Dr. Alex Otti: Leader, Banker and pillar of empowerment
“The best way to predict your future is to create it.” It seems young Alex Otti read those timeless, wise words from Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln was the sixteenth President of the United States, serving from March 4, 1861 until his assassination on April 15, 1865. As a young man with definable goals about his future, I believe he started “creating” the architecture of his future! As someone who started out under modest circumstances but has through scholastic distinctions and hard work secured several achievements and reached the pinnacle of banking, Dr. Alex Otti embodies a unique story of inspiration, grit, determination, discipline and countless blessings. Especially, the power of education. He believes the great words of Nelson Mandela that “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” The foundation for his education and early indicators of the stellar brilliance of Dr. Otti’s were evident in his primary and high school records in Ngwa land where he was born and raised. He would go on to etch his name on the honors rolls when he graduated from the University of Port Harcourt with a First Class Honors Degree in Economics in 1988. He was awarded best graduating student in the Department of Economics, best graduating student in the Faculty of Social Science where he won the Dean’s Prize, and the overall Best Graduating Student for the Year and emerged as the Valedictorian. He got an MBA from the University of Lagos in 1994. This change agent and technocrat was appointed Group Managing Director/CEO of Diamond Bank Plc on March 1, 2011, from a strategic clout and position as Executive Director in First Bank Nigeria Plc (Head of Commercial Banking and Head of the Regional Businesses in the South-Southern and South-Eastern Geo-Political zones). He led Diamond Bank to a robust, optimized multi-billion balance sheet thereby making the bank more profitable and attractive. In recognition of his outstanding and distinguished services to Nigeria and the world through banking, on Saturday May 11, 2013 at the 20th Anniversary of USAfrica in Houston, he was honored with the 1st USAfrica International Banker of the Year, presented to him by the influential U.S Congressman Al Green. With the emergence of a fresh crop of technocrats in government across Nigeria, Dr. Alex Otti has, substantially and credibly, become a formidable factor in public service and leadership in his home State of Abia, since the governorship election of 2015. I have tried, like most of you, to get an answer from Dr. Alex Otti to the question: why are you running for Governor of Abia State? Alex, you’re a technocrat and not a career politician; how would you grapple with the rough-and-tumble of partisan politics? He makes the histórically valid point that when decent individuals and competent people leave the Competitive arena of politics, they become subjected to the rulership of brigands and incompetent charlatans! But his most potent and loudest response came as The Event of Friday June 13, 2014, a grand reception in ala Ngwa for Alex, drew the largest cross section of contemporary Abia leadership including an armada of Ngwa traditional rulers and some of Nigeria’s top business executives. Alex was there with his very supportive wife, Priscilla Otti. Which leads to the inevitable questions: First, in 2019, what type of new leader does Abia need? Another politician or a first-rate technocrat who manages financial balance sheets and definable outcomes? Second, how will Dr. Alex Otti’s much respected technical skills, professional pedigree and major networks of empowerment turn out as advantageous factors in the 2019 battle for Abia governorship election. On balance, Abia seems ready and energized to move away from the mediocre record of unpaid salaries, infrastructural decay, poor healthcare and the evident lack of a strategic action for Aba to a tested, productive technocrat and catalyst for progress and empowerment. *By Dr. Chido Nwangwu, an analyst on CNN and SkyNews, is the Founder of the first African-owned, U.S-based newspaper published on the internet, USAfricaonline.com and author of the 2019 book on Power, Leadership & Identity [MLK, Mandela & Achebe]. He served as an adviser to Houston’s Mayor on Africa business.