2023 GOVERNORSHIP AND
STATE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY ELECTIONS
My running mate should be somebody that can add value to the team —Peter Mbah
My running mate should be somebody that can add value to the team —Peter Mbah
Oil and gas magnate, lawyer and former Commissioner for Finance in Enugu State, Mr Peter Sam Mbah, the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in this interaction with journalists, speaks on reconciliation with other co-contestants for the ticket, potential of the state, among other issues.
What is that vision you have for Enugu?
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 Gross Domestic Product (GDP). I also envision an Enugu State that we will achieve a zero per cent rate in our poverty head count index. What that really means is that 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, it means we have to grow our GDP at a minimum of $30 billion. I’m sure you would also think it’s crazy.
How do you intend to unlock the huge natural resources in Enugu State that are untapped?
I’m glad you pointed that out. Enugu, unknown to most people has huge mineral resources. We have huge limestone deposit of commercial quantity, we have gladstone, gemstones, alum, we have clean coal. So we have huge resources. We also have oil fields. A lot of people don’t know that. Currently, we have oil fields that are exclusively owned by Enugu and we have the ones that have lateral formation that are owned by Enugu and other states. So our aim will also be to get that part of our economy activated.
Now that you have ventured into politics which you know is different from the private sector, you have to deal with a whole lot: the lawmakers, the vested interests and all of that. To what extent are you prepared to face those vested interests?
I don’t think they are radically different because even as a Chief Executive Officer, I also have to manage my board. I also have to make sure that we practice effective corporate governance and in doing that, it’s also my ability to sell my project to my board to be able to negotiate with them, convince my board members why this is good for the company. So, to that end, I don’t think they are radically different. You will need engaging, getting the people, the other institutions of government that you need to carry along, making sure they understand what your priorities are and ensure that you guys work as a team. So, there will be collaborative effort, reaching out to those other arms of government that you need to work with in order for us to achieve our common goals.
Initially when you joined the race, leaving such a flourishing company like Pinnacle, how did you feel knowing the calibre of opponents up against you like the former Deputy Senate president, Ike Ekweremadu?
When I made my introductory remarks, I talked about what one was driven by. We have different values that drive us in life. Some are driven by extrinsic values; by this I mean things that are materialistic. You could spend a lot of time dwelling on how much output you are able to get from a particular decision you have to make. Some are driven by intrinsic values. That speaks to those decisions you make in life that your drivers are essentially how satisfied you are in it. Assuming you have a job offer somewhere, you may decide to stay put where you are earning less than move to a place where you are getting more. This is because your drive for making that decision is not expensive; it is not the money but the satisfaction you get; the people you work with; people around you. You wake up in the morning and you look forward to going to that office. That is intrinsic. So, if you remain where you are, it is because of the satisfaction you are deriving from the place. And there are people in life that are driven by transcendent values. I think that is where I fall in and that is the feeling that drove my going into this race. Transcendent in the sense that it transcends self; it is no more about how much satisfaction you are getting; how much material things you are exposed to. It transcends you and you are thinking about how your work and decision would impact on the third party. So, it is no longer about the self; it is about others. I think that is what essentially drove me into this race.
The feeling is largely about how can provide solutions with all that is going on in this country; we feel the desire that perhaps the solution may not necessarily come from the centre. It may be strengthening the subunits, making sure that Enugu is doing very well, Lagos is doing very well and that other states are strong. If we are able to get 15 or more other states of the federation well strengthened and doing very well, we are done and fine as a nation. People would find Nigeria attractive to come and live as a nation. So, I am such an advocate that our solution may not necessarily come from the centre. It may well be that if we get the subunits right, then that would rub off on what happens at the centre. It may not be a top-bottom solution but could be a bottom-top solution. That is my strong belief and what got me into this race.
What made Ekweremadu say he was not going on with his ambition and that he would now support you after you emerged?
First of all, I find the position he took very honourable. One of the things that Ekweremadu and I share in common is the passion for the development of our people. I have engaged him privately; we talked about our people and how we can improve the lives of our people and he also noticed that I am passionate about the development of our people. We had always said to ourselves that this is not going to be a bitter contest and that however this pendulum swings, that we would be fine. This is because our interests are largely our people; it is not about what he or I would eat as individuals. So, it did not come to me as a surprise that he gave his support and to have his people support me, and that he said he was no longer pursuing his ambition.
I think that like every other clime where you have parties conducting their primaries, the objective of those people who are involved in that race is that it is obvious to them from the onset that it is just one of them that would emerge as the flag bearer. And what you notice is once someone begins to gain traction or becomes a leading person in the poll, what you notice is that there will be some horse-trading, negotiation going on between the campaign management of the guy leading the poll and the guy who believes his popularity is waning, to say look, I have this beautiful idea, how can you guys incorporate it in your programmes; my support base is interested in this project, can you guys incorporate it, I will lend my support. So, you see all those kinds of negotiations going on. The recent one that happened was in the US between Bernie Sanders and Biden. It took Biden agreeing to implement some of the programmes Bernie has in medicare and students’ loan for him to come out openly and declare open support for Biden. This is where people genuinely want to serve their people and all they are doing is to see how they can integrate things that their support base is passionate about into the winning team programme. That is essentially what you do in primaries and largely what you witness also in what has played out with my other colleagues.
What are the factors that will shape your choice of a running mate?
Again, I think that I am not one of those who subscribe to the idea that your running mate should be like a spare tyre. I think a running mate should be somebody who should bring value to the team and who should also be capable of governing in the event that you are not there. That would really be the factors that I would be considering in the value proposition of my running mate; someone who is capable of fitting into my shoes if anything should happen to me.
You are likely to win; what is the assurance that in future, there will be no predecessor/successor crisis?
I think one of the greatest achievements we have had in Enugu State is that since the beginning of the Fourth republic, since 1999, we have remained a PDP state. In the last 23 years, Enugu State has been governed by the PDP. The state of our union continues to be stronger and stronger. That is what we are experiencing here in this company. It is like a family affair. It is like going into a boardroom to have a dialogue and coming out to say this person should go and represent us in the assignment that we have all agreed should be executed. I do not expect any predecessor/successor crisis.
After you picked the ticket of your party, you immediately reached out to other aspirants; what is the level of response from them?
I think I am humbled by the responses I have received thus far from my colleagues. It has just been so humbling. I cannot think of any exception; all the aspirants that ran the race with me, we have reached out to one another; they have sent their congratulatory messages and declared support. We are intact and the state of our union as a party continues to be stronger. We treated everything that happened as brotherly affairs and we continue to foster the unity as a party. The responses have been great and we continue to forge that alliance.
Why do you want to leave this size of business for politics?
You look at the state of business and the size of business I do and you would truly wonder why on earth anybody would leave this size of business and at this time of growth to do what I am going in to do in an uncharted waters of politics. I earlier talked about the values that drive people. But above all, I don’t know how much you hear or know before today about Pinnacle; we are typically not very loud people but the truth is that we are the industry number one. Any player in any industry that is at the state where Pinnacle is, the CEO of that company would never want to resign. That is because it is the desire of any CEO to play a leadership role in the industry. We play such a leadership role that if anything affects Pinnacle, you would feel it in the market place because of the share volume we control.
In an established market like the downstream, to have a 23 per cent market share is no mean feat. It is major and what that means is that as a CEO, I look forward to coming to the office every day. I know that when I cough, the market will quiver. So, it is a lot of sacrifice and even what we do here in terms of revenue is way beyond what a state like Enugu does. There is no way I could have been driven by extrinsic values to go into where I am going now. We are in good stead. I am not leaving Pinnacle at a point where it is shaking. I am leaving Pinnacle where the ovation is at its loudest; everybody would wish to be in a position that I am right now. That is the real difference and this is almost like a baby I have nurtured in the past 14 years and you can imagine that it is also somewhat emotional for me to even make that decision to leave. But, I think that the driver for me is beyond myself. If you realise that there are certain decisions you take and you go back to your room and you cry, then you wake up and you realise that it is for the betterment of the larger society, you say okay, you have to do it.
Contents provided and/or opinions expressed here do not reflect the opinions of The Pacesetter Frontier Magazine or any employee thereof.
Support The Pacesetter Frontier Magazine
It takes a lot to get credible, true and reliable stories.
As a privately owned media outfit, we believe in setting the pace and leaving strides in time.
If you like what we do, you can donate a token to us here. Your support will ensure that the right news is put out there at all times, reaching an unlimited number of persons at no cost to them.
Leave a Reply