By Elizabeth Chukwuma And Suleiman Umaru
Barely 24 , hours after Alex Otti, the Labour Party, LP, governor-elect and former Managing Director of Diamond Bank, which has been acquired by Access Bank, was sworn in by Justice Lilian Abai, the Abia Chief Judge as the governor of the state, on May 29, 2023, as the state governor, the former banker appears to have hit the ground running.
The Abia state governor could hit the ground running because of the caliber of people, named to serve in the Transition Committee which include professionals, technocrats in business, economists and entrepreneurs, who had distinguished themselves in their various fields of endeavor, inkling politicians, who have made a mark in the state and at the Federal level. One of the Transition Committee members was Ifueko Okaru, former Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS. Another of such distinguished technocrats that made the list was Arunma Orteh, a former Director General, Security and Exchange Commission, SEC.The Transition Committee members were said to have drawn a road- map for governor Otti which he has followed from day one.
Otti, whose swearing in ceremony was said to have been attended by Rotimi Amaechi, a former governor of Rivers state and immediate past minister of Transportation during former President Muhammadu Buhari’s Administration and Muhammadu Sanusi, immediate governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and was said to have frozen all accounts of the state government as well as those of the agencies domiciled in every bank and Financial Institution within and outside state.
The new Abia state governor may have taken the bold initiative to avoid last minute withdraws from the accounts by officials of the ministries and the agencies and Parastatals , Chief Executive Officers, CEO. He did not stop there. Given his experience as a banker, he was said to have equally directed the banks and the Financial Institutions ‘’to seize from honouring any cheque, document, instrument or directive of any kind not expressly approved by or emanating from him’’.
This may have thrown some of the political appointees who had served under the Okezie Ipkeazu Administration into a state of confusion who had expected to make the last minute payments to contractors for jobs done as they could not have access to their ministry, agencies or parastatals accounts.
Otti, who is determined to succeed, and implement his electioneering Campaign promises to the later was said to have also dissolved the Board of the state government agencies and parastatals . He was said to have giving a matching order to the CEOs, of the agencies and parastatals to immediately hand over to those next to them in position in office until a substantive CEO, would be appointed for such Organisations.
The tough talking Otti, may have won the heart of the Abia state government Civil servants, when he gave his words that ‘’all civil servants and retirees in the state shall from the month of May, earn their Legitimate entitlements as and when due’’, noting that’’ the state civil service shall run differently under his Administration’’.
He may have given an insight to what his Administration intends to do when he disclosed of the new government plans ‘’to reform the civil service in the state that would help in prioritsing the workforce for efficiency and professionalism as obtained in the private sector. He had said that only those who demonstrate requisite intelligence in the discharge of their duties shall remain in the service, meaning that heads will roll .
The Abia governor, who could not hide his feelings has said that part of the measures to reform the civil service is to ensure that the civil servants embrace technology that could assist the state employees, including himself, the state governor ‘’to work from anywhere to achieve operational efficiency and enhanced productivity ‘’.
He noted that .the technology would also help ‘’to unmask the ghost workers in the state civil service’’, and further ‘’ determine those who are genuinely employed and those who are actively stealing from the public treasury’’. He may have sent a message to the civil servants in the state that ‘’there shall be no room for corrupt practices ‘’, stating that that the full weight of the Law shall be employed in tackling all cases of indiscipline or any act that would bring the state civil service into disrepute
The governor who had frowned at the distinction between the so-called core and non-core civil servants, had said that there was no basis for it in the state. He has made it clear to those that cares to listen that that the Abia civil service shall run differently under his Administration compared to previous Administrations in the state. His decision to run a different civil service compared that of his predecessors may have put fears on the old school civil servants in the state who are not used to change. He was said to have made some key appointments into the kitchen Cabinet who are currently helping him at this early stage in reshaping the Administration. He was said to have appointed Prof. Kenneth Kalu, as the Secretary to the state government and +Caleb Ajagba as his Chief of Staff, CAS, while Ferdinand Ekeoma was appointed as the Special Adviser, Media and Publicity.
Governor Otti, may have strictly the roadmap developed by his Transition Committee, for his Administration to hit the ground running in the state, but that could not be said of Ahmed Aliyu, the All Progressive governor of Sokoto state, who is out to destroy the Legacies of Aminu Tambuwal, a former Speaker of House of Representatives and immediate past governor of the state, on the platform of the Opposition People Democratic Party, PDP.
This is evident going by the major reversal of the major decisions that was said to have been taken by the Tambuwal Administration within the last eight years. One of the major decisions of the erstwhile governor that was said to have been reversed by governor Aliyu, was all the recent appointments made by the former Sokoto state governor into the state civil service
After March 19, 2023.
He was said’’ to have nullified the renaming of tertiary institutions in the state and other appointments related to their Governing Board and their relocations by the previous Administration in the state, directing that all such institutions are to revert to their formernames and locations.
Many believe that what the APC, governor of Sokoto state, has done in the last 48 hours, is to give the people an insight into the running of his Administration that he is out to settle scores with the former governor Tambuwal of the PDP and erase his legacies in the State.
In Kaduna, Senator Uba Sani, may have seen his Administration as a continuation of that of Malam Nasir El-Rufai, a former minister of Federal Capital Territory, FCT, and Immediate past governor of the state as he was said to have virtually retained all the former members of his kitchen Cabinet to assist in the smooth take-off of the new Administration.
Although, he has made some new appointments , describing them as competent hands and knowledgeable people to assist the new Administration deliver on its electioneering Campaign promises, he had said that’’ the good people of the state expected results from them , hence they must hit the ground running’’.
While he governors are concerned in setting up structures for their government, they are being confronted with the return of long queues in filling stations following the decision of President Asiwaju Bola Ahmed decision to stop payment of subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, popular, petrol, on May 29, 2023.
Vive Kashim Shettima, who incidentally was a former governor of the north eastern state of Borno, and who has assumed office, had said that there was no going back on the policy, affirming ‘’ the commitment of theTinubu’s Administration on the removal of the fuel subsidy’’.
Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, baptized, Nigerian NNational Petroleum Company Limed, NNPCL, with the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, by the National Assembly in August 2021, which had been signed into Law by the former Katsina state born Nigerian President in in August 2021, has upported the subsidy removal.
Even the House of Representatives under the outgoing Leadership of Femi Gbajabiamila, on Tuesday, May 30, 2021, hadbacked the Nigerian President’s action to end fuel s subsidy payment. The House was said to have asked the incumbent Nigerian President ‘’to channel the free funds that could have been used to subsize fuel importation into the country but now saved into the development of basic infrastructural facilities across the country and other areas to further strengthen the economy.