. When we return for the next Town Hall engagements, we shall be talking about the extensive fruits our initiatives and investments in these sectors have brought forth in several communities and in the life of individuals.

17. As I mentioned at the beginning, we have set this up to hear from our people. We do not claim to know it all but what I can again assure you as I did in Ohafia yesterday is that our commitment to fulfilling the promises made to you remains firm and unshaken. We have every community in the State in our agenda, every sector is important to us and no demographic group shall be forgotten. We have a duty to fix Abia and make it work for all of us, especially the hardworking men and women whose support brought us here.

18. Our central goal for this Senatorial District is to expand the frontiers of economic opportunities for everyone and ultimately make Umuahia an important city for governance and administration, family life and leisure. I am glad that we have made a very bold statement in this regard by what we have done along Ossah Road and we are only at the earlier stages. We are determined to see that our young people desirous of making a mark in their profession on a larger stage can always find the right support to power their dreams.

19. We shall listen attentively to your feedback and when we go back, due consideration shall be given to every input, suggestion and opinions because in a democracy, the most sacred responsibility of leadership is service to the people.

20. Thank you for listening and may God bless you all.

Dr Alex C. Otti, OFR,

24/05/2024.