Towards a New Path
SPEECH DELIVERED BY GOVERNOR OF ABIA STATE, DR. ALEX OTTI, OFR, AT THE INAUGURATION OF THE ABIA STATE ORIENTATION AGENCY ON AUGUST 29, 2023, AT THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE CENTRE, UMUAHIA, ABIA STATE:
- I am very delighted to address you today as we mark another important epoch in our march to the New Abia which promises to be radically different from the old. I welcome and thank you for your steadfastness and unshaking belief that in our lifetime, this land shall return to the path of genuine greatness and collectively, we shall overcome the many obstacles that assail us and bequeath to those coming after us, a better society.
- Let me once again congratulate Ndi Abia and our friends at home and in the diaspora on the 32nd anniversary of the creation of our dear state. I am proud of what we have achieved as a people and even more excited about what the future holds. On the evidence of recent developments, I can announce happily that our moment in the sun is here.
- We have the wind in our sail and I can tell you that the optimism you see on the faces of our people everywhere is not for nothing. Abians are understandably excited and as many scholars had argued, societies are built by the faith and confidence of the people.
- So like you, I am glad to see many nonpartisan observers and groups use the state as a great example of the power of resilience and the great rewards it yields when sustained. The world knows our story, and the pains we have been through on account of several missed opportunities.
- The world is also conscious of our present journey and many observers are watching with keen interest to see where this present path leads. While it is common to assume that we shall always end at a great destination and I am actively praying and working towards that, there are a few important structures and systems that must be put in place to guarantee the outcome we desire.
- So, my people, we have gathered today to add a very important pillar to further strengthen the structure that would be ultimately known as the New Abia, making it firm and robust to stand the test of the elements.
- Today’s launch of the new Abia State Orientation Agency and our choice of Dr Oby Ezekwesili, a truly transformational leader and voice of genuine change across Nigeria and beyond, as the guest speaker for our 32nd anniversary lecture point to our determination to follow through on our mission of building a new governance architecture that responds quickly to the needs of the people.
- While we shall continue to fix roads and other civil engineering structures that are critical to our social and economic development agenda, we have come here to remind ourselves that no society can witness development in the long run unless its values align with the outcomes it seeks to achieve.
- I would be the first to concede that leadership is a major factor in determining how far and fast a society is transformed; but at the same time, it must also be noted that even the most inspirational and committed leaders would be utterly helpless when the followers cannot rise to the demands of social transformation.
- Good roads, quality healthcare, standard schools, adequate security in our neighbourhoods and communities and other social services are desired by everyone in almost every community. However, you would agree with me that none of these would materialise in an environment where individuals and businesses do not pay their taxes promptly and correctly.
- We have therefore come to set up a dynamic structure to guide the orientation of the public towards values that enable greatness in the society. The new Abia State Orientation Agency represents our boldest attempt yet at hitting the reset button as we separate ourselves from the choices that frustrated our best efforts at moving past the wilderness of mediocrity before now.
- A new era is now upon us and we must put away the old garb of greed and selfishness, poor attitude to work, clannishness and instincts that promote mediocrity over meritocracy and excellence. Our challenge going forward shall be to determine how we can individually contribute to the building of our dream New Abia.
- It is important to come to a consensus that not much will change in our cities if we keep dumping refuse indiscriminately. Abia will remain what it was before now unless we resolve collectively that in public and in private, we shall only play by the highest standards of ethics and sound judgment.
- The management of the Abia State Orientation Agency has its work clearly cut out for it. The government has already rolled out numerous programmes and policies to drive our governance agenda. You are therefore mandated to make sure that the people, whether they live in rural or urban centres are constantly made aware of various government initiatives to improve their lives, especially in the areas that matter most.
- The state shall be relying on the works of this agency to sensitise the public against behavioural patterns that make nonsense of our determination to hit the reset button and return us to the path that guaranteed peaceful co-existence amongst individuals and communities before now.
- Never take it for granted that the people will always know what to do and do it; we expect you to teach them using every available tool at your disposal including new and traditional media channels, town hall engagements, educational materials and through collaboration with public figures who embody the spirit and attitudes that capture the outcomes that we seek.
- Your duty is to teach, enlighten and then educate the public on the values that are in tandem with the spirit of the New Abia; honesty, patriotism, love of one’s neighbour and goodwill to all. You are never to under-estimate what impact you can make in the life of the people if you do your job right.
- The job will not be easy because of years of abuses and the glorification of vanity. At any rate, I trust that Pastor Dike Nwankwo, an ordained priest, and his team have what it takes to put in place, processes and systems that would bring about significant improvements in our social ethics and values within a very short period.
- The idea is to change the way we think and behave and ensure high standards in our daily lives. In the new Abia, we don’t expect people to litter, throw out refuse in unauthorised places or block drains that eventually leads to flooding. We expect our people to function in sparkling clean environments.
- The new Abia has no room for corruption. Receiving and offering of bribe is unacceptable in the new Abia.
- In the New Abia, it will be an anathema for any traditional ruler to confer chieftaincy titles on individuals with questionable wealth or for religious leaders to abuse their ecclesiastical authorities by engaging in conducts that are incongruent with the tenets of their faith as expressed publicly.
- Teachers who mislead our young ones by aiding and abetting examination malpractices shall soon realise that their type have no place in the Abia of our dreams. Truancy, lateness and all the other behaviours that sabotage the effectiveness of the civil service shall no longer be tolerated and we expect the Abia State Orientation Agency to use the tools of moral suasion and public enlightenment to guide everyone aright.
- We shall place the necessary resources you need to function at your disposal. Our resources are lean even as the demands on the government keep expanding. The best you can do to deliver on the mandate that have been given to you is to spend prudently and focus on the low hanging fruits in the immediate.
- I wish you great success as you take off on this important journey of enlightening members of the public on the minimum acceptable standards of social behaviour in the New Abia; educating them on the various programmes and policies of the government, mobilising critical stakeholders’ support while ensuring that Abia remains a reference point for good governance and active and responsible citizenship.
- Distinguished Ladies and gentlemen, you are now invited to join me as I inaugurate the Abia State Orientation Agency.
Dr Alex C.Otti, OFR,