The hall exploded in celebration at the announcement of the results by Professor Nnenna Otti, and the excitement spilled out into the streets as people ran, hugged, and patted themselves in relief at the affirmation of a mandate they believed in.

From the main cities to the hinterlands. Tricycles blared their horns loudly away as people made their way dancing in different vibrations across the streets. In Aba I heard tricycle riders carried passengers free of charge that evening and the bars witnessed overflowing patronage.

“Was it that bad?” A friend who called in from Jos asked as the videos hit the internet and I laughed not knowing how to answer a question that had an obvious answer.

A favourite phrase of another friend of mine is “Madu abughi ewu”(humans are not goats). After years of questionable governance from those who have led the state, there was always going to be a reaction. The people witnessed, the people endured and the people acted in the best way they could. 

It was a landslide where the incumbent party and the other opposition parties went tumbling down the slope of defeat. The headlines around Abia were as emphatic as the victory and despite delays Alex Chioma Otti became the name on every lips.

Over the last few weeks, election season and its attendant politicking has started to take backstage and the serious business of governance is expected to take center stage. 

Governance is a vast, intricate system. All around the world, it is challenging for even the best of leaders to influence the system to deliver the intended results in at the pace the teeming populace would love.

Plans, promises and grand declarations of positive change communicated before the elections have fueled the hope of those who descended into the streets with unbridled joy but history has shown how change is hardly ever immediate.

For Alex Otti to have a fair chance at hitting the ground running effectively, he would have to get a few things right:


A leader will only be as good as the men and women around him. A look at the transition committee provides a glimpse into what his team would look like. The list which had proven technocrats also sent those in the opposition to town hands up in the air calling out names that once ruled side by side with them.

But the names are understandable, governance is a game of give and take then the not so small matter of balancing political considerations and handshakes is usually pivotal to how effective his administration will be. 


One dilemma that has always stood on the path of new executives is the choice of probing past administrations or moving on from them without a look back. 

While I appreciate Alex Otti’s justification of not wanting to be distracted, I couldn’t help but find myself giggling at his statement during a recent appearance on Channels TV.

With a total domestic debt of N104,573,334,025.73 and external debt of $95,632,239.04, Abia is financially in dire straits and by the time Alex Otti looks at the books, he would have no other choice but to ask important questions.

Many share his belief that investigations often result in motion without movement, slowing down the pace of governance. However, there are those of us who think that an effective investigation into state finances, free of any signs of a witch hunt and media trial, is in the best interests of the state.


“I do not envy you, in fact I sympathize with you because expectations are high”

Ngozi Okonjo Iweala voice seeped round the hall as she gave the keynote address at the inauguration of Otti’s transition committee.

Amidst the avalanche of expectations, Alex Otti’s skill at managing expectations in the early days will set the tone for the success of his administration. Setting and implementing competing priorities in order of short to mid-term impact will determine how long the honeymoon period will last.

For the governor-elect, the seeming high pressure does not seem to have gotten to him he has so far insisted he has the answers to the Abia question but with tax reforms, local government reforms, market redevelopment, revitalization of the education and health sector facing him, Abians will have to be patient and look beyond campaign soundbites and not expect quick fixes.

Mario Cuomo the former Governor of New York once famously said “you campaign in poetry, you govern in prose” and in these words lies the reality that will have to set in as Otti wades through the euphoria that has greeted his emergence as governor.

Chinyere Akataobi is a senior analyst at governance consulting firm, StateCraft Inc. (

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