(OPINION) DR. ALEX OTTI: WALKING WITH DESTINY IN 2019 – By:Nnanna Ijomah

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Most people have different understanding and interpretation of what “Destiny” is or what the term connotes. While some confuse “destiny” with “fate” , others, most notably Paulo Coelho, a Brazilian lyricist and novelist see “destiny” as something one can control and ‘fate as a one way street, believing that “while we all have the choice as to whether we fulfill our destiny, our fate, on the other hand, is sealed”. However, despite the diverse understanding of what constitutes “destiny” none of which could be considered explicitly wrong, two quotes on the subject clearly stand out or could be considered of the most relevance to the purpose of this write-up. The first was that by the legendary scientist, Albert Einstein, who said and I quote, “the destiny of the individual is to serve rather than to rule”. The other was by Fidel Castro who was quoted as saying, “Men do not shape destiny, destiny, produces the man of the hour”.

I do recollect writing about this time in 2014 an essay titled, “Alex Otti: The Man of The Hour” which in retrospect would seem as if I was channeling the thoughts of Fidel Castro as reflected in his aforementioned quote without even knowing of its existence. That notwithstanding, history is replete with stories about many transformative leaders the world over whose lives and destinies were shaped both by destiny and the exigencies of the times in which they emerged and served rather than rule as Einstein professed. These were men and women whose emergence in the political and governing arena in the times they did made not only a world of difference by the decisions they made but also the actions they took in changing not only the course of events but that of the societies they led and by extension, mankind in general. Leaders like Winston Churchill of Britain during the Second world war, Mandela of South Africa during and after apartheid, Fidel Castro of Cuba during the war of liberation, Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya during the fight for Kenya’s independence, Barack Obama of the United States during the 2008 economic depression etc, just to mention a few. From where do we find such leaders, one may ask? We find them where they are usually found- People who had summoned the courage of their convictions to step up and say, “I am willing to lead and to make the sacrifices needed to bring about change”.

So once again in this first day of the New Year of 2019 as we begin another journey in the rough and tumble of Abia state politics, Dr. Alex Otti just as he did in 2015 having been prompted both by destiny and the exigencies of the times when the Abia people have been subjected to years of deprivation, subjugation, and untold hardships to summon the courage, devotion and commitment to a cause and to say to the Abia people, “give me the chance to bring about the change you deserve”. Our problem in Nigeria and indeed Abia state is that we have too many professional politicians and not enough statesmen. We appear to be overwhelmed with politicians, who possess no ability to inspire or aspire to do great things and who constantly place their selfish interests above the public interests. Dr. Alex Otti as we all know is not a professional politician in the real sense of the word, hence not only has he never held any political office, politics has never been his real-life calling.

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It is no longer news that Dr. Alex Otti was a successful and well sought after banker of National and International repute who had reached the pinnacle of the investment and commercial banking profession as the CEO of Diamond Bank which he grew to be the 4th largest and profitable bank in the country by the time he left in 2014. For those who continue to wonder why he left the comfort of his banking position or refused entreaties by other banks to recruit him after the 2015 elections to engage in politics, let me remind them that many of the effective and transformative leaders in the world history of politics were private individuals with careers outside politics but who, disgusted, disillusioned and alarmed by societal problems, evils, corruption, and bad governance left their places of comfort to serve. As Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Party incoming Speaker of the U.S House of Representatives recently opined, ‘No one deserves any position. It is not about what you had done, for that speaks to your credentials, rather it is about what you can do.” Dr. Otti’s outstanding and monumental achievements in the banking sector speak as much to his credentials as being Governor speaks to his potential, capacity, and abilities to be an effective Governor and leader. Conversely, a cursory look at Governor Ikpeazu’s poor performance in office during the past 4 years speaks to a future of more monumental failures if re-elected.

In that sense, he definitely does not deserve the position of Governor, let alone re-elected. So if you look at the trade up from Ikpeazu to Alex Otti come the March election, it will be akin to trading a Volkswagen car for a Rolls Royce. There’s just no comparison or equivalency.

Now, why do I describe Dr. Otti as a man walking in destiny? The answer is quite simple. It can be found in his background, his Christian upbringing, educational attainments, past job performance, humility, and persistence to a cause. That persistence and the call of duty to the Abia people is the reason why he is contesting again and his destiny becoming manifest. By any yardstick, Dr. Alex Otti is not a product of any moneyed parents or background where he was instilled with an enduring sense of noblesse oblige. He was never a child of privilege but one whose values were shaped by his father, an Adventist Church Pastor who taught him the importance and value of service. That imbued desire to serve is the guiding force behind Dr. Otti’s mission to disrupt the masculine norms of professional politicians and so doing give voice to a unique perspective of political participation and engagement. It should be heartwarming to the Abia people that contesting for the privilege of being their Governor is a man who is not a member of the corrupt political establishment just as he is not a creation of it. In Dr. Alex Otti, we have a Governorship aspirant who is a patriot, a paternalist, a product of our time and by many standards a progressive.

Outside the political arena, Dr. Otti is a man who appreciates the importance of modesty, self- comportment, good moral judgment, and impulse control. His courteousness is something one can’t fail to notice when you meet him- but one that should not be mistaken for lack of spine. He possesses an emotional acuity and altruism that would move anyone as exemplified in his visits and donations to the victims of the Isu boundary dispute, the recent pipeline gas explosion and the Nkwo market fire in Aba. In essence, he is a man who embodies generosity, kindness, empathy, and values that represents the best traditions of a caring leader. In his professional life, Dr. Otti is a perfect combination of brilliance, intellect, expertise, and vision. He is a man who does not believe in half measures but one who thinks big, insisting that only those who think big and outside the box are capable of bringing about change.

Dr. Otti can be described as a winner hence a true winner puts service above self, the common good over personal greed and public approval over self-gratification, which undeniably is the complete opposite of the attributes that are associated with the present Abia state Governor. One other very important attribute of Dr. Otti is his ability to attract talent and expertise, something many staffers in Diamond Bank have variously attested to. The reality is that every good leader needs Eagles in their administration hence you cannot hang around with chickens and reach your destination, let alone achieve your goals. If there is one thing we know about Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, it is that he is a Governor who hangs around with a lot of Turkeys, who like him have limited vision or none at all, either staffers who can be best described as empty vessels and clueless flunkies, incapable of thinking beyond their next paychecks by coming up with any innovative ideas let alone how to implement them. Dr. Alex Otti on the other hand, when elected will have no hesitation bringing into his administration people who are capable of thinking big-people with big ideas, expertise and competence and there is no doubt that when that happens the Abia people will definitely notice the difference and their impact on policy formulation, implementation, and accountability.

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In the eight weeks from today to the day of the gubernatorial election, our New Year’s resolution must be one of a complete and total resolve to seize our destiny as a people and as individuals for ourselves, our children, our grandchildren and for the future progress of our state. We must desist from surrendering our welfare and well-being to an inglorious criminal cabal that has held us bondage in the past two decades and especially in the last four years which has been akin to hostage passengers in a car driven by a reckless driver who not only does not know how to drive but who has no idea of what direction he is heading hence his campaign slogan of “Ego go Again” has become a metaphor for cluelessness. With Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu as the driver of this car called Abia State, it is a case of not just waiting for an accident to happen, for the accident has already happened. So come March 2, it will be time to sack Dr. Okezie ikpeazu and employ the services of a new driver in the person of Dr. Alex Otti. To all those who pushing for a boycott of the coming elections, let me remind them that “neutrality or any election boycott does not favor the victim but rather encourages the oppressor” and that our capacity as the oppressed to vote for change is central to our ability to remain politically relevant, hence we can only emancipate ourselves from political oppression and servitude through our voting power.

With our votes, let us march lockstep in unison, solidarity, confidence and optimism with Dr. Alex Otti towards our destiny of a new Abia State-one reminiscent of a shining city on the hill, a beacon of entrepreneurship, innovation and technological advancement, the pride of every Ibo man and woman, the envy of our detractors and a template for economic development, progress and modernity. This, my fellow Abians is the destiny that awaits us. It is the destiny that has summoned Dr. Alex Otti to this quest to be Governor and it is the destiny he is walking with and heading to, God willing. In conclusion, I ask that we let this New Year be a time of rediscovery of our indomitable and fighting spirit, a rededication of our faith in Alex Otti as demonstrated in our massive support for him in 2015 despite the PDP rigging effort and finally a resolution to resist and say “Enough”. This is wishing all Abia citizens a Happy New Year.

Nnanna Ijomah is the Research and Strategy Adviser to Dr. Alex Otti and his Campaign

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