Since I published my response to comments made by Dr Alex Otti wherein he claimed that he was a victim of a hostile handover by former Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, there has been a cacophony of responses from his official team and others seeking to ingratiate themselves with the new administration in Abia State. The most self-deprecating of the responses is the one from one “Rev Fr Anokwuru Christian Uche, PhD,” who claimed to be a priest and Head of the Alex Otti Transition Committee on Handover yet employed unpriestly language embellished with crass falsehood, satanic conjectures and diabolic innuendos in response to my exercise of the democratic right of reply to a statement I deemed factually incorrect.
Before briefly delving into responding to the hot air blown by Anokwuru, permit me to establish certain facts that none of the responders have disputed so that readers can be the judge:
1. After the questionable announcement of Dr Alex Otti as winner of the 2023 governorship election, then Governor Okezie Ikpeazu graciously congratulated him but the former chose to go on national television to malign that graceful act of sportsmanship.
2. Governor Ikpeazu voluntarily inaugurated a joint transition council with Dr Alex Otti nominating eight members of his team, including Anokwuru, to the committee. I was a member of the joint transition committee.
3. The then Secretary to Abia State Government, Barr Chris Ezem, as is conventional, was saddled with the task of preparing the handover notes. He had started coordinating handover notes from various ministries further to Exco instructions in February 2023. Accordingly, he broke the transition team into various sub committees to which I was to head venue committee and the SSG who doubled as chairman of the joint transition committee was to continue with the coordination of handover documents.
4. Barr Ezem was regularly in contact with Dr Alex Otti, on behalf of the Ikpeazu administration and the transition committee, throughout the period under review. Call logs of both men will handily prove that, if ever there is further dispute.
5. Mindful of conventional responsibility of incumbent administrations to procure initial vehicles for the incoming Governor and his Deputy the state executive council led by Dr Ikpeazu approved for the needful to be done. Please, note that only the incoming Governor and his Deputy were entitled to such courtesy, not any other member of their team.
It is on record that on the same morning of May 29th 2023 when Barr Ezem delivered the handing over note to Otti’s representative he also handed over two vehicles: a brand new Lexus Jeep and a Hilux van with a certain “Rev Fr Anokwuru Christian Uche, PhD,” present. See attached pictures and share with Anokwuru as a reminder, if you know him.
With the benefit of hindsight, it is now clear to me that some of the overtures of Ikpeazu administration such as procurement of the vehicles for Governor and his Deputy were rebuffed because Dr Otti intended to acquire specific brands and designs that the immediate past administration might not have gone for. For instance, I’ve seen social media reports suggesting that Dr Otti has now procured
“exotic cars for himself, including 2023 models of Toyota Hilux, Lexus Sportage, and bullet-proof Land Cruiser Jeep” as Governor of Abia State. I have no information yet on the models procured for his Deputy as statutorily expected.
6. Permit me to place on public record that throughout the 8-year tenure of Dr Okezie Ikpeazu he never procured or rode in a bullet-proof car paid for by Abia tax payers’ money. He never indulged himself in such needless flamboyance at the expense of the people. Indeed his most regular official vehicles were Innoson-banded jeep, Toyota Sequoia car rumored to have been bought as a second-hand and a Lexus jeep. Even at the thick of the violent insurrection within the south east region, Governor Ikpeazu refused to fall into the temptation of hiding inside a bullet-proof car as he never ceased to ask advocates of such huge expenditure if the generality of Abians are also able to afford such luxury.
7. None of the official and self-appointed responders from Otti’s camp could dispute the fact of Dr Alex Otti’s attempted hostile take over of Abia State Government long before he was due to be inaugurated as Governor. Indeed some Labour Party Chieftains and sympathizers celebrated his audacious but illegal actions as first of its kind “hostile take over in Abia State”.
For the record, a Labour Party Chieftain and then house of representative member-elect made a social media post on the 19th of April 2023 at 7.30am to celebrate “hostile take over…chai…first time in Abia”.
I leave you to be the judge if this is not a direct confirmation of my assertion that “Otti orchestrated his ‘hostile hand over’”.
8. If ever there is still any doubt in the mind of anyone as to who orchestrated a “hostile handover” I encourage the person to also seek out the referenced Facebook post made by the Labour Party Chieftain and also read comments from other Labour Party supporters to remind yourself of exactly what happened before revisionists attempt to confuse you.
9. It is clear that indeed the Ikpeazu administration compiled and delivered a handover note to the Otti administration at the banquet hall of government house, Umuahia, in the presence of journalists and others. As can be seen in the attached picture, The Ikpeazu administration was represented by Barr Chris Ezem while the current Chief of Staff, Pastor Caleb Ajagba, received the document on behalf of Dr Alex Otti.
10. I am personally shocked to see media reports that quoted Rev Anokwuru as stating that Ikpeazu administration did not give any handover note to Otti team, hence, my decision to publish these photographs from the handover ceremony that show the current COS receiving the handover report from Barr Ezem with a certain “Rev Fr” Anokwuru Christian Uche captured as being present during the event. Hopefully, the publication of this picture will compel the so called “priest” to publicly correct or clarify his deliberate misrepresentation of facts.
11. As at February 2023, Governor Ikpeazu had directed all members of the state executive council to immediately compile their handover notes and submit same to the office of the secretary to state government and be prepared to update same during the transition period. This fact is verifiable from state executive council minutes that are now available to the current administration. Note that as at that time elections were yet to be conducted but the Governor acted proactively and indeed after the election members of the then exco updated and submitted to SSG’s office for compilation into a single document that was subsequently presented to the incoming administration. This was exactly what happened at the federal level and other states of the federation. So one wonders what exactly the noise in Abia State is all about?
If the administration came to office with a manifesto and agenda other than witch hunting they should be able to hit the ground running as other states that followed similar procedures are currently enmeshed in.
12. Does anyone know any other state in Nigeria where the handover note is still an issue for debate outside Abia? Could it be that the absence of a well defined leadership agenda is what is driving this public distraction and propaganda against Ikpeazu?
13. Members of the reading public should again note that none of the responders from Otti’s team has contradicted my assertion that Governor Okezie Ikpeazu was actually ready and waiting for confirmation of availability of Dr Alex Otti to receive the handover note by 9am on the 29th of May 2023. It was only when he received information that Dr Otti would not be available to personally receive the note that he detailed then SSG to deliver the document to Pastor Caleb who was designated to represent Otti. Why then are they selling the falsehood that Dr Ikpeazu refused to personally hand over to Otti when he was undisputedly ready and waiting for confirmation from the other side?
Having taken time to highlight these indisputable and verifiable facts, I believe it won’t be difficult to agree with me that Otti actually orchestrated his own “hostile handover” as possibly a part of an ill-thought out script to continue the demonisation and vilification of Dr Ikpeazu. Otherwise, what would make the same man whose allies and associates celebrated what they called “Hostile Take Over of Abia State Government” in April 2023, at a time they were not constitutionally inaugurated, to be same people complaining to the media and the public of a hostile handover?
As regards the rest of the puerile attempts to attack my person, I will not glorify Anokwuru and others with a tit-for-tat response. I suppose those things bother largely on ignorance and wrong defensive strategy. For instance, it is obvious that Anokwuru does not know that no government, including the current administration, can ever solve all the problems of a people, and that every administration will have to face its own peculiar prospects and challenges, solve as many of the problems as possible and exit while leaving many others that are yet to be solved for the next administration to attempt to tackle. When he understands that he will know peace.
While Anokwuru is quick to dismiss the kinetic achievements of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu he is yet to provide parameters he used in deciding that the government failed. As far as I know, the primary reason for existence of government is to protect lives and property as well as ensure the welfare of the people. If that is the case, then Ikpeazu performed his primary duties in office very well.
Even the worst critic of Ikpeazu’s administration will at least privately accept the fact that Abia remained relatively peaceful and secure for the 8 years he superintended over the state and our state was a relative oasis of peace and security within a troubled south east region. That was why real practicing priests were able to worship God without having to position armored personnel carriers in front of their Churches in Abia State, as obtained in many other states of the federation.
Rather than reel out the many achievements of Governor Ikpeazu, I will simply invite Anokwuru to take time out and study the 2022 multi-dimensional poverty index report compiled by the federal government of Nigeria as it has to do with states in Nigeria and see where exactly Abia was ranked (3rd least poor state) under Ikpeazu and why. That report was not written by “John Okiyi Kalu” or anyone in Abia State Government led by Dr Ikpeazu but it’s detailed findings independently verifies everything Anokwuru ever heard or read from me.
In case he is not satisfied, he may wish to note that back to back for 4 years Abia came first in West African School Certificate Examination performance ranking of Nigerian states, recorded 609% improvement in public school enrollment, registered 71% drop in Infant mortality and 35% improvement in attendance to primary healthcare centers under Ikpeazu. The state became the official SME capital of Nigeria under Ikpeazu with at least 3 MSME related awards won from the federal government as well as many other awards on transparency from the globally revered institution, the World Bank.
The challenge for the likes of Anokwuru is to recognize that every government will be judged by how it improves what it met on ground and history will record that Dr Ikpeazu improved the physical and human capital infrastructure he met in 2015. Time will tell how much the government Anokwuru is now part of will be able to improve what they inherited. This administration will, like the Ikpeazu administration, also be judged decades from now on the basis of what it met and what it left behind. Not by propaganda and shouting match by individuals seeking to be noticed for one appointment or the other. Get down to work now and focus on that only because time is ticking and it’s ticking fast.
Finally, I wish to demand a public apology from Mr Anokwuru for lying against me when he wrote that “Okiyi Kalu, truth be told does not care about Okezie Ikpeazu. In private engagements, he tells everyone who cares to listen that Mr. Ikpeazu is unfit to hold a public office and did actually set the state back in the 8 years he ruled.”
Mr Anokwuru, I only saw you briefly as a member of the joint transition team and cannot remember ever speaking with you either in public or in private. I don’t know how you divined what you wrote about my private feelings or comments on Dr Ikpeazu but permit me to inform you that I have nothing but respect and adulation for Dr Okezie Ikpeazu whom I see as a humble leader of men with appropriate capacity and temperament to mobilize the positive energy of a people to achieve goals. I am proud of being part of his government in private and public hence anyone divining otherwise to you must be possessed by a lying spirit as recorded in the Bible book of 2 Chronicles 1:8. Sir, if you still retain a copy of the Bible since you have now started wearing the political cassock, please, read it now and begin to pray against being possessed by a lying spirit in the mouth of prophets. And if you could not be discerning enough to know when people lie to you and when you are possesed by the spirit of falsehood to freely spew lies, then your purported priestly calling is questionable. Only God knows how many of your congregants you must have misled with such lying spirit while parading in snowhite cassock.
As per whether Okiyi Kalu “apparently was not brought in the know on much of what happens within the multiple power centres in that administration”, I guess experience will soon teach you how a government actually functions. Like the proverbial baby pig, you will soon find out why the shape of the mother pig is shaped the way it is. At least, you cannot deny the fact that Okiyi Kalu was a member of the joint transition team and Chairman of the Venue Sub-committee. In that capacity he must have known how, why and when the Otti team exited from the committee set up by Governor Ikpeazu to midwife seamless inauguration of Dr Alex Otti which obviously preceded your referenced Kano Court ruling.
We still dey here!!!!