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Celebrating Otti’s anniversary

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How time flies!

It is one year of the Labour Party in Abia State. Governor Alex Otti has shown himself approved as a workman that needs not be ashamed. He has, with every zeal and energy, taken the tide at the flood and it is today clear where the Abia journey is headed. If you take the tide at the flood, as Shakespeare reasoned over 500 years ago, the journey “leads to fortune”. But, omitted, “all the voyage is bound in shallows and in misery”.

The celebration of Otti in power is the celebration of new roads, new infrastructure and new monuments. The governor is stepping out with an amazing scorecard of performance. But, beyond infrastructure, it is the celebration of change and a new outlook to things.

Many may not have noticed this! One remarkable footprint of Otti’s one-year stride is the building of bridges of unity across many divides. The old dichotomies are gradually going into extinction, the main one being the Old Bende and Old Aba divisions. These two groups presented a consistent pattern of struggle over the years. There were other intra-clannish and intra-group bickering that shaped the tempo of politics in the state. There was the Ibeku versus Ohuhu superiority contest. There was the Igbere hegemony over the rest of Bende. There was the Ukwa suspicion of dominance by the Ngwa. There was the Isuikwuato parade of Generals and their claim of ‘It’s our turn’. Among the markets and motor park associations, there were struggles of control with non-indigene sentiments flying in the air. Abia State was torn by individual group interest and acts of self-determinism.

Otti has intentionally buried these sectional struggles that once decimated the state and built a state of oneness and unity. While we celebrate the physical infrastructure of construction of roads, street lights, security and rebuilding of public structures, we must also appreciate the aspect of social re-engineering and pyscho-political re-orientation. We must recognise the rebuilding of the state into a nation state. This is indeed a historical progression, change and growth in action.

The governor has also rebranded Abia State. When the public sing the song, ‘Otti is Doing Well’, their mental conjecture is not only about the roads and the monuments but essentially about the new equity of trust, confidence, satisfaction, hope and relationship which he has regained for the state. This is what I call nation branding. Otti has, perhaps inadvertently, rebuilt the public image and perception of the state. There is a new story about the state and outsiders can see a silver lining in the skyline. There is a renewed emotional connection and Abia is no more being displayed as an exhibit of backwardness but a place of reviving hope. The governor has peddled confidence and trust about Abia by his overhauling processes and his emergency interventionist strategies. Thus, I consider his success in nation branding and rebranding as one of his key achievements in his one year stride.

There has also been a conscious effort at political re-engineering. Otti has caused a total political upheaval that has led to the abolition of old practices, the abolition of old political culture and the fostering of a new political climate. It is no more business as usual. There is a new outlook.

Otti has caused a paradigm shift, installing new processes and procedures. There have been reform and transformation in all facets of the political institution. Chief Charles Nwangwa, an Aba based politician and industrialist, outlined these reforms: “Political appointments are no more compensation or settlements for helping to rig elections. The local government headship is more the reserved seats for chief thugs and capones. Tax farming and touting are now put to a stop. There is ease of doing business. Today when you mention Abia State outside Abia, you do not get derogatory remarks”, he stated.

For Otti, it has been one year of a sort of rebirth: creating a new template, installing new processes and procedures, overhauling and building new administrative structures. This early phase has been characterized by a conscious effort to restore order, due process, time accountability and prudent management of resources of state. It has, also, essentially, been a period of social transformation and driving of attitudinal change within the body polity. He came to the fray with the persuasion of a medal general leading a Special Force on a rescue mission. He has to break norms and disrupt the status quo and approach governance from outside of the box to achieve his meditated intentions and goals.

Thus, the period of the one year would be classified with the three Ds- a period of disruption, dislodgement and displacement. There was a groundswell of opinion that Abia required an emergency intervention. After many trials and then triumph, Otti, undoubtedly, had long drawn a roadmap and a blueprint. Historians must identify this mind frame in interpreting the Governor’s inner drives and outer resentments that found expression in his approach to governance in the early historical age. In order to restore order, he radically moved from the era of even spread, ethnic or regional balance to a new era that emphasized meritocracy and competition. He de-emphasised sectional balance and elevated merit, capacity and ability. He placed premium on professionalism, driving with a private sector steering.

Indeed, it has been an experience close to a revolution. Old things have passed away. Revolution is not just about taking up arms and overthrowing an existing political system, revolution is also about taking drastic steps that expand the frontiers of our human existence. Otti’s resetting effort is fast yielding results and a new Abia is here!

Adindu is a media/PR consultant

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