By Chike Anibeze
The recent bouts of political tension following the primaries for the governorship candidate of the People’s Democratic Party in Enugu state and elsewhere in Nigeria seem to have ebbed with the emergence of the political gladiators leading the front. The political tension had been palpable. Enugu State had its fair share of the rabble-rousing moments. For come to think of it, politics in Nigeria appear to be the swiftest means of getting to the top.
As a left-wing moderate, it was very easy for me to point out the structural inequities in Nigeria that helped to stoke these tensions. But that’s not what I want to do in this piece, because we are tired of listing the litany of all that have gone wrong, and our voices have grown hoarse from shouting. The focus now is the manner of emergence of the iconic man for Enugu State Lion Building.
Our elders say, ‘the dog that will catch a prey during the hunt, showcases self with its first steps’. This was obviously not the lot of Peter Mbah at the start of the race. Although people knew his pedigree as a well-bred technocrat and successful corporate entrepreneur, in terms of his political carrier, his stints as Chief of Staff and Commissioner for Finance were not considered weighty enough to give him the required political structure to grapple with his political heavy-weight opponents. More so when he left politics thereafter to establish himself as one of the biggest players in downstream oil sector in Nigeria.
The events of his announcement as the flagbearer was quite interesting. As an important aspect of the life of the people, the entire state was agog with events leading to and after the primaries. Every means of communication had a very busy route.
I was in a very important meeting on the faithful day. At about 3.00pm my telephone buzzed in the vibration mode on which I had set it. I couldn’t answer because of the seriousness of the meeting. Not when I deeply frown at colleagues who take calls incessantly during important meetings. The calls persisted as the buzz was beginning to be noticed by everyone.
The chairman made an indication for me to take the call. The exciting voice of the caller bellowed in a deep monologue as he reeled out the latest victory of the governorship candidate of the ruling party in Enugu State. My immediate outburst gave me away and my colleagues in the meeting knew I had received a victorious message. Such it was. Peter Mbah, the quintessential lawyer and successful corporate mogul has just clinched the highly contentious and covetous ticket to represent his party.
What happened subsequently was very appealing. To behove a general interest and collective excitement at the emergence of this man is impressive. Our meeting turned to a discussion on the primaries of the ruling party in Enugu state. Several diverse reasons were given for his emergence but all logically pointing to the same conclusion. Many wondered that they have not seen large billboards or extra-large banners signposting him as the man of the moment. Not even jingles of make-believe stories reminiscent of the politicians.
Mbah has just deftly operated in the simplest of forms, much like his looks appear. Carefully articulating and pushing his candidature with issue-based packages without any form of attack on opponents. Perhaps, his track records of success in his areas of endeavour coupled with his calm disposition gave a good impression of someone to be trusted. So the people voted.
It is not without reason that so many have put their trust in the candidacy of this solid personality. As previously posited by one of his admirers, ‘It takes a combination of vision, grit, tenacity, diligence, self-discipline and managerial acumen to emerge from a humble beginning to become a dominant player in the downstream petroleum industry. An urbane personality who have developed with humility the right acumen that enhanced the trajectory of his advancement.
Political pundits like me are not just interested in his material wealth but rather in his wealth-of-experience and intellectual prowess which could easily be gleaned from the litany of his successes in the private and public sector.
In this season, anomy, scepticism, cynicism and ambivalence seem to pervade the public views. The people appear to have developed consultation fatigue with the Nigerian government. This is the time to recognise the inherent potentials of a candidate who can provide the right succour for the satellite states bonded in the fragile links of a sick nation. This is the time for the proper recognition of forging strong state and regional apparatuses for meeting people’s basic needs. This is the moment to go for the best by acknowledging the real valour of Nd’Igbo in their choices reflecting the maxim that the godhead which requires blood for propitiation does not merely accept palm oil because it is red.
Peter, without doubt, fits that personality. He never operated with the complacency of moderate operation rather he has always cherished the desperation of lofty ideas and achievements. With him in the saddle of Enugu State, our time is now – Oge erugo: ebum n’obi anyi abiago na mmezu.
He will move to rekindle the interest of the populace on issues concerning their state. Inevitably the populace will begin to take ownership of their state and will readily fight any matter that will make them return to previous ugly experiences. For come to think of it – there’s no experience, pleasant or agonising that lacks value. Philosophers rightly sermonise that ‘we should not waste our pain’. In the same garb, Friedrich Nietzsche rightly observed that there are no beautiful surfaces without a terrible depth.
Those who know Peter Mbah intimately understand that the steps he has taken thus far have been a mixture of the rough and smooth, many of them taken with great pains and discomfort before emerging in the pinnacle of success. His desire now is to use the strength of his personage to bring succour to his people. This will make him stride in the noble terraces of John Wesley when he admonished the world more than two centuries ago: “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.”