When about two decades ago, the then Governor of Enugu State, Dr. Chimaraoke Nnamani appointed from Owo, Nkanu East Local Government Area, Barr. Peter Ndubuisi Mbah (Okwute Enugu) as his Chief of Staff at the incredibly young age of 31 years, barely a few hours after meeting him for the first time, there must have been something distinctly intriguing about him that sparked the governor’s interest. Perhaps it was uncanny clairvoyance or prescience. Perhaps it was prompted by the governor’s established style of identifying, grooming and building the capacities of astute, innovative and self-driven young men and women of Enugu State that would in the future assume top leadership positions in the state and beyond.
As events have turned out, Mbah is one of the graduates of Governor Nnamani’s tutelage that have risen to the commanding heights of governance at the federal, state and corporate levels in the country. And today, having passed through the crucible, he is strategically equipped and poised to confront headlong the myriad challenges plaguing Enugu State.
Okwute Enugu as his admirers call him did not just drop from the sky as PDP’s governorship candidate, as his political detractors who appeared desperately vindictive wanted the gullible to believe. His reputation precedes him, and his detractors were completely caught off-guard and consternated as they helplessly watched Mbah’s profile take an upswing. And unless they adjust to the unfolding realities of the surging momentum, they will also watch perplexed as the people of Enugu rewards his humility in offering himself to serve as governor come 2013 with their votes.
Not only was Mbah the Chief of Staff in the Chimaroke Nnamani administration, he later became the Commissioner for Finance and Economic Development in the same administration. This was at a time Enugu was so well governed that it left indelible infrastructural imprints such as the massive brand new permanent campus of the state university, teaching hospital cum medical college, Enugu campus of the Nigerian Law School, the 17-courtroom State Judiciary headquarters, city tunnel, housing estates, electrification of countless rural communities, major water schemes, etc, etc.
In both positions, he was in charge of various strategic personnel and organs of government implementing the aforementioned and other projects. This gave him the opportunity of understudying the leadership style of his principal and the inner workings of government. Then, after demonstrating his competence and capacity in his deft and efficient service to Enugu State and contributing immensely to the success of that administration, he veered into the private sector. Tapping from his experience in the public sector and his innate traits of managerial ingenuity, innovation and passion for excellence, Mbah conceptualized, established and nurtured the Pinnacle Oil and Gas Limited in 2008 from a position of zero reckoning in the largely matured Oil and Gas downstream sector of the economy to the enviable position it occupies today in a record time of 14 years.
Out of government and yet because of his love for the state, Mbah kept tab on evolving events in Enugu State. From time to time within the last decade especially at the peak of the COVID 19, he quietly deployed huge personal resources to provide palliatives to vulnerable groups and communities across the state.
Mbah’s antecedents are well known and in the public domain, his administrative acumen and attributes are widely admired. His political clout and influence built over the years are palpable and not evanescent as that of his contenders. He is thus bringing to the governance of Enugu State when elected as governor intimidating and in many ways unparalleled credentials of experience and competence at top levels of both the public and private sectors.
Enugu State today faces acute fiscal deficits occasioned by the vagaries of a recessed and distressed national economy. What it needs urgently is an entrepreneurial genius with national and international business clout to attract the much needed investments to boost the gross domestic product (GDP) of the State, thus creating employment opportunities for the teeming populace of youths in a state that needs to rise above its old status of a civil service state. There can be no doubt that from his vast experience as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of a dominant conglomerate in a strategic sector of the country’s economy, let alone the quality of education and exposure he is imbued with, Peter Mbah fits the bill far more than his co-contestants.
Mbah is a man of big ideas, dreams and visions, but as the improbable Pinnacle story proves, also a man that employs unusual disruptive measures to bring them to reality.
Asked by Thisday newspaper in an interview published on June 13, 2022 about his vision for Enugu State, he stated:
“My vision is clear. I envision an Enugu State that is going to become one of the top three states in the country in terms of GDP. I also envision an Enugu State that will achieve zero per cent in poverty headcount index. We currently have a GDP size of $4.4 billion, and if we are going to be one of the top three states in the country, we must grow our GDP to a minimum of $30 billion. As to whether it’s possible to grow the Enugu economy from $4.4 billion to $30 billion, you have to look at what we have done in the private sector. It will require not incremental growth but taking disruptive decisions, doing things that are creative, making Enugu State the preferred destination for investors, for businesses, for living and also for tourism.
“I know those things to enable so that investors will rush and be queuing to come to Enugu State, whether it’s the ease of obtaining construction permit, the ease of obtaining registration of property, the ease of enforcement of contracts, the ease of setting up business.”
To his credit, also, Mbah appreciates the imperatives of building on the achievements of the predecessor administration and sustaining the peace in the state as the precondition for the next trajectory of economic boom he envisions for the state. As he stressed in the same Thisday interview:
“I think it’s important to point out that the current administration has achieved a lot, not just in terms of peace and safety of Ndi Enugu. You notice that Enugu is one of the few states in the country that discharge their obligations to the teeming workers you have in their states. In fact, on the 25th of every month workers in the state get their salaries, no matter what.
“Again, the security we enjoy in Enugu State today cannot be taken for granted and it’s not a happenstance that we have that level of security. It is a deliberate strategy by this government to ensure that, because you know that all the fine things we talked about that will attract investors, businesses, cannot happen if you don’t have peace. You cannot have sustainable development without peace. So, in order for us to sustain what this current administration has achieved, the good thing is that we are one political family. There will be continuity, we have to do everything to sustain and build on it.”
Mbah, a graduate of the Nigerian Law School with double Masters in Maritime and Commercial Law,, as well as Business Administration m, with other Harvard Business School and University of Oxford certifications is well travelled, a practicing Christian, peaceful and a family man. No wonder he is reputed for credibility and accorded sensitive positions in various social circles he finds himself. This is the kind of man Enugu needs. Why the further search then? Agreed that Enugu has to go through the rigors of electioneering campaign but in my opinion, once a people have identified the qualities of the kind of leader they want, the road to an elective office becomes easier, less internecine and inexpensive.
Enugu, your tomorrow is now, behold your next governor, and follow him. Cherish him and embrace him with your votes under the umbrella of the People’s Democratic Party. (PDP. The search is indeed over. Okwute nnọọ.
Let’s go to the polls then and elect Barr. Peter Ndubuisi Mbah (Okwute Enugu).
* Engr Agu writes from Abuja