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2023 GOVERNORSHIP AND
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One Year in Office: Gov Mbah Renders Account of Stewardship, Lists Achievements, Plans
Gov. Peter Mbah of Enugu State
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One Year in Office: Gov Mbah Renders Account of Stewardship, Lists Achievements, Plans

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Governor of Enugu State, Dr. Peter Mbah, says his administration is on course to meeting all his campaign promises and vision, including making the state the premier destination for investment, business, tourism and living as well as grow the state’s economy from $4.4bn to $30bn.

Mbah explained that his government’s fidelity to the Citizens’ Charter, which he executed on May 29, 2023 immediately after his inauguration and courage to bring that vision to fruition had remained unbroken, saying his administration’s efforts were vindicated by visible turnaround in public infrastructure and sustained increase in the state’s Internally Generated Revenue, IGR.

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He stated these in his 48-minute first anniversary broadcast on Wednesday, giving a breakdown of achievements in the various sectors issues such as security, water, education, roads, health, agriculture, power, judiciary, transportation, and important issues such as waste management, human capital development and workers’ welfare, climate change, and revival of moribund assets and assets recovery.

The governor said that while it was yet morning on creations day, the administration “crossed many watermarks of success.”

On security, the governor said his administration had strengthened the capacity of various security agencies in Enugu State, leading to “a significant drop in crime in our communities.”

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“But 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,” he stated.

WATER SUPPLY

On the water sector, Mbah said the administration had through aggressive interventions and investment in the sector kept its promise of restoring water to Enugu metropolis in 180 days, noting however that there were still challenges in reticulation occasioned by sabotage and broken pipes installed in the colonial years, which government was addressing working on.

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“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.

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“But, 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 is 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.

“On a general note, we have achieved this level of coverage across the Enugu municipal: GRA I and II – 80 per cent; Abakpa – 55 per cent; Ogui – 80 per cent; Independence Layout (including parts of Nza Street) – 60 per cent; Uwani – 85 per cent; Trans Ekulu – 30 per cent; New Haven – 85 per cent; Idaw River – 55 per cent; and Emene – 60 per cent.

“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. But 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,” he stated.

ROADS

Mbah expressed happiness that long-forgotten areas of Enugu were now wearing new looks following the award of 71 urban roads and 10 major rural roads.

He announced that the state had acquired an asphalt production plant capable of producing over 1000-ton, eco-friendly asphalt daily, which would help fix the state’s roads even beyond earlier projections.

He said, “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 pot-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.

“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 rural communities are not left out. For instance, 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.”

EDUCATION

Mbah regretted that the learning imparted to Enugu children over the years was not at pace with the rapidly-changing world of knowledge, hence the administration’s Smart Green School initiative, which prototype at Owo, he said, was already up and running to ensure that Enugu children were not left behind as the rest of the world continued to take giants strides.

“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. 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.

“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 per cent – 20 per cent 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.

“There is no room for half measures where education is concerned,” the governor explained.

HEALTH

In the health sector, Mbah said that besides the ongoing construction of 260 well-resourced Type 2 primary healthcare facilities across the 260 electoral wards in the state, government had 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 digitising of patients’ records at our various healthcare facilities, which has created a seamless access to patients’ health history at state-owned facilities,” he said.

Reviving Moribund Assets, Recovering State’s Assets

He added that his administration was fast reviving long-abandoned and moribund assets of the state to make their viable again.

He stated, “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 five-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.”

AGRICULTURE

The governor recalled that oil palm was at the heart of Eastern Region’s agro-based economy, regretting that, two of such plantations from that era located in Enugu State had “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.

“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:

Electricity

Governor Mbah explained that with the Enugu State Electricity Law, which he initiated and establishing the Enugu Electricity Regulatory Commission, Enugu had taken 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 by the National Electricity Regulatory Commission is a strong validation for our quest to develop a commercially viable electricity market that is both reliable and sustainable,” he said.

JUDICIARY

He said the state judiciary was not also left behind in the many reforms embarked on by his administration.

“Much progress has been achieved towards an end-to-end digitalisation 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; and automation and digitalization of Enugu State laws, amongst others.

Sufficient progress has also been made towards attaining Verbatim Reporting

“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.”

He added that his government had sent over 15 executive bills to the House of Assembly all of which had been passed and assented to.

TRANSPORTATION

To make commuting a more comfortable experience for the people and visitors in the state, Dr. Mbah said his administration was procuring 150 CNG buses of which 50 had already been procured for deployment across various routes.

“We are also bringing in over 2,000 taxis in conjunction with a private desirous of setting up an assembly plant in Enugu,” he added.

Following the discovery of coal in Enugu in 1909, Mbah said that Enugu city had 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, hence the need to deal with 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,’ he added.

WASTE MANAGEMENT 

The governor said that although his administration had since restored Enugu State to that clean city it was known for in the past, it was doing more in waste management.

“We have carried out an extensive re-organisation of Enugu’s waste management system that has paved way 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,” he said.

ACTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE 

He said that as in the area of waste management, the government was intensively pursuing its promise to enthrone effective remedial actions on climate change.

“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.”

On the effort to build the New Enugu City and terminal stations, Mbah reminded that “the beauty and orderliness seen in western capitals and cities were not wished into existence, as behind those qualities lie diligent planning, respect for laws and sacrifice.”

He added that while development is sometimes akin to the early stages of road construction where there might be some slight discomfort, 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, on the other hand, was envisioned to be the premier investment destination in Nigeria. 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,” he said.

HUMAN CAPITAL/WORKERS’ WELFARE 

Besides implementing an e-governance technology, and digitalisation in Enugu State with significant positive impacts on both the people and the economy, Mbah said he had in the past 12 months 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,” he concluded.


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