There comes a time in every human endeavor when moving backwards is as difficult as moving forward. That is just that moment when a person comes to the realization that they had taken a road that ought not have been taken in the first place. But the wise saying has always been that at any stage of a journey in which a person realizes that the wrong road has been taken, the best step to take is backward. Reverse and go back. That seems to be the stage Governor Peter Mbah’s effort to keep his seat as Governor of Enugu State has gotten to, save for the fact that he is not heading these words of wisdom.
With all legal windows closing on him, it beggars belief that he is still hanging in, in a venture that could really wreck his reputation. Why, for instance should he wait to be summoned to testify before the Tribunal, and have himself, a sitting Governor lacerated and eviscerated in Court? This kind of a gamble will only be beneficial if he were on the right side of the law and facts.
For instance, the Deputy Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo was dragged before the Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Yenagoa two years ago. He was on the right side of issues and facts. He was alleged to have forged his NYSC exemption certificate. But both the law, facts, the NYSC and the Department of State Security (DSS) were on his side. At the end of the day, he was exonerated.
Consider, for instance, the case of a sitting senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, currently at the Election Petition Tribunal at the instance of his opponent from the APC. He has allowed the petition against him to linger even when the Ahmadu Bello University, his supposed alma mater, INEC, NECO and even the Principal of the Secondary School in Gwagwalada, where the Senator alleged he attended testified that there is no record of the Senators name in their register. NECO has also disclaimed his certificate at the Tribunal, yet he would not throw in the towel. Whereas most people will shudder at the fact of an individual not throwing in the towel early enough to save his family and people generational opprobrium, others insist that many are not seeing what the PDP Senator is seeing. Whereas the Senator is seeing over 16 million Naira lodged into his account monthly, with several other allowances that will continue to accrue to him until the matter terminates at the Court of Appeal, others are busy bothering about reputation. Reputation to him therefore comes after financial empowerment.
And with Peter Mbah sitting on a security vote of over 600 Million Naira monthly, he might as well have settled for this as his immediate objective. In which case while many expect that he is projecting to run the state for the next four years, his ultimate plan for now is to stretch the issue at the Tribunal up to the Supreme Court in so far as it guarantees him more time to recoup his expenses and even make profit. This is very unfortunate.
Consider that in all these public pretensions and drama at the Election Petition Tribunal, Governor Mbah knows that he forged his discharge certificate. He knows from the depth of his heart that the NYSC is right. With the NYSC having commenced their testimony in the Tribunal last week, one will expect Mbah’s lawyers to begin to make sense and counter NYSC. Instead, what you get is a frenzied and ridiculous shopping for technical faults. The appearance of NYSC is lethal, and their testimonies are fatal. Who could imagine that after listening to such numbing testimonies, the Tribunal, in quest for the truth and substantial justice will be swayed by technical loopholes. Just like the case of Mmesoma in the JAMB forgery scandal, reality dawned on everybody when JAMB went to town with their unassailable facts. The difference is that Mmesoma owned up to her scam, while Mbah will rather be disgraced than own up and resign.
But to the people of Enugu State, the cost of an illegitimate government toying with governance is very high. As Mbah makes his appointments, he knows that in the absence of a miracle, which won’t happen, he will be routed by the Tribunal. Just a matter of time. Then he begins to make mistakes in an attempt to generate drama and deceive the people of Enugu. Look at the appointment of a white man as his Special Adviser on Water Resources under the laughable notion that Enugu does not have water because of incompetent indigenous Managing Directors of water resources. The objective is to get the people of the state to applaud him for appointing a foreigner and to see in such a move as a touch of genius and an indication of seriousness. But two wrongs were consecrated in that move. The first wrong is the assumption that our local engineers have been the reason Enugu does not have water. The second wrong is the export of jobs from a poor state like Enugu.
Strengthening the internal mechanism for accountability and the security of resources for the treatment of water, ensuring a robust budgetary provision for sustainable water management, providing for a productive interaction with multilateral agencies for the finance of water asset and a creative mechanism for the payment for water by the indigenes will cut it. In the absence of these four basics, the importation of a thousand expatriates will be of no benefit in this regard.
The Enugu State Broadcasting Service(ESBS) has over the years, evolved from Eastern Nigeria Broadcasting Corporation(ENBC) through East Central State Broadcasting Service(ECBS), through Anambra Broadcasting Service(ABS). In all these years, it has been run by a constellation of some of the best names in broadcast journalism. We have had Boniface Ofokaja, Nwokolobia Agu, Dr Ralph Ossai, Pete Edochie (as Director FM), Chukwuma Ogbonna and a host of others. The problem has never been personnel. It has always been about funding and government meddlesomness. Broadcasting, both radio and television has never been given priority attention by successive governments while politics remains a primary use of this service by those in government. For this reason, they are not competitive enough for advertising revenue.
And so when Governor Peter Mbah announced his hiring of Ladi Akeredolu of Channels Television as the Managing Director of ESBS, it became clear he is on a frolic of his own imagination, designed to deceive the people. Let nobody get this wrong. Ladi is an accomplished broadcaster who has made his mark and earned his stripes. But he will perform no magic for ESBS. The magic will come from consistent funding and the creation of a business culture in the management of the organization. This will imply that government gives it a free hand to operate both its news and other content which will attract listeners and ultimately advertisement revenue.
To underscore the veracity of this position, the reader should note that this is not the first time this foreigner gambit was undertaken by the Enugu State Government. Indeed, Governor Sullivan Chime hired Jika Ato, one of the very best in television broadcasting as MD of ESBS. But what came out of it. If the idea failed, it was not because Jika did not rise up to the challenge. It was simply that the leopard could not change its spots. In all this, the state is losing because a rogue government is implementing unbaked ideas to give the impression that something is going on, when it’s all hot air.
When Peter Mbah entered the issue of security, his lack of preparedness opened up his soft under belly. The issue of sit-at-home had been mismanaged by the previous administration. But not to the height of rudderlesness Peter Mbah is taking it to. It has always been Chijioke Edeoga’s position that the problem will be addressed from a multi-pronged perspective in a way that will guarantee results. But in a manner that belies their rogue status, and in attempt to impress, Governor Peter Mbah threw himself at the problem in a manner that has exacerbated it. And this is in spite of the fact that there are models and precedents to learn from.
The Soludo Experiment in Anambra has left a mix bag of experiences. It has been grueling, with a commissioner, among uncountable others, gruesomely murdered, his head cut off and left on a motorway! It has really been bestial and animalistic. The times have been very tough even for a purposive administration like Soludo’s. Now, entering a direct confrontation with these non-state actors will only expose our people to mass carnage and death. They have the capacity to employ a Gorilla approach, thereby stretching the madness to forever. The problem at hand will require a holistic approach by a legitimate government and not a harp harzard and unco-ordinated effort by a rogue regime.
Again, when Peter Mbah ordered the people to dismantle the barricades with which they took their security in their own hands, he exhibited a stark lack of knowledge of the perils and wanton killings which have been the lot of the people. With the police providing no real help in the ceaseless onslaught of criminals, the people had no option than to form their own vigilante groups while erecting barricades which they can relate with. This thoughtless approach to such a serious problem amounts to playing cheap politics with the security of the people. This can never be the approach of the Labour Party under the able leadership of Barrister Chijioke Edeoga.
Peter Mbah can save the people of Enugu State from all these by simply resigning and withdrawing from the tribunal.