July 14, 2024

Wawa News Global (WNG)

Your most dependable platform for the latest breaking news in Nigeria

Abia state: One year under Gov Alex Otti

Gov. Alex Otti

Spread the love

 

Abia state: One year under Gov Alex Otti

 

 

Steve Oko

After assuming office as the Governor of Abia State on May 29, 2023, Dr Alex Otti  has made some remarkable imprints in many sectors of the Abia economy.

Abia State which hitherto crawled behind others in many sectors particularly infrastructure, appears to be taking the lead now.

There is massive road infrastructural development across the state especially in Aba and Umuahia metropolis where many of the roads had nearly collapsed and remained in deplorable condition for decades.

Otti who came to power on the platform of the Labour Party had during his campaigns, promised to change the old order and do things differently if given the opportunity.

The lackluster performance of his predecessor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu-led Peoples Democratic Party administration, worked in Otti’s favour as Abia voters gave him their overwhelming support at the poll.

Some of his bold steps so far are testaments that his emergence was not a mistake as he is bent on fulfilling his campaign promises.

For the first time since the history of Abia State, Otti’s administration, arguably appears to be the only one that has enjoyed the sincere support of even the opposition.

His approach to governance is gradually restoring public confidence and hope on public office holders.

Infrastructure:

One of the sectors where the Otti-led administration has made incontrovertible mark is in infrastructural development as he has literally turned Abia into a construction site in the past 12 months.

A number of key projects have been awarded with some of them already delivered and inaugurated.

Commissioner for Information, Prince Okey Kanu, in a recent press briefing, disclosed that the Otti-led administration, had so far, delivered 79 roads across the state

One of the landmark achievements of Gov. Otti which has endeared him to many hearts was his decision to expand the Ossah road which is the major gateway to Umuahia the state capital into a six-lane road.

The project which began in November 2023 amidst resistance and public outcry by owners of property on the right of way is awaiting inauguration , with full compensations paid to the property owners even before the demolition commenced.

Similarly, his courage to award the strategic but long-abandoned Port Harcourt Road Aba to grade A construction firm, Julius Begger, further endeared him to many hearts.

The immediate past administration after demolishing a lot of property even those far from the road without any compensations abandoned the road.

This led to the exodus of many businesses and residents including schools around the area as it became inaccessible.

Apart from many other internal and strategic roads so far renovated and inaugurated in Aba and Umuahia by the Otti-led administration, the Governor has also extended his road rehabilitation drive to other key towns in the state.

He recently broke a jinx when he awarded contract for the total rehabilitation of Abam-Ndi Oji- Arochukwu road which is the shortest route to Arochukwu from the state capital.

This critical road which crisscrosses the various agrarian Abam communities down to Arochukwu has been abandoned for decades by previous administrations, thus forcing commuters to access Arochukwu through Akwa Ibom as the Ohafia route to the ancient kingdom had since collapsed.

Recently, he awarded contract for the rehabilitation of Umuahia -Uzuakoli -Akara -Abiriba -Ohafia 40-killometer road to three different construction firms for early discovery, and work is progressing on the road.

This has made movement to and fro Umuahia to Abia North senatorial district less stressful.

The Governor also mounted pressure on the Federal Government to speed up the long-abandoned Aba -Port Harcourt Expressway which had literally become impassable before he came on board.

Today one lane of the dual-carriage way is motorable from Aba down to Port Harcourt, and traffic has since resumed on the highway hitherto avoided by motorists who rather preferred Elele -Imo route.

Otti’s zero -pothole policy has resulted in fast disappearance of ‘gullies’ on Abia roads especially within the metropolis of Aba and Umuahia.

READ ALSO:  US group wants Buhari investigated over alleged receipt of funds from Lybia

Motorists in both cities now enjoy better and less stressful rides unlike before when potholes were rather the trademark that reminded interstate commuters that they had crossed into Abia territory.

Apart from roads, Gov Otti has also embarked on building infrastructure, renovation and completion of some abandoned public buildings.

One of his signature building projects is the completion of Joint Accounts Allocation Committee JAAC building, which was initiated by the administration of Sen. Theodore Orji.

After Orji had left office, his successor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, could not deliver the project all through his eight years in office.

But just within his first 12 months in office, Gov. Otti has completed the edifice which towers as the most aesthetic and tallest building in Umuahia the state capital with functional lift and efficient power installation.

Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Prince Uzor Nwachukwu, in a recent media chat, said Otti had injected over N1.2 billion into the project through JAAC.

The road leading to the complex from the International Conference Centre, is also being dualised and asphalted.

Health care:

Another area Otti’s administration has posted some remarkable achievements is the health sector which has witnessed an impressive transformation.

In one year, the hitherto comatose Abia State University Teaching Hospital, ABSUTH where the only functional unit was the morgue, has been holistically retrofitted.

The heavy investment of the Otti-led Government in reviving the hospital made it regain its lost Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, MDCN, accreditation.

In addition, the teaching hospitals was given approval to resume its housemanship programme which was halted over four years ago due to incessant strike actions occasioned by non payment of staff salaries.

Worthy of note in Gov. Otti’s exploits in the health sector, is the fact that for the first time in the history of Abia State, the 15% budgetary threshold was met as 15% of Abia’s N556 billion 2024 budget was allocated to the health sector.

Besides ABSUTH, two other tertiary health institutions in the state – Abia State Diagnostic Centre Umuahia and Amachara Specialist Hospital were also retrofitted within the period under review.

Earlier in May, barely one month after his appointment, the new Chief Medical Director of the Abia Diagnostic Centre, Dr Chimezie Okwuonu, announced that the dialysis centre of the hospital which was not functional for over four years, had been restored.

The eye care centre at the hospital also retrofitted by the Otti’s administration, arguably has some of the best eye care equipment in South East.

Renovation of Cottage Hospital Aba, Okpuala Ngwa General Hospital in Isialangwa North Council area, as well as Umunneato General Hospital, Bende, are in progress.

He has equally promised to revive all health centres across the state to attend to the health needs of the people.

Sequel to the Otti-led administration’s commendable strides in the all-important health sector, the Association of Nigeria Physicians in the Americas, ANPA, conducted a 10-day medical outreach in Abia in the month of April.

The mission, according to ANPA President Dr Chinyere Anyogu, was to complement the Governor’s efforts to improve the health sector.

Over 8000 patients registered for the medical outreach which was the first of its kind by ANPA since the history of Abia State.

The State Government collaborated with ANPA for the success of the mission where over 60 medical experts from the Americas participated in.

Education:

Otti’s administration is also making some remarkable efforts to uplift the standard of education in the state.

Its recent decision to commence phase by phase upgrading and renovation of both primary and secondary schools across the state has been highly applauded.

Ten primary and three secondary schools from each of the 17 Local Government Areas in the state are to benefit from this policy.

READ ALSO:  Nigeria: A nation in reverse separatism -Crowe

Commissioner for Education, Professor Uche Eme Uche, while shedding light on the policy, said each of the benefiting schools would have staff quarters, Head teacher’ house, and a Caretaker house to ensure a water-tight security of the school property.

Workers’ welfare:

Another major achievement of Otti’s administration in the past 12 months was the decision to clear the backlog of pension arrears.

Besides defraying the accumulated arrears based on the negotiated agreement with the leadership of pensioners, Otti has also ordered that pensioners be not only paid their full pension but on the 28th of every month along with workers.

Ever since this happened, pensioners have been revived, hence their recent solidarity march round major streets in Umuahia, pouring encomiums and blessings on the Governor.

The Governor has maintained his promise of paying workers on the 28th of every month, a decision that has since boosted the morale of workers.

However, the Governor should try to sort out the controversy over whether or not the pensioners were to forfeit their gratuities as part of the negotiated agreement as condition for wiping their backlog of arrears.

The controversy over this is still generating ripples among the pensioners as Ikengaonline checks revealed that some aggrieved pensioners are spoiling for a showdown, vowing never to forgo their gratuity which is the benefit of their sweat in the service.

There is also need to clear the barriers and encumbrances in the biometric capturing of some workers which have made it difficult for them to receive their own salaries along with their colleagues.

He also should address the lingering issue of wage award as Abia workers are complaining of having not received the promised wage award.

The workers did not hide their annoyance over this on May 1st when they demanded that the Governor during his address at the Umuahia Township Stadium, should make a definite pronouncement on the matter.

They were, however, disappointed when the Governor failed to say what they had expected to hear, a development that sparked grumbling among the workers.

Ease of doing business:

Shortly after taking over, Otti declared war on touting and imposition of illegal fees under the guise of revenue drive.

He began to flush out touts from markets and motor parks in the state banning them from inflicting hardship on hapless citizens. He has recently set up a harmonized joint task force composed of civil servants to man revenue collection in the state.

He has also tried in providing attractive environment for investors.

Today in Abia, application for, and acquisition of Certificate of Occupancy C of O, take only 30 days.

Commissioner for Lands and Housing, Mr Chaka Chukwumerije, said the innovation was to make the state a preferred choice for investors.

Already, a number of foreign investors have visited the state with a view to exploring the various business opportunities in the state.

A multi billion Naira Industry Park with provision for modular refinery has been flagged off in the oil-rich Asa land.

Some foreign delegations including European Union and Israel, have also visited the Governor with a promise to invest in the state.

Otti in the period under review, also facilitated the inauguration of the $800 million Geometric Power Plant Aba now in charge of power generation and distribution to nine out of the 17 LGAs in Abia.

This, has a potential of reviving the economy of the state and South East at large as many investors are already thinking of relocating to Aba.

Security:

Otti’s administration has equally made some appreciable imprints in the security sub-sector.

Before he came on board, insecurity in Abia especially kidnapping and banditry particularly around Umunneochi/ Isuikwuato axis, was at its peak.

He launched operation crush to tackle the menace, and there is a significant improvement in the security of lives and property in the state today.

Although there is noticable improvement recorded already, more efforts still need to be made to totally deal with occasional pockets of crime incidents reported in parts of the state.

READ ALSO:  HUES,  CRIES OVER PROPOSED ESTABLISHMENT OF NEW INTEGRATED FARM ESTATES PROGRAM IN 108 SENATORIAL DISTRICTS NATIONWIDE

Kidnapping has continued to linger in the state, and must be decisively dealt with.

Waste management:

Otti’s government has also demonstrated capacity in waste management as Abia streets which hitherto were littered with refuse now appear cleaner.

The Governor had during his inaugural speech, declared state of emergency on waste.

He followed up with some radical steps to ensure steady evacuation of wastes from the streets, and these measures including the engagement of private firms in waste management, appear to be paying off.

Although there is obvious improvement in the environmental cleanliness of the state, more still needs to be done in this direction.

Local Government funds:

Otti’s choice of accomplished individuals as Mayors in charge of Local Government Areas in the state seems to have been justified considering the quantum of developments in the council areas, which before now were almost latent.

There are visible developments in all 17 LGAs in the state. Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Prince Uzor Nwachukwu, told Ikengaonline that LGAs under Gov. Otti, ” have access to their funds”.

He declared that the era of tampering with council funds were over, adding that LGAs get up to N100 million for developmental projects although under the supervision of the Ministry to avoid abuse.

Although the much -advocated financial autonomy for Councils cannot be justifiably sacrificed on the altar of prudence, the undeniable fact remains that more developments have been recorded across the 17 Abia LGAs since the appointment of Mayors in December 2023.

However, there should be no further delays in conducting credible council poll to democratically elect leaders of that third tier of Government.

Just as no state will be happy to allow the Federal Government appoint a Sole Administrator to run its affairs, Governors should stop appointing Caretaker Committee Chairmen to run the LGAs.

ICT development:

The administration is also making some improvements in ICT development. It recently commenced training young Abia brains on cyber security and ICT.

The Dig Once Policy recently launched by the State Government is aimed at checkmating indiscriminate excavation on the roads by telecommunication companies.

Public utilities:

Major streets in Aba and Umuahia, now have solar light panels installed on them to provide illumination at night.

This development has since restored night lives and revived the economy of the state.

However, Government has to review the source of the solar panels as some of them do not seem to be very efficient.

Agriculture:

Although the Otti-led administration is promising to revive the agric sector, much is yet to be seen in practical terms.

The administration needs to roll out programmes and policies aimed at improving food security and putting food on the tables of hungry folks.

Abia State under Otti in the past 12 months, has shown signs of survival and economic growth which must be sustained until the state begins to run effectively.

As he enters his second year in office, Governor Otti should give adequate attention to revival of moribund companies in the state as he had earlier promised.

This will help in generating job opportunities for the youths and ultimately lead to economic growth and reduction in crime.

It is hoped that should Otti sustain and improve on his steps so far, in the months and years ahead, Abia may truly become the Number One state not just by alphabetical order but in every other metric of development.

End

Steve Oko, Publisher/C.E.O, WaWa News Global. For more information on advert placement and news coverage, contact us on: 08038725600, or via email stevemanofgod2000@yahoo.com; wawanewsglobal@gmail.com Always read WaWa News Global - Your most dependable online news platform for the latest breaking news in Nigeria.

About The Author

%d