On Wednesday, 22nd March, 2023, the Independent National Electoral Commission, declared Abia state gubernatorial candidate of Labour Party (LP), Alex Otti, as Governor-elect, and winner of the keenly-contested governorship election.
The INEC returning officer for Abia Gubernatorial election, Professor Nnenna Otti, said Alex Chioma Otti of the Labour Party, polled a total of 175, 467 votes to beat his closest rival of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Okey Ahiwe, who scored 88,529 votes to come second.
The final announcement came after the INEC temporarily suspended the collation of results from the last local government area, Obingwa.
Festus Okoye, the head of INEC communication and voter education unit, in a statement, hinted that a decision was reached to suspend the collation of election results in Obingwa in Abia and Enugu East in Enugu State in order to carry out a review of the collation processes in the states.
This also came on the background of the accusation and counter-accusations by candidates of the major political parties over the reported hostage-taking of INEC officials, violence and mutilation of election results from Obingwa by the government of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state.
Other candidates who participated in the election were Prof Greg Ibe of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Bishop Sunday Ndukwe Onuoha of African Democratic Congress (ADC), Amb. Emeka Nwankpa of Accord Party (AP), Mr Onyekwere Akym Uche of Action Alliance (AA), Mazi Chibuike Jona of Action Democratic Party (ADP).
With a governor-elect now in place, Abia citizens and residents have spoken on their expectations from the incoming government of the Labour Party immediately it is inaugurated on 29th of May, 2023, succeeding the incumbent and outgoing Governor of the state, Okezie Ikpeazu.
In an interview with DAILY POST at the weekend in Umuahia, Mr Sunny O. Eme said he looks forward to a progressive and pragmatic leadership “to turn our state back to its rightful position in the league of states in Nigeria and to restore her lost glory.”
He said, “a new Abia state with a leadership team poised to turn our state into an ultra-modern industrialized state, economic superpower and investors safe haven and No 1 destination choice in Nigeria and Africa at large is what we yearn for.”
Also baring his mind on his expectations from the incoming administration, Bishop Emeka Nwankpa from Isiala Ngwa Local Government Area of the state noted the onerous task ahead to fix infrastructural decadence, poor security architecture, dwindling state economy, collapsed standard of education, among others.
His words: “To whom much is given, much is expected. The people of Abia state expect Otti to address myriads of problems facing the state.
“It is hoped that he will rise up to the challenge. If he doesn’t perform, the people of Abia state will vote him out in 2027”.
On his part, Ogechi Samuel Nwokoji from Umuahia North Local Government Area of Abia State regretted the current state of affairs in the state and insisted that enough had not been done to address fundamental problems ravaging the state in the last 24 years.
He said: “Abia has been suffering economic and infrastructural deficits and the successive governments have failed woefully to look into it and come out with a lasting solution.”
Continuing, Nwokoji noted that the people of the state are expecting the incoming Government to prioritize welfare of the youths to enable them to become self-dependent.
“Another thing is that here in Abia state, it is hard for one to find a job.
“There is no gainsaying the fact that Abia needs total rebuilding and healing. That is why the recently concluded elections in Nigeria have sent a strong message to our leaders and political office holders.
“Days have gone when people’s consciences are being mortgaged by disgruntled and unscrupulous political elites for the least token.
“The people decided at this present moment, and spoke with one voice.
“I must use this great medium to urge the newly elected political office holders to learn from the past mistakes of former leaders who abandoned governance for self-aggrandizement. Nigerians are no longer sitting on the fence or playing to the gallery at this present democratic dispensation in the country. They are in dire need of effective, efficient and responsive leadership at all strata of the country,” he said.
Mr Ikenna Chigozie, a resident of Aba metropolis, in his submission, noted that the emergence of Alex Otti as the Governor-elect has ended the 24 years of mis-governance the successive Peoples Democratic Party-led administration foisted on citizens of the state.
He insisted that Otti’s recent victory at the concluded gubernatorial election was predicated on popular votes and goodwill of the people who had longed for development-oriented government at all levels of political leadership in Abia state.
Chigozie, who reminded Otti of the enormous task associated with the office of the Governor, stated that he expects the incoming administration to holistically look into backlogs of salary arrears owed to civil servants, as well entitlements owed retirees, otherwise known as pensioners in the state.
He further drew the attention of the Governor-elect to the state’s ailing economy and infrastructural deficit in major cities in Abia.
According to him, “Otti has a lot of work to do in this state, which ranges from collapse of infrastructures to the dwindling economy of the state. You can see nothing that thrives in Abia state due lack of capacity and a well-defined developmental template to create conducive environment for inflow of foreign and local investments.
“Education is also another sector the incoming government needs to look inwards. Most of the schools are faced with decadence in infrastructure, shortage of teachers and lecturers; poor welfare schemes for the teachers, among others.
“I will only pray and ask God to bestow our new Governor-elect, Otti more needed wisdom, direction and visionary ideas to be able to pilot the day to day affairs of Abia state effectively. Election has come and gone, it is now time for those elected recently to settle down once they are inaugurated, to deliver and implement their electoral promises.
Meanwhile, Otti reiterated that he is prepared to deal with the issues of infrastructural decay in the state.
He said “this will be tackled headlong. There is no doubt that given the deplorable state of our infrastructure, roads, schools and health systems, Abians are deservedly impatient to have these issues addressed as quickly as possible.
“I assure you that these areas will receive the priority attention of our government. There is no magic wand that can fix all the rot and decay noticed in virtually all segments of the system since the past years”.
Continuing, Otti stated: “for us to have sustainable development, it would require very painstaking and elaborate layout of master plans to enable us tackle the menace of flooding and re-engineer our cities, especially Aba, Umuahia and other cities that would be developed in order to support our urban renewal projects.
“We therefore plead for patience and understanding as we first tackle the immediate challenges and work on the major ones.”