Abia State Labour Party (LP) governorship candidate, Dr. Alex Otti, says building an airport in the state will not be a priority for him, at least not in his first four years in office.
Rather, Otti said he would consider building one in the eighth year of his second term in office.
The frontline governorship candidate in Abia in the 2023 election said this on Sunday, when the Amuzukwu Ibeku Autonomous Community, Umuahia North, LGA, led by its traditional ruler, His Royal Highness, Eze John Onyebuchi Ibezim and his council of chiefs, rolled out the drums to welcome him to the Eze’s palace.
Otti, a renowned economist and an accomplished former bank chief executive officer, was responding to the request of Eze Ibezim, who had appealed to him, among other requests, to ensure that he builds an airport for the state when he assumes office as governor, so that citizens and visitors would not have to go through the rigours of flying to Owerri or Port Harcourt, to get into Abia.
“His majesty talked about building an airport in the state, that is good and I also believe that we need an airport of our own. But I have to be straight with His Majesty. The truth is that airport is not my priority. We have to be frank. My priority is to create jobs, create wealth and create the enabling environment for businesses and SMEs to thrive.
“The reality of the situation in Abia is that we’re in trouble. Our youths have no job to do and when there is no job, people will have to look for what to do because they have to survive. Some of them are likely to resort to unholy activities such as armed robbery, banditry and kidnapping. Some of the so-called unknown gunmen are our children. If they have jobs to do and fend for themselves and their families, they will not resort to the risky business of carrying arms.
“Not too long ago, Abia State was littered with industries that not only provided jobs for the youths, but made handsome contributions to the internal revenue of the state and other social responsibilities. There was the Aba Textile Mills, PZ, Lever Brothers, Nigerian Breweries, International Equitable Association of Nigeria, International Glass Industry, Metallurgical Plant, Modern Ceramics Industry, Golden Chicken and the Abia Palm, to mention but a few. But where are they today?
“Our plan is to bring back those that can be brought back and set up new ones, with the private sector management, so we can create jobs for our teeming unemployed youths,” Otti told Eze Ibezim.
The revered traditional ruler had while welcoming Dr. Otti to his palace decried the state of governance in Abia State. He frowned at a situation where the present PDP government in Abia, led by Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, has continued to owe workers and pensioners several months of arrears of salaries and pensions.
He pointedly told the Labour Party candidate that the people of Amuzukwu Ibeku Community will vote for him and the Labour Party, saying Abia deserves someone with capacity, character and competence like him.
“We want somebody who will pay our workers’ salaries; somebody who will pay our pensions after we have retired from service; an honest person. We know what you did when you were in Diamond Bank and we believe you will do the same in Abia State,” Eze Ibezim said.
Dr. Otti Alex C. Otti was accompanied on the visit by the State Campaign Coordinator of the Alex Otti Campaign Council (AOCC), Hon. Iheanacho Obioma; Dr. Chimezie Ukaegbu, a strong supporter of the Labour Party candidate and other LP leaders and stakeholders in Umuahia North.