It has become very necessary to interrogate the audacity, if not effrontery, of Alex Otti’s dabble into politics on the premise that he is an Ngwaman.
Ever since he lost the governorship election in Abia State to Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, Otti has found it increasingly difficult to adjust properly and regain composure. Apparently distempered, disoriented and divorced from polite communication, Otti has resorted to abusive and “gutter” language in characterizing Ngwa leaders.
My natural impulse was to join issues with Otti, but on a second thought I quietly subjected it to the philosophical rationalization that the opposition must have something to say, and that the writer would be sobered with time and with some introspection on his unguarded fart. But I was wrong.
In the interview he granted Sunday Sun, and published on April 8, 2018, Otti was unrepentant, pointblank and more daring. In his own words: “The people that gathered at Okpuala Ngwa were conflicted traditional rulers, ritualists, marabouts and native doctors all gathered to endorse you and you pay them. In a place where people have shame, you don’t do that.”
After going through these reinforced stereotypes, I became convinced that Otti was talking “out of the abundance of his heart”. The words he deployed in describing Ukwa/Ngwa people were the true reflection of the people in his own eyes.
It is against this background that I will attempt to examine the steps taken by Otti, a self-confessed genius, in his efforts to occupy Government House, Umuahia as the first Ngwaman.
Maybe I should state on the outset that there is nothing wrong with Dr. Otti or any other person aspiring to govern Abia State, equity or no equity, as long as the law permits. But that everything is wrong when an aspiring leader attempts to hoodwink all of us by deliberately assuming the false character of descending from an ancestry and bloodline that is alien to his, just because he wants to be governor.
Abia State was established on a bedrock called equity. The battle to do equity in Abia State has been raging for decades. When it became obvious that the pendulum would be swinging to the Old-Aba Zone, Dr. Otti quickly abandoned his castle at Atani in Arochukwu, crossed over to Isiala-Ngwa, acquired land in 2012 and began to erect “a new home”. With alacrity, he has become an Ngwaman, from Isiala-Ngwa. With his well funded housing project in progress, Dr. Otti then arranged for some traditional rulers (the same traditional rulers he would later berate) to confer a chieftaincy title on him. He was not only transferring nativity and residence, he was transferring title also. He had years back been conferred with the chieftaincy title of “Ugwu Aro” of Arochukwu. He would now become the “Ugwu Ngwa I” of Ngwaland and traditional rulers were not in short supply.
Having acquired a chieftaincy title in Ngwaland, Dr. Otti, playing the cameo role and being the hero of his own imagination, walked across to the Independent National Electoral Commission. In 2011, he had voted at Atani. In 2015 he would vote and be voted for at Umuru, Isiala Ngwa. All he needed do was apply for a transfer of voting location. Full stop. And this he did. By his own calculation, nothing was going to stop him. He had earlier drafted in a woman with whom he has blood ties as his deputy, and had even discreetly investigated the financial status of notable Ngwa men and women in comparison to his own broad financial war chest.
But he forgot one thing. He forgot that he needed to have a rendezvous with the God of justice and equity. While Otti was riding rough shod over the sensibilities of Abia State leaders in their collective resolve to do the needful and correct a historical mistake, the Rotary Club’s moral bell “will it be fair to all concerned?” continued to chime in Otti’s ears unheeded.
I have often had cause to sit back and reflect on what could have been the fate of the Ngwaman had Otti succeeded. How could we have taken such a crushing defeat by just one man?
I must confess that on a personal scale I have not fully recovered from the shock of my regrets, having offered myself a veritable tool in his hands while the battle raged.
Since Dr. Otti has chosen to re-launch his campaign by brazenly portraying Ukwa/Ngwa leaders as despicable and evil characters, it may be necessary to zero in on the man himself.
For those who have not had an interpersonal experience or exposure with Dr. Otti, he may come across as a populist leader willing to sacrifice himself for the benefit of the ordinary man. But is that true? Political leadership demands social conscience on the part of aspiring leaders.
The obscene comfort at the disposal of Otti in the midst of very poor people who find themselves trapped in the downward spiral of poverty is a great question mark on the man’s messianic posturing and make-believe romance with the common man.
Corruption is often perceived when our ways and means are grossly at variance. And Femi Falana, a conscientious social crusader, has just revealed the fact that worse corruption takes place in the churches and the banking industry. Maybe someday we shall get to know how the son of an itinerant preacher became not just a banker but a financial and property tycoon.
I love the opposition. And I have often found myself in the opposition. But the beauty of the opposition remains in its credibility to speak the truth and to feed the public with incontrovertible facts. Now, is it true as Otti has repeatedly alleged that Dr. Ikpeazu is owing Abia State workers a backlog of 10 months? In what better ways could Otti have deployed Abia State resources given what Ikpeazu is doing today?
Did I hear Chief Tony Ukasoanya, Otti’s henchman, confess that he was returning to the Peoples Democratic Party because of his excitement on the overall performance of Ikpeazu? Who and who are still left in Otti’s camp of “the alliance of the aggrieved?”
The whole story of Otti’s incursion into politics may end up a misadventure. I could see Dr. Otti with the eyes of time as an evolving metaphor, an accident that will eventually happen. I could see his gimmicks and conceited efforts being encapsulated in a book titled: “How not to be an Ngwaman.” It is bound to be a treatise as well as an instructional manual.
It will be read and relished by all except Otti himself, the biblical Peter who would not want to be reminded of the cock. Let’s give time the chance.
. Orji, an Ngwaman, is a former chieftain of the All Progressives Grand Alliance.