Posted by Chima Nwafo | 4 March 2015 | 3,878 times
Whereas little is heard about campaign promises or mission statement of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship hopeful in the mass media, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, it’s not same with the standard bearer of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Dr. Alex Otti. Although the duo boast robust academic and professional credentials: the former was head of department at the Enugu State University of Science and Technology; the latter was immediate past group managing director/chief executive officer of Diamond Bank Plc.
However, a cursory review of their media outings shows that the banker has an edge. He is focused and presents a clear-cut vision of how to lift Abia out of the pit of neglect and under-development. Ironically, Ikpeazu, the anointed candidate and beneficiary of the zoning arrangement, seems to suffer from the illusion of “Governor Theodore Orji has fulfilled his campaign promises,” often parroted by government spokesmen and covenanted elected representatives of the people. On the contrary, every right-thinking person familiar with the socio-political state of Abia agrees that T.A. Orji has failed the test of good governance in the eight years of his administration. Dr Ikpeazu may also be banking on incumbency power, which works magic in Nigeria’s political stratosphere. That is also a delusion, because Ndi Abia have seen enough of it to have reached the painful conclusion that: An imperfect mould cannot produce a perfect cast. Besides, things have changed. The people have witnessed instant metamorphosis of Imo, uncommon transformation of Akwa Ibom, developmental strides in Rivers and infrastructural uplift of Enugu – all sister states around Abia. As a result, Ikpeazu has an enormous challenge: How does he intend to transform Abia, if elected? Can you extricate yourself from the spiritual entanglements of your godfather?
This reaction is compelled by the creatively designed, but poorly articulated two-page advertorial in The Guardian of February 17, 2-15. I was naturally attracted by the aesthetics, which was certainly the handiwork of an experienced agency hand. However, it was intriguing that on page 36, four and half inches across six columns were allotted to Dr Otti’s photograph and headline. On page 37, five and half inches were allocated to same particulars. On estimation, it turned out that the text of the two advertorials was less than 1,800 words. Perhaps, this explains why a third of the space, that is, nine inches across 14 columns, was used to beautify the very man they intended to vilify. Copy-fitting showed that the two advertorials could have been contained in one page. That would have saved about N750,000 (add consultancy fee, agency charges/production cost to advert rate/VAT). But most disturbing was the misnomer: “An Open Letter to the Chairman/Managing Director of Diamond Bank Plc.” Such an office does not exist in any bank in Nigeria. Second, it is common knowledge that banks engage contract security staff. So, the allegation of using Diamond Bank security to ‘harass and intimidate Abia masses’ is baseless.
Dr. Otti was equally accused of using the military to “undue advantage and against the citizens of Abia more than the Chief Security Officer of the State, the man with the constitutional monopoly of violence and executive governor of a State.” This is a veiled threat and reminder that Abia is still run as a monarchy with dictatorial tendencies, by an intolerant executive that once ordered Gestapo-style arrest of The Sun columnist, Ebere Wabara, from his Lagos residence, to face inquisitions at Umuahia.
Notwithstanding, Otti’s popularity rating continues to soar from the elite down to the grassroots. In Sunday Vanguard of February 15, Charles Uzoukwu, from Umuahia, wrote: “In his mission statement, Otti has vowed to ensure verifiable achievements and to transform the state far better than what he had achieved in Diamond Bank. He also intends to ensure that only the best brains are recruited to manage the affairs of the state; intends to maximise the potential of the people, by industrialising the state through investment in agriculture, oil and gas, digital media and technology, health-care, road networks, furniture fabrication; creating the enabling environment for all to flourish.”
On the vexed issue of indigene (son of the soil syndrome), the electorate should be allowed to judge, through their votes, who is more sincerely committed to their social welfare and economic wellbeing, whether Nwa-diala or ‘Traveler’. Isiala Ngwa people can easily recall the difference between their two sons: pioneer Speaker of the House of Representatives, former Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Second Republic Senator Jaja Anucha Wachuku, and the one-term Minister of Works, Eastern Region, Mr. P. O.Ururuka, who made water flow throughout Isiala Ngwa and beyond. They can also recall that their own Paul Ogwuma was MD/CEO of Union Bank Plc for 12 years, and governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria for six years. What are his footprints after 18 long years in such apex positions? But it’s on record that within four years in office, Otti ensured the establishment of a branch of Diamond Bank in the area. By the same token, I challenge Senator
Nkechi Nwaogu, from Umugaa, to point to a notable Constituency Project she attracted to Osisioma Local Government Area, after four years as Rep and eight years as a senator? Yet, she was also a governorship aspirant.
Mr. Osita Igbe, Media/Publicity director, Okezuo Abia Campaign Organisation, author of the advertorial, betrayed his own pedigree, when he wrote: “Alex Otti may have done well as a BANK CHIEF (emphasis his), he will however appreciate the fact that managing diverse public dispositions and exhibiting robust sense of decorum may be elusive to a traveler like him.” I’ll leave management and communication experts to decipher the dialectics of the above sentence. Again, it does not take rocket science to appreciate the fact that a man who joined the bank with a first class degree; rose through the ranks to become an executive director in First Bank Plc, before he was appointed GMD/CEO of a technology-driven, new generation bank, must be credited with a large dose of managerial skill, resourcefulness and profundity. He must have passed every test of human, material and financial resources management, including public relations. However, such a profile could be intimidating to people with public/civil service record, riddled with inefficiency, incompetence and systemic corruption.
From the above, Mr Igbe wobbled to another involuntary commendation: “Let Otti tell Abians how a Ministry of Aba would solve the challenges of a city he has never lived (sic) before and has no simple inkling of what their challenges look like.” Really? But it was a Fulani man, President Umar Yar’Adua, who quenched the ire of Niger Delta militants, which festered under President Olusegun Obasanjo, a former commander of Nigerian Army’s 3rd Marine Commando, Port Harcourt. To solve the infrastructural deficit and environmental degradation of the area, the Federal Government created Ministry of Niger Delta. Governor Sam Mbakwe of old Imo State, from Obowo, after 20 years of post-war neglect, transformed Aba roads, including the Osisioma/Ekeakpara / Dubic Road: then an Industrial hub, now among the most dilapidated roads. Still, he modernised Owerri, the state capital, and initiated one industry for each LGA of the state - all within one term of four years.
Given the incoherent articulation of issues, faulty designation, contradicting headline and waste of space by the PDP campaigner, which doubled cost of the advertorial, one cannot agrees less with Uzoukwu, that: “Abia has been raped beyond redemption, to the extent that people have lost confidence in the ability of their fund managers to rescue them from poverty.” Perhaps, the Banker is God-sent.
•Chima Nwafo is News Express Consulting Editor. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org. Photo shows Alex Otti.
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