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Otti’s early days of historical age (II)

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In the years to come, Governor Alex Otti’s 10 months scorecard shall be classified as the early days of a historical age. Every historical age has its peculiar identity, social forces and the values that shaped the movement. The early days of Otti in power have been a period of emergency intervention, consolidation of change and creating a new political template. It has also been a period of infrastructural revolution.

The renaissance was an age of rebirth of learning and revival in creativity after a long night of the dark ages. The industrial age was an age when machines overthrew human labour, creating mass production and a shift from agrarian economy to a manufacturing economy. This was followed by  migration from rural areas to urban areas resulting in urban pressure. The First Republic in Nigeria was the post-independence era of indigenous government and the consolidation of the anti-colonial struggle after the ousting of the colonial masters. The Fourth Republic has been a period of the re-invention of a nascent democracy. It is still unfolding.

For Otti, it has been ten months 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 characterised 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 infrastructural revolution, social transformation and driving of attitudinal change within the body polity. Otti 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, his early historical age 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-emphasized sectional balance and elevated merit, capacity and ability.  He placed premium on professionalism, driving with a private sector steering.

This manifested in the processes leading to the emergence of the twenty-three permanent secretaries. They passed through a written test which they wrote anonymously with a code. They underwent a career screening exercise, oral interview and final personal cross examination by the Governor. The best emerged victorious and even someone from Edo State made the coveted list.  There is also clear emergency intervention in the composition of the Transition Committee Chairmen/Mayors. They are not your usual run-in-the-mill politicians. They come with disarming credentials which speak of a deliberate paradigm shift.  The collage of men radiates with a new symbol and identity and communicates an “extraordinary measure” to break the norm in order to restore order. They are supposedly  mobilized for a revolution, to break barriers and expand new frontiers.

Otti’s early historical age has witnessed massive overhauling of the civil service establishment which  led to biometrics verification and recertification. The result of which  exposed an entrenched system of fraud with ghost workers and shady practices. This sanitizing process has helped the government to deal with  authentic workers. There has also been an emergency action in the educational sector, with school properties being recovered and the entire educational system undergoing an overhauling process. The emergency intervention  in the health sector has led to the  rehabilitation of three major secondary health facilities in the three zones of the state.  The governor quickly resolved  the protracted industrial dispute among doctors and launched a  free medical services across selected general hospitals in the state. This covers free medical checks and examination

In examining the early months of Otti in power, historians and biographers must take particular interest in the deliberate action on political re-engineering – changing of an entrenched political culture in Abia.  Politics and governance were taken away from  the hands of  the traditional stakeholders to  technocrats. Power was taken away from institutionalized brokers to the philosopher kings.   By  assembling  a crop of accomplished Abia professionals in different fields of human endeavor  to drive the new change, the governor created a new face in the Abia leadership and a new hall of fame. In this new face,  women in politics are no more vulnerable to the juggernauts. Thirty five percent quota  for women is almost  met in the spread  of appointments. The traditional institution was also   recertified and  traditional rulers captured  on the biometrics  for easy processes.

Otti has carved a noticeable identity in his early days in power, the reputation of a change maker. His infrastructural revolution has provoked universal applause and acceptance. From labourers  receiving their deserved wages to security of life and property; from street lights to good roads and more, it has been a lullaby of jubilation.  The song, Otti is doing well, is in the air. Yet, this  early phase could be described as the days of courtship before marriage. Otti now needs to marry the woman, Abia. Every married man will understand this parable!

Adindu, a media/PR consultant, writes from Umuahia

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