Mbah’s 100 Days of Purposeful Leadership

Uche Anichukwu

Last week, the British High Commission in Nigeria announced the establishment of a United Kingdom (UK) Visa Application Centre in Enugu. This, according to the British High Commissioner, Richard Montgomery, was sequel to requests by Governor Peter Mbah in particular and others during his visit to Enugu in June. This, it is hoped would further strengthen economic and cultural ties between the UK and the South East in particular and Nigeria as a whole.

This move, which in a way is an acknowledgement of the improved security in Enugu State under the Peter Mbah administration, came a few days after the Deputy British High Commissioner, Lagos, Jonny Baxter, had at the Investment and Economic Growth Stakeholders Roundtable, commended Mbah’s economic growth plan and investment drive is just one of the many ways the administration has made hitherto difficult things appear easy in just 100 days.

Recall that Mbah expressed a massive vision during the campaign, unveiling a manifesto, many rightly described as ambitious. Among others, he promised to build the state’s economy seven folds from $4.4 billion to $30 billion, make the state one of the top three economies in Nigeria, ensure a zero per cent poverty headcount, restore portable water supply in the state in 180 days from his inauguration, construct 10,000km of road, and make Enugu State the preferred destination for business, investment, tourism, and living.

But how were the people supposed to easily believe these promises in a country where citizens are used to the mundane and have been left heartbroken by failed campaign promises? In fact, those who mistook some of the figures for typographical errors inundated Mbah with calls. How was that possible? How much is Enugu’s Federal Allocation to start with? Etc.

Nevertheless, one of the major things Dr. Mbah had going for him was his track record in the private sector where he took his Pinnacle Oil and Gas from ground zero as a new entrant in an already taken petroleum downstream market as at the time it started operations in 2008 with just two staff in a small apartment in Lagos to a multi-billion dollar business without being listed on the stock market – a unicorn – a few years later. During the campaigns, he preached disruptive innovation and a paradigm shift in funding model away from Abuja monthly handouts to a private sector-funded and driven economy as the only way to attain the $30 billion GDP.

An entrepreneur himself, he understood that no investor would be ready to stake his investments without security and improving the ease of doing business in the state. Consequently, he pinpointed the illegal sit-at-home and its associated criminalities as the big elephant in the room and took the bold step to ban and escort it out of the state. Working in synergy with the security agencies, the administration literally took the war to the criminal hideouts and the successes are self-evident.  No attack has been recorded since the ban of sit-at-home, forcing the anarchists to resort to propaganda.

The administration also recently launched the pilot scheme of the Distress Response Squad (DRS). When fully launched in a few months from now, the DRS will comprise well over a hundred vehicles equipped with sophisticated technologies, including security surveillance cameras with capacity for facial and number plate recognitions. The Command and Control Centre of the project is under construction and will, when completed, enable a 24-hour surveillance of the 17 local government areas of the state. That way, response to distress will be swift and no crime will go unsolved. To make the security efforts sustainable, the state is at an advanced stage of rolling out the Enugu State Security Trust Fund.

In its first 100 days, the administration is delivering on the promise to put the perennial water scarcity behind the residents of the state capital. It has increased production from 2 million litres to 25 million litres per day, a quantity never witnessed in the last 20 years. It is expected to hit 70 million litres per day by the end of October to ensure that the administration meets the 180-day timeframe of 24-hour water supply *to* the Coal City residents by November. What sounded like a fairy tale a few months ago is now a reality unfolding before their eyes.

Furthermore, since power is key to the industrialisation and exponential economic growth, the administration has developed the Enugu State Electricity Policy and also domesticated the Electricity Act 2023 by signing into law the Enugu State Power Law. Thus, the state is now authorised to set up the Enugu State Electricity Market and bring in investors to swell up power generation and distribution in the state.

To provide the road infrastructure backbone, the government is set to construct/reconstruct 71 roads across various parts of the Enugu metropolis and 10 major roads in different parts of the state. It is also set to construct two flyovers at Abakpa Junction and Chris Chemist/Holy Ghost/Old Park Junction and dualise the GRA-Trans-Ekulu Road and Enugu-Ugwogo Nike-Opi-Nsukka road.

The Mbah administration is equally set to develop a new Enugu City to provide housing for the people and real estate investment opportunities for investors. Already, the streetlights and traffic lights are back in Enugu metropolis. The waste disposal compactors are also back, clearing the streets of Enugu, Nsukka, and other semi-urban areas of refuse heaps. Enugu city now wears a breath of fresh air and order.

To make service delivery more efficient, plug Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) leakages, and further make the state attractive to investors, the administration immediately commenced an artificial intelligence-driven automation and digitilisation of the operations of the Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs). The result in the area of land administration, for instance, is that it takes 78 hours to from the point of online application to the issuance of certificate of occupancy. This is about the fastest in Africa and the state is heading to reducing it to 48 hours.

In the same vein, the state has banned cash payment for any state service. All these will promote transparency and accountability collection, while the state’s IGR is expected to skyrocket.

In line with Mbah’s campaign promise to hold an investment forum within his first 100 days in office to mobilise private investment for Enugu’s economic prosperity, the administration recently organised the Enugu State Investment and Economic Growth Stakeholders Roundtable, first in a series of roundtables leading up to the first fully transactional Diaspora Investment Summit scheduled for April 2024. The Roundtable witnessed a large turn out of investors, development bankers, international development agencies, and other critical stakeholders, including the Government of the United Kingdom (UK), the World Bank, African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim Bank), African Development Bank (AfDB), United Kingdom Department for Business and Trade, among a host of others. Their presence is a stamp of recognition and endorsement of Enugu’s repositioning as the new investor’s haven, a point unequivocally made by these key players.

In the same line of seeking alternative funding models rather than the hitherto reliance on Abuja monthly handouts, the administration, in 100 days, has gone further to strengthen Enugu’s relationship with development partners. Consequently, the administration recently paid the N274 million counterpart fund that will entitle the state to up to N1.2 billion in the International Fund For Agricultural Development (IFAD) Value Chain Development Programme  that will greatly aid the development of agricultural markets and increasing market access for smallholder farmers and small to medium-scale agro-processors.

Still in tandem with the administration’s push for alternative funding for development and emphasis on agriculture and agro-industrialisation as a very major component of its economic growth plan, it has fulfilled all obligations for joining the World Bank Livestock Productivity and Resilience Support project (L-PRES), a 6-year project that will attract up to $10 million for improving livestock productivity, resilience and commercialisation of selected value chains over a six-year period. In the same vein, the administration, in 100 days, has met the conditions for partaking of the Nigeria for Women Project, committing well over N400 million as a counterpart fund to the strategic long-term partnership between the Federal Government and the World Bank. This will trigger inflow of well over $10 million into the state for the execution of projects to boost the economic capacity of Enugu women.

Furthermore, the Mbah administration has since commenced the formation of the Enugu State Agricultural Land Bank to create up to 300,000 hectares of land in partnership with willing communities across selected local governments for agricultural use. The administration has equally begun a pilot scheme of the Cassava to Ethanol program in Aninri, Nkanu East and Uzo-Uwani in partnership with the private sector.

In 100 days, the Mbah administration has commenced the construction of model basic schools in all the 260 wards for the Cut-Off Point Programme, which will help to reposition basic education in the state. In fact, the pilot project is almost ready for commissioning. This initiative will introduce Enugu children to ICT early in life and give them the best quality basic education obtainable anywhere in the world.

Also, the Primary Healthcare Centres in all the 260 are scheduled for overhaul to ensure that people in the remotest villages have access to basic healthcare.

Meanwhile, whereas the perennial allegation nationwide is that local government areas are shortchanged by the states in remission of Federal Allocation, the Mbah administration has struck a partnership where the state government would supplement the cost of every capital development project by each of the 17 LGAs to the tune of 60 per cent. This is to escalate grassroots development and boost the rural economy.

Indeed a hundred days is too short a time in the life of a four-year administration (in the first instance), but they are enough to know a purposeful leadership. They are enough to lay the requisite foundations for unprecedented transformation. This is the story of the Dr. Peter Mbah administration at 100.

Anichukwu writes from Enugu


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