Labour Party (LP) governorship candidate in Abia State, Dr. Alex Otti, continues to raise the bar on issues-based campaign as the nation gallops toward the 2023 general elections.
Speaking Thursday as a special guest at the unveiling of a publication, ‘The Unified Agenda of Peter Obi, Alex Otti and all Labour Party Candidates in Abia State’, in Aba, Otti opened up on a whole lot of developmental plans he has for Abia State and its residents.
The event which doubled as a town hall meeting was organised by the New Nigeria Movement (NNM), Abia State Chapter, an organisation working to enthrone a new and progressive kind of leadership in Nigeria and Abia. The group is led by Sir Nwaobilor Ananaba, a FIFA-licensed football agent.
Otti, who is leading, by credible public opinion polls, the pack of the gubernatorial candidates for the 2023 election in Abia, spoke about how he will tap into the opportunities in sports, entertainment and markets to create wealth and employments for the people of Abia State.
“Thank God that I’m still very strong, able and willing to run this race. I thank the footballers who have endorsed me. It’s as if they have read my manifesto. I have a robust programme for sports in Abia. I have documented in my manifesto that the Nsulu Games Village will be redeveloped and it is not just going to be a games village, we will have hotels, markets, schools, hospitals in the place and just by it, we are also going to develop an entertainment village.
“A few of you may not remember that Nollywood started from Aba, Pound Road. Today, I understand that it is about a $64 billion business, centred between Asaba and Lagos. We are going to bring that business back to Abia because we are going to build the village.
“I will redevelop the markets and make them modern. It is government money that we will use to do that and when you do it, you can earn revenue. Today, our internally generated revenue is about N15 billion per annum. There is another state that generates N550 billion per annum, so when federal allocation disappears, states like this one will not develop high blood pressure,” he declared.
The top banker and renown economist said that the government he would lead, come 2023, will be one that is responsible; a government that will engage Abia people in regular conversation through town hall meetings.
“We have made promises. We have said that we will industrialise Aba and Abia State. We have said that we will pay off salaries and pensions within the first six months of our administration, I’m talking of the arrears. We have said we will renegotiate the close to N190 billion debt. Statistics said it is about N140 billion but then I’m told that there is another N50 billion that has just been discovered, that means that everyone of us in the state is owing N190 billion, may be some more may be discovered. From time to time, we will present ourselves and say, please ask us questions,” Otti said.
According to him, as at the time the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) led administration of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu was coming in, May 29, 2015, keen observers were screaming that the state’s debt profile was too high. Then it was at N34.5 billion, today it’s close to N190 billion.
“We must pay it and that is why it has become imperative that if you are thinking of those who will administer this country and particularly this state in 2023, you have to think well,” he admonished.
Sounding a note of caution, Otti said: “If you have been paying attention, you will know that from January to July this year, NNPC paid nothing to the federation account. Meanwhile, NNPC accounts for close to 90% of federal allocation. So, they paid nothing. So, all the money shared in Abuja is either printed or borrowed. That cannot continue.
“2023 promises to be a very difficult year, when there will be no money to share. So, if you do not have idea or ideas about how to create wealth then you cannot run the administration. If we continue the way we are going, Abia State will be a failed state, because it’s so indebted. Thirty-one percent of our people are living below the poverty line of $1.90 per day; 51% of our people are unemployed. So, there is nothing to write home about.
“If you make the mistake of continuing, of course Albert Einstein said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result and he goes further to say, that you cannot solve a problem using the same mindset that you used in creating that problem. So, I’m saying that it is time to change the entire leadership of the state.
“I’m discussing leadership in terms of competence. If you have anybody who is more competent, bring him let us debate. Let him tell us what he would do differently. If he convinces me that he is better than me, I will step down and support him.”