Peter Ndubisi Mbah: an Uncommon Personality and the Notion of Tomorrow is Here, by Damian Opata


Peter Mbah

In whatever manner considered, Dr. Peter Ndubisi Mbah, the PDP Governorship candidate in Enugu State, is an uncommon personality. His emergence as the governorship candidate of the PDP in the state took many people by surprise. It disrupted the expectation of many. People were still trying to familiarize themselves with his biography when he came out with the motto/slogan, mantra, “Tomorrow is Here”.

Before this, however, he had implanted in the minds of people the term “disruptive innovation”, a term he used frequently in the speeches he made during his thank you tour of local governments in the state.

Recently, his Pinnacle and Oil and Gas Limited’s massive petroleum products terminal was commissioned at the Lekki Free Trade Zone in Lagos by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Since his emergence as the governorship candidate of PDP, his admirers and party supporters have continued to exert their intellectual capacities to popularize him and anchor his manifesto firmly in the minds of the voting populace. At the same time, those who opposed, and are still opposed to his emergence, are ceaselessly unleashing violent rhetorical attacks on him. They are really desperate about downgrading his personality, with a view to stopping him from being elected as the next Governor of Enugu State.

This notwithstanding, Dr. Mbah’s intellectual and political sagacity have continued to dim the insidious swipes at him and his candidature. His technological and entrepreneurial expertise, as well as his altruism and humble self-effacing demeanour have placed him far above his co-governorship contestants in Enugu State.

My task in this paper is to attempt to unravel his political motto: “Tomorrow is Here”. I want to examine it from the standpoint of three Igbo views about “tomorrow”, and align it with his popularization of “disruptive innovation”. These are: “echi di ime, amaro ife o ga amu”, (tomorrow is pregnant, no person knows what it will give birth to); “echi agwuagwu”, (tomorrow is endless), and “ife ga eme echi mee tata” (let what will happen tomorrow happen today). These statements show that tomorrow is decidedly about the future.

So, how can one boldly assert that the future is here with us? How can that ever be? How can one even translate it into Igbo language? And what does “tomorrow is here” really mean?

The possibilities. First, it could mean that good governance which people expect from leaders is already here. As this relates to the originator, it could mean: “I am the embodiment of the good governance you have been waiting for”. The justification could arise from Peter Mbah’s understanding and rating of himself as ably qualified and willing to deliver good governance. In which case, he is the tomorrow, and ‘tomorrow” (him) is here to deliver good governance. He is an instrument in the hands of God, and he is here to deliver good governance. His being here today is assured as good governance that will follow his election as Governor. He, therefore, deserves to be trusted for willingness and preparedness for good governance in Enugu State.

Second, good governance – elastic in meaning and usage as it is – always has a defined and delimited content. This content has measurable ingredients as well as strategic modules for forming an appetizing and satisfying menu. In this twenty-first century, good governance is driven by technology, knowledge, individual expertise, good vision, strength of character, and the consequential application of democracy and the rule of law.

Leadership requires someone who is not only endowed with these characteristics, but also someone who can identify relevant resource persons for monitoring and delivering good governance. I see Peter Mbah as one such person. If this is the case, then he can bear the burden of “Tomorrow is Here”. After all, he has, in his many speeches, consistently explicated the knowledge that drives good governance, showing in effect that these knowledges are already here.
Furthermore, there is something culturally peculiar to the expression “Tomorrow is Here”. The Igbo have a saying: “ihe mere onye vu uzo, onye kpe azu muta ako”, literally meaning (what happens to the person in front, let the person coming behind learn a lesson). Ordinarily, “the person coming behind” should refer to the past, whereas “onye vu uzo” should refer to the present. In simple terms, the adage means that people should learn from experience. However, in this context, “onye kpe azu” points to the future. Barr. Peter Mbah has learnt a lot from his long association with the incumbent government in Enugu State. It is the application of this experience with what he is endowed with that will help him to deliver good governance. So, one can say that the relevant experience is here.

At the metaphysical level, time is a continuum. The word for time in Igbo is “oge”. There are two broad divisions of this term: “oge gboo”, and oge taa”. The notions of duration and frequency are captured in these broad expressions. Future statements are predicted on envisaged specific time, days, or years. There is no such expression as “oge echi”. However, we human beings are the people who partition time and space into sections that allow us to handle them effectively. All human infants embody the notion of this phenomenon of time and space as a continuum. Mandella, Obama, Martin Luther King Jr., etc., are testimonies. Our own Peter Mbah has come to exemplify this phenomenon for us.

Of course, “Tomorrow is Here” is both a metaphor and an illustration of what promises to be an instance of “disruptive linguistics”. In naming it so, I take a cue from Mbah’s adoption of the term “disruptive innovation”: a handy business term. The postal system does not need to tell the story of disruptive innovation. The email and other types of online messaging tell the story. Green energy is about to tell the story sooner than later. Quantum mechanics has since been telling its own story. Virtuality is also telling its story about reality. My prayer is that in no distant time, the “disruptive governance” that Peter Mbah wants to enthrone in Enugu State will create a new narrative about governance in Africa.

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