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NATIONAL NEWS

ALEX OTTI @59: Portrait Of The Face Of New Abia.

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By Kazie Uko

Dr. Alex C. Otti, OFR, Abia State Governor, will be 59 years old on Sunday, February 18, 2024. This may come as a surprise to many given that the name, Alex Otti, has been ringing a bell for a long time, more persistently and loudly in the last ten years, the period during which he threw his hat into the political ring to compete for the governorship of Abia State.

Before becoming a ‘politician’, Governor Otti had made his mark in the private sector as a highly sort after banker, who eventually became one of the most successful and celebrated bank Chief Executive Officers in Nigeria.

With a humble beginning at the Nigerian International Bank (currently Citi Bank), where he honed his skill in the Operations Department, he traversed the banking landscape, stopping by, midway, at United Bank for Africa as a Principal Manager and later moving over to First Bank of Nigeria, where he became a ‘big fish’ as Executive Director after serving meritoriously as Assistant General Manager and Deputy General Manager.

His appointment in March 2011 as the Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Diamond Bank (now Access Bank) left many wondering if Alex Otti had lost his mind. How does an Executive Director with a strong potential to become the Managing Director leave a formidable brand as First Bank of Nigeria to accept an offer to manage a struggling family business, owned by someone else? But this was Alex Otti thinking outside the box as he often would.

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Governor Otti’s years as the Managing Director and CEO of Diamond Bank eventually became the crowning glory of his active banking career. He took the relatively unknown bank, which was stereotyped by many as a tribal, sectional entreprise, from its struggling loss position and built it into the fifth most profitable banks and one of the eight systemically important banks in Nigeria within a short period of about three years.

His Royal Majesty Igwe Nnaemeka Alfred Achebe (the Obi of Onitsha), former Chairman of the Board of Directors of Diamond Bank, extolled Alex Otti’s enviable achievements in the Bank at a send-off party held in his honour at Civic Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos, describing Otti’s tenure as “the brightest years of Diamond Bank’s 24-year history.” Igwe Achebe, a respected traditional ruler, statesman and boardroom corporate titan, is not given to frivolous statements.

Governor Otti’s rise to the enviable height he currently occupies was a product of consistent hardwork, discipline and most importantly the grace of God, which he never fails to acknowledge at every given opportunity. He was born to the family of the late Pastor and Mrs. Lazarus Weze Otti of Umuehim village in Ehi Na Uguru Ancient Kingdom, Isialangwa South Local Government Area of Abia State. After primary school, he had his secondary education at Ngwa High School, Aba and later Secondary Technical School, Okpuala Ngwa, both in Abia State, where he finished as the best student in his set during the school certificate examinations. He repeated the same feat at the University of Port Harcourt, a federal university in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, where he graduated with a First Class honours degree in Economics in 1988.

He later earned a master’s degree (MBA) from the University of Lagos and attended various international courses including the Executive Development Programmes of the Columbia Business School, Stanford Business School and Wharton Business School all in the United States of America. He also did an executive programme at INSEAD, Fontainebleau, France. In 2009 he was conferred with an honorary doctorate degree by Babcock University and in 2012, an honorary Doctor of Science (D.Sc.) Degree by the University of Port Harcourt. In 2013, he received yet another honorary doctorate degree, this time from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. It was this solid background that prepared and helped to propel him to the meteoric rise in the banking industry and corporate world at large before delving into politics.

Governor Otti describes himself as an interventionist in politics. Indeed, many had wondered why he was wasting his time, intellect, hard-earned money and reputation built on honesty, transparency and decency to play in the murky waters of Nigerian politics, as he battled career politicians for the soul of Abia State. However, if the events of the last eight months, as witnessed, testified, and verified by many in and outside of Abia, are any indication, Governor Otti’s persistence and insistence on intervening in Abia’s politics is already paying off.

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Beyond the massive infrastructural upgrade of our roads, schools, hospitals and markets; unprecedented prompt and regular payment of workers salaries; ridding the environments of filths and sanitising the administration of the markets and motor parks; taming the ugly incidences of insecurity including the perennial activities of armed robbers, kidnappers, political thugs and revenue touts; one of the major achievements of the Alex Otti’s governorship in Abia, in the last eight months, has been the restoration of the pride and dignity of the Abia person. Abians, all over the world, are proud to claim their origin, once again. Now, a lot more people want to come home, either to come and invest in business or verify the revolution they hear going on in the state.

Truth be told. There is a lot more sanity in the streets of Abia State, whether in the capital and commercial cities of Umuahia and Aba, respectively; the burgeoning towns of Ohafia, Arochukwu, Abiriba, Umunneochi and Obingwa; or the rural urbans and villages across the 17 local government areas of the state. The joy expressed on the faces and mannerisms of the citizens at the sight of their governor, each time the Governor goes on his routine project inspections or visits an area, is palpable, and this to a great extent bellies the general economic challenges that Nigerians are passing through currently.

Times were when sitting governors in Abia State were rebuffed and resented by the citizens, sometimes to the extent of pelting them with satchet water, because such governors were believed to have failed in their duties and promises to the citizenry. But Abia, today, is wearing a new look and has a new face, and the citizens are thankful and grateful to God for the gift of their Governor, Dr. Alex Chioma Otti, the Face of New Abia.

Happy birthday, Mr. Governor!

*Uko is the Chief Press Secretary to Abia State Governor and wrote from Umuahia. 

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NATIONAL NEWS

Gov Otti Lectures At Johns Hopkins University 

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Gov Otti

Abia State Governor, Dr. Alex Otti,  will be speaking live at The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Affairs (SAIS) in a few hours from now.

He will be speaking on the topic: State Governance and Economic Transitions: Meeting the Challenges.

Programme Details:
Friday, April 19, 2024
4:30 – 6:00 pm (starting 9.15 pm Nigerian time)
JHU Bloomberg Center – Theater
555 Pennsylvania Ave., NW Washington, DC 20001

According to a terse statement from Kazie Uko, Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, this is a FREE event but registration is required. Please go here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/state-governance-and-economic-transitions-meeting-the-challenges-tickets-881031257207?aff=oddtdtcreator

 

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NATIONAL NEWS

Nigerian Government Restates Commitment To Provision Of Affordable Housing For Civil Servants

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Dr. Esan

The Nigerian Government has reiterated its commitment to provide affordable housing for civil servants through the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation’s(OHCSF) Federal Integrated Staff Housing (FISH) programme, in line with pillar six of the Federal Civil Service Strategy and Implementation plan 2021-2025 (FCCSIP-25).

Dr. Folasade Yemi Esan, Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (HoSF), disclosed this during a site inspection of the ongoing construction of 116 housing units of two-bedroom semi-detached bungalows at Gwagwalada to be allocated to core civil servants upon completion.

Yemi-Esan called on all contractors involved in making the Estate habitable to expedite action on the provision of electricity, water and internal road network in the housing estate.

The Estate, which is fully funded by the Federal Government Staff Housing Loans Board (FGSHLB) and being constructed, in partnership with some Real Estate Developers, is projected to be commissioned in June as part of activities to mark the 2024 Civil Service Week.

Ibrahim Mairiga, Executive Secretary of the Federal Government Staff Housing Loans Board (FGSHLB), revealed that two developers have already completed and handed over their buildings to the Board.

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The commissioning of the FISH Estate, he said, will be a testament to the present administration’s pledge towards improving the welfare and well-being of civil servants, in tandem with its Strategic Plan.

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NATIONAL NEWS

Obi’s Philanthropy,  Charity Work Predate His Politics, Says Media Office

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Obi

The Peter Obi Media Reach (POMR) wishes to inform the public of a new orchestrated plan to blackmail Peter Obi, the 2023 Labour Party Presidential Candidate, by linking him to frivolous, malicious, and unsubstantiated allegations of engaging in religious politics.

POMR is aware that some persons operating under the guise of civil society, and non-governmental organizations but acting at the behest of some powerful political interests have been deployed to petition and accuse Peter Obi of playing religious politics.

The aim is to malign Mr Obi’s purely altruistic motives in supporting underprivileged Nigerians of all faiths.

The ploy is to erroneously claim that he goes to religious places to carry out political campaigns off-season.

We should ordinarily ignore such mischievous ploys as they are only intended to distract attention from Mr Obi’s patriotic and compassionate position.

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For the avoidance of doubt and the protection of the gullible in our midst, it has become imperative to restate the truth and the facts.

Peter Obi understands fully the constitutional dictates of separation of church/mosque and state and that Nigeria is an undisputed secular state.

Nonetheless, his primary concern in and out of public office has always been to pursue the welfare of the underprivileged in society whom he believes should have a better life given the abundant human and natural resources bestowed on this country by God.

His acts of philanthropy and altruism transcend politics and religion.

The organizations that oversee the two dominant religions in the country, Islam and Christianity by their doctrines and concepts of charity are closer to the poor in our midst and naturally attract the generosity of kind hearts like Mr. Peter Obi.

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Peter Obi’s visit to Churches and Mosques is purely prompted by his urge to help the less privileged and has nothing to do with political campaigns.
In these places, Obi had given messages of hope to lift the spirit of the downtrodden. He hastily and never talked about politics, abused anybody or indulged in name-calling.

For instance during the Ramadan period, Obi visited some praying centres in the North and South breaking fast with Muslim faiths and dolling some items to help ameliorate their sufferings and even went further to provide basic amenities such as water in some communities.

Similarly, he also visited some churches during the Christian Holy Week and celebrated Easter with prisoners and in all he delivered a message of hope to the people.

What remains an undisputed fact, is that Peter Obi’s charity work predates politics and he would never be intimidated to change this personal disposition, which he believes is an assignment for him from his creator.

We, therefore, urge the public to ignore any insinuations of co-mingling politics and religion; and see them as a grand design to limit Mr. Obi’s freedom of movement and citizenship welfare action.

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Narrow-minded political agents are only embarrassed that Mr Obi’s transparent patriotism and compassionate commitment to the common good of all Nigerians have been self-evident.

Through these visits and acts of undivided fellowship with all Nigerians, Mr. Has come across as Nigeria’s foremost patriot and change agent.

His visits to the places where Nigerians feel the hurt, he is exposing the to enormity of unmet needs and unfulfilled promises across the nation as well as the acute failure of our selfish national elite in addressing proactively the needs of the underprivileged in our society. Obi’s preoccupation now is with the poor not politics.

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