By Godwin Adindu
The mantra is the NEW ABIA, and this announces the new government of Labour Party. Governor Alex Otti is on the saddle and, in the first 100 days, it has not been about a new government but about an intentional and calculated action of orchestrating a paradigm shift. The governor has engaged in a planned and deliberate action of overhauling the state with the aim of fostering a new political culture. Thus, an exact description of Abia State in the first 100 days is a state in the mills, a state undergoing through the crucible of refinement. Change is the only thing that is permanent and Abians are experiencing a change process, an innovation procedure and a kind of historical progression under the new government.
The victory of the Labour Party in the March 18 gubernatorial poll heralded a mass reflex of ululation and a clamour for change. Thus, in the last 100 days, Governor Otti has been intentional in creating a polity that is clearly a departure from the status quo. It has been 100 days of an overhauling and re-engineering process. There is a rebuilding process that has manifested in the sanitising of the civil service structure through a recertification process and bio metrics. The idea is to weed off ghost workers so that the government can deal with authentic workers. There has been an emergency action in the educational sector. Politics has been taken away from the hands of the traditional stakeholders to technocrats.
By assembling a crop of accomplished Abia professionals in different fields of human endeavour to drive the new change, the governor created a new face in the Abia leadership. Put in his own language, he removed ‘feeding bottle from the mouths’ of the cabals. There is now an end to the mortal threat against upcoming politicians who are usually not given a space to breathe by the cabals who fear that they might outshine them.
Women in politics are no more vulnerable to the juggernauts. Thirty five percent quota for women is almost met in the spread of appointments. Another milestone in the 100 days is the action of recertifying of traditional rulers and capturing them on the biometrics for easy processes. Federal relief is trickling down to the common man. The governor is also restoring order in critical areas like waste disposal, especially in the two cities of Aba and Umuahia. He embarked on immediate rehabilitation of the public health facilities with the rehabilitation of three major secondary health facilities in the three zones of the state. He quickly resolved the protracted industrial dispute among doctors and launched free medical services across selected general hospitals in the state. This covers free medical checks and examination.
Another significant milestone of the 100 days stride is the intervention in security with the launch of a security operation codenamed “Operation Crush”. With this he brought the security units together in a combined strategy that is aimed at smoking out criminals and ensuring that they cannot escape the long arms of the law.
The 100 days of the new Abia has seen many roads in Aba l undergoing reconstruction. There has been a deliberate action by Governor Alex Otti to install a new order and lead the state on the path of new process and procedure.
By these drives, I seem to see the governor from the prism of the bicycle repairer next to my village back in the days. It was from my interaction with the bicycle repairer that I first heard the word “overhaul”. His workshop was at the Umuikeaba Village square, a stone throw from my compound.
My parents would detail me to take the family bicycle to the repairer for “overhaul”. Both my parents and the bicycle technician stopped at “overhaul” not overhauling. Oftentimes, I sat with the technician and watched him do the job of “overhaul” which was about breaking down and refixing.
He started by loosening every knot and turning the bicycle into pieces of disjointed parts. Then, he would begin to grease and strengthen every part. He would change the faulty parts weakened by age or malfunctioning due to cracks. Then, he would couple the pieces back into a strong and functional bicycle. But the repairer would not hand the refurbished bicycle over to you immediately. He usually “test” it by taking a ride on it to certify its fitness before handing it to you.
Indeed, Governor Alex Otti might just be the bicycle repairer. I see a correlation between his current crusades in Abia and what the bicycle repairer did with his work of “overhaul”. Both are engaged in overhauling process. Today, my childhood imagination has grown from the bicycle to see “overhaul” from a larger and broader construct. There is a convergence of meaning with Governor Otti’s work and that of the bicycle repairer. Overhaul or overhauling encodes the perspectives of re-engineering, of rejigging, restructuring, refixing and even cleansing.
When organisations and institutions talk about overhauling the system, they are dealing with a renewal process, a kind of radical transformation which involves the enhancement of personnel, procedure and processes. The exercise might often step on toes but it is entirely aimed at expanding the frontiers, like breaking eggs to make omelets. It results in innovation and advancement and lifts the system to run with the trend or to higher grounds of operation.
This is undoubtedly the bigger picture of Governor Otti for the state of Abia and he is obviously intentional in his actions and knows where he is headed.
.Adindu, a communication consultant, writes from Umuahia.