The former Managing Director of Diamond Bank PLC and guber candidate of Abia Labour Party (LP) in Abia State, Dr Alex Otti has raised alarm over the rising debt profile and unemployment rate in the State.
This is even as he has predicted that the next Governor of Abia State would inherit a badly broken State from this outgoing administration of Dr Okezie Ikpeazu.
Otti stated these in Umuahia while addressing members of Abia Professionals, who endorsed him as their sole governorship candidate for March 11 elections.
He pointed out that most of the candidates in the race to govern Abia were not interested in developing the State but only have their eyes in the sharing of the State’s resources, if elected, alleging further that most of the guber candidates in the race had no second address.
The Labour Party guber candidates maintained that Abia’s sorry condition meant that Abians should not make the mistake of electing an unprepared leader, stressing that Abia needed a credible and competent Governor to navigate it out of its present economic quagmire.
According to him: “This year is going to be very difficult. When this government goes, whoever succeeds it will find it extremely difficult because the state is badly broken.
“The debt profile of Abia increased from N45 billion, from the administration of T.A.Orji to N150 billion in the present administration. So, that is what Abia is going to pay. So, you can see it is looking dangerous out there. So it (Governor) has to be people who know what to do.
“Unemployment rate in Abia is 51 per cent, the highest in the country. Abia is ranked 32nd in the area of Ease of doing business which means that an investor has to consider 31 other states before thinking of coming to Abia. So, if you make a mistake, you will be a failed state,” Otti said, adding “that is why people like us have stamped our feet to say, enough is enough.”
The financial guru said he was contesting for Abia governorship to put the state on the path of sustainable growth and development, using his wealth of experience, vowing not to embezzle or misapply the state’s resources.
“If it is making money, I can do 101 things to get cool money. I will not touch Abia money. I have no business with Abia money. The only business I have with Abia money is that I will use it to develop the state,”
He thanked the Abia Professionals for endorsing him as their sole candidate for the Abia 2023 governorship election and enjoined them to work for his success, come March 11, so that he could forge a partnership with the group to salvage the state.
Secretary-General of Abia Professionals which organised the forum christened “Abia Professionals Hosts an Evening with Dr. Alex Otti,” a largely interactive event, Nkem Egbuta, assured the LP governorship hopeful that his group would identify with him because Abia needs a man of character and competence to draw her out of the woods.
Egbuta lamented that Abia was the most backward state in Southern Nigeria, adding that all indices of development with regard to Abia point to the direction of a failed state.
“Considering where we are in Abia, Abia State is the most backward state in entire Southern Nigeria that is the reality. So, this is not the time to play party politics.
“Abia state has decayed, dilapidated infrastructure; lecturers are not paid; Abia State Polytechnic, they owe them for over 30 months, doctors are on strike, a situation we don’t have in other states.
“If you look at those indices, you will know that all is not well, Abia State is at the lowest rung of the ladder. The unemployment we have in Abia State is the highest, more than the national average.
“Our situation is critical and that is why Abia Professionals, we have organized this platform but the one who we feel possesses all the qualities we need to rescue this state should come and interact with the professionals and tell us what his plans are for the state and then we ask him questions in a convivial atmosphere.
“So, this is the time that we feel every Abian should be pulled together in the same direction so that we can rescue this state,” Egbuta said.
Explaining why the group of diverse intellectuals and of different political inclinations has endorsed Otti, the leader of Abia Professionals said: “What we have simply done was to look at the candidates, x-ray their history, their pedigree, their job history, where have they worked; their capacity what impacts have they made on the society and that is how we came by the choice of Dr. Alex Otti.
“You have to look at his integrity, you have to look at his character because any person can produce manifesto. The most important thing is who gets the job done, the person who does what he says he will do and it is very critical in leadership.”
Chairman of the occasion Dr. Eme Okoro, advised the group to organize the forum for all the governorship candidates to enable Abians to reject those without competence which professionalism confers.