The Labour Party (LP) Governorship Candidate in Abia, Dr Alex Otti, says he will partner the private sector to harness the mineral deposits in the state to grow the economy and create employment, if elected.
Otti made the promise at a meeting with the members of the Council of Traditional Rulers in Bende North.
The meeting took place at the Palace of Eze Uwakwe Ukaegbu, the Chairman of the council and Traditional Ruler, Amaofufe Autonomous Community, Igbere, Bende Local Government Area.
He said that Abia was richly endowed with different mineral resources in commercial quantities in Bende, Umuahia South, Arochukwu and Ukwa, amongst others.
He said that the resources were grossly untapped, adding that they ought to be adequately harnessed to develop the state economy.
According to Otti, Bende has phosphate that can be tapped to produce fertiliser for local consumption and export.
He also said that the abundant Kaoline in Umuahia South would be exploited to produce ceramics and tiles to boost the state’s revenue profile.
“By the time we come in, we will revive the moribund industries, attract new ones and create jobs for our teeming youths,” he said.
The former Managing Director of the defunct Diamond Bank Plc decried the level of infrastructure deficit and failure by successive administrations to develop the state.
He said: “Those who govern the state do not understand the function of money in growing the economy.
“They also lacked deep knowledge of how to create wealth among the citizenry,” Otti said.
He said that under his watch as governor, Abia would witness tremendous prosperity and economic transformation with or without Federal Allocation.
He said that what Abia was getting from the Federation Account and internally generated revenue was enough to ensure regular payment of salaries, pensions and gratuities.
He blamed the problem of irregular payment of salaries and pensions on greed among the political leaders.
Responding, Ukaegbu assured Otti of their massive support to ensure his victory at the poll.
The governorship hopeful also addressed stakeholders from Item, Igbere and Ugwueke at the Okoko Item Townhall, where he promised to empower the youths and women, when elected.
He urged them to organise themselves into cooperative societies in order to benefit from his proposed credit facility.
He said that he would set aside N5 billion monthly from the security vote to fund soft and resolving loans for the cooperative members to help them grow their businesses.
“When we have succeeded in empowering our youths, we would have effectively checked crime and criminality in Abia.
“There is a nexus between poverty and crime.
“The current insecurity in the state and country is linked to poverty and high rate of youth unemployment and underemployment put at about 71 per cent.
“The prevailing armed robbery, kidnapping and banditry in the state are committed by our jobless children,” he said.
Otti also addressed a crowd of his supporters in Alayi on his manifesto which, he said, was designed to rebuild Abia and restore the dignity of its people.
He urged registered voters in the area to endeavour to collect their Permanent Voter Cards.
“This is the only means you can vote out the rot in Abia and vote in your economic prosperity and empowerment,” he said.
Otti said that he was in the race principally to rescue the state from the clutches of inept and corrupt politicians and place it on the path of sustainable development.
He expressed profound gratitude to the people of the area for their massive support to him in the 2015 governorship poll.
He urged them not to be discouraged by the outcome of the election and unfavourable judgment of the Supreme Court.
He gave them the assurance that INEC’s irrevocable commitment to deploy technology in the conduct of the general elections would ensure that votes count.
“With the use of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System machine and electronic transmission of results, nobody will rig the election,” Otti said.
Those in the entourage included his running mate, Mr Ikechukwu Eletue, the Director-General of the Campaign Council and former House of Representatives member, Chief Acho Obioma, and his wife, Cecilia, mongst others.