Few months after his inauguration in 2015 as Governor of Abia State, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu attended two events in Lagos to honor late Prof Eni Njoku and interact with members of Ndigbo Lagos group. As usual, he spoke extempora without a written script at both events to the delight of Igbo elites resident in Lagos.
As Governor Ikpeazu concluded his address and response to questions he was askedp at the interaction with Ndigbo Lagos, a female technocrat and oil mogul who was at that event whispered a question to her neighbor; “is that actually the new Governor of Abia State?”
Her neigbor responded affirmatively and she retorted “but I was told he is an illiterate buffoon and stooge that Ochendo imposed on the state”.
Obviously one of the most educated and possibly the richest Igbo woman in oil and gas business was a victim of APGA propaganda machine deployed by Alex Otti to prosecute 2015 election. She wasn’t alone because that machine successfully targeted Abians who live outside the state, especially in Lagos, USA and UK. In return the victims innocently donated life savings to “rescue” Abia State without verifying or questioning the authenticity of the information they were harassed with.
Not even one of them bothered to ask the architect of that machine what he planned to do as Governor and the only time he tried to answer that question at Aba Chamber of Commerce premises in 2015 he lied to them that he privately borrowed $100b from International Finance Corporation to develop Aba’s infrastructure and they clapped for him without asking how a private person can possibly borrow on behalf of a state.
In the run up to 2019 polls that same machine has been reactivated and even deadlier in structure and strategy. This price is therefore an expose on the structure with a view to saving potential victims from wasting their money and votes on falsehood and manipulation.
The lying and propaganda machine is structured to operate at various levels with each gang managed by a director who is also responsible for paying stipends to the hirelings.
1. Bus, Keke and Taxi Operations
As buses leave for Aba, Umuahia and other towns in Abia State, two members of the propaganda team will join the vehicle and seat in the back and somewhere at the front. One would start a conversation condemning the Ikpeazu administration for conceivably everything and anything while his/her partner would support the discussion and basically validate whatever lie that was on offer for that day.
At the end of the month they are paid N20,000 as allowance.
2. Radio and TV Live Program Team
Operatives of this team are given phones and lines to call into all live radio and TV programs in the state with different names and claiming different locations. Same person would call as Ngozi from Obingwa at one station and also call as Nkechi the teacher at another station.
Even when the topic for discussion is not related to Abia State, members of this team would find a way to inject Abia into their comments. They also repeat calls using different names and locations.
To make their task easy, their directors pay stipends of between N20,000 and N30,000 monthly to some On-Air-Personalities (OAPs) who in turn provide special call-in numbers for their use to seamlessly access the program while blocking those known to have counter views from accessing the same stations. The Otti compromised OAPs also ensure that those with contrary views which favor the governor are quickly cut off on what excuse or another.
Where Otti’s men are unable to compromise an OAP, they use as much as four phone lines and place them on auto redial to ensure they reach the call-in numbers and spew their lies and propaganda.
3. Social Media Group
The social media group is organized around a blogger and two media aides of Alex Otti who are responsible for recruiting others. Every new recruit is given monthly stipend to write against the state government and also receive weekly topics from their handlers.
More importantly, they are encouraged to create multiple fake accounts with all kinds of names to add to every group where Abia matters are discussed. The accounts can easily be identified with their abusiveness and zero real Photo.
Almost all pro-Otti comments you read on Facebook are made with fake accounts created by his media hirelings.
Their general brief is to use the accounts to insult and curse everyone who makes supportive comments towards Governor Ikpeazu and Abia State Garernment in order to scare the person from future support to the government.
They are also using seemingly pro-Biafra names and accounts, even when it is public knowledge that Alex Otti is anti-Biafra and never offered any support whatsoever to Kanu before and after the attack on him by the federal government.
Meanwhile their handler who is a fringe member of IPOB is also involved in feeding Security agents information on movements around Kanu’s residence. Our investigation reveals that he lives around Afaraukwu.
Other members of the team have instructions to infiltrate the media team of the Governor by making favorable comments on Facebook while seeking to be added to the team. Unfortunately for them, key members of the media team of the Governor have a mole inside the Otti team who looks out for and helps to identify them, hence they are not recruited but used for disinformation purposes only.
A few real individuals joined Otti because they felt Ikpeazu’s administration was not favoring them after the 2015 election. Among them are former appointees who thought that appointment to offices are supposed to be invitation to come and loot the state. Others are unemployed youth who live outside Abia State and are influenced by their handlers through the manipulation of information by their handlers.
It is this group that would tell you that all roads in Abia State are being done by NDDC or the federal government. But when a road project is delayed due to paucity of funds they would revert to their usual mantra of “Ikpeazu has done nothing and he is taking long to complete road projects”.
4. Video and Photogroahy Team
A female hireling who was promised appointment as Chief of Staff and who is based in Abuja is coordinating this team along with a blogger. Even as I write this, she is in a popular hotel at Aba with her photography crew waiting for the next rain.
Having observed that less than 10 minutes after each rainfall the new drains put in place by Governor Ikpeazu would kick in and help evacuate water to waterside, she now prefers to record during the rains, especially heavy rains with flooding activities.
She is producing a video of Aba roads to be used soon to attack the government. Part of her duties is to recruit APGA members that would be interviewed by her crew to lie against the government and every interviewee is expected to receive N20,000 but she shortchanges them as she pays them a meagre N3,000 and pockets the balance.
5. Stadium, Beer Parlor and News Stand Group
When Governor Ikpeazu successfully reopened Enyimba Stadium to the overwhelming applause of Nigerians, it was difficult for the Otti team to successfully attack the achievement. So they sent their operatives to the stadium during the Enyimba vs CARA match to whisper through the stands that “Diamond Bank where Otti worked funded the Stadium work”.
This same team visits popular bars, viewing centers and newsstands to propagate lies against the government. At those places they start anti-Ikpeazu discussions and support each other to popularize their negative tales which always bears no semblance to the reality on the ground.
6. Posters and Billboard Teams
This particular team is responsible for removing pro-Ikpeazu posters, billboards and such other materials. They operate in all the LGAs. They are also used to illegally deploy Otti’s posters and billboards, mostly at night and during weekends. From time to time they run into problems with security agents and are rescued by their team leader around the area.
7. Rogue Media Practitioners and Bloggers
Otti recruits every broke media practitioner and blogger without regard to his/her notoriety or modus operandi. He recently landed a rogue journalist who was sacked for stealing from his former boss and is using him to churn out lies and propaganda against his former boss and the state govt. He is also recruiting every available blogger who is willing to accept N30,000 per month to lie against Ikpeazu and his government. Another well known blackmailer from a neighboring state who pretends to be a blogger has also joined the Otti team.
On the other side are Journalists working with reputable media houses that Otti recruited to twist Abia Stories out of context. Some of them have private blogs, black market publications and others they use to support Otti’s propaganda for a monthly fee.
The journalists are used to validate Otti’s lies and keep his stories running in the media. They call government officials to get their views and then popularize the Otti perspective while simply mentioning the response from government in passing.
8. Alex Otti and His Consultants
Those who prepared the media plan of lies and propaganda for Otti were recruited from Lagos and some of them were involved in the Buhari 2015 campaign. They designed the plan and are responsible for managing the false stories.
But the most lethal of the propagandists and peddlers of falsehood is Alex Otti himself. He is adept at twisting facts to arrive at seemingly true positions. For instance, he received a message from a union leader of a parastatal in Abia State that they were owed 10 months in arrears and he deftly latched onto that to launch his already doomed second round of Governorship campaign on “Ikpeazu is owing civil servants 10 months’ salary”. Even when members of his team pointed out to him that more than 70% of Abia workers are up to date with salary payment and that the government is not directly responsible for payment g parastatals he retorted “when a lie is repeated often enough the people believe it, after all there is one parastatal owed 10 months and people don’t know the difference between workers”.
Otti is Machiavellian in his desperate quest to govern Abia State and there is nothing he cannot do to further that ambition. He reportedly hired Indian native doctors to perform ritual sacrifices around the government house Umuahia in 2015. To date he has not denied the story.
During a recent radio program, one of his opponents in APGA made the following statement in Igbo: “if Abians know how dirty and tricky the real Alex Otti is, they will never support him to even be a local government councilor in the state”. It was the same rival that revealed the truth about the elaborate scheme that Otti executed to change his origin from Arochukwu where he holds a Chieftaincy title of “Ugwu Aro” to Isiala Ngwa where he now holds the title of “Ugwu Ngwa”.
In response to that interview, Otti launched a barrage of sponsored media attacks and documentaries against that same opponent of his who appeared to be the preferred candidate of APGA leaders in Abia and the national secretariat. Furthermore, in a panicky response, Otti’s latest media hirelings launched a 200,000 Change.org petition to demand that APGA jettisons direct primaries and make Otti the candidate in Abia. Two weeks after that petition was launched, less than 500 individuals signed up.
It must be noted that in 2014, Otti bought the Abia APGA ticket by selling the idea that their 2011 candidate who lost to PDP should not be fielded again because it was against convention to field a loser serially. His fellow aspirant is now using that against him to convince the Victor Oye-led executive that Otti is not to be fielded to face certain defeat a second time.
Can Otti beat Ikpeazu in a free and fair election in 2019?
The simple answer is NO!
Governor Ikpeazu is very popular among Abia voters and stakeholders.
All the variables are also in his favor: good performance, equity and capacity to give hope. He currently enjoys the advantage of incumbency, and that is necessary to run a Governorship election. His opponents are moving from place to place to source for sponsors and currently selling off their landed properties in Lagos and Abuja with the hope that they would recoup their losses from Abia treasury once they realize their doomed dream of getting into Abia Government House.
Otti has the distinct disadvantage that those he misled in 2015 are unwilling to risk their resources again on him. Many of them have already pitched tents with Governor Ikpeazu and are actively campaigning for him having been convinced by his sterling performances.
It should be noted that when Otti declared to run for Governorship at Ngwa High School, no single Abia Leader of note joined him at the podium. His response to that was to launch a scathing attack against Abia leaders whom he referred to as “Blood(y) tonic drinkers” in an article published by ThisDay Newspaper.
According to one of them in Umuahia who pleaded anonymity, “How can you refer to Prof Joe Irukwu, Ike Nwachukwu, Ebitu Ukiwe, Anya O Anya, Total Ukasanya, Damian Ozurumba, Empire Kanu, Onyema Ugochukwu, Col Akobundu, Ndubuisi Kanu, Eze Ikonne, Eze Enweremadu, Vincent Ogbulafor and others as blood tonic drinkers? We will retire him back to Arochukwu.”
In part 2 of this series, I will expose the real Alex Otti from the mouth of his former and current employees, banking staff including drivers and others who know him personally.
Keep a date for more.