BEING TEXT OF THE INAUGURAL ADDRESS OF THE GOVERNOR OF ENUGU STATE, HIS EXCELLENCY, DR. PETER NDUBUISI MBAH, ON MAY 29, 2023, AT OKPARA SQUARE, ENUGU.
Permit me to begin this address by expressing my immense gratitude to God. I am also most grateful to the great people of Enugu State for the opportunity they have given me to serve them as their governor. I will forever be grateful to you for this honour.
Let me also thank all those who contributed to the success of this governorship struggle. It began as a tiny conception, as small as the mustard seed. Today, it has acquired a life of its own. Time constrains me from naming all of you, one by one, who contributed to the maturation of this idea. However, let me be quick to put on record the invaluable contributions of the immediate past governor of Enugu State, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyichukwu Ugwuanyi, Gburugburu The Great, to what we are celebrating today. Posterity will certainly be kind to you for your deep sense of patriotism. To you all, I remain forever grateful.
Today is a historic day in the life of Ndi Enugu. Again, providence is placing Enugu State at the threshold of history. As offspring and heirs of a great historical heritage, we are aware of our proud and lofty past. Right on this soil, our forebears worked relentlessly for the greatness of Nigeria. We are inheritors of centuries of pedigree of a hardworking, industrious and brave Igbo race. Our forebears toiled to produce the coal that powered Europe and grew her economy, extracting the black gold locked inside the bowels of the earth.
We thus cannot be repositories of this great history and yet be laden with poverty and want. It will be unacceptable for us to be heritages of those massive resources that are still buried in the bowels of our soil and yet be trapped in underdevelopment. It is a contradiction of immense proportion which we are poised to unravel.
We cannot afford to delink from our glorious past. The soil of Enugu boasted of a retinue of great leaders and committed followers. The legendary Dr. Michael Okpara, whose astounding leadership qualities later got celebrated, decades after, in Ivy League universities like Stanford, demonstrated the component of his leadership ability right here on the soil of Enugu. The soil of Enugu has always been a fertile ground for the growth of leadership. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Akanu Ibiam, and others who administered Igboland, right from this soil of Enugu, exhibited memorable leadership, aided by the great support offered them by our people. They administered a great people who gave their leadership abilities ample and fertile soil to flourish and flower. These are the testaments that point to the fact that greatness runs in our DNA. This is the sort of greatness that the soil of Enugu breeds.
For six months, I traversed the length and breadth of Enugu State visiting the 68 development centres that make up this land of history. During this time, I listened to you, saw your challenges in the midst of considerable resources and felt your pains, but I saw that you remained hopeful of a better tomorrow.
Two very instructive anecdotes explain the future that is here today for Ndi Enugu. One is the narrative of an imaginary youth, whom I shall call Emeka, who plies his craft right here on the soil of Enugu State. Like many young men who struggle with existential survival issues in Nigeria, life was becoming an excruciating and lost battle to Emeka. He had gone through the unease of struggling to study and here he was, with a certificate that looked worthless. So Emeka decided to join the now popular Japa movement. Life must be blooming on the other side of Europe, he thought. So he was enfolded into a ship that travels on the Mediterranean. Hope was beginning to build in him. As the ship taking him to a new life he had conjured, that hope suddenly evaporated. The ship sunk and the Mediterranean Sea swallowed Emeka and his lofty dream.
Conversely is the other youth whom I shall call Ikechukwu. Like Emeka, life was troubling for him too. He scarcely could make ends meet. He also struggled to go through school. Life was tough. However, he suddenly woke up to the creative genie in him. Ikechukwu, with friends on Ogui Road, was able to develop an app and before he knew it, entered his creative genius products in a global contest. All of a sudden, he won a prize in Dubai and the World stood still for that hitherto hopeless boy previously roaming the streets of Enugu.
The above anecdotes spoke to the power of ideas, as against the escapist belief in the redemptive power of Japa. The two of them – Emeka and Ikechukwu – lived in this same city. The question that our administration is asking is, how many of Ikechukwus do we want to produce? How do we stem the tide of the Emekas? How do we address the ‘hopelessness’ among Enugu youths?
Beyond anecdotes, what qualifies me to stand before you today is the conquest of the can-do spirit, the type manifested by Ikechukwu. I am an Enugu boy whose creative energy saw him through all his existential life battles and brought him to where he is today. Like Ikechukwu, while growing up, I struggled against the tides of adversities that made the future look bleak. Failures and frustrations dogged my way. I worked as a shop attendant at Alaba Market in Lagos, struggling to stave off all kinds of negative manifestations of an inclement environment. Like a determined swimmer, I swam against the tides of these adversities to embark on my scholarly journey. In 2008 when we began operations at Pinnacle Oil and Gas Limited, I came into that industry as a backbencher. The DNA of exploits and creativity that is innate in every nwa Enugu was my driving force. It pushed me to go beyond the limits of expectations in the industry. A few days ago, I resigned as the CEO of Pinnacle. By the time I was leaving, Pinnacle Oil and Gas had conquered all odds, displacing the incumbent in the petroleum industry within a short time. We succeeded in driving the upstart of yesterday into reaching the Pinnacle of the downstream oil sector.
The youths of Enugu State will be one of the biggest beneficiaries of the tomorrow that is now here today. We want to expose our youths to the skills required to grasp the emerging future and create opportunities for the genius in them to flourish. We also want to invoke and instill in them the can-do spirit that is innate in the Igbo man. Enugu will rubbish Japa, not by legislation but by creatively addressing the challenges to the future of our youths.
We will equip our youths with e-commerce, fintech and cyber-security skills, such that they will become globally interconnected, and can indeed ‘Japa’ all over the world by providing services online through their e-commerce skills. They will be champions of the globe without necessarily having to leave Enugu.
I am standing before you today pregnant with ideas on how to rescue our youths and indeed the whole of Enugu State from the threats against our existence. You can trust me. I will be operating from the vantage of transcendental values and not narrow interests. That is what we are driven by. I will not let you down. We believe that the only purpose of leadership is to bring the best out of every one of us. You are why all these are possible.
As we enter the threshold of history with this signing of a social contract with Ndi Enugu, we are immensely aware that the contract also has the spirits of our ancestors as witnesses. They hear us as we proclaim our resolve to transform the lives of our people. God’s supervening eyes are also watching us. My prayer is that every citizen of Enugu State will remember today and be glad that we took a bold step forward for the benefit of our children unborn.
There is no doubting Enugu’s capacity to recreate the iconic wonderment of economic prosperity and phenomenal growth witnessed in Singapore and the United Arab Emirates. Our will is strong and unshakeable. We are also acutely aware that where there is a will, there is always a way. When their forebears conceived the models of Dubai and Singapore some few decades ago, they too began to sow their tomorrow like a tiny seed as we are doing today. At that moment, the conceivers of the dreams appeared like some theatre jesters. Today, those countries have become models of the wondrous depth of human capacity.
Today, we too are announcing the conception of same humongous dream, right here on the soil of Enugu State. All the ingredients needed to actualize this dream are present in us. Today, God is bestowing upon us a leadership that keys into those yearnings and aspirations.
Take notice that this administration will be business unusual. Tough decisions will be taken. Those decisions will however be taken in the best interest of Ndi Enugu and Enugu State in general. You will constitute the driving force of every action we take as your representatives.
We will serve you with every fiber of our being and devote all our energy and your resources to working for you and your interests. Our driving force and governance philosophy will be always based on transcendental values.
We will invoke the spirit of enterprise, the creative energy of our people and the remarkable industry on the streets of Enugu State to create the difference in governance. We will pursue an economic growth that is unrivalled in this part of the country. We will tap into the limitless resources of the private sector to provide world-class infrastructure and productive sector growth.
We will retool and re-energize our agriculture/agro-allied sector. We will unlock our rural economy through the implementation of Special Economic Zones and Special Agro-allied Processing Zones. The commerce and industry sector will help us to kick-start this drive. We also plan to provide a N100 billion revolving fund for our SMEs in partnership with the Private Sector and other Development Financial Institutions.
In the area of Information and Communication Technology, (ICT), we will provide a Tier 4 Hyper Scale Data Centre to attract hyper-scale businesses like Amazon, Google, Netflix, Tik Tok and Microsoft.
Our creative industry will be lifted from its old glory and be positioned as driver of our developmental dream. We will set up a film village and, working with stakeholders in the industry, ensure that our state becomes the destination of choice for tourists, attracting not less than 3 million visitors each year.
The sporting sector will transmute under us from a solely recreation sector into a revenue earner. We will invest highly in it with an eye on returns into the Enugu economy.
We also have robust, cross-cutting programmes in the social services sector. Education, for us, is a key driver of our developmental effort. Our intervention will boost the access to and understanding of ICT in our early child learning and schools. We will increase the focus on vocational education in our secondary schools, while reemphasizing civic and moral values.
In the healthcare sector, our aim is to ensure that rural, semi-rural and urban Ndi Enugu have access to primary healthcare facilities, without any hindrance. We will partner with private investors in building specialist hospitals, so as to attract Nigerians who fly outside the country on health tourism. Our objective here would be to make Enugu a medical tourism destination.
In the area of water, Ndi Enugu are aware of our promise to ensure availability of water in our homes in the Enugu metropolis in 180 days time. We reiterate this promise here. Furthermore, we will waste no time in replicating same feat in Nsukka, Udi and Awgu axis.
Sanitation and hygiene are also areas where this administration wants to pluck its low-hanging fruits. In the next 100 days, our administration will ensure that our streets are cleared of refuse. We will also ensure that existing landfill sites are relocated and further ensure that they are harnessed for wealth creation. Urban renewal is key to us as an administration.
We will pursue an infrastructural revolution in Enugu State by turning our state into one huge construction site. We will prioritize road construction and infrastructural renewal ensuring that our roads are well paved. Where necessary we shall construct flyovers and dualise roads as a remedy to any gridlocks.
We shall run an inclusive government designed to accommodate all citizens of Enugu State.
Our transportation blueprint is comprehensive and holistic. We will have a multi-modal transportation system, a monorail to connect cities in Enugu and even go a step further by partnering with other governments in the Southeast in connecting us with our sister states.
We are committed to the strengthening of our institutions. The judiciary, legislature and public services will receive the needed propellers as lifters of our dream. We will provide the right enablement to ensure justice is dispensed as speedily as possible. In this regard, we will digitize and digitalize the judiciary, so as to make the management and procedures in our courts more efficient.
Our approach to tackling insecurity in Enugu State will be by adopting the kinetic and non-kinetic models and approaches. We will strengthen community policing architecture; neighbourhood watch and forest guards. In this mode, we will deploy modern technology such as CCTV cameras and others, as well as establishing a command-and-control centre in Enugu State, so as to track perpetrators of crime who we will pursue and bring to justice.
The most logical question that must be playing in corners of your lips as you listen to me is, how do we source the funds to jumpstart this massive governmental ambition?
We have critically studied different financing models, a number of which we will deploy. The first, as I have earlier itemized, is that we will open Enugu State up for the influx of investments and investors. Our ambition is to have our state as the corridor where the private sector migrates and plays. We will strengthen internally generated revenue, not by increasing tax rate arbitrarily but by expanding the tax net, plugging loopholes of leakages, as well as by operating a lean and agile government.
We will also, within our first 100 days in office, convene a Diaspora and Investors Forum where we will market all the productivity sectors in the state through showcasing our huge investment potentials.
Our government will also organize what is called the Diaspora Bond where we will securitize remittances from abroad. In this regard, remittances will no longer be for consumption alone but for production. Government will create a platform for securing those remittances so the investors have security for their funds.
The governance philosophy of our administration will be based on transparency, accountability and fund traceability. Part of this philosophy is collaboration and partnership with CSOs and the private sector.
To demonstrate how persuaded we are about doing this, as I leave here now, I will head for the office to perform my first executive task as your governor. That task will be to sign Executive Order 001. It is called the Citizens’ Charter. It demands that we manage your money, the people’s money, in the people’s interest. This Charter holds me and members of my team to account on your funds. The Citizens’ Charter mandates us to provide detailed information on our public financial management system, report our revenue to you in detail and ensure that we adequately capture our expenditure. The Charter demands, in the same vein, that our expenditure is consistent with government priorities.
In line with the Public Financial Management (PFM) system, we will also ensure implementation of programmes and projects that deliver value for our money, factoring due process and public procurement laws into them.
In closing, let me invite the people of Enugu State to accompany our administration on this journey into prosperity. This is not time for politics. It is not time for passion as well. It is time for the sowing of the seed for the Enugu of our dream. Each Enugu son and daughter should ask themselves the question: what sort of future do we desire for our children? In answering the question, we must begin to work together to forge that future of our dream. Posterity will not forgive us if we fail.
The tomorrow we professed is here. It is a signpost of what the tomorrow of our children and their children’s children will be. Like Martin Luther King Jr., I have a dream of an Enugu State that is second to none for development in Nigeria and Africa.
Here on the soil of Enugu are hidden innumerable potentials for future greatness. They may look as tiny as the mustard seed but they carry within their pods energies that can move mountains. All we need do is tap the soil and out of it will sprout the seeds for the activation of the Enugu of our dream, the driver of a greater Nigeria.
My charge to all of us today is that Enugu must take back what it has always represented. What carves us out for this role is an acute sense of industry, as well as the pride of our people which will enable us wax stronger as the future decades roll by. So, let us commit to our sense of enterprise, joined together in brotherhood and sisterhood, to form that filial bond that has been known to be the raw materials for building great nations, a cohesive people and society. This is what ties us.
Like King said, I have a dream that one day, beginning from today, every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight. Ultimately, the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
It is our hope. It is the summary of our pact with Ndi Enugu. It is the faith that will propel developmental actions in every minute of our tenancy at the Lion Building. Again, to parody King, it is with this faith that we will transform the jangling discords of our state into a beautiful symphony of development.
It is our creed. It is our pact. May God help us. God bless Enugu State.
Tomorrow is indeed here!