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The Visible Reality In Governance: Dr. Alex Otti’s One Year Experience- Roland Uzor

DR. ALEX CHIOMA OTI: One Year AfterThe Abia story is one that had left most of her citizens craving for the days when governance would bring benefits and visible dividends. Yet as each administration came,these hopes remained far-fetched and more like a mirage than reality.

For some,Abia seemed consigned to the pedestal of arrested development. It would interest us to know that the election of Dr. Alex Chioma Oti OFR as the Governor of Abia State came against all odds,a clear triumph of will over powerful political forces bent on preserving a status quo that had left the State trapped in stalled progress.

It was obvious that something had to give after 24 long years of the restoration of democracy without commensurate development in the State. The emergence of the new administration came with high hopes,so high that some citizens believed that Abia would be a paradise in six months. Indeed, it has not being the easiest of tasks restoring Abia State following the years of poor foundation.

But this Governor has shown that it is possible to get Abia working. He has made the right noises and the right moves. In the areas he needed to be more circumspect and measured, the Governor had also retraced and realigned his policies.

Governance is all about welfare of citizens which must be seen and felt. It is an abdication of the self for common good. Nelson Mandela,the iconic former President of South Africa, repeatedly harped on the need for true leaders to subsume themselves in the masses, and impress it upon the political class that without society, there is no government. By extension, without a happy society,there is no criteria to assess government as effective.

Governor Oti must have understood the enormous task before him and he did put together the team and policies to pursue the common good. Not that he has not had few shortcomings,but he has proved to have vision and shown a commitment to greater interest of the people. His vision is to make Abia State a state to reckon with in the country.

Apart from infrastructure, he has made welfare a primary focus of his administration and instituted new ethics in public service. He has also shown his willingness to work with the best ideas from the best individuals. These are laudable and definitely the path to development.

One year after, the State is wearing a new look, as the recovery and rehabilitation of public infrastructure continues apace in roads, healthcare and education, the reforms he is pushing through in the public service has come to disrupt entrenched interests and this has received some resistance from those who see them as too radical, their views might have some merit but we must give credit to the Governor for confronting a broken system rather than pamper it or paper over it.

This is of course a very difficult and sensitive task but something needed to be done to carry out a surgical procedure on the way Abia State has operated over the years. It was bound to elicit fierce criticism and hostility from some quarters. Of course the criticisms have been coming in torrents but this is not unexpected. It stems from the fact that the old way of doing things had calcified into a way of life that permeated every section of the governance, making positive changes almost appear as inimical and punitive.

While it is also important for administration to listen and learn where necessary, the overall direction points towards a new and better Abia State. The Governor needs to enlarge his feedback mechanism as a way to engage citizens and keep in tune with their needs. He needs to keep decentralizing governance and create robust channels of responsibilities for political appointees so he can hold them accountable.

He should retain his preference for meritocracy over mundane considerations in appointments. He also needs to remain steadfast on his well-intentioned plans to make Aba a regional industrial and commercial hub, as well as stick to his restoration of government -owned businesses like the Enyimba Hotels, built by the late Chief Sam Mbakwe and left to rot for years. The fact that he has often followed up his words with actions raises much hope.

It is the desire of Abia citizens that his fervour and zeal would not wane in the years to come as he pilots the affairs of the State. He should not be distracted but should not be detached either. He should not be carried away by his successes but should remain unfazed by challenges. At this point,the prognosis is good, but we must continue to be better because Abia State is meant to be the best of the rest.




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