Everything went into it: Money, good money. Brigandage, intimidation, blackmail, propaganda, threats and the list goes almost endless. It was a hard-fought battle. Of course, it’s expected. It is politics. Political power is not given for the asking of it. It’s not served a la carte. It is taken. And so, it gotta be rough and, indeed, it was.

Yet he stood firm. Resilient. Unperturbed. Focused and determined. Recall he’s not new in the game. He’s been there before. Going through the whole gamut of it for years. Back to back! So, for him, it was a long, tortious but familiar journey. A trajectory and an incongruous mixture of heys and hellos. Incidentally, at the third round, it became his turn. His time to achieve it and become.

That’s loud. It’s the people’s mandate. It’s their collective resolve. He’s the Governor-elect of Abia State. The would-be 10th Governor of the State, by May 29, 2023. That’s Dr. Alex Otti of the Labour Party.

In 2014, Otti made his debut into partisan politics to test the murky waters of the Nigerian politics after he volunterily retired as the Managing Director and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the then Diamond Bank. Prior to the time, he had served in senior positions at the United Bank for Africa (UBA) and First Bank of Nigeria Plc. By 2015, he actively joined the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), emerged the gubernatorial candidate and contested with the outgoing Governor Okezie Ikpeazu. The battle was fierce and like in this present 2023, also witnessed some cataclysmic earthquakes. May be fiercer. At the end, Ikpeazu of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) won.

But there still was no tone of finality to the matter. It journeyed up to the tribunal. The courts. On December 31, 2015, the court of appeal in Owerri, Imo State capital found merit in the application filed by Otti from the April governorship election that produced Ikpeazu that year and returned him elected. Coming on the new year eve, the State became upset in many quarters. Mass hysteria erupted. The towns became agog with the hope that Otti was coming. But the Supreme Court was to later delay the coming. And then, the season fleeted past.

Curiously, in 2019, Otti also sought the mandate of the people for the second time. Though it was unsuccessful, he has never stopped telling anyone who cares to listen that he won the 2015 elections fair and square but for the supreme court judgement.

Just when one would think he would have given up on his altruistic inclinations for Abia, he became more agitated and troubled with the goings-on in the State especially within the government circles. He bled more for the common man who he thought was not getting good governance. Otti got more disgusted with the malfeasance in the public spheres. He cried over the dilapidated infrastructure in Aba, the commercial nerve centre of the south east geopolitical zone. The huge debts owed by the State amid non payment of workers salaries affronted him. Then, Otti got jolted to try again.

The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) was supposed to be the next vehicle and platform after Otti had obtained the expression of interest and the nomination forms on May 4, 2022 for the governorship. But the primaries failed him. Swiftly and on popular demand too, he got into the Labour Party which simply became a movement.

By the time the first round of elections, the presidential and national assembly polls held on February 25, it was already obvious that Labour Party was the new deal and Otti was ubiquitously sought for to be crowned by the people.

In one fell swoop, the Labour Party gathered like a tsunami, nay, hurricane, sweeping through the senatorial districts and the federal constituencies of the State. Out of 8 federal constituencies, the party tucked in 6, also grabbing on senatorial seat, the Abia Central. This was huge and against every expectation of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) which looked handicapped and helpless at the same time.

Then enter the governorship and Houses of Assembly polls on March 18. It was feverish, nightmarish and epochal. The palpitations and perspiration permeated. And when the results started trickling in, the Labour Party was atop the chart. This continued until a melee occured in Obingwa Local Government Area over the lorry load of fictitious and fictional, padded results. The despicable, ignoble and inglorious play and hocus-pocus of a desperate and power intoxicated cabal shot the hitherto quiet zone into an embarrassing limelight. Obingwa became the news thread nationally and internationally. Abuja got jolted and summoned the officials. Collation of results was halted. A review was called. An exercise of one or two days dragged a little longer. And the people waited with bated breath. At the end, the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) proved to be a machine of integrity. The numbers were filtered and the real votes eventually collated and announced. Then, the margin of lead and victory by the Labour Party over the PDP became unrivaled and unassailable. Eureka! Labour has won the gubernatorial election. Really?

The same followed the State House of Assembly election. While the PDP won 11 seats, Labour Party got 10 seats.

In the words of the returning officer and Vice Chancellor of Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Professor Nnenna Oti “I have never participated in any election but duty came calling. I made my enquiries from Abuja and I said if I perish, I perish. They came with their threats. They came with their money. They came with their intimidation. I didn’t start today. I stand here before God, Jesus Christ. I have never defrauded anyone. Under me, votes must count. Under me, the people’s mandate must be upheld because Professor Nnenna Oti, a mother of 3 children, the wife of Nnanna Oti, the daughter of Afikpo, daughter of Ebonyi State, daughter of Nigeria can never do evil.”

In his manifestos, Otti said he would fix Abia and elevate its status to be envious amongst the comity of States in Nigeria.

“My covenant with you, as I round off this phase, is that I will never fail you. Alex Otti is a name many within and outside our shores associates with remarkable achievements, excellence and diligent

commitment in pursuit of the common good. Far be it from me that I should tarnish my reputation by refusing to live up to our promise.

“My biggest motivation, the very thing that has sustained me on this journey through the years is nothing short of a passionate desire to serve our people, reclaim our state from the grip of those who see politics as a money-making venture, and return ultimate power to the people by making you masters of your individual and collective destinies. That is what this is all about.”

“Importantly, I would like to also inform you that I have been involved in several community development efforts, attracting projects, and investments to several communities within this state and beyond.

“God has given me the grace to always think home and understand how I can leverage the privileges that I have to be a source of blessing to others, especially in our communities. With my modest support, town halls, schools, water projects and other project initiatives have been completed across the state.

“So, why do I still want to be governor if I am already doing so much as a private citizen? It is because I want to deploy my immense wealth of experience in the private sector, verifiable record of excellence, and passion for the development return the lost glory of our state by harnessing the tremendous

human and material resources in our land to build a prosperous, peaceful and decent society, and a place we can all be proud to call home”, he said.

The prayers by many Abians is that Otti will keep to his promises and give the state a facelift. May he succeed!


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