By Jideofor Ugwanyi, Aba
Dr. Chukwuemeka Chinyere Okwuonu is the Medical Director of Isaac Okwuonu Memorial Hospital, Aba and a renowned political colossus in Abia State.
In this snap encounter with Jideofor Ugwanyi, the first Executive Chairman of Obingwa Local Government Area of Abia State and Deputy Campaign Director of Dr. Alex Otti Campaign Organization (Abia South) in the 2023 election said that Dr. Alex Otti is well prepared to govern Abia State.
According to him, prior to Dr. Alex Otti’s assumption of office as the fifth democratically elected Governor of Abia State mountains of refuse littered the streets of Aba and Umuahia, civil servants were owed salaries for so many months including other challenges.
But today, just two months in office, Dr. Alex Otti has really walked his talk and given Abians strong evidence to believe that he would not disappoint their high expectations and earnest desire for a positive change in the leadership trajectory of Abia State.
From all indications, Dr. Okwuonu expressed confidence that the dynamic and visionary Governor of Abia State would put an end to the long years of utter darkness and misrule that characterized the God’s Own State and transform it to greater heights. Excerpts.
Sir, let’s meet you.
I am Dr. Chukwuemeka Chinyere Okwuonu. I am an Abian, medical doctor and politician.
I am part of the change in the political landscape of Abia State. We worked so hard for the Labour Party (LP) to emerge victorious in the governorship election of Abia State.
Abians were very happy with the result of the election. We saw that in the level of acceptance and jubilation that heralded the announcement of Dr. Alex Otti as the winner of the election.
The joy cut across the entire seventeen local government areas of Abia State.
People were happy and that shows that they were no longer happy with the immediate past PDP-led government.
After his swearing-in on May, 29, 2023, Dr. Alex Otti hit the ground running at hypersonic speed in a bid to reposition the state.
During campaigns, we traversed the length and breath of Abia State telling the people what he was going to do. He talked of improving the welfare of the people, ease of doing business in Abia State, tackling of the infrastructural deficit in Abia State, provision of quality healthcare, good road network, adequate security of lives and property among others. And if you check these areas now, he has done a lot.
Nevertheless, expectations are really high considering the long journey and battle to success of the present leadership of the state by Dr. Alex Otti and the people’s desire to see more positive changes in all spheres of governance in the state.
In his inaugural speech, Dr. Alex Otti promised to pursue with vigour the course of making Abia State the pride of the nation and eliminating every factor that hindered development of the state and inflicted untold hardship on the people.
Can you mention some of the things Dr. Alex Otti has achieved so far?
Immediately after his successful inauguration, it dawned on Dr. Alex Otti that he had figuratively swallowed a pestle and must sleep standing on his feet.
The Herculean task before him notwithstanding, Dr. Alex Otti made God the bedrock of his administration and displayed uncommon courage and determination to tackle the challenges headlong.
He hit the ground running at hypersonic speed right from his first day in office.
the process of rebuilding the state by declaring war on refuse menace in the state, especially at Aba and Umuahia, which he spear-headed as well as flagging off of numerous projects in key areas of the state aimed at improving the quality of governance of the state, the welfare of the people as well as creating a safe and secure environment for commerce, trade and investment to thrive.
During his inauguration, Dr. Alex Otti promised to pay workers salaries on the 28th day of every month.
Two months down the line, he has fulfilled the promise and the workers are happy and proud of him.
Another notable masterstroke of Dr. Alex Otti’s administration in the state civil service is the fishing out of over 2, 300 ghost workers. Imagine what that means. He has not gone into local government areas, just in the ministries alone.
Dr. Alex Otti has succeeded in blocking many of the leakages responsible for the looting of the state resources over the years.
The war against corruption is on-going and the new administration is not relenting.
The setting up of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry to Recover the Looted Assets of the state is one of the measures taken to boost the war on corruption.
This is just as the current verification exercise instituted by the state Head of Service for public sector workers is meant to fish out all the numerous ghost workers and those who were fraudulently employed into the state civil service.
People were given appointments that they did not merit. Political appointments with reference to permanent secretaries is against the civil service rule. Check out the number of people that were made permanent secretaries when the last administration was leaving. It is outrageous.
Giving people rapid promotion at that level to the detriment of other civil servants or their senior colleagues because they do not have godfathers is an aberration that cannot be condoned by the present leadership of the state.
So all the criticisms against the suspension of permanent secretaries in the state in the interim by some enemies of progress to discredit every achievement of the present government of Dr. Alex Otti would fail.
And for you to find out the true picture of what is going on in the state civil service that cadre should at least give way because their presence would subdue a lot of information or facts that would help the government to do things better.
So if after investigation, the state government deems it still necessary to restore some of them, fine.
But allowing somebody you want to investigate to remain in office would not augur well for you.
For instance, if you call for one file or another he would tell his subordinate to go and remove it. So it does not work that way.
During campaign, Dr. Alex Otti promised to pay salary arrears/pension.
But some people think that he is slow in this regard. How mistaken they are. At least, you have to know who you are going to pay before you would pay. Dr. Alex Otti is now looking at the records to know who is qualified to be paid.
So I want Abians to be patient. As soon as he sanitizes the system and stabilizes it, payment of salary/arrears would be seamless and come as at when due. He is going to fulfil his promises as well as clear pension arrears.
Dr. Alex Otti’s administration has also made huge impact in the rehabilitation of physical infrastructure of the state. With the tempo of on-going rehabilitation of roads in Aba more roads would be reconstructed after the rainy season both in the urban and rural areas of the state.
In the health sector, if you are living in Abia State, you would know that most of our General Hospitals have remained moribund for so many years. Some of them have been overgrown by weeds because nothing is happening there. If you go to Mgboko where we have the Psychiatric Hospital, you would not know that the place is functioning. So that would tell you the level our health sector had deteriorated.
If not for private medical practice in Abia State nothing would have happened in terms of healthcare delivery system and the only tertiary health institution that is functioning is the Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia.
Some people are dying because of lack of medical facilities to take care of their health needs.
But Dr. Alex Otti has put in place so many things that would reverse the ugly trend.
He has promised to renovate about three General Hospitals, one in each of the three senatorial zones of the state within his 100 Days in office.
Of course, he has started doing that already and more health facilities would be developed both in urban and rural areas.
And when these things are done people can easily approach the hospitals when they are sick and get treated.
Another factor that hinders people from getting adequate medical care is lack of money.
People are not paid. Civil servants would work for ten or twenty months without being paid. So how can one really work without being paid at the end of the month? The government would not even have the moral right to ask somebody to come to work when he or she has worked for five months without being paid.
The health sector got a big boost following the flag-off of the state government free healthcare services at Aba General Hospital on July 15, 2023.
The program now holds every Saturday of the week and has been extended to the General Hospital, Amachara, Umuahia while more General Hospitals are expected to key into the programme.
In terms of security, people should be security conscious. They should know who is in their neighborhood because the police cannot do everything for us. It is our duty to know those in our various localities or dwelling places and to give proper information to the appropriate quarters.
Dr. Alex Otti’s administration is truly committed to instituting a safe and secure environment in Abia State.
Recently, the state government officially inaugurated a security initiative code-named Operation Crush with a charge on the joint security agencies to make Abia State a safer haven for the citizens and investors.
In terms of investment a lot of investors are wanting to come into Abia State now to invest, which would no doubt improve the creation of job opportunities, increase our gross domestic product (GDP) as well as the overall well-being of Abians and that is the target of his administration.
What are your parting words?
I just want to appeal to Abians to remain patient and see that the change we are talking about will eventually be the true change they desire or really seeking for.
And I assure them that they would definitely see positive changes in all the sectors of the state within the next one or two years and they would really know that a governor whose mantra is ‘Help has come’ is actually here.