100 Days In Office: Otti Dragging Abia Into Multi-Dimensional Poverty

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By Uche Aguoru

 

Ordinarily, Mr Alex Otti who got into office as governor and chief security officer of Abia state on the 29th of May 2023 will have been in office for 100 days, a lifelong ambition which Mr Otti pursued for 8 years and only succeeded in his 3rd attempt.

My concern here is not the length of time, the notion of 100 days in office, or even how much has been achieved or what has been gained and lost.

I am only assessing Otti’s government on the strength of his background as an economist and ex-banker, his highfalutin promises to Abians in all these years he has begged for an opportunity, his promises of economic prosperity way above what was experienced by the previous administrations, his overall performance within the period he has governed, and public expectations.

And sadly I have to announce to Abians that the honeymoon they erroneously threw themselves into on the 29th of May 2023 is anything but over and gone.

The foundation of any serious administration should have been laid within the period of the first 100 days in office, which includes moving into office, appointment of key officers, and giving policy blueprints on general administration, health, education, works, housing, agriculture, and especially economy, amongst others.

As of today, the only component that Gov. Otti brought on board is the notion of probing/ recovery of misappropriated public funds and assets which was warmly welcomed by every well-meaning Abian including yours sincerely but sadly the probe from conception lacks genuine sincerity of purpose, a product of a witch hunt only targeted at perceived political enemies, and it has led the administration into making avoidable mistakes of sealing peoples legally acquired estates for lack of proper investigation.

The Otti administration has no known policy direction across all sectors, it is still in a trial-and-error approach and has only succeeded in the blame game, bitterness, vendetta, and witch-hunting without a defined developmental roadmap and sadly some experienced senior civil servants that would have guided his government properly were illegally disengaged and today a deputy director is now heading a civil service where we have Permanent secretaries

ROADS CONSTRUCTION: Despite receiving over 60 billion Naira from the federal government in less than 3 months, the Otti administration has yet to show any remarkable effort, the only road construction the Otti administration has so far undertaken is the completion of a few internal roads initiated by the Ikpeazu administration and left at different stages of completion before the coming of the Otti administration, the only original road project so far conceived by the Otti government is the 6 lanes less than one and a half kilometer OSSA to Okpara square, a road that attracts no economic value which the state government said it will expend a record sum of over 15 billion Naira on.

ECONOMY: A few months before the coming of the Otti administration the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, the Nigerian government’s foremost rating agency conducted its periodic surveys to determine the level of growth, development, decline, and other variables across the board and from many angles and statics released in its 2022 Multidimensional Poverty Index, MPI which was conducted across the 36 states of the federation and the FCT based on four key sectoral indices namely; education, health, security, and standard of living across 15 indicators: namely nutrition, food security, time to health, school attendance, years of schooling, school lag, water, water reliability and sanitation, housing materials, cooking fuel, assets, unemployment, underemployed and security shocks.

The summary shows that Abia State was one of the best five States in the federation after Lagos and Ogun States and the best in the Southeast, The survey which is usually conducted using data from the World Bank, was done during the terminal days of the last administration, the NBS and the federal government relied on clinically sourced data and reliable statistics based on verifiable indices thereby making their releases authentic and faultless. and today the once robust economically viable state of Abia just a few months ago before the coming of the Otti administration has become the headquarters of hunger in the federation and is now ranked amongst the poorest states because of the massive sacking of legitimately engaged civil servants thereby swelling the already high number of unemployed people in the state, lack of functional local government administration has completely demobilized effects of economic activities of government at the grassroots, unstable or outright lack of clear economic policy direction that has brought government business in ministries, departments, and agencies to a dangerous standstill, non-payment of workers’ salaries, especially in local governments, departments and agencies of government, geometric rise in insecurity which has brought the activities of SME,s to an all-time dangerous low never experienced in Abia.

As of today, the effects of poor governance can be seen and felt on many fronts but the most and easily identifiable is the reinforcement of poverty, needless to remind us that it has hindered economic growth and may lead to ruin if aggressive economic and human-faced measures are not immediately put in place.

TRANSPARENCY: One area the Otti administration campaigned seriously, is on transparency, Mr. Otti while begging for an opportunity told Abians that he would run a transparent administration and reduce the cost of governance, Going by his promises Abians expected more from Otti in the area of transparency, and reduction in the cost of governance but shockingly Abians have been kept in the dark and are unaware of how much that has accrued to the State as there seems to be a formal policy of secrecy in the states finances, the procurement process is done in secret and contracts are awarded without due process, today the Governor is the procurement and transport officer and recently he openly confirmed to the world how he personally made efforts to procure Innoson vehicles neglecting due process, the governor has not also told Abians what he has been using the JAAC funds which the FG releases monthly for the running of the local government administration since there is no Local Government Administration in Abia either the elected or the Transitional Committee in place.

It is public knowledge that Governor Otti comes to work from Abuja and on each trip, he parks a private jet at the Owerri airport and heads to his Umuehim Nvosi, Isiala Ngwa South home where he holds meetings including State Executive Council Meetings, each of the trips allegedly costs Abia an average of 18 million Naira and this frequentative trip which is repeated 3 days in a week is a clear case of squandering taxpayers’ resources on his ostentatious lifestyle that is gulping billions of naira amidst grave concerns of widespread poverty and insecurity in the state.

SECURITY: A survey carried out by Global Rights, an international human rights organization, Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) analyzed by The Cable Index, the data and research arm of The Cable on the death rate resulting from violent crimes in Nigeria in the last three years (2020, 2021 and 2022), placed Abia as the least affected in terms of violent crimes.

The survey recorded a total of 1,178 deaths in the southeast due to violent crimes within the period in review (2020, 2021, and 2022) with Abia recording just 72, Imo – 183, Ebonyi – 391, Enugu – 215, and Anambra – 317. This record is just a testament to the premium the Ikpeazu administration placed on the security of the lives and properties of Abians, The Ikpeazu administration received various local and international accolades for its efforts in securing Abia and Abians but sadly today Abians are dying in their numbers and many are being kidnapped on a daily basis and the Otti administration, seem not to care or are at a loss on how to tackle insecurity despite the promises to secure and protect the lives and properties of Abians but like payment of salaries/pensions, waste management, Julius Berger and other promises, the security of Abians has been left to fate and in the hands of God and I am sure if the survey is conducted using current statistics Abia will be topping the list of the least secured states in the southeast because of the astronomical surge in kidnapping, armed robbery, Unknown gunmen, Snatching of Vehicles, burglary, and destruction of innocent lives and properties.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT ADMINISTRATION: With a hundred days gone In Mr. Alex Otti’s Administration there is no local government administration in place in Abia state, This very important tier of government which is saddled with the role of bringing the government nearer to the people and allows for popular participation in politics by reducing the centralization of power in the center, provides an organized system where councils exercise their power and responsibilities and manages the affairs of a locality through planning, organizing, staffing, controlling, coordinating, and budgeting in different Local governments is no longer active only in Abia out of the 36 states of the federation including the FCT, federal allocations due to the LG,s are not being accounted for and the local government workers are not being paid, it is alleged that Gov. seized the seals of the 17 LGAs. and I dare ask Mr. Governor where is the money meant for the development and running of the 17 LGAs?

THE LEGISLATURE: It is not enough that Governor Otti not only suppressed the standing rules of the house, but he also went ahead to intimidate the members and personally ensured that the minority LP took the leadership of the House. He further desecrated the global order of the legislature by installing someone from the minority LP of 10 members in a PDP dominated house as the majority leader an arithmetics that scholars are still battling to solve and today the vibrancy that is usually seen in the Abia State House of Assembly is dead and my Governor has succeeded in making the 8th Assembly a rubber-stamp legislature where he remotes their activities from the comfort of his bedroom.

CIVIL SERVICE: The civil service also received its own share of destruction from the Otti administration, the Ikpeazu administration initiated and pursued civil service reform through the introduction of biometric accreditation which was aimed at ensuring discipline and productivity in the civil service but with a human face and in total reverence to the rules governing the civil service knowing that it is an essential organ of the executive arm of government while agreeing that further reforms are still needed, the introduction of draconian measures and total disregard to laws guiding the civil service has further exposed the inexperience of Mr. Alex Otti in public administration, though many are of the opinion that it was as a result of the bitterness and mindset of vengeance with which Mr. Otti came into power with.

The Otti administration has completely demonstrated total disregard for the extant rules of the civil service by the mindless sacking of thousands of Abians legitimately engaged in the civil service, forcefully suspending Permanent Secretaries without establishing any infractions, queries, or recommendations by a disciplinary committee and till date no official communication or letters issued to that effect, he also violated the public service ethics by appointing a Deputy Director as Head of Service in a system that has serving Permanent Secretaries and Directors and what we operate in Abia today is an inappropriate organizational structure. where a PermSec will now take instructions from a Deputy Director and the resultant effect has been unproductive work operations, lack of competent leadership, etc.

Not surprisingly though, policy inconsistency, lack of direction, and profligacy have defined the Alex Otti administration. the governor has built around himself a strong individual whose subjects, personal aides, and every government functionary are afraid to approach and has deliberately succeeded in rendering every institution of government weak and in most cases non functional.

Let me conclude by honestly saying that Governor Otti’s first 100 days in office have indeed betrayed his ill-preparedness, incompetence, and ineptitude, for an office he has spent his entire life running for and regrettably the honeymoon that Abians threw themselves into has ended in a sour taste.

May Abia Succeed

Aguoru
Writes From Umuahia

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