Columnist Chido Nwakanma on Alex Otti’s Abia victory; warns on dangers of high expectations by citizens of the state.
Hearty congratulations to Dr Alex Chioma Otti, who realised on 22 March 2023 his cherished goal of becoming the executive governor of Abia State after three attempts. Since 2015, he has outlined and maintained that his goal is to serve and redeem the state from poor governance.
After three attempts at the polling booths over eight years, Dr Otti now has the opportunity to turn his vision into policies, projects, and programmes. From 29 May 2023, the tire will meet the road in the Alex Otti-led Abia State government.
The Otti victory is people-based and populist. It took a long time to come. Ndi Abia are happy with and for him.
Social media posts underlined the joy of citizens. They took to the streets of Umuahia and various relaxation spots across Nigeria and the globe to celebrate Otti’s emergence.
Otti will continue to receive congratulations from now until he assumes office. He earns my empathy at this point.
Join me in praying for divine enablement for Alex Otti to make the governorship a platform of honour rather than dishonour. Their expectations of him are sky-high.
Otti, over the years, stoked most of those hopes and expectations. The failure of the outgoing governor in several areas propels the rest. Whatever the source, Otti has to deliver on the Kilimanjaro of hopes following his emergence.
Already, many of the messages in the online space qualify their congratulations. They point to Anambra State, where the popular narrative is that Governor Charles Chukwuma Soludo has been a sophomore rather than a professor. His character and perceived performance detract from his high learning.
The lesson is that leaders in public office must balance a high intelligence quotient with a similar emotional, social, and adversity quotient. Success in public leadership in Nigeria: High IQ+EQ+SQ+AQ. S
Cosmas Uzodinma wrote: “Good, the Ikpeazu conundrum is solved. But Soludo has taught me not to be excited about Alex Otti. Let him perform first. I urge Abians to moderate the excitement.”
The comparison misses the mark in expectations. The parable of Muhammadu Buhari is even more instructive.
Many people hyped a retired general and serial contestant for the presidency when he entered the race for the fourth time in 2014. They claimed that he had a magic wand to solve Nigeria’s problems. The decibel of the clamour for Muhammadu Buhari was so loud that they boldly declared that the whole of Nigeria wanted him. Then-president Goodluck Jonathan was anathema. They promoted PMB as the solution to the then-nascent insecurity in Nigeria because of his military background. The outcome of that misplaced assumption is today’s massive insecurity.
Informed analysts did the HR routine of checking past performance as a predictor of potential and predicted that PMB would be the same disaster that he was in 1984/85. Where are we now?
PMB before and after should serve as a cautionary tale for Dr Alex Otti as governor and the expectant Ndi Abia. Abians should pray, May Buhari not happen to our Dr Alex Otti.
Time is critical and would count so much in the reckoning of Otti as governor. He will need to get to work pronto. The accounting will start by 29 December 2023, 214 days post-inauguration.
Otti will do well to pluck some low-hanging fruits. The foremost is wiping the arrears the Abia State government owes its workers and putting money back in the pockets of teachers and pensioners. The rest include:
*Commence at least two significant road reconstruction efforts, one of which should be the Port Harcourt Road, Aba.
*Invite the promoter and ensure completion of the Inland Port Terminal at Ntigha. The dry port at Ntigha commenced earlier, but the ones in Kano and elsewhere have since taken off.
*Complete the finishing and move into the new Abia State Government House at Oguribe Layout while ensuring first-rate infrastructure for that new area befitting the load it would carry going forward.
*Unveil a roadmap with SMART objectives.
These measures and at least five more will enable Dr Alex Otti to restore trust and confidence in the Abia State government. Citizen trust is a critical enabler from now on. Otti has a high degree of legitimacy, as confirmed by the effusive celebration of his victory. The performance bar is already so low that he can do less to add trust to legitimacy.
The next is envisioning and executing big things professionally—enough of the small dreams and minuscule projects. Landmark projects flow from big ideas and visions of the future. Ebonyi State next door is a good reference.
One expects Otti to lead a new performance management framework for the Abia State government focused on efficiency, effectiveness, and equity. The 3Es framework will count significantly with equity high up in the frame.
Otti should reorient the Abia State bureaucracy to an efficiency-oriented performance management model where public managers serve as the entrepreneurs of a leaner and privatised government that emulates the practices and values of business.
Then we can genuinely toast Dr Alex Otti and say, To your success, incoming Abia State governor, the man of achievement orientation and first-class brain. Good luck, Otti, for your sake and the best interest of all Ndi Abia.