When Nwobodo, Chime, Enugu Elders Unveiled Mbah’s One-year Scorecard

After one year in office, Enugu elders and stakeholders rated Governor Peter Mbah high on his campaign promises writes Gideon Arinze

Apart from Governor Peter Mbah’s inauguration on 29th May 2023, the May 29th 2024 luncheon at the Old Government Lodge was no doubt the biggest gathering of Enugu fathers, elders and stakeholders in the last year.

Under Mbah’s leadership, ceremonies, if any, are very few and far between as the governor has focused on the arduous task of reinventing the state and actualising the ambitious vision and targets he set for himself: grow Enugu State’s economy from $4.4bn to $30bn; achieve zero per cent poverty headcount index; build 10,000km of road in four to eight years; restore potable water to Enugu city in 180 days; and make Enugu the premier destination for business, investment, tourism, and living, among others.

The 29th May celebration was lowkey as the governor simply delivered a 48-minute first-anniversary broadcast where he rendered an account of his stewardship in his first 365 days in office.

The account covered various sectors from security to water, education, roads, health, agriculture, power, judiciary, transportation, and important issues like waste management, human capital development, workers’ welfare, climate change, revival of moribund assets, and assets recovery, among others.

However, before he went around the city to inaugurate some of the 71 urban roads constructed or reconstructed by his administration, Mbah hosted Enugu elders, political leaders, traditional institutions, the civil society, the women, youth, etc. to a luncheon, which became an opportunity for them to x-ray the one year of his leadership.

At the event were the former governor of old Anambra State, Senator Jim Nwobodo; governor of Enugu State, Sullivan Chime; former governor, Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi; Speaker of Enugu State House of Assembly, Hon. Uchenna Ugwu; incumbent and former Principal officers and Members of the National Assembly and State Assembly, and various notable political leaders.

Chime said Mbah has turned Enugu into a construction site, while water was no longer a source of high blood pressure for him and most residents.

“I am thanking the governor and his team for what they have been able to do so far. Personally, in my house, I have a tanker that I use to buy water. My tanker was using 400 litres of diesel. My blood pressure used to rise each time they wanted to buy diesel that they would use to bring water. But we now have water.

“So, all these things that are impactful in the lives of the people. The problem we have as a people is that we always forget where we are coming from. But I assure you that by 2027, His Excellency will not need to campaign for his second term. It happened during our time. In 2011, the people we didn’t even know were campaigning for us and it will happen again for Mbah,” he stated.

Citing personal experience, Chime, however, reminded the governor that criticisms would always come from both genuine naysayers and political mischief makers, but assured him that the same people would still turn around to sing his praise at the end of the day.

“You all would remember when we were in government, the criticisms, and the shouts. Anytime we wanted to embark on development, they would start negative talks.“When we entered Polo Park Mall to develop it, there was no kind of abuse I didn’t get. A reverend priest used my name for a mass sermon. There was nothing he didn’t call me. He said I was collecting a source of survival from the poor. Nobody knew what the government was about to do. But when it came up, the whole mouths that said bad things started saying good things about me.

“About the same time when we wanted to develop Coal City Garden, an elder statesman from this state addressed a world press conference castigating me and my government. There was nothing they didn’t call me. But when the estate came up, all those people who said bad things about me started saying good things.

“When we also wanted to build the new state secretariat, we had to bring down the old structures that were not functional. We were lucky social media was not as powerful as it is now. But the words going around was that I started the project to move out with billions of Naira from the state coffers. But when we finished it, the same naysayers started saying good things again.

“I am not in government, but we are interested in what is happening. Each time we see what they are pushing on social media about demolitions, we ask questions and they tell us what’s happening. I tell them that I don’t think this government has gone astray yet. They are doing as expected.

“When I started seeing and hearing about demolitions, I told myself that it seems like the government is back; a government that wants to work is back because overseas when we went to South Korea in 2011, the government was destroying old structures and rebuilding them into something new and presentable.

“So, I am pleading with everyone to continue to support this administration. Let’s give them time so they will be able to achieve all the great things they have started. It’s not even easy to achieve this great one they achieved in just one year. Mbah is working. I can’t go through all the projects they have embarked on or are embarking on. But as somebody rightly pointed out, what is visible to all is that Enugu is now a huge construction site,” Chime added.

Corroborating Chime, Nwobodo, said Mbah has exceeded expectations, given successes recorded in just one year despite a cash crunch in the country.

Nwobodo, who frowned at endless opposition in the state and attempts to twist Mbah’s good intentions and works, however, urged the governor to get useful feedback from those unrepentantly opposed to him, while also remaining focused on his vision. He said the governor’s works speak for him.

“Someone came to my house to complain to me that they have finished demolishing Gariki Motor Park; and that I should speak to him (Mbah). I asked him why would I speak to him. If it is the governor then he means well. It means he is building something more modern, viable, and befitting.

“I am urging you to be patient and remain focused. Good things don’t come easy. Anything good takes time to manifest. No matter what you do, people will talk.

“I know what he can do. With what he has done in just one year, I am sure that by this time next year, everyone will be asking when he is going back for a second term,” the elder statesman said.

Nwobodo urged the people of the state to keep supporting the governor as he pilots the state to greater heights.

On his part, the Member representing Nkanu East/Nkanu West Federal Constituency, Hon. Nnoli Nnaji, said Mbah had made the state proud by setting the pace in many respects.

“He said he would restore water in Enugu city in 180 days, but very few people believed him,”. “Those of us who were familiar with what he did in the oil and gas sector with Pinnacle had no reason to doubt it. He delivered more than enough water. He got the 9th Mile 24/7 Water Scheme and about 4.4-megawatt gas plant done in less than 180 days. I don’t know any other place where water production has been raised from 2 million to 120 million litres per day in just six months. We can see how he is tackling the issues of reticulation and expansion, changing asbestos pipes laid by colonial masters and Michael Okpara to ductile iron pipes,”.

“Mbah was not governor at the time the 2023 constitution amendment was signed into law by the former President to devolve power from the Exclusive to the Concurrent List to enable the states to participate in the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity. However, once he came on board, he initiated the Enugu State Electricity Law and set up the Enugu State Electricity Regulatory Commission to position the state to benefit from investments in the power sector. Enugu became the first state in Nigeria’s history to be handed the regulatory and oversight power of its electricity sector by the National Electricity Commission, NERC.

“The redundant assets are also coming back to life – the Hotel Presidential, the Nigergas Company, the International Conference Centre, and only recently, he got investors to invest in the United Palm Products Limited. It was a whooping N100bn deal.

“Regrettably, there is not enough time to talk about the New Enugu City, which is a smart city and ongoing or the ongoing construction of 260 smart green Schools and the 260 Type 2 Healthcare Centres across the 260 wards. With the smart schools, Enugu is on track to becoming the Silicon Valley of Africa.

“As previous speakers rightly said, Enugu has become a huge construction site. Anywhere you turn, you must see cone construction or the other going on,” Nnaji said. “So, those of us at the National Assembly will do our best to attract more federal projects and presence to complement the governor, as he has his hands in too many things. Enugu is on the path to greatness, once again,”.

In the mouth of two or three, the holy book says, the truth shall be established. And if the testimonies of the Enugu elders and stakeholders as well as the things Mbah has put in place as policies, projects, and programmes after one year are anything to go by, then Enugu might well be on its way to the top three economies as envisioned by governor Mbah.

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