BY NKEM OKORO in Umuahia
Former Managing Director of Diamond Bank, Dr. Alex Otti has again declared his intention to contest the governorship of Abia State in 2019 on the platform of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
Otti declared his intention Friday at Ngwa High School play ground in Aba, saying that he took up the challenge to oust incumbent governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu and the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) because of his resolve to rescue Abians from bondage.
Otti contested for Abia governorship in 2015 and lost to Ikpeazu. But during Friday’s declaration, Otti insisted that Abians freely gave him their mandate in 2015 but the PDP stole it, adding that it happened simply because he didn’t want to plunge the state into crisis.
“I have invited you here today to inform you that come 2019, I am offering myself yet again to reclaim the mandate you gave me in 2015.
“And I want to encourage you to be steadfast because what happened in 2015 was daylight robbery,” Otti told the sympathetic crowd.
He said further: “I came to contest in 2015 to rescue our people from the Pharaohs of Abia; and because the Pharaohs are still there, I cannot retreat, I cannot surrender.
“The Pharaohs of Abia must obey, they must come down; they must let our people go.”
He dismissed views that he lost in 2015 because APGA faithful did not protect their votes. Rather he alleged that the Returning Officer was threatened at gunpoint to accept results he had earlier cancelled.
According to him, former Publicity Secretary of PDP, Olisa Metuh, and the then sitting governor, Chief T.A.Orji, along with other PDP faithful, masterminded the “stealing of his mandate.”
Giving an insight into how he was robbed of victory, Otti said: “Many have argued that we didn’t protect our votes. It was not exactly true. What happened was that PDP, when we didn’t give them opportunity to manipulate the election at the polling booths, they went and wrote a fake result and brought it into the INEC headquarters in Umuahia where results were being collated.
“They wrote results in two major local governments: Obingwa where they allocated 82, 000 votes and 45,000 votes in Osisioma to their candidate.
“We caught them and when we raised the alarm, those results were cancelled. At this point, there is a man who currently goes about with collar in his neck, his name is Olisa Metuh and the sitting governor then, (Chief) T.A.Orji and other PDP bigwigs bombarded the collation centre; they broke into the collation centre and took the Returning Officer and intimidated him.
“They threatened him at gunpoint and the man panicked and reversed himself. I have forgiven Olisa Metu because he has apologised to me.”
He said he did not want to set Abia on fire, that was why he refrained from confronting the PDP when they were allegedly carrying out the rigging at INEC headquarters in Umuahia.
“They stole our mandate in 2015 because we didn’t want to place Abia people at risk because we knew when they were doing it. I should have gone there with this crowd. How many people did they have in PDP?
“But I didn’t want to put our people at risk, I didn’t think it was worth the blood of any Abia person. I still believe so that we shouldn’t lose our lives because of election,” he said.
He expressed optimism that he would succeed in his second attempt by the collective efforts of the people.
“In 2019, Abia State will be released from bondage; and it will happen by fire by force. Many ask what will be the difference between what happened in 2015 and 2019. There are lot of difference. If you have followed the elections in Anambra and Ekiti, it was not possible to rig the elections.
“So, INEC has made it impossible to rig elections. But the reality is that we cannot go to sleep because we must tell this people that enough is enough. So the issue of protection of votes is a collective responsibility. Every one must be vigilant.
“No one should sleep on the day of election. After voting, you must follow the result from your polling units to the ward and to the local government collation centres and then everyone must converge on Umuahia,” he charged APGA members.
Presenting Otti to the crowd, a former National Chairman of APGA, Chief Victor Umeh, described him as trustworthy and experienced to pilot the affairs of Abia.
Umeh who is the Senator representing Anambra Central, said Otti was humane and would not indulge in squandermania but would rather serve the people faithfully.