By Michael Nwabueze
On Sunday July 2, 2023 during the Thanksgiving Mass of the Deputy Speaker of Abia State House of Assembly, Rt Hon Austin Okezie Meregini at St Ann’s Catholic Church, the Governor of Abia State, Mr. Alex Otti had declared thus: “…for the past 24 years, some people had put their mouths on the feeding bottle and since we came we removed their mouths.”
Otti’s disingenuous reference to ‘feeding bottle’ is his usual allusion to the alleged looting of resources of Abia State by past administrations, an allegation that exists only in the figment of his own imagination.
Such baseless accusations formed the kernel of his campaigns from 2015 when he first contested the state’s governorship election to the 2023 polls. He whipped up wicked sentiments against the PDP, accusing them of varying degrees of monumental corruption that have existed only in his mind till this day.
Unfortunately, some gullible ones bought his story and joined a war of attrition to remove non-existent feeding bottles from the mouths of acclaimed political opponents while Otti promised at the Thanksgiving Mass that “The feeding bottle is for all of us.”
Today, it has dawned on his followers that the “feeding bottle” chants were nothing but a mischievous invention by Alex Otti to expand his financial warchest and recoup all he had been spending inordinately pursuing that singular ambition of ruling Abia State. His supporters are dumbfounded to discover that indeed there were no feeding bottles so Otti could not have removed any from anybody’s mouth, but that he has rather expanded his concept of “feeding bottle” to “dining table”.
In just three months, Alex Otti has set a wide dining table with exotic dishes and expensive wines right before himself in the presence of his supporters who can only look on in helpless contrition as Otti alone devours all the food and gulps the drinks with reckless abandon.
For a man who claimed he would reduce the cost of governance and make more resources available for the people and for projects, one wonders why he spent a whopping N5.32bn on himself alone through his office in just three months, July – September 2023 according to the Abia State 3rd Quarter 2023 Budget Performance Report released by the state government when he actually operates from his private home in Isiala Ngwa South LGA of the state, while the previous administration he accused of mismanaging the state’s resources spent only N2.06bn for the corresponding period in 2022.
It is even more mind-boggling that at a time of relative peace in the State, Alex Otti who had claimed during campaigns that security votes were a fraudulent means by which governors loot state treasuries and that he would not be collecting security votes as governor, collected a humongous N2.8bn in the three months (July – September 2023) while the previous governor collected only N240m for the same period in 2022. The grave implications of this is that the “dining table government” of Otti collected almost ten times what the “feeding bottle government” of the last administration collected. Such a financial calamity!
When a governor is as selfish as Otti, the people not only get shortchanged, but they also suffer.
By so mindlessly appropriating Abia resources to himself as governor, Otti leaves the people with little or nothing. That is why at a time he is collecting billions of naira for his office, he spends close to nothing on the people’s welfare. Or how else can one explain the fact that Alex Otti spent only N1.12bn in the three months on health for the whole state while he spent a paltry sum of N737m on education?
From the foregoing, it is obvious that Alex Otti came to power not to remove any imaginary feeding bottle from anybody’s mouth but to create, set and expand his own personal dining table right before Abians so that as his cup runneth over, the poor masses can only gape in disbelief at his monumental aggrandizement while they return home emptier than when they first set out.
*Nwabueze was Special Adviser to former Governor Okezie Ikpeazu