Otti’s ‘big stick’ and the burden of examplary leadership


Otti’s ‘big stick’ and the burden of examplary leadership

Ebere Uzoukwa, Ph.D

Many were surprised when Gov. Alex Chioma Otti OFR constituted the State Expanded Executive Council, populated by non-partisan Abia-born technocrats, who hitherto plied their trade outside the state.

The justification of the decision was satisfactory as the governor, who is equally a technocrat, may have crossed paths with those distinguished Abians.

He believed their capacity to inject values into his determined effort to build a solid foundation for the New Abia of our collective dream.

Dr Ngozi Okoronkwo, the suspended Abia Commissioner for Health, is touted to be among the technocrats specially fetched by Gov. Otti. It is also said that the female commissioner was among the closest and always enjoyed the attention of the governor as a super commissioner. Though that’s not the direction of this opinionated article, the overriding fact remains that Dr Okoronkwo was among the appointees the governor embraced with trust and confidence, apparently for her capacity, competence and experience in her field.

As the Commissioner for Health, Dr Okoronkwo was obviously saddled with the enormous responsibility of executing projects and programmes of the State Government within the health sector.

Recall that Gov. Otti had during his inauguration prioritised critical sectors, including the health sector. He also promised to colloborate effectively with relevant agencies and bodies, both national and international, to ensure that his administration revolutionised the decayed health sector for the good of the people. This target was expressly heaped on the shoulders of the Commissioner for Health for coordination and implementation.

It is obvious that this writer is not privy to the offence(s) of Dr Okoronkwo for which she was suspended indefinitely and the suspension publicised via a press statement issued by the Commissioner for Information and Culture, Prince Okey Kanu.

Her suspension, to say the least, is saddening and very unfortunate. But the critical issue, however, is the various interpretations trailing the official communication of the government announcing her suspension and, on the other hand, the exemplary leadership Gov. Otti entrenches in Abia.

It is obvious that the governor, while constituting his cabinet, announced his zero-tolerance disposition to corruption and his commitment to transparency and accountability.  As a matter of fact, he warned his appointees to reconsider their appointments, if they had earlier perceived their new assignments as avenues to get richer or make quick money. He categorised their assignments as largely sacrificial and a rare opportunity for them to contribute to the rebuilding process of God’s Own State.

It is also on record that Gov. Otti vowed to offload any appointee that indulged in corruption or malpractices that tend to embarrass the New Abia administration. He sounded a note of warning and promised to wield the ‘big stick’, whenever it became neccessary.

Today, Gov. Otti has demonstrated his determination not to condone anything that may dent the image and principle of his administration.

And assuming, without conceding, that Dr Okoronkwo was a special cum super commissioner Gov. Otti’s cabinet, vis-a-vis her publicised suspension to pave the way for investigation into her activities as Health Commissioner; can anyone in their right senses suggest that the governor is not setting an incredible standard in the administration of Abia State?

Suffice it to say that Gov. Otti’s recent action has strengthened his records on examplary leadership in Abia. He has proven that nobody is untouchable or irreplaceable in his administration.

This disciplinary action has again proven that the governor is committed to absolute transparency and accountability. This is truly what leadership entails!

While the rationally-minded persons and Abians applaud the governor’s sincerity to run a corruption-free government, some elements of the opposition have preferred to continue to wash their dirty linen at the market square.

It is not arguable that Abia chapter of the Proples Democratic Party (PDP) operated the most corrupt government in the history of Nigeria.

A recent report released by the KPMG Audit Report exposed about N1.9 trillion stolen via several corrupt practices under the immediate past administration.

Issues of corruption and diversion of public funds were alarmingly promoted and elevated by the immediate past Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, and his gang of treasury looters, hence the government lacked direction, discipline, transparency and accountability.

As a matter of fact, there were handsome rewards for corrupt practices. Those that got elevated and usually cherished and given a pat on the back by the immediate past governor were the most corrupt officials of his government.

Among the major difference between the past administrations of the infamous Abia PDP and the present New Abia is the governor’s audacity to eradicate corruption in the system.

Obviously, nothing could have happened to the Health Commissioner, if she operated during the dark and notorious days of PDP. Though Dr Okoronkwo is presumed innocent until investigation proves otherwise, the fact that Gov. Otti has wielded the big stick, when necessary, is a clear pointer that Abia has moved to another level of transparency in leadership.

Kudos to Gov. Alex Chioma Otti OFR!

Dr. Ebere Uzoukwa, a media consultant and policy analyst, writes from Obingwa.