Governor of the Year Award to Mbah, a Celebration of Courage in Leadership
By Reuben Onyishi
Governor Peter Ndubuisi Mbah was on 2nd February, 2024, celebrated at Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos as the “New Telegraph” bestowed him with the award of Governor of the Year, 2023 in recognition of his outstanding show of courage in leadership.
This is a testament to the far-reaching milestones Mbah has achieved in office within seven months of his administration. It was not only “New Telegraph” that saw it, both the Sun and Vanguard newspapers with their third eyes saw it also and have also selected him for the award of the Governor of the Year to be bestowed on him in few days to come.
The Governor of the Year Award to Mbah is deservedly thoughtful of the newspapers seeing the manner of focus and courageous commitment Mbah has brought to the governance of Enugu State in regard to his Disruptive Innovation mantra which is a radical transformation of the state by chatting the route to the road less travelled by. Mbah from the beginning made it clear it would be business unusual. He made it clear he would disrupt the status quo and the status quo he has radically disrupted leveraging technological innovations.
Governor Mbah is indeed a man of courage in the order of King David, as we read in the bible. No one would contemplate doing a new thing in a terrain such as ours strewn with political landmines, a space from whose debilitating status a few reap off the common till.
They should expect a fight and fierce opposition who would want to ostensibly bring radical disruption into the system and displace the beneficiaries from their balmy state of complacency. But Mbah was undeterred. He had seen through the foibles of the state – what he would call the big elephant in the room and so was resolutely determined to escort the elephant out of it.
Within his fist week in office, Mbah declared war on the monster called Monday sit-at-home in Enugu State. He knew that with the kind of ambitious economic turnaround strategy he had for Enugu State, sit-at-home was a cog in the wheel. So, he confronted it headon, and today, Monday sit-at-home has been consigned to the rueful dustbin of an ugly past in the state. Heavens were to fall; threats were issued all over the place. Even some of the people whose good Mbah sought rose against his determination to kill the monster. All manner of propaganda flew the sky and fanned the people cold, as the opposition cashed in on it to cast a cloak of suspicion on the Mbah Administration, emeko meko; Governor Mbah would not cave in. Sit-at-home must die! It would be so because for an economy Mbah would reset with private sector investment, security risk would be the bane of it, given that investor do not entertain security risks, though they may mitigate commercial and financial risks.
To grow the GDP of Enugu State from $4.4 billion to $30 billion in eight years and eradicate poverty to zero percent headcount index, if all Mbah did was not lip service, sit-at-home had got to come to an end, and to an end it came. Rather than chaos and all manner of insecurity associated with sit-at-home, he brought peace and security to prevail in Enugu State, calming the nerves for economic growth of the state. This is just one aspect of his courage in leadership, which earned him the award.
However, Dr Mbah’s courage in leadership does not solely rest on the shoulders of security. We have got other perspectives to it. During the governorship lectioneering process in the state, Mbah had promised to end water scarcity in Enugu metropolis and supply the residents with their daily water needs in 180 days of his administration. This was a tall ambition as far as Enugu was concerned in that water scarcity had been an agelong challenge in the state for many decades. This was one promise the people took with a pinch of salt. Enugu residents had given up on water. Previous administrations had made efforts to give Ndi Enugu water, but they all resulted in absolute nothing. So, what magic would Mbah bring on board to tackle this intractable challenge? Nobody believed him.
But he remained unfazed by unbelief. He courageously tackled the water challenge, and today, 120 million litres of water are being generated daily and distributed to the city, and this he did within 180 days of his administration as he had promised. It is an act of courage of which he deservedly earned the Governor of the Year Award. In fact, President Tinubu himself did call Mbah the “Water Governor.” It is no mean an achievement for which Ndi Enugu are happy.
But Mbah was not yet done. He would exponentially grow the economy of Enugu State to &30 billion. Enugu would become one of the first biggest subnational economies in Nigeria and the first choice of investment destination. How would that be done when Enugu is regarded as a civil service state? When Enugu is landlocked and there is no economic activity of any consequence happening in the state? But Mbah has clear blueprints and inimitable financial models to the realization of this great dream. He would make it real in practical terms.
Mbah first convened Enugu Investment and Economic Growth Roundtable on 1st September 2023 which saw to the gathering of heavyweight investors and development agencies like World Bank, African Development Bank(AFDB), Afreximbank, multinational and local investors in Enugu where the governor exposed the investment potential of the state in the areas of agriculture, mining, energy, transportation, ICU Technology, the Creative Industry, Trade and Commerce, to mention no more, to them. This paid off in the closure of some multibillion dollar deals with some of the development partners like AFDB and Afreximbank.
Indonesia showed interest in the state and like Queen Sheba who heard the fame of Solomon and paid him a visit, Dr Usra Harrahap, the Indonesian ambassador to Nigeria, paid Mbah a working visit, and it followed with the invitation extended to him to deliver a keynote speech at the economic summit held in October at Jarkata, the Indonesian capital. Indonesia is the biggest economy in South East Asia and has comparative advantages in mining, energy, trade, and commerce, and its partnership with Enugu State will pay off in the Mbah Administration’s drive for a private-sector driven economy that would lead to the humongous growth of the state’s GDP. It is a tall ambition that Mbah has approached with courage and firmness. Indeed, he is the Governor of the Year reputed for courageous leadership.
For the first time in the history of Enugu State, a budget sum of N521 billion was crafted with 80 per cent capital expenditure framework and 20 per cent recurrent expenditure, enabled by domestic revenue mobilization The budget of Disruptive Economic Growth would see to the preponderance provision of infrastructure, with education gaining 33 per cent of the entire budget sum and 73 per cent of the N182 billion earmarked for the social sector. Mbah’s budget rubbed off on the entire South East state’s budgets.
The budget is daring. From where would he raise the hudge amount of money to finance the capital projects? He already set out the financial models, which he drives with courage and equanimity. He has set about the construction of 260 smart schools in the 260 wards in the state and 260 primary health centres in all the wards in the state. 81 roads had been flagged off last year, and construction and reconstruction are ongoing on all the roads.
Mbah would build 10,000 kilometres of roads in eight years, that is, doing 1250 kilometres yearly. It sounds impossible, but Mbah considers it doable. In his words, there would be no mud road in Enugu State in the next eight years. Some naysayers disbelieved, but now that he has courageously matched words with action, all Thomas is healed.
Mbah’s courageous approach to governance would make this page the fairest should we continue to reel them out, and this is morning on a creation day, coupled with the distractions at the courts, which have,however, been laid to rest. We have yet to say the much he has done in agriculture even as Enugu would soon begin the exportation of agric produce, giving that Governor Mbah has opened up waterways at Ogurugu in Uzo-Uwani Local Government, having attracted the Navy to revamp the moribund Ogurugu jetty.
The Mbah Administration is also partnering with the federal government to operationalize the international wing of the Akanu Ibaim International Airport abandoned for over 10 years now. He would also construct the cargo wing of the airport in preparation for the export ventures of the state.
The recognition of Governor Mbah as the Governor of the Year is one way to encourage such lofty leadership that he has brought to bear on governance. It is also a way of encouraging other subnationals to take a cue from the Indomitable Lion of Enugu State, Governor Peter Ndubuisi Mbah, that they may imbibe the can-do spirit of the Lion founded on the courage to disrupt the status quo and give the people a breath of fresh air.