ABIA @32: Our Duty to the Next Generation- Dr.Alex Otti

The governor of Abia state, Dr. Alex C otti, in celebration of 32nd anniversary of the creation of Abia state has delivered a speech titled “Our Duty to the Next Generation” on this day Sunday 27th August,2023.

1. My fellow Abians, let me begin by thanking the Almighty God for preserving our lives as we mark the 32nd anniversary of the creation of our dear state, Abia by the Gen. Ibrahim Babangida military administration.

2. I must also express my deepest gratitude for the efforts, commitment and immense sacrifices of the founding fathers of this great state, the individuals who tasked themselves and contributed in diverse ways to the creation of the state we know today as Abia, God’s own state.

3. We cannot thank these celebrated heroes of the struggle enough for leveraging everything at their disposal to ensure that Abia was created. I also thank them for their vision and for insisting that justice and fairness must be the basic conditions of our existence as a people.

4. All the military administrators and governors we have had in the last 32 years are also worthy of appreciation for contributing individually and collectively to the growth and development of our state; we thank them for offering themselves to serve and for giving the best they could.

5. Words of deep gratitude must also go to the prominent sons and daughters of our dear state for consistently telling the world, through their commitment to excellence and sound leadership values, that we are indeed, a land of great men and women.

6. Your contributions to the development and evolution of modern science, medicine, finance, economics, law and jurisprudence, diplomacy and several other fields of human endeavour have not only brought immense sense of pride to Abia but have enriched human experiences across frontiers.

7. Thank you for using your skills, talents and high sense of professionalism to bring honour to our land and most importantly, for being worthy role models to the present and future generations of Ndi Abia.

8. Going further, I am obliged to salute the courage and resilience of ordinary Abians. The Abia we are celebrating today could have been entirely different but for your efforts and commitments to doing your honest day’s work in dignity.

9. Thank you for being cheerful and optimistic even in the darkest nights, for believing that a brighter day would come. You have done great things and generations unborn shall continue to celebrate you.

10. Many who began with us in 1991 have since gone to be with their Maker but we shall never forget all that they gave that we might have a better society. As a people, we shall continue to honour and venerate their memories for all the great things they represented in their lifetimes.

11. Dear brothers and sisters, today offers us an opportunity to think deeply and reflect. To look at how far we have come and think about how farther we can go. We have come a long way but the road ahead is still far. While we pat ourselves on the back for having come thus far, we must have it at the back of our minds that our founding fathers expect so much more.

12. As you are aware, a new chapter was opened for us on the 18th of March this year when we trooped out in our numbers to elect the kind of leadership we believe the state deserved for so long but has never had; a leadership that is dedicated to unlocking the dormant potentials of our land.

13. In your resolute determination to break away from the past, you braved endless intimidation and blackmail while insisting that it was about time we began the next phase of our journey, towards the destination our founding fathers had in mind.

14. I must thank you all again for demonstrating that peculiar courage that had long defined us. All throughout history, the people that lived in the geographical area now known as Abia stood at the forefront of every struggle against injustice.

15. The events of that very special Saturday in March and the days of anxiety that followed, once again showed that indeed, we are a people who will always meet danger with unmatched courage.

16. Thank you umu nnem for insisting with your ballots that we had stayed in the wrong station for far too long and must now march forward, no matter the opposition. In the end, the old Igbo saying “na onye kwe, chi ya ekwe” became our living reality.

17. Today as we celebrate the 32nd anniversary of the creation of our dear state, we must hold our heads high for being living testimonies that indeed, you cannot defeat a determined people.

18. You made it possible and I am humbled to be bequeathed with the kind of trust no single individual has ever enjoyed in our long political history. My promise, which is renewed daily, is that I would spend every waking hour of my days in office working to justify the confidence.

19. I am glad to report that I have committed the last 12 weeks since May 29 setting up a governance architecture that is a marked departure from the past.

20. We will be hundred days in office within the first week of September and I am excited that on the testimony of several honest observers, the state is clearly on the right track.

21. By assembling some of our most accomplished sons and daughters to join me in the onerous task of leading the state along the path that guarantees superior outcomes, I made it clear that it would no more be business as usual and that Abia must work, this time for everyone.

22. On assumption of office in May, I quickly identified critical areas that required urgent government intervention to restore normalcy in the midst of chaos and general sense of helplessness.

23. I declared a state of emergency on refuse disposal in Aba and Umuahia and appointed a team to execute the mandate and deliver results as quickly as possible. I am glad to report that our environment is getting cleaner.

24. When we came in, doctors working in the public health facilities in the state were on strike and the system was in a state of general collapse as the hospitals were shut down for months and patients, even those in very critical conditions were turned away.

25. Before declaring a state of emergency in the health sector, I appealed to the striking doctors to call off their strike and gave them my word that it would be an anathema for any health worker in the state to be refused their legitimate entitlements under my watch.

26. I thank the doctors for heeding my call and for returning to work shortly after. We have since commenced the immediate rehabilitation of three major secondary health facilities across the three senatorial zones in the state. The rehabilitation efforts have reached advanced stage and I am very happy with the progress of work.

27. We commenced free medical services across selected general hospitals in the state last July and this would continue until the end of the year. This exercise covers free medical checks and examination, provision of drugs and medicated glasses for eye patients at no cost, subsidized surgery and varieties of other medical services as part of our efforts to give the population, especially the indigent, an opportunity to access quality care for themselves and their families.

28. Since the exercise commenced, thousands of people across all demographics, pregnant women, nursing mothers, newborn babies and infants under the age of five and several other groups with varying medical conditions have all benefited and thousands more will still be reached in the weeks and months ahead.

29. I encourage you to take advantage of this window of opportunity to see competent medical personnel in a public health facility near you. I am also glad that since the launch of the initiative, several other individuals and groups have taken a cue from the government by sponsoring free medical programmes for communities across the state.

30. Presently, we are engaging several multilateral agencies and organizations to further support our primary healthcare centres for optimal service delivery, especially in the rural communities.

31. Our goal is to radically improve all major health indices for the general population, cutting down such disturbing trends as maternal and infant mortality, prevalence of common diseases and the incidence of new threats such as cancer, cardiovascular and renal conditions through prevention and early detection.

32. Because of the importance of education to our agenda, we declared a state of emergency in the sector in the first week of our administration and have since earmarked appropriate funding to match our commitment.

33. Education for us is the future and it is our goal to see that every child gets the opportunity to be taught and mentored to take advantage of the opportunities that abound in the 21st century economy which favours mostly the skilled and properly educated.

34. We also hope to provide parents with the right incentives to be able to send their children to school and allow them to read at home when they come back. We understand the economic exigencies that often push parents to forsake the education of their children but we must realise that failure to make sacrifices today would certainly limit our opportunities tomorrow.

35. In Aba, the condition of so many important roads had been terrible for years and on assumption of office, it became clear to me that I would be failing the good people of Enyimba City if I did not make the repair of those roads a priority.

36. Marshalling out everything at our disposal, we went to work quickly and gave strict instructions to those in charge that we must start seeing results immediately.

37. It gives me great amount of joy to report that across major parts of Aba, we are reclaiming roads that had been abandoned for decades, de-silting drainages and making vehicular movement within the city much easier.

38. Our plans and programmes for Aba are far more strategic and as the days go by, you would be seeing demonstrable proof that indeed, Aba’s time has come.

39. From business digitization processes that would put Aba on the global enterprise map to structured real estate developments, urban renewal programmes and investments in energy and power infrastructure for improved industrial output, you will, before the end of the year appreciate that indeed, we are going somewhere.

40. Security challenges became a concern in several parts of the state in the last two years and I mentioned on assumption of office that not one inch of space shall be yielded to criminals anywhere in the state. It was not an empty threat; it was a statement of my commitment to securing the life and property of the general population.

41. For the simple reason that all what we intend to do can only come to fruition if we give people the confidence that the state is secure and open for business, I made it a priority to work with major stakeholders across frontiers to set up a robust system for tracking and smoking out criminals from their hideouts.

42. The recent launch of “Operation Crush” is the culmination of our very determined efforts to make the state very uncomfortable for criminals and their sponsors.

43. By committing significant resources to set up the taskforce, we are boldly telling residents and investors in the state that we are determined and ready to keep them safe.

44. I am pleased to report that in the last two months, we have got hundreds of very interesting proposals from national and global conglomerates that are seeking to do business in the state.

45. We are looking at hundreds of new production facilities and plants across all parts of the state with interests that cut across all sectors of the economy. From agriculture to clean energy, entertainment and beverages, real estate and much more, Abia, I can say is open for business.

46. I am already excited with the prospects of these for job creation, opportunities for local contractors and multiple streams of support to the local economy.

47. Beyond what we have achieved in terms of tangibles, it may interest you to note that we are also very keen on refining governance processes and systems for efficiency and transparency.

48. We are currently working on a raft of reforms that would streamline procurement processes in the public sector to cut out abuses. The new framework will give genuine businesses operating in the state a pathway to enjoy significant patronages from the government as part of our initiative to support and grow local businesses.

49. We are also working on several projects that would benefit MSMEs, small holder farmers, and cooperatives in all parts of the state. Our priority is to expand the frontiers of opportunities in ways that deepen the traditional entrepreneurial capacities of our people.

50. The attorney general’s office, in line with my campaign promise, is concluding the draft of major reforms initiatives which are designed to strengthen institutions and enhance their capacities to meet our development agenda.

51. For effective and accountable management of funds and support from multilateral organisations and agencies, I have set up a dedicated office to specifically coordinate and interface with the global and regional institutions to enable us make the most of intervention funding opportunities for critical projects in the state.

52. While the intervention programmes and projects had been rife with procedural abuses in the past, I am now determined to make sure that going forward, no individual or group is allowed to exploit our people nor expose the state to situations that weaken our capacity to negotiate and get fairer deals when the opportunities arise.

53. In the last 90 days, the executive branch of government has continued to forge special but respectful relationships with the other arms of government for the purpose of strengthening our democratic experience and I am grateful for the support and cooperation I have got thus far from the leaders of the legislature and judiciary in the state.

54. I shall continue to work hard to deepen these relationships while ensuring that disagreements, which are common in democratic engagements, are quickly resolved and the energy of every stakeholder channelled to serving the public with sincerity.

55. I pledge to remain prudent in the management of your resources and do hereby assure that accountability and responsibility shall remain central to my administration. Your resources shall be used to work for you.

56. While I pledge to continue to do my part, may I also invite you to do your own part because getting it right is a collective obligation. Support the government by paying your taxes and other statutory fees, especially now that we have set up series of systems that support smooth and seamless payments across digital platforms for formal and informal sector payments.

57. Join the fight against crime by quickly reporting any suspicious movement or persons within your vicinity to the nearest security agency because as you know, security is everyone’s business. We cannot have a secure Abia if we are indifferent to events that may threaten the security of our neighbourhoods.

58. I reaffirm the commitment of this administration to prompt and regular payment of salaries. However, the workers across state institutions must recommit themselves to being diligent in their duties; actively supporting the reform initiatives and programmes of the government.

59. Our fathers fought for the creation of this state in the confidence that its potentials for greatness would be best actualised by becoming a distinct entity, defined by peculiar traditions and values of the people. Actualising this potential has become a sacred obligation, a duty we owe the next generation and we cannot afford to fail for that would be the ultimate betrayal.

60. The torch has since been handed down to us and we must keep it shining. Happy Abia Day Ndi Abia and may the blessings of God remain with us for the great journey ahead. Thank you for listening.

Dr. Alex C. Otti OFR,
Abia State.