Among Nigeria’s recently inaugurated governors, the Abia State Governor, Dr. Alex Otti, ranks as the most prepared and experienced, at least on paper, having been contesting since 2015.
He seemed unprepared for the challenges of governance, making mincemeat of the exactitude of political prognostications. Aside from his many booboos, a few of his statements were partisan and imprecise.
For instance, during the Children’s Day Celebration on May 27, 2023, two days preceding his inauguration, Governor Otti, citing a UNESCO report, decried the number of out-of-school children (90,000) in Abia State.
Speaking further, he said his administration will provide an enabling environment to support education, build infrastructure to enhance learning and clear salary arrears of teachers in the state.
Almost four months into his administration, he has yet to pay the teachers, let alone offset their salary arrears as promised. Instead, he declared a state of emergency on education against presenting a definitive blueprint to improve it.
The same UNESCO Governor Otti quoted, in its Education 2030 framework for action, proposed two benchmarks as crucial reference points for education.
Number one is for the government to allocate at least four per cent of GDP to education. Number two is to appropriate 15 to 20 per cent of public expenditure to education.
Abia State is among the states that have maintained distinction in WAEC since 2015. The state needs a policy that will reduce the number of out-of-school children, ensure prompt payment, training/retraining of teachers and make public schools attractive, not a declaration of a state of emergency.
The declaration of a state of emergency in a democracy is not unwarranted. Such a declaration must be time-bound with clearly stated lines of action. Governor Otti cannot just make such a declaration in a sector and continue running the government on a whim.
A purposeful government runs on a well-pronounced agenda. A state of emergency has a pre-stated lifespan and action plans, hence the urgent need to formulate a revolutionary education policy to befit the much-touted new Abia. Four months are enough to lay such an innovative groundwork, but we are yet to see it.
Surprisingly, the local government structure has suffered emasculation and dislocation under the watch of Dr Otti. While the government has been reticent on the reason for the suspension of the entire LG commissioners, there have been constant demonstrations by the workers over four months’ unpaid salaries.
Worst still is that Governor Otti has the seals belonging to the 17 LGAs. The implication is that he has taken over the administration of the LGAs. The Heads of service only exist on paper with no functions other than taking documents and nominal rolls to Governor Otti to append the seal. In other words, Otti is the governor, LG chairmen, councillors, LG commissioners and heads of service.
Shamefully, this illegality and crass abuse of power are happening under the watch of a democratically elected governor who complained bitterly, as an opposition, about the tampering of JAAC allocation by his successors. But today, Otti has cornered about N18 billion – three months’ allocations – of the 17 LGAs.
Which state of the federation has it happened before? I mean, who does that?
To be continued…
READ PART 2 HERE.
Don Norman Obinna is the Abia State Chairman of the African Democratic Congress (ADC). He’s also the publisher of ‘Raped and Enslaved: Era of Kleptocracy’ which is available as an ebook. Click the link below to read a copy.