My fellow Abians, it gives me great pleasure this evening to address you, following the final announcement of the results of the gubernatorial elections conducted across the state last Saturday, March 18, 2023. With deep humility and a profound sense of responsibility, I wholeheartedly accept your mandate to be your chief servant for the next 4 years.
Before I go on, I must first dedicate this victory to God the Father Almighty, who makes everything beautiful in His own time. I also dedicate it to the millions of Abia citizens who have been the unfortunate victims of bad governance these past decades. As I acknowledge this victory, I am fully conscious of the huge expectations of millions of the good people of Abia, who have been denied the dividends of democracy and good governance for such a long time. I want to sincerely thank every Abian and non-indigene alike who participated in this election. As you are all aware, this was my third attempt at contesting for this office, in my quest to implement my long-held vision of rebuilding Abia state as truly God’s own state. This third attempt, it pleased God to give us victory. In the words of one Labour Party stalwart, ‘The Siege Is Over’! With our votes and the collective will of the people, we have “broken the gates of hell and cast its bars of iron asunder”. As recorded in the holy book, the kingdom of hell shall not prevail against us.
I would like to quickly compliment my colleagues in the just-concluded elections, Chief Sir Okechukwu Ahiwe, Engr Enyinnaya Nwafor, High Chief Ikechi Emenike, Prof Gregory Ibe, and a host of other equally qualified governorship candidates. It has been a hard-fought contest and each of you gave his or her best in the quest to serve our beloved State. There is no doubt that all of us have very robust ideas as to how to move our dear State forward. I want to assure you that your ideas and dreams that are consistent with building a virile Abia state shall come to fruition under my watch. I, therefore, invite all of you to join hands with our administration in order to serve Abians who have been victims of several years of maladministration and state capture. I have no doubt that you will be available to use the same energy and intellect, to help rebuild our state and develop our people. Of particular mention are the Candidates that have publicly conceded defeat and congratulated us, even when the battle of Obingwa fictitious votes was still raging. These include Prof. Greg Ibe, Bishop Sunday Onuoha, Bishop Emeka Nwankpa, Chief Bond Ohuche, and Chief Chibuike Jonas, amongst others. It is well with all of you.
I want to thank the young and energetic Deputy Governor-elect, Engr Ikechukwu Emetu who is going to be carrying the burden of governance with me. I also want to thank my Campaign team led by Hon. Acho Obioma and various support and volunteer groups who worked tirelessly to make today possible. You are simply the best hands any candidate can find! Your creative ideas and dedication to our common goal were unprecedented.
I must not fail to thank the leadership and members of the Labour Party, who worked very hard to ensure that this day would come. I thank all those who worked with me through moments of despair and hope, through tears, sweat and blood, through betrayals, denials and dangers untold. It is said that the harder the struggle, the sweeter the victory. Please savour the sweetness of your hard work and firm belief.
I must give special thanks to my best friend, my confidant, my number one fan, my heartbeat, the wife of my youth, the mother of my children, and the First Lady in waiting, of Abia state, Lady Priscilla Chidinma Otti (Onugu Abia). I must thank her for living up to the challenges of being the wife of someone committed to these ideals, with equanimity and elegance. Unfortunately, the work has only just begun but now you must support me, just like you have done in the past 30 years of our marriage, to work for the people of Abia. Special thanks to our children, Dr Ezinwa, Engnr Alex Jr and Chinweotuto for being there and supporting Daddy without reservation.
I must pause and remember some of those who have left us in the course of this journey. Although they are no longer here with us, I am sure that where ever they are now, they will be smiling with satisfaction that finally, we have triumphed over the forces that have held the State captive for so long. Some of the more notable ones among them are Prince Otisi Kalu, Abbott, and Pastor Nnanna Ngwu, who both served as Chairmen for this campaign at different times. I must also remember my friend from Anambra State, Mr Eze Alomefuna, Rico, who worked tirelessly to help end the dynasty of incompetence in Abia state. Also to be remembered are Prince Dike O. Dike and Dr Mike Nwachukwu who lost their lives during the period of this struggle. Worthy of mention is the less-than-two-year-old little Adanna who tragically lost her life in 2015, when in the frenzy and excitement of our electoral victory, her father, Mr Pius Oha accidentally ran over her in a car. In spite of the exigency of time, please join me in observing a minute’s silence in honour of these fallen heroes.
Indeed, I see this victory as a call to service. Even as I come out of a bruising and long-drawn-out campaign, I know that this is just the beginning of the journey. There is a lot of work to be done and we must get all hands on deck to ensure that we take back our state and bring the much-sought-after dividends of democracy.
You voted us to serve you and not to be served. You voted us to alleviate your sufferings and not to compound and multiply them. This is a service that comes with an unusually high sense of devotion and commitment given our checkered history as a people. During my electioneering campaign, I traversed all nooks and crannies of Abia state, and that enabled me to have a first-hand assessment of the needs and expectations of Abians. These are the basic things expected by the people for a responsible government to provide in order to unleash the potential inherent in the typically hardworking Abians. Based on my findings and those of my team members, it dawned on us that an immediate hands-on approach is required to hit the ground running and to ensure that we alleviate the sufferings of all Abians, I promised you that I will serve you as the Governor of all Abians and all citizens living in Abia, irrespective of the clan, religious persuasion or political leaning. I see my mandate as cutting across all strata of our people and I once more promise to use the resources accruing to all Abians for the benefit of all Abians and the residents. I will like to assure us that we hold no bitterness against anyone and will not go on any revenge mission against anyone. If in the process of getting here, we have wronged anyone, kindly find a space in your heart to forgive. We have equally forgiven anyone that wronged us. This will be a government that would unite everyone in this state as we are all brothers and sisters.
I want to salute the industry and resourcefulness of all Abians, the religious and traditional institutions, the civil servants, the working class, the pensioners, the Business community, the physically challenged members of our society and indeed everyone that wishes Abia well. There shall be no discrimination whatsoever in the amenities that each person is able to access in our government. I made a firm promise to all civil servants and pensioners owed salaries, pensions and emoluments that an immediate payment plan would be put in place to ensure that this gets the priority it deserves.
I am very much aware of and prepared to deal with the issues of infrastructural decay which have continued to militate against our growth and development as a state. This will be tackled head-on. There is no doubt that given the deplorable state of our infrastructure, roads, schools and health systems, Abians are deservedly impatient to have these issues addressed as quickly as possible. I assure you that these areas will receive the priority attention of our government.
Nevertheless, I caution that we all will need to put in our best and row together in one direction. There is no magic wand that can fix all the rot and decay noticed in virtually all segments of the system in the past years. For us to have sustainable development, it would require a very painstaking and elaborate layout of master plans to enable us to tackle the menace of flooding and re-engineer our cities especially Aba, Umuahia and other cities that would be developed in order to support our urban renewal projects. We, therefore, plead for patience and understanding as we first tackle the immediate challenges and work on the major ones. The approach of our government will revolve around crafting policies that will enable our government to tap the creative energies of every Abian. We remain resolute in our drive to eliminate poverty and create sustainable wealth for our people.
Once again, thank you for electing me and my Deputy to serve you for the next 4 years. We trust God for His enablement to offer our services to Abians in such a way that we would not disappoint you. We shall implement our manifesto which is a revered pact between our administration and the good people of Abia state.
My dearly beloved Abians, as I conclude this address, I want to reassure you that we are going to run an open, transparent and accountable government devoid of waste and profligacy. Our doors will remain wide open and our channels of communication will remain unfettered so that your worthy contributions and suggestions will be a guiding light as we together navigate the thorny paths of rebuilding the state and transforming same for the benefit of all. We deeply cherish you all and will do our best to ensure that the trust reposed in us is not in vain. Thank you all and God bless Abia State! God bless Nigeria!!
Dr. Alex Chioma Otti OFR, Governor-Elect, Abia State, Umuahia, 22nd March 2023
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