As the inauguration ceremony of Abia’s 4th democratically elected governor, ticks away, after taking the oath of office as the newly sworn in governor of the State, governor Alex Chioma Otti, raised the hope and expectations of Abians as he assured citizens and residents of Abia that they will be freed from bondage under his watch as the governor of Abia State.
Governor Otti in Umuahia on Monday, gave the assurance during his inaugural speech titled: “A Time To Rebuild”.
Governor Otti and his Deputy Governor, Engr Ikechukwu Emetu, won the Abia State gubernatorial election under the platform of Labour Party (LP) in the election conducted on March 18, 2023.
On March 22, 2023, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) returning officer, Professor Nenna Oti, announced that Governor Otti, polled a total of 172,386 votes to defeat his closest rival and candidate of the PDP, Mr Okey Ahiwe, who garnered a total of 88,174 votes to come a distant second.
In the colourful inauguration event held at the Umuahia township stadium, had a large turnout of residents, party faithful, supporters and guests, amid tight security.
Notable guest at the ceremony were; Former Central Bank Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Former minister for transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Ameachi, Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed, Vice presidential candidate of Labour Party, Former Abia State governor, Senator Theodore Orji, Bright Okpocha, otherwise known as Basket Mouth, amongst Others.
In governor Otti’s Inaugural speech which spans through education, health, commerce, infrastructure, security, ICT, agriculture, sports, small-scale manufacturing, fashion, leatherworks etc, received the governor’s insight to critical issues bedeviling the state.
The governor described Abians freedom as his “major responsibility, and will ensure they continue to breathe freely, and go about their daily pursuit of good quality life” and bring them out from darkness.
In his own words: “It will be my duty to bring them out of pitch darkness into the bright sunlight that they deserve. It will be my duty to show them that there is more to life than the poverty, hunger, ignorance, disease, insecurity, and pot holes that, all these years, have become their daily realities. It will be my duty to continue to remind them that they are the offspring of those who once created the fastest growing economy in the world”.
While addressing the failing standard of the education sector in the state, governor Otti announced that within the next few days, his administration shall commence the payment of May 2023 salary and pension to all civil servants and retirees in the State, also stating that “there shall be no more distinction between the so-called “core” and “non-core” civil servants
which he described as “disingenuous expression that was used to hide the wicked habit of owing salaries”.
In emphasizing the payment of workers salaries and pension, governor Otti said: “Whether you are a teacher in a primary or secondary institution owned by the State, a staff of the public health establishments, local government, or work in the judiciary, you shall, beginning from this May, earn your legitimate entitlements as and when due. From June 2023, all salary and pension obligations of the State would be settled by the 28th of every month.”
Governor Otti also revealed that he will ensure that he will work closely with his team and relevant stakeholders to design an appropriate framework that will be used to drive the recruitment of about 5,000 new teachers for primary and secondary schools while also stating that “Priority shall be given to young graduates with requisite qualifications in education, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subject areas and to those who are also willing to serve in rural communities”.
In addressing the poor sanitation condition of the state directly attributed to lack of evacuation of refuse in the vicinity of the cities by the state’s environmental management agency (ASEPA), Governor Otti immediately declared a state of emergency on refuse disposal and waste management in Aba and Umuahia.
“I am hereby directing the leadership of ASEPA to roll out everything at its disposal and see that all refuse heaps within these two cities are promptly evacuated.
“In due course, we shall announce an enduring model to address the challenges of the environment and the future of ASEPA. Meanwhile, a member of my team would soon be announced to supervise this effort.” Governor Otti said.
In revamping the commercial sector and to tackle unemployment rate in the state and activate the economic potentials in Aba, the commercial hub of Abia state, governor Otti said he intend to work tirelessly to restore the glory Enyimba City as plans are on the way to announce the setting up of the most suitable administrative and investment vehicles to drive the social and economic rejuvenation of Aba.
Governor Otti added that a minimum of 20,000 Micro, Small and Medium scale Enterprises (MSMEs) will be his target which will bring an end to the known sorry situation.
“That sorry situation is about to change as our government shall, within the next one month, launch a N10 billion Micro, Small and Medium scale Enterprises (MSME) financing scheme, which will comprise conditional business grants and low interest loans to support relevant enterprises”. Governor Otti said.
He also added that “the detailed modalities for accessing these funds shall be made public soon as it will generate at least 100,000 direct jobs and another 200,000 indirect employment in the State”.
Also to address the health sector which has also suffered setbacks from the immediate past government of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), governor Otti assured to tackle the problem of poor welfare package of health workers by creating a system of incentives that rewards them generously for their sacrifices and commitments to saving and nurturing lives.
On the health facilities in the medical institutions, governor Otti furthermore assured that his team will begin immediately to address the challenge of poor facilities in the state’s health institutions through steady investment in the acquisition of modern medical equipment, appropriate funding, and a robust system of partnership with well-meaning development partners.
Governor Otti assured that his administration will prioritise civil service reforms for efficiency and professionalism as well as ensuring transparency, accountability, and public trust.
“We will run a responsible and honest government and lead by example. We will not tolerate any form of corruption or stealing of public property. Gratification and kickbacks are totally forbidden in this government”. Governor Otti said.
Governor Otti also warned that special recognition and award honours will not be accepted by him while in office.
“Let me state that for me, awards, honours and recognitions are not welcome until I leave office. Put diffently, any awards, titles, recognitions or the like that I did not receive before now should wait until we leave office”. Governor Otti warmed.
Governor Otti also thanked the staff of INEC who stood firm to their conviction during the elections, to make Abia votes count.
“We must not take for granted the sacrifice that these INEC staff made for us to be here today.
“These INEC officials were willing to pay even the supreme price, to ensure that the will of the people prevailed. Their remarkable show of courage and conviction should serve as a constant reminder that Freedom is a thorny crown, which one must wear with extreme alertness and lots of sacrifice. Governor Otti said.