The Governor-Elect of Abia State, Dr. Alex Otti, has finally spoken on the issues of inviting the former Military Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon to lead prayers for his inauguration ceremony on May, 29.
AbaCityBlog recall that Otti who was declared winner of the March 18 governorship election by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, is billed to be sworn in on May 29, in Umuahia, which the latter has organized a committee to oversee and ensure a smooth transition.
However, a report emerged that Gowon was invited to lead prayers that will usher in the new administration of Otti. But the invitation of Gowon raised dust as the outgoing Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Abia took a swipe on Alex Otti for inviting the former military head of State.
Reacting, Otti, in a statement signed by his Special Adviser Media and Publicity, Ferdinand Ekeoma denied Otti’s knowledge on the invitation extended to Gowon. Ekeoma said the invitation was extended to the former military head of State by a prayer group “Nigeria Prays”, a project initiated by Gen Gowon.
The full statement read:
“The Governor-Elect of Abia State, Dr. Alex Otti noted with disappointment, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) unfortunate resort to threats of violence and terrorism against Abia people, since it was roundly defeated by the Labour Party (LP) in the just concluded General Elections.
“Nigerians would recall that barely a week after Dr. Otti was declared Governor-Elect of Abia, the outgoing Government, under the leadership of Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu maliciously accused Otti of orchestrating a court order freezing the accounts of the State in the various deposit money banks in Nigeria.
“The government’s action was a deliberate attempt to create angst among the populace, especially the workforce, which continues to suffer untold hardship in the hands of the state, as a result of several months of unpaid salaries, and pitch them against the Governor-Elect.
“In its fit of fury, the State Government, threatened: “The danger in this macabre dance is that if they continue this way, sooner than later, the atmosphere of peace and security carefully sustained, enjoyed and even taken for granted by some Abians will suddenly evaporate – giving way to a new wave of killings”. We consider this a dangerous threat against the citizens of the state.
“Notwithstanding Dr. Otti’s explanation that he did not know anything about the court case, agents of Government have continued to threaten the citizens and the Governor-Elect with violence for no justifiable reason, other than the fact that Otti led the push that has now overthrown them and effectively shut the door to the Government House and public treasury against them. Interestingly, the order was vacated on April 6, but the government has refused to pay anyone, deceptively referring to the frozen account.
“Until this moment, Abia State Government has yet to establish a single verifiable action taken by Dr. Otti that suggests hostility or threat against it. Unfortunately, what the Abia Governor-Elect has faced from the PDP are lies, blackmail, threats, and incitements.
“The latest action by the PDP in Abia State to beguile the people and incite hate is to allege that Dr. Otti had invited a former Military Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon (Rtd.), to come and pray at his inauguration as Governor. The PDP further garnished is deliberate falsehood, evoking the ugly memories of the military coups of the past and the murder of Nigeria’s first military Head of State, General Aguiyi-Ironsi, leading to the devastating Nigerian Civil War where millions of Igbos were killed.
“It is important that for the benefit of the good people of Abia State, in particular, Nigerians and for the records, we state as follows:
1. The Governor-Elect, Dr. Alex Otti, at no point, invited Gowon for any prayer session.
2. Dr. Otti has only on Friday, April 21, 2023, set up an Inauguration Committee to organise a befitting handover and inauguration events on May 29, 2023.
3. To the contrary, the organisers of the said prayer programme, “Nigeria Prays”, a project initiated by Gen Gowon, listed Governor Okezie Ikpeazu as the “Chief Host” of the event, while Dr. Otti was merely listed as one of several special guests. One wonders how Otti, a guest, could have invited people in a programme that had Ikpeazu as the Chief Host.
4. Governor Okezie Ikpeazu had at various times in the past hosted Gen Gowon while on visits to the State.
5. While we do not hold brief for Gowon or the Ironsi family, we are aware that both families have maintained cordial relationship for several years now, which was possibly the reason Gowon at one point attended the traditional wedding of the Late Ironsi’s daughter at their country home in Umuahia. He also had Mrs. Ironsi as Board Member of the Yakubu Gowon Centrer, and attended the burial of Mrs. Ironsi not too long ago.
“So, it was obvious that Gowon was not the target of the vicious lies, blackmail and incitement sponsored by the PDP and Abia State Government, but Dr. Alex Otti.
“We are by this statement formally alerting the security agencies on the plot by the outgoing PDP government in Abia to incite hate, violence, and terrorism against Dr. Otti and the citizens of Abia, as payback for their defeat at the polls.
“The Abia Governor-Elect wishes to reassure Abians that he is ready to hit the ground running as governor, starting May 29, 2023, and will do all within the law to ensure the protection of lives and property of the citizenry thereafter.
“Finally, we urge parents and guardians to restrain their children, wards, and loved ones from being used as agents of violence by the outgoing government