The gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in Abia State, Dr Alex Otti has cleared the air on the allegations by his opponents that he mismanaged Diamond Bank.

Dr Otti who responded to series of questions by Journalists in a simulcast powered by the joint partnership of major radio stations in the state – which include Flo FM Umuahia , Vision Africa Radio Umuahia , Buzz FM Aba and Love FM Umuahia, said the time has come for issues to be made straight so as to prevent the case of the unsuspecting public being deceived.

On the issue of the economic activities in the state and the challenges to trade and industry, Dr Otti noted that there is no way a state with serious concern for economic growth will make laws that shuts down businesses and movement by 7pm. “Go to Anambra, which is an APGA state, you will see that people still transact businesses up until late in the night” he said.

Dr. Alex Otti OFR speaking during the interview at Flo FM in Umuahia, Abia State

“There is something called the velocity of money, it is simply the movement of money with respect to time. Hence, if you limit the activities of people in a place and restrict that to a short time, the time will reduce for money to circulate, making it difficult for several persons to access money.

“Also, on infrastructure, the roads in Aba are bad, I personally engaged consultants to measure the length of the road built by the present government and they arrived at a paltry 79.38 kilometers of road constructed around the state, which actually cost less than 7 billion naira to build. Who are they deceiving that they are working? The money they spent in building the Ossisoma flyover is nothing less than 6 billion which if used to construct roads where people pass daily, would have done nothing less than 60 kilometers of road.”

On the Enyimba Economic City which is the signature project of the present administration, Dr Otti lampooned the interference of the government and said that of elected, the only reason he would allow it continue is on the condition of it being private sector driven, which guarantees it’s success.

The highpoint of the interaction was when the question of the recapitalization of Diamond Bank which will lead to a merger came up, and his hands in the downfall of the bank as purported by his opponents. Dr Otti went further to state his role in Diamond Bank and how he did not play any role in the plan merger of the bank.

“The banking sector is not like politics where when you leave office you still have a say, and can install a stooge to do your bidding.”

“I met Diamond Bank a distressed bank in 2011,after I had served as an Executive Director in First Bank for six years. As at the time of my resumption as the Group Managing Director, the bank had a balance sheet of 565 billion naira, after it had made a loss of 12.3 billion naira due to the global financial crisis of 2009, however in 2011 it posted a profit before tax of 9 billion naira.

“Immediately I came in, I crafted a new strategy and controls for the bank, brought in the best hands to execute the strategy which the board took a long time to approve. In 2011,we wrote of some bad loans which made the bank to record some loses but put the bank on auto-pilot. However, in 2012 we had a profit before tax balance of 28 billion naira and a balance sheet of 1 trillion naira, while in 2013 it was a profit of 33 billion naira and a balance sheet of 1.5 trillion.”

“When I was leaving in 2014, I left a balance sheet of 2 trillion and a profit of 26 billion naira, which made the bank to be adjudged as one of the few systematically important banks (meaning ‘too big to fail’), it was the 8th best out of the 25 banks, after previously occupying the 16th position; we moved into other neighboring African countries; Went to Eurobond and raised 200 million dollars; increased our branches from 210 to 265. We became the toast of the banking industry.”

As a matter of fact when I left, I had several offers from Several companies and organizations, including the KPMG, calling me to come back. During my send-forth party organized by the bank I was told by the Chairman of the Bank, “The Obi of Onitsha, Obi Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe, that if at any point I reconsider my options, to come back to my job.

I can only tell you of my impact, I can’t tell you of what happened after I left that led to the collapse of the bank,” Dr Otti said.

Dr Otti who said his manifesto is driven by what he describes as the Anchor and Drivers: the anchors being, Industrialization, Trade and Commerce, Agricultural /Agro-Processing, Sports/Entertainment and Tourism, Energy; while the drivers are Education, health care delivery, economic management and many other critical sectors of the economy.

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