Edwin Agwu writes that the Peoples Democratic Party’s governorship candidate in Enugu State, Dr Peter Mbah, stands out among all the candidates for the coveted seat.
The long awaited 2023 presidential election finally happened at the weekend. We, the Obidients, can beat our chest that we won in many ways. I am proud of what we have been able to do in a matter of months. We built a pan Nigerian project and demonstrated, in practical terms, that a new Nigeria is possible. Taking Lagos is historic and an icing on the cake.
By the landslide success recorded by the Obi-Datti tsunami in the South East, we vented our righteous indignation on the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for denying us the presidential ticket despite the over 20 years of loyalty and consistent block votes as well as all that the region has suffered in the nearly eight years of President Muhammadu Buhari administration for massively voting former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015. But for the South East and some of its sons and daughters, the PDP would have long been dead since after the 2015 election.
But today, I am a proud Igbo man because Peter Obi has shown the world that the PDP didn’t necessarily need a northern candidate to win the 2023 presidential election. Ndigbo have good products that are acceptable across ethnic, religious and regional lines.
Win or lose, we have demonstrated that we have equal, and in fact, greater stakes in this country. After all, no other part of Nigeria invests in other parts of the country other than their own region as Ndigbo. No other part of Nigeria has their population in other regions and states as Ndigbo.
However, it is noteworthy that we did not queue behind Obi just because he is an Igbo man.
After all, we voted for Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and Umaru Yar’Adua even when Igbo sons were on the ballots. Ndigbo are so right thinking, liberal-minded, and vehemently republican that they won’t queue behind just anybody or Ofiogori (prodigal). Obi ran on quality track record and we supported him in the last presidential election for his demonstrable capacity.
However, did competence and capacity really count in the election of members of the National Assembly? I don’t think so. Whereas some parts of Enugu State, especially the Enugu urban, took deliberate steps to weed out some representatives based on performance, some PDP candidates lost their elections due to local politics in their constituencies.
But we know it as a matter of fact that many people, who won the last weekend’s National Assembly election did so on the Obi bandwagon effect. It is a fact that many were simply thumb printing or made to thumb print both ballots for Labour Party in the belief that they were voting for Obi. The Church too had done a massive job in christening the Labour Party logo (father, mother, and child) as the holy family.
But as an Obidient foot solider, it is important to underscore the fact that the Obi election is over. And it was not about party. Labour Party was just a bland party, until Obi brought value into it and it is worthy of note that the Obidient movement is a project which millions of diehard PDP faithful championed.
In the same vein, we must now treat the governorship election differently or have ourselves to blame for the next eight years.
I have maintained even well ahead of the primary elections and before the emergence of the Obi phenomenon that the next governor of Enugu State must be elected on the basis of competence and track record, not party.
And that point is even more valid now.
It will be the height of hypocrisy to canvass for Obi presidency based on competence, vision, and capacity and turn around to canvass for just any regular politician as the next governor of Enugu State in the name of party.
Instructively, all the prominent governorship candidates in Enugu are PDP through and through irrespective of the party on which platform they are running.
The Labour Party candidate, Hon. Chijioke Edeoga, has held several public offices under the PDP for the past 24 years. He was a member of the House of Representatives and special assistant to Goodluck Jonathan. He worked with Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi in the first four years of the administration as Commissioner for Local Government Matters. He was the Commissioner for Environment from 2019 until March 2022 when he joined the governorship race and he remained in the PDP until June when he joined and picked the Labour Party ticket after losing out in the PDP governorship primary election.
But just like Nigeria, Enugu has come to a point where we don’t need leaders that will just dabble their way through for a whole eight years.
We need a leader who espouses a vision, which blueprint must be well laid out for us to see and interrogate. But as I write, Edeoga is yet to present any manifesto, less than two weeks to the election. And even if he does so, there is no way the citizens can interrogate him.
His candidacy can be likened to someone, who is promising to build a mansion for Ndi Enugu, but has no building plan or architectural design.
Conversely, Dr. Peter Mbah of the PDP has not only marshalled out his vision of a new Enugu State in his detailed manifesto since October 2022, he has additionally gone round Enugu State to market his blueprint for a new Enugu in town hall meetings in the 68 development areas or centres. He has made himself available during those engagements to be interrogated by community leaders, market women, youths, traditional institutions, women groups, and political leaders across the state on his manifesto.
He has had exclusive engagements with Enugu youth, women organisations, churches, professional bodies, the Chamber of Commerce, etc. to answer questions on his manifesto.
Not long ago, he engaged Enugu people in a live phone-in programme across several radio stations and nobody who listened to him with an open mind will doubt that among the candidates, he is the one who has the capacity to rework Enugu State.
In particular, Nigeria is passing through a major and multifaceted economic crisis. The model that depends on federal allocation and the incremental development has run their full courses.
We can no longer make any more progress relying on that old model. So, between someone that has the capacity to innovate the system, someone who has been a successful entrepreneur with visible track records of accomplishments and another who has lived on public offices, political appointments and government patronage, I will not think twice before settling for the former.
Peter Mbah has shown capacity to grow something out of nothing. He grew a business (Pinnacle Oil and Gas Limited) from a N1 million capital base to one that now records well over N1.4 trillion annual turnover. Pinnacle effectively joined the downstream business from a one-bedroom apartment and with just two staff at a point the subsector was already drenched and left little room for innovation, but he was able to displace the oil majors to become the number one by market shares and volumes in that industry today.
An entrepreneur, who has earned the trust of local and international investors and bankers such that they bankrolled Pinnacle’s $1 billion and Nigeria’s first offshore, subsea, and largest petroleum products terminal, is the kind of leader many states would give an arm and a leg to have.
Peter Mbah is our window to a prosperous and sustainable future and we must set sentiments aside and once again, Obidiently cast our votes for competence, sound vision, integrity, and track record come March 11, 2023.
-Agwu writes from Enugu.