CHUKS NWEZE writes that Governor Peter Mbah of Enugu state, amid criticisms from opposition political parties, has lived up to his promise to provide portable drinking water in Enugu metropolis and its environs
Cynicism and criticisms
He was dogged by public cynicism and fierce criticisms from opposition parties, yet Governor Peter Mbah’s determination was never dimmed but fixated to actilualise his campaign promise to make water available to people of Enugu state.
Like they axiom, “a man is known by what he says and does”. If any man says that he would do something and eventually does what he says, he is called “Ekwueme” in Igboland. Now Enugu indigenes and residents can now refer to their governor as “Ekwueme”.
Governor, Peter Ndubuisi Mbah of Enugu had left no one in doubt about his determination to end the perennial water scarcity in Enugu state, especially, in the Enugu capital territory.
During the electioneering, especially, his campaigns, Mbah promised to put paid to the agony people were going through to procure water in Enugu city as well as the entire state.
He continued to declare everywhere he went that within 180 days in office as the governor of Enugu state, portable water would be available in every household.
However, the citizens took the message with a pinch of salt. Despite the public cynicism which greeted the and made it look like a pipe dream and a herculean task, Mbah continued to cling to his mantra that he must deliver on his avowal.
At a stage, when he assumed office, some people were so sceptical that they began to voice out their disappointment that Mbah was not living up to his billings.
One of the foremost personalities to voice out his disappointment was the former National Auditor of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Barrister Ray Nnaji. Nnaji promptly saw Mbah as a failure and urged him to sit up.
“He said he would provide water within 180 days, he has spent up four months and the water is nowhere to seen,” he laments and urged Mbah to be “a talkadoo,” one who does what he says.
Another legal practitioner and one time governorship aspirant of the Accord Party in the last governorship election in Enugu state, Barrister John Nwobodo also passed vote of no confidence in Mbah for not doing enough to show Enugu people that indeed a man of integrity had come on board.
Nwobodo, like Nnaji, also urged Mbah to deliver on his campaign promises on roads, especially, water which he gave a time frame of 180 days.
But as the acrid criticisms were pouring, Mbah, like a grasscutter buried his head in work and never lost focus on the ball.
Delivery of promise
Amid the cynicism and criticism, on Saturday, November 25, 2023, Mbah commissioned the much awaited water he promised Enugu citizens.
He constructed many water gallery at strategic positions with solar power where water could be fetched even at night.
Mbah, who commissioned multi-million naira water schemes at Ninth Mile corner and Oji River with the capacity to deliver 120 million litres of potable water daily.
Unknown to many Enugu citizens and residents alike, Mbah’s administration was working underground to fulfil his campaign promise in the area of portable water provision.
During the commissioning, the governor stated that the development marked an end to perennial water scarcity in the state.
Speaking at the inauguration of the 70 million litres capacity Ninth Mile Enugu water scheme, the governor advised water tanker owners in the state to invest in other businesses, stating that the restoration of water supply was key to the achievement of his objective to take the state’s GDP from the current position of $4.4 billion to $30 billion within the next four to eight years.
He said: “This led to the situation we are dealing with now, where families have to queue endlessly to fetch water from tanker trucks who supply water in a very unreliable and epileptic fashion. Businesses on the other hand were forced to invest in extensive water infrastructure from tankage to additional reticulation and for large scale users like hotels, hospitals etc. many of them actually had to acquire tanker trucks of their own to afford themselves some reliability of supply.
“Faced with this fundamental issue, and considering the suffering of Ndi Enugu, it was only natural that we identified provision of water as one of our first targets in the drive to execute our mandate and social contract with citizens of Enugu.
“We also chose to give ourselves a target of resolving this challenge in 180 days not for the purpose of chest-thumping but rather because firstly, the issue is urgent.
“We did not want Ndi Enugu to suffer unduly for even one minute longer than avoidable, and secondly we saw this as an opportunity to galvanise Ndi Enugu for the tough tasks ahead and whip our administration into gear as quickly as possible.”
Explaining that many residents had doubted his administration’s commitment to the promise of regular water supply within a stipulated time, he stated that the 120 million litres schemes were the first phase in the realisation of 200 million litres daily water supply to capture new layouts in the state.
“We are currently supplying water at appreciable pressures to Enugu municipality and I can state here and now that pipe-borne water is here to stay. Now, the businesses in Enugu can just connect to public water and pay monthly water rates like is the practice in other advanced environments. Those of them who have invested in water tankers can put them up for sale and free up capital for other uses,” he said.
Mbah told water tanker owners that: “It will become necessary to remodel your businesses in this new era. We have delivered enough water for Enugu metropolis, and that is indeed praiseworthy. However, it is certainly not yet time to shout ‘uhuru’. That is because the existing water pipe network does not service a number of major residential areas which developed since the last major pipe laying projects in Enugu. We will need to continue the effort to extend pipe born water to them.
“In addition, the towns outside Enugu also have varied degrees of water problems. Now that we can see the end of the water issues around Enugu urban, we must not refocus to address towns like Nsukka, Oji, Udi.”
He added that the second phase of borehole construction at Ninth Mile would deliver another 16 boreholes and additional water, assuring that there would be availability of supply due to the 4.4MW power provided at the scheme.