• Monday, June 24, 2024
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BusinessDay

Mbah breaking the mold in Enugu

Enugu Governor promises mobile network to boost security in Ugbene Community

In the last twelve months, Governor Peter Mbah of Enugu State, South East Nigeria, has demonstrated an uncommon resolve to change the security and infrastructure story in the state. Unarguably, he has recorded modest achievements in these two areas that touch the lives of his people poignantly. Mbah, in a nutshell, could be said to be breaking the mold in the Coal City.

Before now, Enugu was a dreaded state as kidnapping, ritual killing and other forms of insecurity defined the state’s social milieu, making life and living a huge risk, just as businesses became unprofitable with grave implications for the state’s economy.

“Life was really not safe here. It was such that moving from one part of the state to another was risky. Killing and kidnapping incidents were reported everyday, especially along the long, snaky Ugwogo Road which became a highway to hell,” Alloysius Ugwueke, a resident of the Coal City, confirmed, adding that the situation was particularly bad for those in the northern part of the state.

Ugwueke pointed out that the situation was made worse by the activities of rival groups going by unprintable names who attacked and decimated whole communities in their quest to get even with one another. “It was that bad,” he said, noting, however, that there has been significant improvement.

The state government says it has been able to address this challenge by deploying technology such as CCTV surveillance, drones, and other modern crime-fighting resources.

The government also banned the illegal sit-at-home that had crippled socio-economic activities in the state in particular and the South East in general. Many thought it was foolhardy to dare this entrenched syndrome and its enforcers called the unknown gunmen.

A source close to the state government’s power base, who spoke to our reporter on condition of anonymity, explained that besides safety of lives and properties, Governor Mbah’s decision to make the state safe derives from his determination to grow the state’s economy from $4.4 billion at the moment to $30 billion in the next eight years.

“It is the desire of the state governor to make the state the premier destination for investment, business, tourism, and living and so he reasoned that this cannot be possibly achieved without security,” the source explained further.

Continuing, the source said, “In August last year, the state government rolled out the pilot scheme of the Distress Response Squad (DRS) which comprises a fleet of over 100 vehicles fitted with hi-tech surveillance cameras that can recognise faces and plate numbers.

The state has also delivered a Command and Control Centre, which might be launched any moment from now. It is expected that from this Centre, security agencies will be able to keep an eye on the entire Enugu metropolis and six flashpoint local government areas.”

Governor Mbah’s strides with security in Enugu are such that it excited visiting Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, the National Security Adviser, who recalled, “we were here in June (last year) and we interacted with the governor. He came out strongly and courageously, saying he would do his best to restore order.

Today, based on our own records and statistics – because we get daily reports of activities – there are lots of instances or days and even weeks that we did not record one single violence or incident of either terrorism or kidnapping.”

Though 12 months may be too short a period to do a comprehensive assessment of a new administration in a state, especially in a difficult and capital intensive area such as infrastructure, Governor Mbah has been able to address water challenge in the state considerably.

For over two decades, the residents of Enugu metropolis had to contend with perennial water scarcity, which defied solution by successive administrations since the return of democracy in 1999.

To many, therefore, it seemed a huge joke when Mbah, as a governorship candidate, promised to restore water to Enugu homes in 180 days after his inauguration. This was despite the obvious dilapidation of water infrastructure in the state. Today, pipe borne water has been restored in Enugu metropolis.

That happened on November 25, 2023, exactly 180 days after his inauguration. Added to this is the 9th Mile 24/7 Water Scheme and the overhauling of other water schemes in Oji and Ajali as well as other water infrastructure like the decrepit reservoirs. By these actions, water supply capacity to Enugu city has been ramped up to 120 million litres per day, up from the hitherto occasional two million litres.

“Today there is water in Enugu city to the joy of residents; although the government is still aggressively dealing with the issue of reticulation, as most of the major water conveying pipes, which were laid by the colonial masters, are busting under pressure, but are now being replaced with ductile iron pipes,” our source revealed.

He noted that, in many places, people have already built on pipelines due to long years of dryness, adding that many of the pipes have been destroyed in the process of installing telecom cables and other developments, while many more have been vandalized and/or destroyed.

Besides security and water, the governor is also dealing with education through his state-wide Smart School initiative, believing that education is the strongest weapon with which to fight poverty. This explains why the state allocated 33 percent of its N521.5 billion 2024 budget to education.

Plans are also afoot in the state to construct 10,000km of roads across the state in four to eight years, amounting to about 1,250km per year. Many of the roads projects have started and so, the state, according to our source, has become one huge construction site.