By Tony Adibe
The governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Enugu State, Barrister Peter Mbah has unveiled his manifesto for the development of the State with a strong assurance to resolve the perennial water problem residents experience within and outside the state capital.
The PDP standard bearer also announced his determination to replicate in Enugu State, modern facilities, new infrastructures and meaningful lifestyles often associated with the developed societies , if elected governor in the 2023 general elections.
Mbah, who addressed a Press Conference at the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, Press Centre, Enugu shortly after unveiling his manifesto at the Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu, said the provision of water would be one of the priority projects of his administration.
He said: “The challenges posed by the scarcity of potable water in the state has received the attention of the present state government. Because of the importance of water to life, we will embark on an aggressive campaign to provide water to our city and rural dwellers. We will seek the collaboration of experts to tackle once and for all the water issues in our state.
“The water resource sector has three arms: upstream, midstream and downstream. The upstream has to do with water supply. The midstream focuses on how pipelines convey water from source to storage. We understand that this needs sufficient power supply to function effectively.
“The downstream will require us to replace the faulty pipes in order to address the challenges there. We will set up boreholes in the rural areas. The proximity between the boreholes and the houses of the residents will not exceed five minutes walk. Enugu State has the capacity to produce 130,000 cubits of water and this would be enough for Ndi Enugu. We plan to aggressively bring in private sector investment to revive the water sector, by addressing the mechanical and electrical concerns.”
Mbah, who said he was on a mission “to deliver quality, people-focused governance by making Enugu the preferred destination for investment, business, tourism and living”, declared that his vision was “to make Enugu one of the top three states in Nigeria in terms of Gross Domestic Product, GDP, and achieve a zero percent rate in the poverty headcount index.”
These, he explained, would entail moving the state’s GDP from the current $4.4 billion to at least $30 billion in the next eight years.
To actualize these, the renowned entrepreneur and philanthropist said that he has already fashioned out well-researched, robust, dynamic and strategic programmes and policies that will enhance inclusive economic development and sustainable prosperity for all citizens of the state.
Mbah stated that his ambitious programmes for the people were all integrated and mutually re-enforcing, pointing out that they will be achieved through government-enabled private sector driven economic development and agricultural transformation.
“We shall industrialize Enugu State, attract investors and change it from being a public sector driven economy to private sector driven economy. We shall enhance agricultural production in a special agro processing zone. We shall transform dormant assets into productive assets, including the mineral resources. We shall also bring in private investors by creating a good environment for businesses to thrive without asking them for return on investment. These and many more will lead to wealth creation and job creation,” he stated.
According to Mbah, his administration will engender a paradigm shift in the state, stressing that the state must act urgently to reposition and insulate itself from the existential threats the country is presently facing.
“We must do things radically differently. We are selflessly committed to insulate Enugu State from this emerging threats in the country, and we are standing on the threshold of history to effectuate a new state,” he said.
Disclosing that his core agenda would be an integrated private sector-led productivity growth, the renowned businessman said his focus will be on agriculture, energy and mineral resources, commerce and industry, rural and urban infrastructure, creative industries, information and communication technology and tourism development, insisting that the economy will be driven by radical innovation and departure from the incremental and nominal style of leadership.
“Our objective here is to attract private sector investments by making the environment attractive to investors. My job is to make sure we enable the ease of doing business, create special economic zones, and encourage our young people who are doing well in ICT by providing all the facilities and infrastructure to explore their full potential.
“We shall sustain the ongoing initiatives and expand the scope of the activity in the sector with the following key actions: expand roads and other infrastructures to deepen access and link farmers and agro research institutions; attract local and international partners to provide technical support to agribusiness actors; legislate the harmonisation of land tenure under control of government for onward lease to commercial farmers; increase investment in the establishment of clusters for palm produce, rice and crop production across the state, taking into account competitive advantage that each Local Government Area has over others; coordinate government support to farmers and non-farm actors in the agribusiness industrial sector; open up areas for private investors in modern animal husbandry,” Mbah added.
The PDP gubernatorial candidate further promised to infuse ICT and vocation into the education sector to groom self-reliant 21st century citizens, adding that his government would provide both urban and rural-water system that would give the citizens access to portable water.
Speaking on land and housing sector, Mbah noted that it would not be possible to attract investors without reviewing the land tenure system through the geographic information system.
Answering questions from newsmen on his specific plans to create jobs and thriving economic opportunities for youths in the state, Mbah said: “In all our programs, we speak about the youths. We have plans to accelerate youth employment. This is a tool for fighting insecurity. We want to transform our youth population into productive assets. We have an apprenticeship program for our youths to enhance their skills and empower them financially to start up their businesses. Through our seed fund programme, we shall liaise with venture capitalists to empower our youths.”
Mbah, who also spoke about his plan for the physically challenged people or the people living with disability and the aged, explained that the economic development programme of his government was designed for all-round inclusiveness, noting that all interests would be protected.
The manifesto presentation in the Law auditorium of the Godfrey Okoye University was witnessed by a large audience comprising members of the academia, civil society groups, party faithful and the media while thousands of other PDP supporters watched from the large screens mounted outside the hall.