Full Text: Governor Mbah’s First Anniversary Broadcast

Peter Mbah


Ndi Enugu,

Exactly 12 months ago, I was inaugurated as your governor. In that solemn moment, I felt the weight of history as I looked around the sea of heads that swarmed the Michael Okpara Square that morning, and became even more determined to surpass the expectations that I glimpsed on your faces. I pledged wholesome service to you – the people – in my oaths of office and allegiance.

This ceremony is significant because it also celebrates 25 years of unbroken democratic rule in Nigeria. I congratulate Ndi Enugu and every Nigerian for this milestone. While this long run is testament to our resilience as a people, it yet serves as a reminder that democracy should never be construed as an exclusive preserve; societies thrive when governments nurture a sense of inclusion and banish feelings of alienation.

Let’s think about it: what really is democracy without the people? Without the people, democracy loses its defining ethos.

You would thus recall that the first action I took barely one hour after I was sworn in as governor was the signing of three Executive Orders.

The first such Order was in regard to the Citizens’ Charter, which essentially outlined our commitment to the provision of jobs, as well as quality amenities and services that substantially improve citizens’ living condition; transparent and inclusive governance; and the convening of consultative town hall meetings to present government’s plans and receive citizens’ feedback.

That action was beyond symbolisms and in no way driven by any quest for validation. It boldly reaffirmed my conviction to make the people the centre-piece of our government’s policies. The commitment I made on my first day in office, and indeed every single pledge I made on the campaign trail, are sacred pronouncements against which all my actions as governor should expectedly be benchmarked.

From the outset, there was absolute clarity about our vision for Enugu State, which could be summed up thus: To make Enugu one of the top three states in Nigeria in terms of Gross Domestic Product and achieve a zero percent rate in the poverty headcount index. This also includes our resolute goal to grow Enugu State’s GDP from $4.4bn to at least $30b in the next four to eight years.


We realized as well that nothing poses as much threat to the spirit of enterprise and, indeed, drains life out of a city as does criminality – or any hint of it. That explained why freeing the state from the stranglehold of an illegal sit-at-home order was among the earliest actions I took as governor.

Crime may be an ever-present fixture in the society. Nonetheless, we have a zero-tolerance for crime in Enugu State. And we continue to demonstrate this through our consistent fight against crime, strengthening the capacity of the Distress Response Squad and providing logistical support to the various security arms in Enugu State. We have seen a significant drop in crime in our communities. Despite that, we stayed proactive and vigilant. This is evident in our Security Command Centre, a technology-enabled platform offering a real-time, round-the-clock surveillance of our major streets and neighbourhoods via CCTV cameras placed at strategic locations.

Our establishing of the Security Trust Fund yet underscores our determination to keep the entire state safe and enthrone a sustainable platform to pool resources to fund our security needs. This Trust Fund, which has been signed into law and also constituted, has helped in fostering citizens’ engagement and a sense of civic responsibility.

In the past 12 months and across all the sectors, our fidelity to the Citizens’ Charter and courage to bring that vision to fruition has remained unbroken. Our efforts are vindicated by visible turnaround we see in public infrastructure, and sustained increase in annual IGR. We are not reinventing the wheel, but we have certainly created a suitable environment for the wheel to spin faster and unencumbered, in a way that meets the exigencies of our time.

Indeed, the exigencies of our time demand that we attain the socio-economic minimum, where the provision of basic amenities is taken for granted by citizens. That’s because there can never be any plausible excuse for ineffectual leadership. People generally don’t expect to hear why a problem cannot be solved by their government. They expect to hear from them how – and when – problems that have blighted their living condition will be solved. That, in simple terms, is my motivating philosophy.


So, when I gave a 180-day timeframe within which Enugu’s water problem would be solved, it wasn’t because I considered it a “low-hanging fruit” that could be easily notched. It was because I knew where the provision of potable water ranked on every resident’s wish list – and how urgently they wanted it to be ticked off.

I reckoned that the problem of acute shortage of potable water that Enugu residents had experienced for decades should by no means become a situation that simply has to be endured. The mere fact that an anomaly had persisted for so long is not an excuse for it to be normalized, as it were. That is why daily sights of children standing in long queues, with buckets and cans, to buy water from tankers was one of my most depressing encounters during the campaign for last year’s general elections.

Today we have transitioned from that utterly unacceptable narrative to a situation where potable water is accessed simply by turning on taps in homes and in public galleries. Nonetheless, context is still important. To give us a sense of the scale of this accomplishment, let’s understand that daily water supply to Enugu municipal was an average of two million litres before our intervention. But we upped that paltry figure to 120 million litres of daily water supply. And we did so within the projected timeframe.

I know that some would say the flow has not been consistent in their neighbourhood. That may be correct; but it’s in part due to the challenge of vandalism and largely because we are in the process of changing old asbestos pipes, which were laid in the 1950s, to modern ductile pipes. Those pipes had become brittle and corroded and could barely contain the intense water pressure. Once that process is complete, a city-wide reticulation would be achieved.

Again, like I noted earlier, the “hows” and “whys” of municipal problems are usually not subjects the public is easily inclined to contemplate. Solutions are what its ears are primed to listen to. And that’s natural. But context remains vital, for it helps lend perspectives and shed light on presumptions and misconceptions.

The fact is that only about 45 percent of what constitutes Enugu metropolis was reticulated, comprising mostly the older residential neighbourhoods. Much of the outlying – and fairly recent – districts were never connected to the supply grid. We have successfully delivered water to those areas originally on the distribution line, mostly including neighbourhoods where public water had not run in decades.

A good example is the Enugu Campus of the University of Nigeria (UNEC). It was gratifying seeing the excitement on the face of the deputy vice-chancellor as water gushed out from the institution’s main supply line two days ago. According to him, it was the first time in over a decade that they would be getting public water supply. The excitement for the students will be just as sky-high. And why shouldn’t it be? The sanitary conditions in hostels generally improve when there is regular water supply. Indeed, this is why governments exist!

Coal Camp is other such neighbourhood where the taps had been dry for longer than most residents could recall. So, the excitement was understandably palpable. On a general note, we have achieved this level of coverage across the Enugu municipal:

· GRA I & II – 80%

· Abakpa – 55%

· Ogui – 80%

· Independence Layout (including parts of Nza Street) – 60%

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· Uwani – 85%

· Trans Ekulu – 30%

· New Haven – 85%

· Idaw River – 55%

· Emene – 60%

The public water supply experience in most of these neighbourhoods and their surrounding areas was at best unreliable – and at worst non-existent. And it had been that way for years. Once the issues of replacement of pipes, and water line obstruction we are seeing in several locations arising from physical planning infraction are resolved, a total coverage of reticulated areas would be achieved. At the moment, it seems – more or less – like getting to the last man. Happily, our governance philosophy abhors anyone being left behind in the development march.

When the availability of basic amenities is taken for granted, municipal challenges of old tend to be recounted merely as tales from a distant age. As a matter of fact, people often quickly forget how bad things had been not long after vast improvement in living conditions.


We are, for instance, increasingly seeing roads that were, for many years, bywords for neglect and municipal dysfunction wearing new looks. I’m sure nearly everyone in Enugu wouldn’t have to think hard to cite few such neighborhoods. They abound – from the once port-holed and dusty roads of Odudukoko and its environs in Gariki; the gullies that for years left Trans Ekulu a shell of its once glorious past; to the literally impassable Premier Layout and College Road, in Abakpa, which was a nightmare stretch for motorists and residents.

There can never be any excuse for such roads in their previous conditions. So I wouldn’t begrudge anyone who has forgotten what their condition had been like. The primary responsibility of governments, after all, is the security and welfare of the people.

I can say confidently that there is hardly anyone who hasn’t encountered some major road construction around their locality. It hardly matters where you live; our rehabilitation and reconstruction of 71 roads in Enugu urban areas has ensured that virtually every neighbourhood in the city is experiencing an impressive road infrastructure makeover.

Our rural communities are not left out. The ongoing construction of the 40-kilometre Owo-Ubahu-Amankanu-Neke-Ikem Dual Carriageway that will practically open a new gateway to the North-Central region is indicative of our determination to bring a new lease of life to rural communities.

Indeed, with our recent acquisition of an asphalt production plant, which has a capacity to produce over 1000-ton eco-friendly asphalt daily, we are looking set to fix more roads even beyond our projection.

Every intervention in the last one year has further reinforced the need to radically retool our socio-economic paradigm to make the hopes and aspirations of Ndi Enugu not to perennially seem like a dream deferred.


This realization strikes a particularly resonant tone in our education sector, where the learning imparted to our children over the years had failed to keep pace with the rapidly-changing world of knowledge. This evolving order is rendering obsolete our children’s supposed knowledge, causing them to be left behind as the rest of the world continues to take giants strides. Our Smart Green School initiative is a bold response to the shortcomings of our public education system.

The Smart Schools, which we are building in each of the state’s 260 electoral wards, are clearly at the cutting-edge of innovation. These schools are reflective of our steely resolve to bequeath to our children an experiential education that can help them navigate our evolving knowledge-driven world, and imbue them with a skillset that ensures they can practicalize what they have learnt, and are literally at ease with the tools of tomorrow’s workplace. Our Smart School project is not an abstract dream; its prototype stands out elegantly in Owo as a pointer to what the 259 others will look like on completion by 2025. Construction works are ongoing at 135 schools, with contract for the rest due for award in the second phase.

Each Smart School features an interactive digital whiteboard, an internet system, robotics and artificial intelligence centre, modern ICT centre, two science laboratories, hybrid multimedia library, creative production studio, 25 inclusive classrooms and 700 Android tablets.

Through these schools, we are nurturing a silent technological revolution.

So, our disruptive innovation mantra is by no means a catchphrase merely intended to captivate. It is rooted in the conviction that innovation is the handmaiden of development. The famous saying credited to Saudi Arabia’s former oil minister Ahmed Zaki Yamani that “the Stone Age didn’t end for lack of stone,” easily comes to mind here.

The wealth of nations may be measured in terms of material resources, oil reserves, and the like. But true wealth lies in the quality of a state’s human resources – shaped to a great degree by the attention paid to public education, for no nation can truly rise above its education standards.

Against this backdrop, imagine a situation where 50 percent of children are unable to read despite having spent four years in primary school. Imagine also a scenario where 50 percent lacked simple numeracy skill like subtraction and addition after five years of primary school education. These were the shocking revelations of a baseline study we conducted in the early days of my administration. Nothing underlines our strong commitment to improve the quality of education in our dear state like the sum allocated to the sector in our budget.

My administration’s N158.78bn education budget is both the highest per capita in the country, and in regard to the percentage of total budget sum – at 33 percent. It is also higher than UNESCO’s recommended benchmark of 15% – 20% of total annual budget. I dare say it’s perhaps highest in the world. The significance will be more profound if we paused for a moment to break down this figure: It implies that for every 100 Naira spent, 33 Naira goes to the education budget. Think about that.

We continue to demonstrate that there is no room for half measures where education is concerned.


Our investment in the health sector is no less remarkable. We’re also building new Type 2 healthcare facilities across the 260 electoral wards in the state. For us though, it’s not just about the physical structures. We’re just as enthused by those features that truly make hospitals worth their name. This reflects in the 30 PHCs currently being built. Each centre is well-equipped and boasts the requisite manpower, comprising doctors, nurses, and other relevant health workers. To curb the notorious practice of workers’ absence in hospitals, there are living quarters with constant and alternative power supply for doctors and nurses.

We have also paid due attention to the welfare of our healthcare workers, and have ensured that every obligation in relation to allowances as well as agreements are fulfilled. This includes employment of medical practitioners, as may be necessary, to bring our doctor-to-patient ratio to acceptable standards. This would be impacted, no less, by the presence of the Enugu State University of Medical and Applied Sciences, which received further boost when I signed the bill upgrading the institution to a teaching hospital.

Another area of success has been in the digitizing of patients’ records at our various healthcare facilities, which has created a seamless access to patients’ health history at state-owned facilities.

Development experts often say that the test of a policy is always evident in its outcome and impact on general wellbeing. This is especially true with our inputs in the health sector, where there has been vast reduction in infant and maternal mortality rate.


Indeed, we are paving our roads, including in areas that had never experienced a coat of asphalt, and our schools are experiencing unprecedented makeover. These feats are proofs of how much change we can bring to bear if we muster the will to refuse to be content with measures that barely shift the needle of progress. But there are always new grounds to break.

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Few weeks ago, we signed a contract for the revamp of the iconic Presidential Hotel, and works have actually begun in that regard. I also performed the groundbreaking for the 345-room International Conference Centre Hotel, Enugu, a few days ago, which would be the first 5-Star category hotel in the South East.

The absence of a truly 5-star hotel has long deprived Enugu State the opportunity of tapping into the immense benefits inherent in the expansive service industry such as conferences, meetings and events. This is despite the long illustrious history of our capital city. But with its completion schedule of 11 months, this hotel, alongside the 5,000-seating capacity International Conference Centre due for opening in a few months, will take us a step closer to our aim to make Enugu the Conferencing Capital of Africa. Both facilities represent key enablers of our target of three million annual tourist visits to Enugu.

It is instructive that Presidential Hotel was built in 1963 with income earned largely from agriculture, by the premier of the defunct Eastern Region, Dr. Michael Okpara. The same could be said of the several once thriving but now moribund industries such as Nigergas Company Limited, Niger Steel Limited, Sunrise Flour Mills, etc. We’re already taking steps towards reviving these industries.

We are as committed to reviving long abandoned corporations as we are in the recovery of Enugu State’s assets, which had in a sense been in limbo for years. This commitment earned huge dividends recently with the return of 14 such assets to my government. The motivation is the common good – improving the lives of Ndi Enugu.


Oil palm was at the heart of Eastern Region’s agro-based economy. The presence of hectares of palm plantations across the region best illustrates this. Two such plantations from that era exist in Enugu State. Unfortunately, they have for years been in the throes of death – to put it mildly. But with the signing of a N100bn partnership deal with Pragmatic Palms Ltd, a private investor, there is now a clear path to recovery for the moribund United Palm Products Ltd.

So, we are scaling up agricultural production in Enugu State. Never again will investment in agriculture seem like a mere token gesture – or an afterthought.

And I can boldly say we are on the verge of an agricultural renaissance, given how we are steadily creating the inputs that would enable us to reap abundantly from the potential it offers. For instance, we have created 100,000 hectares of land in each of Enugu’s three senatorial zones for the cultivation of export-focused cash crops, and building the infrastructure that opens up opportunities in the entire value chain from storage to processing of agricultural produce.

From this vast tract of arable farmland, we have established a land bank through which we can forge partnerships with local or foreign businesses desirous of investing in agriculture. A few months ago, as a matter of fact, we sealed a Public-Private Partnership deal with Ugwuanama Farms Limited for the industrial cultivation of cassava, rice, maize, banana, oil palm, yams, and sundry crops at a 15,000-hectare farmland in Isi-Uzo Local Government Area. Our investment in agriculture reflects a strong emphasis on value addition and agro-processing, hence the attention we have devoted to growing the cassava-to-ethanol value chain.

Also, few weeks ago, we received a delegation from the African Development Bank and the federal government through its ministries of finance as well as agriculture and food security. The visit was a preparatory step towards formalizing an investment partnership for our Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zone, which, besides boosting the state’s earnings when operational, would create massive job opportunities.

The bottomline is that our income has to keep pace with the scale of our ambition. Of course, it goes without saying that to achieve the growth we crave, it is imperative we grow our state’s economy to never-before-experienced level.

Our push towards that goal is rooted in our firm recognition of the power of private investment as the key driver of enduring economic growth and prosperity. We have thus implemented robust measures and reforms to de-risk the operating environment for private investments, and to promote the ease of doing business.

As someone with an economic outlook extensively honed in the private sector, I fully understand the importance of creating a governance framework that enables businesses to flourish. This is the import of the “Enugu State is open for business” refrain.


In signing the Enugu State Electricity Bill into law and establishing the Enugu Electricity Regulatory Commission, we took concrete steps towards becoming a major player in the power sector. This is critical to our planned industrial expansion, and our projection to attain regular power supply in no distant time, working with the private sector.

Indeed, the ceding of regulatory oversight of the local electricity market to the Enugu State government is a strong validation for our quest to develop a commercially viable electricity market that is both reliable and sustainable. It is especially so, given that Enugu State was the first sub-national conferred with such rights. This development is a precursor to the ultimate goal of attracting investors desirous of setting up power generation plants in Enugu State, a move that will guarantee stable power supply and launch our bid to become an industrial base.


Reforms in the judiciary have yielded many benefits. Much progress has been achieved towards an end-to-end digitalization and automation of court processes. So, it’s only a matter of time before cases are filed virtually. The deliverables of the ongoing project include:

· Establishment and equipping of virtual hearing centres for the State High Court, the Correctional Centre, and the Enugu State Multi-Door Courthouse;

· E-filing for lawyers;

· Automation and digitalization of Enugu State laws, amongst others.

Sufficient progress has also been made towards attaining Verbatim Reporting for the courts. This would eliminate the strain of longhand recording on judges, shave off the time lost doing so manually and, ultimately, improve productivity.

Voicing a commitment to create an enabling environment for businesses tends to come easily. The difficulty usually lies in bridging the void between commitment and action. Not so for us.

We have, in our first year, created Specialized Courts to optimize justice delivery. This is crucial because access to justice, ease of enforcing contracts and obtaining documents are critical business enablers and useful indicators for gauging the ease of doing business in any given state.

But our justice reforms are by no means tailored only towards creating an improved operating environment for businesses. It is all encompassing. We have, for instance, created Small Claims Court with specialized focus covering all matters in which the amount claimed is One Million Naira or less. This is fully operational. Other categories of Special Courts created include:

· Commercial Court (which deals with Commercial, Contracts, Revenue and Fast-track matters)

· Probate and Family Court (dealing with Probate, Matrimonial Causes and Family Matters)

· Criminal Court (responsible for Criminal cases involving sentences above 14 years, including life and death sentences)

· Originating Applications.

· Lands (or Real Estate) Court – which handles Land matters.

The goal is creating unimpeded access to justice for all. Also in line with this, over 15 executive bills were sent to the House of Assembly and have since been signed and assented to.


As we strive to re-position Enugu as a major hub for business, sports, tourism and leisure, giving the city a new lease of life conducive to those lofty dreams has become a compelling necessity. Since the discovery of coal in 1909, Enugu has grown from a modest colonial outpost with a handful of encampments for workers of the various coal mines to the bustling megapolis that it is today. Of course, the population too has grown from 62,000 that it was in 1952 to over four million in just the Enugu metropolis.

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So, Enugu metropolis now grapples with overcrowding and the resulting strain on basic amenities and infrastructure. Roads that once sufficed for the prevailing traffic at the time they were built have literally become too small for the sheer volume of traffic, which could be seen in the perennial gridlock experienced across the city.

Across the world, cities’ livability drops if they lack a functional transport system with organized bus terminals that confer dignity on users and enhance seamless commuting – both at intra – and inter-state levels. Through the Central Terminal we are set to construct in Ogbete/Holy Ghost, Gariki, Abakpa and Nsukka, we’re creating a modern transportation interchange that literally opens up our beloved city and eliminates the enormous manhour that is lost to traffic on a daily basis.

To create a comfortable commute for the public and ensure sanity on our roads, we are procuring 150 CNG buses – of which 50 had already been procured – and these would be deployed across various routes. We’re also bringing in over 2,000 taxis in conjunction with a private desirous of setting up an assembly plan in Enugu.


Few things blight cities like heaps of refuse. Across the world, as a matter of fact, waste management is a potent marker of municipal efficiency and government’s responsiveness. For us, rising population cannot be an excuse for overflowing waste bins anywhere in the state – let alone in the heart of the capital.

We have since matched word with action. It was simply a question of doing things differently – or having the will to fix an evidently broken system that had failed for years to solve a problem for which it was primarily set up. So, we have carried out an extensive re-organization of Enugu’s Waste Management system that has paved for the participation of private companies, which have brought in several waste compactors trucks, in place of open trucks. This has vastly improved efficiency and resulted in a cleaner environment.

But we intend to take our waste management a notch higher, using the tool of technology to explore the possibilities in waste-to-wealth or waste-to-energy.


Just like our pledge to ensure a proper waste disposal in Enugu State, our commitment to enthroning effective remedial actions on climate change is not mere lip service. We are acutely aware of the catastrophic impact of climate change on economic growth and livelihoods, and recognize the urgent need for a robust climate policy that will pave the way for a clean energy transition, spark green innovation, enhance climate resilience, and drive sustainable economic growth for the state, ensuring a brighter, greener future for all.

To this end, I’m delighted to announce that Enugu State is on the verge of securing a remarkable N100m grant from the African Climate Foundation, which will be instrumental in developing a groundbreaking and innovative science-based climate change policy and action plan for the state. This pioneering initiative will be the first of its kind across the 36 states of the federation, positioning Enugu as a trailblazer in climate action and sustainable development.

The climate policy and action plan will be our roadmap to an exciting array of initiatives, including a major climate education and awareness programme, climate finance mobililization, and a transformative clean cooking programme to protect our women from the health risks of open firewood cooking. Moreover, a grand tree-planting exercise will rejuvenate our degraded ecosystems, sequester carbon, and beautify Enugu State, setting the stage for a vibrant and sustainable future.

It is ironic that we often recall the good old days with nostalgia and indeed gush over the mind-blowing aesthetics of Western cities, but yet do little to aid orderly urban planning and imbibe the high sense of civic duty that prevailed in the good old days – or that exist in Western cities. The beauty and orderliness we see in western capitals and cities were not wished into existence. Behind those qualities lie diligent planning, respect for laws and sacrifice.

Suffice it to say that development is sometimes akin to the early stages of road construction. There might be some slight discomfort; but the end is often redeeming.

The Central Terminal and the Enugu New City might both seem like a long, painful walk for some. But they will ultimately result in painless, graceful strides crucial to Enugu’s rise to take its rightful pride of place among the world’s best cities.

The Enugu New City was envisioned to be the premier investment destination in Nigeria. Sitting on a corridor that connects the South-East, South-South and North-Central regions, plus the fact it is a mere 15-minute drive from the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, the Enugu New City signals the birth of a new world of opportunities. This vibrant, integrated metropolis driven by manufacturing, commerce and tourism would boast facilities comparable to the standards in globally-renowned cities, from theme park to industrial park.

During the campaigns, I lamented the fact that Enugu had all but lost its enviable reputation as the preferred location for Nollywood movie productions. I had, of course, expressed a desire to change that narrative. Aside from securing a multi-million dollar deal to construct an entertainment and sports park in Enugu, we have made substantial investments in rehabilitating the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, numerous tourist sites, and in organizing major events where young up-and-coming artistes happily showcased their talent.

We have invested much in our darling Rangers International FC, improving their welfare, and bringing in the right management team. Of course, this reflects in the fact the club is currently top of the NPFL table.


We’re also implementing an e-governance technology, and digitalization in Enugu State with significant positive impacts on both the people and the economy. The key benefits include Increased Accessibility and Convenience. It will also improve Service Delivery, Transparency, and enhanced communication and feedback from the public. This would be launched in three weeks’ time.

We have, in addition, paid considerable attention to the twin-issues of pensions and gratuities. Our senior citizens deserve their due reward when they retire, having devoted a great percentage of their lives in service to the state. Doing so, however, requires some verification exercise to digitalize the process and make the payments seamless, going forward. We have, in fact, cleared the verified backlog.

Few years from now, we can all look back with pride on the role we played. But it won’t be because we want to be heralded as changemakers. We would look back and say we did what we did because it was the right thing to do.

So, when we say “Tomorrow is Here”, it speaks to the immediacy of the tasks at hand and reminds us that the future we envision is within our grasp – but only to the extent that we innovate.

Just like work began for me minutes after being sworn in 12 months ago, today the work ahead is no less urgent. The work ahead may be daunting, but our determination is unwavering.

Ndi Enugu, I thank you all for your support in this past year. The depth of my gratitude equates only to my zeal to make Enugu an inspiring tale of success. I enjoin you to continue to have faith in this journey, because democracy is a collective walk.

Let our commitment be renewed by the much we have achieved so far. As we have seen, it’s not a leap of faith; it is faith that stems from conviction. We have crossed many watermarks of success. So, on this momentous day, these words by the iconic Chinua Achebe best capture our optimism regarding Enugu’s future: IT’S MORNING YET ON CREATION DAY! Indeed, tomorrow is here!!

God bless Enugu State. And God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.