Dr. Peter Mba: “We’re going to propel the economy from $4bn to $30bn
It is an established fact that Enugu despite the struggle for supremacy intermittently displayed by political actors, it has remained predominantly a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) State.
“Ebeano”, a political bloc has produced all the governors of the state since inception of the 4th republic in 1999.
The word ebeano which literally means, “where we are” in Igbo language is a lexicon initially perceived by many as a comic in the political cycle of Enugu State.
But, Senator Chimaroke Nnamani, the founder of the group while as a governor stepped beyond laughing border as he used it maximally to clip the wings of his perceived opponents including the Nwodo political family and Chief Jim Ifeanyichukwu Nwobodo.
It would also be recalled that Nwobodo, a one-time governor of old Anambra State who was instrumental to the emergence of Nnamani as governor in 1999, was so frustrated by the fireworks of his “political son” that he had to switch camp to United Nigeria Democratic Party (UNDP), where he contested for presidential seat in 2003 and tried to unseat Dr Nnamani with Chief Alex Obiechina as governorship candudate of the party
As a matter of fact, there was a great divide between supporters of Nwobodo and loyalists of Nnamani on one hand and Nwodo’s group and that of Nnamani on the other.
With the tacit support of the then Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s government (1999-2007), Dr Nnamani entrenched ebeano ideology in Enugu State politics. He had an upper hand at the then Enugu State House of Assembly with eight members on his side defeating 16 other lawmakers.
However, a twist of fate came when Barrister Sullivan Chime who, Dr Nnamani installed as governor against all odds just waited to receive the baton of leadership at Government House, Enugu before waging war against his godfather and consequently pushing the pro-ebeano elements to the background.
This reporter who was at the event, recalls that the message of ebeano renunciation by Gov. Chime came as a rude shock to the ebeano family at Nike-Lake Hotel, Enugu at his maiden speech to the people of the state in 2007.
In his speech Chime bluntly told the august gathering that the era of ebeano has gone, stressing that it was abnormal to have sub-groups in PDP umbrella. From then, it was not rosy for many of the die-hard ebeano supporters who all through the eight year reign of Chime were pushed into irrelevance in the state politics.
Meanwhile, with the coming on board of Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi as governor in 2015, bi-partisan politics was introduced thereby giving room for integration of all stakeholders including the ebeano family into the mainstream of Enugu politics.
Findings showed that the Enugu political landscape changed with less frictions until the build up to the PDP primaries this year as the incumbent effectively held grip of the state with dialogue, passion and humility, making the state relatively politically peaceful.
For what many consider as consolidation of PDP structures in the state and a way of pay back stuff, Ugwuanyi revived the ebeano political dynasty with the recall of its Leader, Senator Nnamani, who was already facing his medical profession in United States of America, than partisan politics.
With the dwindling fortunes of the opposition in the state, Senator Nnanani, described as a cat with nine lives, is currently on his march to the Upper House for a third time, having won his party’s senatorial ticket.
Be that as it may, the question in the lips of many Enugu residents and beyond is: Will Peter Mbah the flag-bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for 2023 governorship election alter the political equation going by his radical but impressive political and economic ideology?
The question became imperative following Mbah’s successful completion of “Thank you Visit” to all the 17 Local Government Areas with its grand finale held at Amagunze, headquarters of Nkanu East Local Government Area of the state, a development that has put him above his rivals.
The PDP gubernatorial candidate’s selling points include among others, the burning desire to transform and improve Enugu State’s economy as he assured that he would deploy his experience in both private and public sectors to change the status-quo, if elected.
Political checks reveal that many people including those in ivory tower are queuing into the matrix of the PDP hopeful as they see him as a change agent.
For instance, Professor Oguejiofo Ujam of the Pure and Industrial Chemistry department, University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) in his essay entitled; “2023: Situating anticipated governorship coronation in Enugu State”, noted, “For the very fact that Dr. Mbah has distinguished himself with vast international academic learning and business exposure as well as excel lent record in private and public service, it has become a given that come March 11, 2023, Enugu State citizens would be trooping to various polling units in the state to confer the gubernatorial mandate on the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate”.
According to him, “The expected coronation, therefore, stems partly from the fact that the fourth floor of Ebeano architecture of statecraft, which the Mbah administration represents, would combine all the elements of the foundation laid between 1999 and 2007 by Senator Chimaroke Nnamani and those of other builders in the second and third floors”.
It could be recalled that two academic giants from Nkanu land who travelled to Germany had through Hon Nwabueze Ugwu who also contested for the PDP ticket for the governorship told Mbah during his visit to Nkanu West Local Government, that they were behind him.
The two great figures from the area who also aspired to the office of Governor of the state in PDP, are Professor Jehu Onyekwere Nnaji, and Dr Chukwudi Nneji.
Hon. Ugwu informed the august body that the duo had specifically requested him to assure the body that though they were not physically present at the ceremony, they were nonetheless there in spirit and had asked him to assure Dr Peter Mbah that he had their full support, disclosing that they would be in Nigeria before the commencement of the campaign to participate.
Mbah further got a boost when Ugwu took the opportunity to inform the body that he addressed the nation in Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) programme recently, where he told the media that he was not the only person that stepped down, adding that most of the other aspirants equally did so. He pointed out that their reason was that they discovered that Dr Mbah was “over qualified”.
Some political observers contend that Mbah’s growing popularity might not be unconnected with his leadership quality and economic blueprint which he is selling to the electorate and opinion leaders.
“A wise leader leads by example. He shares in the people’s suffering, their shame and joy. He gives hope through his life. He inspires through his character. He instructs through his sacrifice. Mbah’s pedigree is second to none. I am optimistic that he will replicate his great exploits in private and public sectors into government. Enugu will be better for it. He will consolidate on the achievements of his predecessors”, a former member of House of Representatives, Prince U.S.A. Igwesi said in an interview.
As it is, Mbah’s aversion to convention was re-echoed when he told his kinsmen during the “Thank you Visit” to his Enugu-East Local Government Area that he is aware of the country’s trouble and if he wins will tackle the hydra-headed challenges in the state in no distant time.
His words: “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.
Arguably, with the unfolding events, Mbah’s is an emerging leader in Enugu politics and all eyes are gradually shifting to him and his running mate, Barrister Ifeanyi Ossai for redirection in the state, come 2023.