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 roll 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, drawing the largest cross section of contemporary Abia leadership including then Gov. T.A Orji, Anambra former Governor Peter Obi, an armada of Ngwa traditional rulers and some of Nigeria’s top business executives.
Which leads to the inevitable questions:
First, 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 the benefits of what I call a plural heritage (Ngwa and Aro) impact his potential and likely run in 2019 for Governor of the Igbo heartland state of Abia? I’ll note that the Ngwa traditional rulers have reaffirmed the facts Alex’s grand father, father and mother were all buried in ala Ngwa, and that Alex has all the rights and privileges of any Ngwa person.
Third, will the Ukwa-Ngwa power zone and other areas of Abia engage the Alex Otti catalytic factor with their heart or head? Sentiments or hard-nosed calculation?
On balance, the million dollar question remains: into 2019, will the world witness the movement of the former Chief Executive Officer from the corporate boardrooms of one of Africa’s top banks to the Governor’s office in Umuahia?
*By Dr. Chido Nwangwu who appears as an analyst on the CNN and SkyNews, serves as the Founder & Publisher 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.