Alex Otti Emerges Abia State Governor After Winning Labour Party Ticket
A Long-Awaited Dream Come True
At last, Alex Otti of the Labour Party on Wednesday achieved his long-term ambition of becoming the Abia State Governor. Undaunted by his past failures, the former Managing Director of Diamond Bank now politician polled a total of 175,466 votes to floor his closest rival and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Okey Ahiwe, who scored 88,526 votes.
The INEC Declaration
The Independent National Electoral Commission Returning Officer, Prof Nnenna Oti, declared Otti winner of the Abia State governorship election after she announced the controversial Obingwa Local Government Area results. Otti’s Labour Party won in 10 LGAs, the PDP in six LGAs, and Young Peoples Party in one LGA. The Returning Officer, therefore, declared the LP candidate the winner at the INEC headquarters in Umuahia, the state capital.
A Brief Bio of Alex Otti
Born on February 18, 1965, the former banker is not a novice in the political arena as he had earlier in 2015 gunned for Abia’s highest political office and declared the winner before the judiciary handed the baton to the outgoing Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of the PDP. He had then contested under the All Progressives Grand Alliance. The Court of Appeal had in its judgement in December 2015 removed Ikpeazu and declared Otti the winner of the April 11 and 25 governorship poll before the Supreme Court upturned the verdict and restored Ikpeazu as governor. Otti, who hails from the Isiala-Ngwa South Local Government Area, had his secondary school education at Ngwa High School, Aba and Secondary Technical School, Okpuala Ngwa in Abia State. After his secondary school education, he graduated with a First Class Honours degree in Economics in 1988 from the University of Port Harcourt. He also earned an MBA degree from the University of Lagos in 1994.
Political Journey to the Governorship
On April 17, 2022, Otti, then a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, threw his hat into the ring for the state’s top job. Otti, who made his intentions known on Easter Day, said his ambition would mark the end of the crucifixion of the state. During his declaration, he explained that his quest to change the political trajectory of the state informed his decision to abandon his flourishing banking career as a managing director to join politics in 2013. “We have resolved to bring change to Abia State by pursuing clear economic policies that will bring prosperity to Abians,” Otti promised.
Switching Parties and Winning the Ticket
Surprisingly, on May 2022, the renowned banker withdrew from the APC governorship primary election in the state. He had based his withdrawal on claims that the election outcome had already been predetermined by vested interests. He alleged that a memo from the National Legal Adviser of the party to the state chairman dated May 18, 2022, had imposed a strange sharing formular on the APC aspirants in Abia. He said, “… it’s my firm belief that anyone who wants to govern Abia State and Abians must be someone who has been democratically chosen by the people, and not one imposed by undemocratic or external forces pursuing self-serving agenda that would undermine the welfare and wellbeing of Abians at the long run. In light of the above-stated facts, I hereby withdraw from the predetermined governorship primary of the All Progressives Congress slated to take place in the next few days.” On May 28, 2022, barely 72 hours after withdrawing from the APC governorship primary, Otti formally joined the Labour Party. He joined LP with a factional chairman of the APC in the state, Chief Acho Obioma. On June 8, 2022, Otti won the LP governorship ticket after he polled a total number of 454 votes to emerge unopposed during the party’s governorship primary.
A Promise to the People
He said, “You have started a movement which no cabal can stop. We are the party the majority of people who deserve good leadership in the state are looking for. The symbol of our party is human beings. I, therefore, urge you to join me as we work hard to win the 2023 governorship election and make life easier for our people,” Otti said in his acceptance speech.
The Journey to Retrieve His Mandate
On December 28, 2022, Otti in his Christmas and New Year message to the state vowed to retrieve his mandate which, he alleged, was stolen in 2015. According to him, the votes of the people would enable him to change the narrative and return Abia to the path of peace, growth, and development. “Between 2015 when the mandate you passionately and unanimously gave to us was brazenly snatched away by the oppressors and today, I have neither slowed down nor withdrawn from asking critical questions and taking practical measures geared towards ensuring that those who have seized our Commonwealth in Abia are not allowed to continually enjoy underserved affluence while insulting our sensibilities. On my side, as your son, brother, friend and servant-leader seeking to render selfless and people-oriented service to our state and her people, I am prepared more than ever to align with other like minds to ensure that those holding our state down do not have any single opportunity to steal your vote in 2023 more so, given the change in the electoral laws and process. Remember, no freedom has ever been achieved easily anywhere, hence the need for us to increase our resolve and redouble our efforts aimed at reclaiming and rebuilding our state for the good of all,” Otti said.
A New Era for Abia State
True to his words, Otti was declared the governor-elect on Wednesday after he polled the most votes to defeat his rivals from other political parties. The expectation of a large number of the Abia population is that he will walk his talk and change the narrative in governance delivery in the state many say has not been fortunate in that regard, the potential for growth and development notwithstanding.