Former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili, says Governor Alex Otti of Abia State, has what it takes to beat the governance record of the late Micheal Okpara, Premier of Eastern Nigeria during the First Republic (1959-1966).
Ezekwesili who spoke on Tuesday while delivering the keynote lecture at the 32nd Abia Day celebration held at the International Conference Centre, Umuahia, the state’s capital said Okpara “did well in transforming” Abia “to a viable economic base” during his tenure.
Noting that Otti is equipped to take the baton further, she added that the “opportunity is already there” in the State and “what Abia needs is a business environment.”
According to her, sound government policies that have roots in human capacity development “will turn the fortunes of Abia around within the shortest possible period.”
“Think of when this commercial city of Ariaria market where young men and women produce in large quantity all sorts of footwear, clothes, cotton, blinds and several other items, are given adequate attention by the government by providing them with technological tools to aid production.
“Some of these items are produced manually, yet one cannot differentiate them from the foreign ones. Abia abounds in talented people whose skills need to be enhanced.
“China was nowhere in the last 40 years, but the country now has a strong economic base that is competing favourably with that of America.
“The problem in Nigeria is a leadership problem and will only be solved by the leaders. Once there is an improvement in the leadership style of the country, every other thing will follow.
“Abia had produced great men. Late Dr Michael Okpara is from Abia state and did well in transforming the state into a viable economic base. I believe Alex Otti has all it takes to beat his records,” Ezekwesili said.
The staunch supporter of Labour Party’s presidential candidate, Peter Obi, further called on the South-East governors to tackle the security challenge in the region for growth to flourish.