By Godswill Okiyi
Without any intrigue or manipulations, which has always been the bane of Nigeria politics, conventional wisdom suggests that Alex Otti, the gubernatorial candidate of All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, in Abia State will emerge victorious in April 11, 2015 Gubernatorial Elections taking place in Nigeria. This does not go to say that the other parties shall not do their optimum best to wrest victory to their side. However, the emergence and subsequent proactive campaigns of the former, and the wide acceptance he has got from all and sundry in the state suggests that he will emerge the victor by popular vote, and the resilient Will of the common Abian in the state. This further becomes clearer if the overwhelming victory of General Muhammadu Buhari of APC as the President Elect of Nigeria is taken into cognizance.
The sheer will of Nigerians and their resolute determination did not allow for brazen manipulation which had become the hallmark of Nigerian politics thereby subverting the will of the people at a whim. This observation will further strengthen the resolve of Abians to push away the successive imposition of incapable and incompetent candidates at will by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, which has so impoverished and subjected Abians to abject shame and loss of dignity through the form of governance they had horrendously endured in the past sixteen years of the party’s misrule in the state.
It has also been suggested in some quarters that the anointing of Dr. Ikpeazu, an Ngwa man by the underperforming and rudderless outgoing governor, Theodore Orji will push the government back to the PDP but from the body language of Abians, especially those resident in Aba says otherwise. It is obvious that Alex Otti ironically received most acceptances from people of Abia South Senatorial zone from which the next governor is expected to come from. The Ngwa person is insistent that Alex Otti, though he belongs to another political party, and is not from the zone should be elected governor, especially with the visionary leadership he has shown and promised, and not so much for the ineptitude displayed by Theodore Orji’s godson, Ikpeazu, when he oversaw The Aba Environmental Agency, and ended up making the commercial centre piece of the Igbo more decrepit and an environmental disaster which it has not recovered from yet. Not the least, the showings of the waning and fading Theodore Orji’s influence became quite apparent in his failings in his quest for a senatorial seat in the state, which has generated a lot of controversy and will naturally end up at the Elections Tribunal.
Now, the gubernatorial elections will take place in less than a week, and there is a resoluteness for the people’s will to stand in Abia State. Obviously, it shall no longer be business as usual in the voting activities which shall take place in the state, and as it stands, Alex Otti’s APGA is most popular and acceptable in the three senatorial zones of the state, and it is the expectation that he will be voted in to be the next governor of the state.
The expectations of Abians are numerous and naturally so. This being that since the inception of democratic experience in Nigeria in 1999, the freewill of the people has not been expressed and they have cowered in fear and hopelessness, as a result of the absolute form of rulership of the maximum governors they have been bestowed with. More often than not these rulers take over the control of the House of Assembly and local government councils. By these means they subvert the peoples’ will as much as they want, and settle only their cronies and their well fitted security networks that serve almost as their personal armies like that seen in some Banana republics in Central and South America. Naturally again, various social structures suffer lack including schools, roads, health and so on. Many projects are abandoned, and the media carry out propaganda of such magnitude that Groebbels of the German Reich in 1940s would have been ashamed of.
The Governor in waiting, Alex Otti will be expected to restructure the way governance has been carried out in the state, and the people should feel and be a part of governance without being held captive against their will by the government. Thus, there should be a liberalization of political structures and organs of government to accommodate all and sundry, irrespective of their political alliances or affiliation. A healthy and competitive political environment will give rise to the best solutions being proffered and used by the government in power. The people should be made to feel proud of Abia State, themselves and Nigeria as a whole. There should be a proper integration of the Abians into the main stream of national life in every sphere, including education, health, social welfare, agriculture and politics. Abians should no longer be hindered by the politics of a few for a few and by a few, rather there should be efforts made to integrate the Nigerian symbol into governance and also to consciously sell Abia to Nigeria, nay, the whole world, as the uniqueness of the state is second to none. An area which has not been properly managed and which is a great avenue for foreign exchange is tourism and hospitality which has not been tapped into by any of the previous governments.
Further, it is expected that attention be given to rural development, besides urban renewal which begs any visionary government to look at them. The only developments carried out were done by De Sam Mbakwe the late Governor ofold Imo state which comprise of Imo, Abia and parts of Ebonyi states, more than 30 years ago, and the need for rebuilding and restructuring of these and introduction of new ones cannot be overemphasized. Rural road networks are required, as such will increase economic growth in the state, and there should be a comprehensive civil service and local government reforms to ensure efficiency and effectiveness in these areas.
The state again needs to be properly marketed to interested overseas companies, and Nigerian multinationals for investment, to generate revenue (through taxation) and employment for the teeming youths, while education, which differentiated Abians from others in time past should be reinvigorated for the sake of heritage and to enhance growth in the state.
Thank God that the governor in waiting has mentioned the establishment of a Ministry of Aba Affairs. Such an attention is long overdue, as a result of the loss the state has suffered by not doing the needful. However, this writer would have advised for the establishment of an Aba Urban Renewal Agency whose sole purpose will be bringing the town back to its commercial zenith to enable it compete favourably with the likes of Onitsha, Lagos, Kano and other commercial centres which are breadwinners for their states.
Finally, the need for vision and a political will to execute the various agenda which must have been put up by Alex Otti needs to added, and also the need to be wary of wolves in sheep skin that may want to derail such vision. May God lift up Abia to where she should be. Amen.
*Okiyi, a lecturer lives in Owerri, Imo state.