As I was going through the last edition of Aro News, a piece of news item struck my attention and mind, and I quickly went through it. The news indicted that Dr Alex Otti, an illustrious son of Arochukwu, had taken over the construction of the Aro Civic Hall project; and that he would complete it before the end of 2017!
The story went ahead to chronicle how the illustrious banker-politician had made the announcement during the 2016 Aro Day activities at Oror, the village where the civic centre is located. When I saw and read the story, something struck my mind – I had ruminated over how the man called Alex Otti had been projecting himself ever since he came to eminence and pro-eminence in Aro!
I started to think back to find out if I can boast of another man likened to this altruistic son of Atani Mmawuru (where I was born) in Aro today. 1 began to ruminate over his patriotic instincts ever since Aro came to know him. First, from giving Arochukwu a branch of First Bank PLC; second, how he had, according to some sources, given jobs to some qualified Aro sons and daughters in his days in First Bank and, later, in Diamond Bank, as those who had benefitted had disclosed.
Politically, Dr Alex Otti has, beginning from the 2015 General Election in Nigeria, changed the political landscape of Abia State. First, as a member of the PDP; and, later, as the gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA. Though he did not win the governorship election, Dr Otti, without a doubt, had succeeded in changing the political equation of Abia State, as political actors can still testify today! Let me explain more.
Between 2011 and 2015, all the members of ABHA (Abia State House of Assembly – twenty-four of them) were members of the then ruling political party in Nigeria, the PDP (Peoples Democratic Party. That was sequel to the defection of the then governor of the state, Chief Theodore Oji, from the Progressive People’s Alliance, PPA, to the People’s Democratic Party. In doing that, nearly all his followers and associates had followed him to do so, hence their election.
But that didn’t happen again during the 2015 general election. Dr Alex Otti had delivered nine members to APGA (though the party later lost one member through election tribunal’s verdict, while the Aba South APGA member later defected to PDP). In changing the political equation of Abia State, the retired managing director of Diamond banks and the First Class, Economist-product of the University of Port Harcourt colossus, had empowered many Umu Aro politically, economically and financially during the politicking days, alongside many other Abians and Nigerians. This is by the way.
The he came to the Aro Civic Centre project Nzuko Arochukwu and her leaders had started since 1976 and which had defied completion since then; and had been under construction before the patriotic Dr Alex Otti came to Aro rescue. Who says this man will not live forever! He will!
The day I visited the site in August I could not believe my eyes. I saw that work was speedily progressing – fixing of iron roofing-sheets; plastering and all others – which meant to me that the ‘uncompletable’ Aro Civic Centre Nzuko Aro leaders had not been able to do hitherto was to be completed by Dr Alex Otti. Waoo.
To the ordinary mind, Dr Alex Otti elected to handle and complete the project because ‘he has money!’ Yes; to such people, only a person who has money as Dr Otti could have elected to undertake the project! I beg to defer here. I am convinced, following my reasoning,that the mere possession of money had not led Dr Otti to building of Aro Civic Centre alone; I am of the conviction that what are talking in him are the patriotic instincts in his veins! From what I have observed and the stories I have heard of this young man, he could go for one of the most patriotic and caring living sons of Arochukwu! I liken him to Dr Alvan Ikoku who shunned the lure of Lagos, Enugu, Aba and other townships in his days and chose to return to Arochukwu (then a ‘forest,’ full of mosquitoes and loathed by all) to establish the first privately-owned college in Africa in 1932! Look at that! Patriotism at work! I also liken Dr Alex Otti to Dr Nwakamma Okoro (the first Senior Advocate of Nigeria of Imo State origin then in 1982) who had, according to reliable information, exceptional liking for Arochukwu since he came back from overseas.
So, Dr Alex Otti did not opt to build Aro Civil Centre for Arochukwu because he had money. No; he opted to do so because he loves his people and wants the best for them! Yes, he thinks of what he can do for Arochukwu and not what Aro can do for him. Patriotism at its best. There could be other Aro sons and daughters who might even be richer and more prosperous than Dr Otti but who cannot even spend one kobo for any Aro project; rather such people will prefer to buy all the pieces of land at Okobo, Uburu (Ihechiowa), Lagos and Abuja, Kano and build mansions; and even use their Nzuko Aro positions to take from and exploit Arochukwu – and go ahead to misappropriate the funds peasant farmers and widows and the poor contribute as utu Aro.
So, my dear Alex Otti, go ahead and continue to do what God, your Creator, has brought you to Arochukwu to do. Don’t be deterred. Don’t mind those who take away instead of giving to Arochukwu. You already know that the secret of getting is giving; and cheerfully too; so, continue to give and you will continue to get. If you succeed in letting Arochukwu have a hall now, after more than four hundred years and after she had commenced its building since 1976, you will have proved you will forever be in our minds – in these days and in the years to come.
Yes; Alex Otti forever!