Dr Peter Mbah
Prior to the build up to the 2022 Enugu State governorship primaries of the Peoples Democratic (PDP), Dr Peter Mbah was not seen by many as the favourite to clinch the gubernatorial ticket of the party apparently because of his unassuming nature which made him to play the game without media hype.
Little wonder, despite the mixed reactions that trailed the outcome of the party’s primaries, none of the aggrieved aspirants has faulted the process that produced him as it was held strictly according to the party’s guidelines before the people including the media at the Nnamdi Azikiwe stadium, Enugu on May 25, this year without hitches.
Mbah, as a proactive democrat, set aside a special period to meet the stakeholders with a view to assuaging the frayed nerves of the aggrieved and thanking the people for their unalloyed support during the party’s primaries, a journey that took him and his running mate, Barrister Ifeanyi Ossai, to all the 17 local government areas of the state.
The PDP candidate began the tour in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area before moving to Igbo-Etiti Local Government Area and later to Enugu North Local Government Area where he told the people at Ogui Nike of his mission and vision for the Coal City State just like what he stated at Nkpologu and Ogbede.
In his gospel of reformation, he informed the people that he has resolved to work towards moving the economy of the state seven times higher from its present status if elected governor of the state in 2023.
“We are ready to harness the state’s resources to recreate a state that would be leading in gross domestic product (GDP), tackle unemployment and poverty, and boost the local economy”, he said.
The cerebral oil magnate stated that the state’s economic trajectory would be driven by technology and investment in the different sectors of the state, adding that he was poised to deliver beyond the expectations of the people.
Recalling the event of May 25 with nostalgia, Mbah said it was no mistake as the party delegates had made the right choice by overwhelmingly voting for him, reiterating that he would reciprocate their support with holistic development and transformation.
“We came here for one reason; to say thank you for what happened on 25th of May 2022. We are mindful of the role Enugu North Local Government Area played on my emergence and we can’t fold our arms without saying, thank you,” the frontline governorship contender said.
Mbah stressed that the implication of his emergence as the party’s flag bearer is that the economy of the state would soon witness a remarkable change and engage the people in meaningful business, if elected.
The PDP governorship candidate assured the party faithful that they had chosen someone that is passionate about the economy and welfare of the people, adding that he understood the existential threats bedeviling the country.
He reiterated that with his nomination, there’s hope for the state as he would be bringing new approaches that would trigger innovation through technology.
“What we’re facing together are existential threats, and we need a new approach.
“We have several programmes we have designed that will enable us surmount the existential threats. We have integrated programmes that will accelerate development and move Enugu State away from its current status.
“We want to do things differently and we will break convention and protocol to give Enugu State the world class status it deserves. We are confident that we can achieve a zero percent rate in poverty headcount index. So, we must get ready for what is ahead of us”, he said.
It was observed that the PDP gubernatorial candidate’s visit to Igbo-Etiti Local Government Area was a master stroke as the presence of ex-Governor Okwesilieze Nwodo at Ogbede the venue of the event laid to rest the insinuation that the Nwodo family was having reservations on his governorship ambition.
Further checks show that the thank you visit to Igboeze North Local Government Area was also significant as one of the top governorship aspirants in the Labour Party (LP) Hon. Chijioke Edeoga is said to have large supporters in the area.
While dismissing the perception that Igboeze North Local Government Area is Edeoga’s stronghold, the member representing Enugu North/Udenu Federal Constituency at the National Assembly, Engr. Simeon Atigwe said, “all you are hearing were mere noises from inconsequential elements”.
Describing Mbah as unopposed in the State, Atigwe maintained that Governor Ugwuanyi averted the state from derailing into the hands of those he called, ‘bad drivers’ by making sure that those that would take over from him were professional drivers that would propel the state to new heights.
Emphasizing that PDP was unstoppable in the council area, Atigwe mocked those that couldn’t win their polling units even as they claimed to be leaders of the opposition.
“Governor Ugwuanyi has done well for us. We cannot quantify what he has done for us. He is a peaceful man and because of him, Enugu State is peaceful. Igboeze North is for PDP, and PDP will remain unstoppable here. While we came third in the last general elections, we are mobilising our people to see that we deliver the first position to the PDP in next year general elections,” the lawmaker said.
At Udenu Local Government Area where the incumbent (Governor Ugwuanyi ) hails from, Mbah said “Udenu will continue to occupy a special place in the hearts of the people of Nkanuland who are mostly found in Enugu East Senatorial zone of the State”
Mbah who was visibly emotional while addressing the throng of party supporters, said he struggled with words because of the special attachment Udenu people occupied in his heart and the hearts of the people of Nkanu clan.
Appreciating the people of Udenu and the entire Nsukka zone, the Pinnacle Oil and Gas boss said, “I was consumed by emotion when I came here to address you, and I had to struggle to address you because of the special place you’ve occupied in my heart. You’re have occupied a special place in the hearts of Ndi Nkanuland.
“The history of 25th May, 2022 cannot be complete without posterity speaking for Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and the people of Udenu local council. Udenu gave us 100 percent votes. This is why we came. We are here not to campaign because it’s not yet time but to appreciate you.”
Explaining that the thank you tour was a journey for both the Nkanu and Udenu people, the PDP flag bearer said he had only came to give them the reports of their tours so far, pointing out that Nkanu and Udenu people were not only kinsmen but siblings whose history will go a long way in defining their future relationship.
“Udenu for me is like we are going on this tour together. Our social contract of good governance still stands. When Nkanu East people visited Government House, Enugu, to show their gratitude to the governor for his large heart, they bestowed on him (Ugwuanyi) the sonship of Nkanuland. He’s our son and part of us. We are part of you.
“We have gone to the other local government areas and told them we were grateful for their support. We also informed them of the implications of the decision they took on that day. So I have also come to tell you that you didn’t make a mistake by electing me as your governorship candidate because we are aware of the situations in the country. So, we understood the task ahead and deemed it necessary to elect the best hands,” he said.
Pledging to move the economy to the next level if given the people’s mandate in 2023, Mbah maintained, “we are poised to shoving up the economy of the state from $4 billion dollars to $30 billion dollars through industrialisation of our state”
“We have lots of assets and our state is blessed. We have coal, oil shale, gas, glass sands, ironstone, clay minerals, limestone, gypsum, alum, etcetera. So Enugu State is blessed and we are going to explore these minerals and natural resources to escape from the trap of bankruptcy. We are going to revamp those dormant assets to generate revenues.
“Our programmes are robust and dynamic. We are prepared to tackle the gloomy future and we’ll not give excuses. We have an integrated programme that will propel development and flush out unemployment. We are going to engage our youth and tap into their potentials.
“In areas of healthcare, sanitation, water reticulation, education, rural development, production, we have clear visions for all of them. We’ll be unveiling our manifesto when we come back, and by that time, INEC would have lifted the ban on electioneering campaign” Mbah told the Gateway council area.
Earlier,, the council chairman of Udenu and State ALGON leader, Hon. Solomon Izuchukwu Onah, presenting Mbah and his running mate, Ifeanyi Ossai to his people, said they were the ones chosen to redeem the State and build on the good work of Governor Ugwuanyi in 2023.
He further commended the people for their support and solidarity to their son, Gov Ugwuanyi for the past 7 years, and for identifying with the candidature of Ossai as Mbah’s running mate. He promised to make history out of next year’s election by giving the party unswerving victory.
Also in their separate speeches, former chairmen of the council area, Hon. Eugene Odo and Rt. Hon. Frank Ugwu, and the Southeast Zonal Secretary of the PDP, Rt. Hon. James Ugwu, corroborated the position of their local government chairman, maintaining that Mbah’s candidacy was the best thing that had happened to the party in recent times.
They stressed that they would work to elevate their votes from the previous 40,000 to 60,000 for the party in 2023, adding, “PDP is going to sweep all the local government areas in Enugu North Senatorial District including Isi Uzo local government”
On his part, the party’s Deputy Chairman in the State, Hon. Innocent Ezeoha, said the party believed in action rather than talking, promising that the test of their strength would be shown by the outcome of the 2023 general election.
Narrating how they convinced Governor Ugwuanyi of Mbah’s candidacy, he recalled that prior to the primary election, the people of the State had converged on different occasions at Government House to assure the governor that they would queue behind anyone endorsed by him.
Describing Mbah as a good man, he further stated that his humility, loyalty and goodwill were factors that contributed to his emergence as the party governorship candidate.
Mbah rapped up his tour with a grand finale in his Nkanu-East local government secretariat, Amagunze last Thursday.
Just as the PDP candidate was highly welcomed in other local government areas, ovation greeted his arrival at Amagunze as he was received amidst pomp and pageantry, a reflection of his rising profile.
Indeed, the relatively sleepy town of Amagunze was agog last Thursday, making it a Mecca of sort as visitors, especially politicians, captains of industry, market women and youths stormed the community to witness the epoch making event.
The elated PDP flag-bearer told his people that he had come back home to thank them for the support he continued to enjoy among them, recalling the huge votes they gave him at the just concluded PDP governorship primary in the state.
Mbah also recalled how in the past few days they had crisscrossed council areas in the state to express their gratitude to the people for the unalloyed support during the primary election two months ago.
According to him, “we also deemed it necessary to come today and appreciate ourselves for our efforts so far. Nkanu West pledged to support whomever the party chose, and when it was time, you gave us all your votes. We came to explain to you that the support you gave us that day has some implications. It reinforced the fact that since PDP has been ruling the state, there have been massive build-out of infrastructure and landmark developments in the state.
“The state government has been paying salaries promptly as against many states that are unable to meet their financial obligations. Our state is the most secure and peaceful place to live in the country. Having seen these achievements, you decided to continue with the party, and on the 25th May, 2023 you showed that I’m the only one who could continue with the good job.
“You are also aware that the country is in trouble. From official reports, in the first quarter of this year, the country generated N1.6 trillion and spent N1.9 trillion on debt servicing. This shows a huge deficit and gap between our revenue generation and debt servicing. The minister of finance recently said N6.7 trillion would be budgeted for oil subsidy next year. We are in a time when we will be told there are no longer federal allocations. This means a time like this demands someone who is an expert in the economy. A practical expert with the qualities to disrupt the trend through economic innovation.
“We are here to tell you not to look further. We have the solution and we are prepared for the job. We have done it before and we will do it again. We are going to propel the economy from $4 billion to $30 billion. The plans, programmes and policies are there to work with. Our economy is going to be integrated-sector-based-productivity growth. This is encapsulated in our party’s acronym, PDP, which stands for peace, development and prosperity.
“The peace programme is integrated and mutually reinforcing. This means there cannot be peace without development and there cannot be development without peace. We will accelerate development by tackling insecurity and providing jobs for our teeming youths.
“In the area of development, we will have integrated programmes for our rural sector. It’s going to be sector-based growth. As we know, Enugu is blessed with human, material, energy, natural and mineral resources, and we are going to harness them to spur development. Through our laid down module for agriculture, we’ll transcend subsistence to commercial production through agro-allied industrialisation.
“We are audacious with programmes that will transform our youth into productive assets. They will be self-reliant with what we have for them.
“In mineral resources, we will tap into our energy to encourage industrial growth. Enugu coal is one of the best in the world. So, we will extract it to generate power. As you know, Enugu State has already secured mining rights for coal. Our moribund industries will be revived, and the state will be an attractive destination for investment as we will be creating a business friendly environment for investors.
“Enugu had aesthetic sceneries for tourism. We will utilize the beauty of nature to drive revenue. We will also encourage ICT and build a high data centre. This will encourage multimedia companies to port in the state for business.”
Mbah reassured the people that he understood their level of expectations from him and promised not to disappoint, adding that he would still come back during electioneering campaigns to unveil his manifesto to them.
Strictly; if there is any high profile politician physically present at the occasion who was highly impressed by Mbah’s pedigree, it is Prince U.S.A. Igwesi, a former member of House of Representatives and one-time Majority Leader of Enugu State House of Assembly.
In a thought provoking speech which kept the crowd spell bound, Rt. Hon. Igwesi went into memory lane, narrating his experience at the head office of Pinnacle Oil and Gas Ltd at Victoria Island in Lagos. He revealed that Mbah sits atop a conglomerate of global reckoning.
Igwesi noted that the feat was achieved by sheer vision, tenacity of purpose, entrepreneurial ingenuity and passion for excellence.
His words: “When I got to the corporate headquarters of Pinnacle Oil and Gas Ltd, I was marvelled by what I saw. Here’s someone who built a concern from scratch and grew it to a dominant player in the petroleum downstream sector. When I looked around, I saw someone who does things differently, someone who is determined to alter the status quo to attain a desired goal. He distinguished himself when he dislodged all the big names in the downstream sector of the oil industry to become the market leader.
“Dr. Mbah is aversive to convention. He doesn’t follow protocol but does things differently to achieve his vision. We need him more than he needs us,” the former lawmaker said.
“Of all the governorship candidates in the state, Mbah stood out as the most accomplished in terms of pedigree and qualifications.
“This is the first time an entrepreneur and technocrat will be emerging as our party governorship candidate in the state. He is the best man for the job,” he said.
The lawmaker enjoined him to “replicate the Pinnacle miracle in Enugu so that Enugu will be like the Berlin of Germany, the Madrid of Spain and the Abuja and Lagos of Nigeria.”
Speaking on the efforts of the three senatorial zones towards Mbah’s victory in the governorship primary, Igwesi specifically recognized the vital roles of the pan-Nsukka socio-political organisation, Odimma Nsukka, the Enugu East formation of Oganiru Ndi Nkanu, and the one led by the Enugu West zone called Ifemmeluma.
He stated that it was their collective efforts that translated to the electoral victory which produced Mbah as the PDP gubernatorial flagbearer in May 2022.
On his part, the former Commissioner of Commerce and Industry under Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, Dr Sam Ogbu-Nwobodo extended his gratitude to the governor for ensuring that their kinsman was considered worthy for the top job in the state.
Lending his voice, the Executive Secretary of the Local Government Pensions Board, Barr Nana Ogbodo said he was glad that Mbah finally came back home with their collective mandate, while conveying his gratitude to Governor Ugwuanyi for the privilege done to the people of Nkanuland. “We knew the battle the governor fought against the evil men that conspired against Nkanuland,” he noted.
Extolling Mbah’s heroic feats in different spheres, the Pensions boss said: “Something enthralled me about your mantra, tomorrow is here. It speaks of negotiating our future today. It speaks of development and prosperity. By your track record, we have no doubt that you can achieve it. We are prepared since the battle line has been drawn.”
Apparently to avoid the sledge hammer of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and misconception by their opponents, the State PDP Chairman, Hon. Augustine Nnamani explained that their coming had no connection with political campaigns but for the party’s gubernatorial standard flag-bearer to express his gratitude to the people of Nkanu East over their support in May, this year.
According to him, “Nkanu people were agitated that it was their turn, and when the party went back to the drawing board, we saw it’s true, and decided to give the party ticket to one of your best hands. We are pleading with you to keep on with your support.”
A former Chairman of the council area, Dr. Chika Igwesi also lauded Governor Ugwuanyi for bringing a man of Mbah’s caliber into the governorship race and for making it possible for a new dawn in the PDP in the state.
He observed that Mbah had strong antecedents in both the public and private sectors, saying he was a technocrat of high repute.
“Dr. Peter Mbah excelled as Chief of Staff to the Governor of our state and as Commissioner of Finance. He has also written his name on the marble in the private sector. The only thing we can do is to support him and other candidates ahead of the general elections. PDP is our only political platform, and aside that, no other”, he said.
Speaking on behalf of members of the National Assembly from the area, the lawmaker representing Nkanu East/West Federal Constituency, Hon. Nnolim Nnaji expressed regret over the absence of Senator Chimaroke Nnamani representing the senatorial zone, saying he was unavoidably absent due to a national assignment he was attending to.
He, however extended the former governor’s regards to the people, saying he was always in support of the good steps they took.
While pledging the support of the federal constituency to work for the victory of Mbah at the forthcoming polls, Nnaji told Mbah that “during this thank you visit, I heard that every local government area has pledged to support you with their votes; so here in Nkanu West and indeed our federal constituency, we are going to give you all our votes and we are going to surpass our number three position in the last elections”.
Earlier in his welcome address, the host chairman of the council area, Hon. Uchenna Ejim stated that Mbah had arrived his home from the series of tours to other local governments in the past few days.
The council boss told his guest: “You leave nobody in doubt about your capacity to transform the state, about your ingenuity, about your competence, and about what you’ve come to offer Enugu State.
“What excites me any time you speak is that I see the future of Enugu State in you. In you I see the future and I see our tomorrow. Your line of thought and pattern of behaviour have given us the credible hope of a new tomorrow in our today,” Ejim added.
Extending his appreciation to those that made the emergence of Mbah’s candidacy possible, Ejim said that after God the next person to acknowledge was the governor of the state, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, describing him as the man behind the joy of Nkanu people by ensuring that their son came out victorious.
Ejim said that the people of the council area had resolved to give Mbah the highest votes in 2023. “In the last general elections Nkanu West came third on the list, and we are aiming to clinch the first position in the forthcoming elections”, he stated, adding that from ranking lowest in voter registration in the state, the council is now second following the mobilization of new voters to register.
The Nkanu indigenes in diaspora were not left out in the historic event.
For instance, Professor Jehu Onyekwere Nnaji who hails from Amurri in Nkanu West Local Government Area of the state in his goodwill message, enjoined his kinsmen to rally round Mbah, adding that he is optimistic that the PDP standard-bearer would ensure that their political demands and welfare are met when he assumes office as the governor of Enugu State in 2023.
The distinguished Professor of International Law and Global Politics who conveyed his speech through Hon. Nwabueze Ugwu, an ex-lawmaker, is currently on official assignment in Germany.
As a matter of fact, the “Thank you visit” which is a prelude to campaign proper has come and gone but the memory will continue to reverberate in the minds of many people for a considerable time.