The governorship candidate of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), in Abia State in 2015, Dr Alex Otti, a banker-turned politician, is one of the politicians who are oiling their political machines to slug it out with incumbent Governor Okezie Ikpeazu in 2019. For Otti, Governor Ikpeazu has not delivered the goods and so should give way.
Basking on the euphoria of the large support he got in 2015, he said that his party, APGA, will surely this time again cruise to victory in the state, saying that he had learnt his lessons from the 2015 guber election in the state when he was robbed of his victory by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Unlike many who believe that politics is a dirty game, Otti said that it is the dirty people that come into politics that make it to look dirty. He spoke to Sunday Sun on a number of issues of state and national importance at his country home in Isiala Ngwa North LGA of Abia State. Excerpts:
You got to the pinnacle of your career as a banker and suddenly you decided to go into politics, knowing very well that politics is a dirty game, as the saying goes, what actually endeared you to go into politics?
First of all, I don’t agree that politics is necessarily a dirty game, I believe it’s only dirty people that make politics look dirty. Politics is about governance, it’s about working for the people. It is about leadership. Elsewhere, you find out that it is people who have a track record of achievements, people who have skills and experience, those who have led people successfully and still succeeded in doing other things that come into politics. But unfortunately, here we have a situation where politics is left in the hands of charlatans, area boys, people who haven’t done anything to help the society and jobless people, that is why we are where we are today. If you look at a few countries that have gotten it right by installing quality leadership, qualitative leadership that has experience and skills, you would see that such countries have done well. But for those that haven’t done well you can see that it can be traced to the quality of leadership they have installed. A country like Rwanda, for instance, that went through a fratricidal war few decades ago is the fastest growing economy in Africa, which has the best and safest city. It is traceable to one man, Paul Kigame, the president. This man knows his onions, he knows what to do and he is doing it. All we need to do is to get someone who is committed, who knows what to do in the country and state and our story would change for good.
Are you saying that the problem we have today is about leadership?
Yes, there is a saying that the fish gets rotten from the head, if you see a rotten fish, just go to the head, that’s where the rot starts, so the decision to leave banking and join politics is a decision that may be novel to a lot of people, but I think it is the kind of decision we require, it was a sacrifice because I had a few more years to spend as the CEO of the bank I was running at that time, but I thought that time had come for us to change the narrative of our people in Abia State. That was why I jumped into the fray, and I am very happy that our people understood what I did, I am very happy that they got the message and voted for me massively, though at the end of the day the mandate was stolen, but I still thank the people of Abia State for believing in me, and I know that there is still light at the end of the tunnel.
In 2015, you enjoyed a lot of acceptability, popularity, and support, do you think that you are still going to enjoy these this time around?
Yes, I think I am enjoying a whole lot more even now, because the present government has not performed and will not perform. The only place they have performed is in propaganda, but in terms of what you can put on the table, they have not done anything. If you look at the simple things like workers salaries, somebody just left me here now, and he said that his wife is being owed salary for 10 months in Abia Poly. Come to civil servants, some of them say they have not been paid in the last eight months, pensioners, their own story is very pathetic because you are talking of years and if you cannot do anything as basic as paying salaries of not more than 50,000 people, then how can you pay for other things? People believe that their mandate was stolen and that if it wasn’t stolen, things would have been different today, and I agree with them completely, and that is why even the people that supported them in 2015, will never support them again because they have not performed.