The controversial Abia born US based Investigative Journalist, El-Pappy Kadash Anya bares it all as regards Abia politics, lambasting political scavengers and sets the agenda for the Alex Otti administration. He also talked soccer administration with emphasis on ENYIMBA Football Club. It is explosive as it is revealing. News Admiral engaged him in a telephone interview.
SO FAR, WHAT IS YOUR ASSESSMENT OF ALEX OTTI’S ADMINISTRATION, POLICY WISE?
Alex Otti has not done badly so far as Abia’s state governor. A few of the decisions he has taken thus far, I would believe, was for the best interest of Abians, especially with his appointment of Permanent Secretaries. Going through that list, I could say that the appointments were based on merit, and that’s a deviation from the past where such appointments were based more on connections with people in high places.
Economically, I see development and diversification aimed at reducing dependency on federal allocation.
He has equally made improvements in infrastructure, such as roads and security. There have been some remedial jobs done on roads in Aba specifically. The Osa gateway into the Umuahia city center and Port Harcourt Road Aba are currently under construction. Ironically, a few of these roads were left in squalor by the immediate past administration despite the noise they made in the media about their intentions to repair and fix those roads. Aba is looking better, and there seems to be a conducive environment for business and investment to thrive.
I have not seen much in the Education sector as per reforms to improve the quality and increase enrollment except the 20% allocated the sector in the 2024 budget but I’m glad that he has a plan for the Healthcare sector with tangible initiatives. ABSU College of Medicine lost their accreditation due to the deplorable condition of the Teaching Hospital and the poor welfare of the staff due to non payment of salaries. There was and possibly still is, massive corruption in the college due to these factors. However, I was glad to learn that the accreditation has been restored. That’s huge for me and and and insight into his plans for the state’s healthcare industry.
Also, I have not heard the usual hullabaloo about civil servants being owed for months, which means he has been steadfast and dedicated to the payment of salaries as and when due.
THERE SEEMS TO BE A DEPARTURE OF THE ‘CRITICAL STAKEHOLDERS’ SYNDROME WITH THE LOCAL SOBRIQUET, ‘NDI APATA UKWU’: DO YOU THINK IT IS YIELDING POSITIVES?
The sidelining of political leeches, aka ‘ndi apata ukwu,’ is critical to reducing the influence of individuals who are deemed to exploit the political system for personal gain without contributing meaningfully to societal progress. The potential benefits in a context like Abia State politics can not be overemphasized.
By curtailing the influence of political leeches, resources that might otherwise be misallocated to personal ends have been effectively distributed towards public services, thus improving infrastructure, healthcare, education, and other necessary societal functions.
There seems to be a restoration of public trust in the political system. When citizens see that political opportunism is not rewarded, they may start having more faith in the governance process, which, in turn, enhances public engagement and democratic participation. Apparently, that’s the case based on the feelers I get from the streets.
Political environments with fewer “leeches” are likely to be more appealing to genuinely motivated individuals like myself. These are the people who might otherwise be deterred from politics due to the corrupt or extractive practices of others.
The lessening or numbing of the grip of these unproductive political figures has contributed to a more conducive environment for economic progress, with fair competition and equal opportunities for all businesses, not just those connected to political figures.
However, I understand that there are a few of them who are trying so hard not to let go of public establishments like parks and markets, using their proxies to intimidate and extort Abians. Alex Otti must put his foot down on their necks until they let go.
On a broader scale, reducing the appearance and reality of corruption can improve the state’s standing, potentially leading to increased foreign investment, tourism, and partnerships.
Politicians who are in office to serve their constituents rather than themselves seem to have a breather and are more likely to implement policies that have long-term benefits for the population. This shift in focus can lead to better educational systems, economic policies, and investment in public goods.
The political environment is more stable and predictable right now except for the few paper weight criticisms from foot soldiers of political figures in the past government. This is beneficial for long-term planning and development.
However, Henry, we must keep our eyes peeled to ensure that one set of political leeches or ndi apata ukwu is not simply replaced by another. We are tired of hearing ‘shun onye ishi’ from able bodied young men who should be productive but choose to be sycophants.
ENYIMBA FC IS DEAR TO THE AVERAGE ABA FAN: WHAT DO YOU THINK IS NOT RIGHT AT THE MOMENT WITH THE CLUB AND WHAT CAN REMEDY THE SITUATION?
To reposition Enyimba International Football Club, and strengthen its stature domestically and internationally, the club’s management could consider a comprehensive approach that encompasses various aspects of the sport and the business while preserving the values and culture of the community, along with the rich history of the club.
There are ideas I will share with you, Henry, but I have my doubts if the current management of the club has the balls or wherewithal to take initiative, think outside the box, and make the necessary changes. I say this due to the recent snafu that surrounded the club after they were unceremoniously knocked out of the Champions League by Libyan side, Al Ahli Benghazi.
George Finidi, the clubs coach, pointedly accused the Kanu Nwankwo led management team of being responsible by scuttling the teams preparations for the fixtures. Actually, Ifeanyi Ekwueme was singled out, and you know he is synonymous with controversy in Nigeria’s football space.
The first thing should be to invest in youth academies to identify, develop, and support local talent from a young age. This will not only feed skilled players into the main team in the long run but also ensure a connection with the local community.
Enyimba must expand its scouting efforts to find hidden gems not just within Nigeria but across Africa. An efficient scouting network can bring in top talents who could improve team performance and potentially be sold on for profit in the future.
The upgrade of training and stadium facilities to meet international standards is a must-do. Good infrastructure not only aids player development but also enhances the fan experience and revenue. I was bitter to learn about the ban of the stadium last season due to the poor nature of the stands. That’s unacceptable. Tax payers’ money was spent on revamping the pitch. The ASTRO pitch cost the state government 450 million naira, and the expectations were that the stadium will attract more spectators and thus increase their revenue. They did make money. Based on records, the club made 15 million in one night when they recorded 25,000 fans in a singular game. Imagine having to lose such revenue due to negligence and poor maintenance culture.
I’m not seeing anything positive about Enyimba in the media, especially social media. There’s no visibility for the club. Modern football requires that. They must be intentional in creating better engagement channels on social media with interactive and engaging fan focused content, meet-and-greet events, and updates on all club activities. We should be able to go online and know everything about Enyimba, the projections for upcoming seasons, player transfer intentions, and player profiles. A loyal fan base is the lifeline of a club’s enduring success.
Sound financial management, with an emphasis on sustainability, is key. They must diversify revenue streams through merchandise, partnerships, and sponsors. These things shouldn’t be shrouded in secrecy at all.
A club at Enyimba’s level should acquire highly qualified technical and medical staff who can use modern-day sports science to improve player performance and reduce injury. I guess 80% of Enyimba fan base doesn’t know who the team doctor is or the entire technical crew. I had my qualms with Kanu Nwankwo’s appointment and expressed that on my Facebook page. Those doubts surface with the clubs exit from the Champions league. Actually, way before that, after Kanu’s appointment. His first salvo of sacking the coaching crew and asking them to reapply for their jobs missed the mark. Ifeanyi Ekwueme’s appointment as Director of football was ill-advised as well.
Enyimba must be run with transparency and efficiency, adhering to best practices in governance to maintain credibility among fans, sponsors, and the football community.
We can’t confidently say how much the players earn, respectively. We can’t say if they are poorly or appropriately paid. The remuneration must be consistent with the standards in top leagues across Africa. This is to ensure that the club attracts the best players in the continent and beyond and consistently compete at the top in domestic leagues and cups, and perform with distinction in continental competitions like the CAF Champions League.
Enyimba must craft an attractive brand that appeals to both local supporters and potential fans abroad. This might involve rethinking the club’s digital presence, merchandise, and international relations. The club should aim to make the Charity friendly at the San Siro against Inter Nilan in 2001 a constant feature by ensuring that the team trade tackles with international club sides every summer.
This could be done forging international partnerships with clubs in Europe, Asia, and the Americas for technical exchange programs, player loans, and other collaborative opportunities.
WHAT AREAS DO YOU THINK THE ALEX OTTI ADMINISTRATION SHOULD FOCUS ON TO DIFFERENTIATE IT FROM PAST ADMINISTRATIONS?
Alex Otti must be strategic in palnning. Having nursed the ambition to govern the state over time, I guess he does have a plan.
This must be a long-term vision for the state, identifying key areas of growth such as infrastructure, education, health, and industry and setting specific, measurable goals with clear timelines for achieving them.
He must be inclusive. He started well with the brainstorming team he brought together at the onset. He must work closely with stakeholders at all levels, including local communities, traditional leaders, business owners, and the youth, to ensure that policies are representative.
I want to believe that he will set up advisory councils or committees that include experts and citizens to provide input on policies. I state this because he has mentioned the establishment of an Abia Global Economic Advisory Board. However, he must ensure that the members work pro bono. We can’t encourage any waste of funds, especially when there are established and well-off Abia sons and daughters heading international organizations that we can call on.
Transparency and accountability are key factors in any successful government. The bloated figures in the 2024 budget for entertainment were a blooper that must not be allowed to happen again. He must implement systems to track the progress of projects and the allocation of state funds.
Regular interactions with the citizens about the state’s budget, challenges, and success should be an identity of his administration.
Focus on creating a conducive environment for businesses to thrive by improving infrastructure and reducing bureaucratic hurdles is fundamental as well encouraging local and foreign investments through incentives and partnerships. I’m glad he is liaising with key institutions in this regard. I have heard about the collaboration with the European Union to set up a social register that will focus on Abians’ most vulnerable.
The importance of investing in quality education by upgrading facilities, training teachers, and ensuring access for all children can not be overemphasized.
The bulwarks of the healthcare systems must be fortified by strengthening primary care, investing in health infrastructure, ensuring access to essential medicines, qualitative training, and recruitment of healthcare professionals. His medical village idea sounds great, but I would love to know the details.
Alex Otti seems to have prioritized the development of critical infrastructure such as roads, water supply, and electricity, which are essential for development and can improve the quality of life. His Greater Aba Development Authority idea and the fact that 84% of the 2024 appropriation bill of 567.02 billion naira was earmarked for capital expenditure is soul lifting.
He must collaborate with ACCIMA and Banks to ensure that small businesses which Abia, Aba precisely known for are incentivized accordingly. These businesses have been buckled due to a lack of vision by past administration’s. The funding for them are in the banks and international donor agencies. All they need is the key to activating them.
That’s one sure way to leverage technology to create smart infrastructure solutions where applicable.
There must be a deliberate attempt to improve public services like waste management, public transportation, and law enforcement, making sure they are efficient and citizen-friendly. The issue with ASEPA and Abia Line, for instance, is not a lack of policy but administration and execution. It’s possible that changes are needed on the white papers that gave birth to these essential government agencies to ensure they operate optimally. I suggest a collaborative approach between the legislature, executive, and private sectors to fix the issues.
Alex Otti must take a strong stand against corruption by setting up independent anti-corruption bodies with the power to investigate and prosecute without prejudice or rely on existing agencies for this purpose.
The economic empowerment of the youth is critical to the overall development of any state. Alex Otti’s administration must be intentional in this regard and invest in programs that develop the skills of the youth and align them with market needs. From Market road to Alaoji, the resilience, ingenuity, and doggedness of Abia youths stare us in the face. Thus, the state must encourage entrepreneurship and innovation through grants and mentorship programs. Abia can replicate the computer village and the motor spare parts market but on a higher standard.
By addressing these strategic areas, Alex Otti could potentially improve the standard of governance and create a positive impact on the lives of the residents of Abia State. Success would also depend greatly on his ability to forge a good team, stay focused on goals, and maintain a close connection with the people.
As we step into the year 2024, let us collectively embrace our civic duties with vigor and enthusiasm. As proud citizens of Abia state, it is paramount that we each contribute to the welfare and sustainability of our state.
Please remember the importance of preserving our natural heritage. Dispose of waste responsibly, reduce plastic use, and support local efforts in this context. A clean environment is the foundation of our public health and the legacy we leave for future generations.
Let us continue to prioritize our health by adhering to recommended guidelines for public safety. Regularly wash your hands, stop open defecation, and be conscious of public health advisories. A healthy community is a productive one.
Abians must stay engaged with local events, meetings, and elections. Your voice is vital in shaping the future of Abia. Participate actively in democratic processes and community improvement programs. Together, we can foster an even stronger society.
We must maintain the spirit of unity and peace with fellow residents. Respect diverse perspectives and strive to resolve differences through dialogue and understanding. Thus, we must speak up and speak out about issues concerning without fear of molestation or intimidation. Collaboration is key to overcoming challenges and achieving collective goals.
Abians must support and encourage educational initiatives for our children and youth. The empowerment of the next generation is critical to our development and progress as a state.
Be mindful of your economic choices; support local businesses and contribute to the economic resilience of Abia. Your investments in local products and services foster a robust economic environment.
In the spirit of progress and cooperation, let us move forward into 2024 with determination and commitment to make Abia a model state in our nation. Your actions matter and can lead to significant positive change. Therefore, I call on the actors of the past administration to resist any attempt to distract the current administration with clandestine criticism. It is the right of every citizen to air their views about governance, but it is foolhardy when the intentions aren’t to correct but rather to derail. Abian’s have had to deal with poor and insidious governance since 1999 and during the last elections determinedly choose change. The will of the people must be respected fully, and any attempt by a few disgruntled elements to derail us will be resisted by all well-meaning Abians.
WOW! THIS IS ENGAGING, REALLY. THANK YOU FOR SPARING YOUR TIME WITH NEWSADMIRAL.
My regards and feel free to engage, anytime.