Governor Mbah’s Citizens’ Charter: A Future of 29th May 2023, and a Toast for Sullivan

By Damian Ugwutikiri Opata

To demonstrate how we are about doing this (transparency, accountability and fund tracing), as I leave here now, I will head for the office to perform my first executive task as your Governor. That task will be to sign Executive Order 001. It is called the Citizens’ Charter. It demands that we manage your money, the people’s money, in the people’s interest. This Charter holds me and the members of my team to account on your funds. The Citizens’ Charter mandates us to provide detailed information on our public financial management system, report our revenue to you in detail and ensure that we adequately capture our expenditure. The Charter demands in the same vein, that our expenditure is consistent with government policies,” Peter Mbah.

The above quotation is taken from the Inauguration speech of Barr. Dr. Peter Ndubuisi Mbah, shortly after he had been sworn in as the Executive Governor of Enugu State on 29th May, 2023. It is an inauguration speech that will be long remembered. It is articulate, comprehensive, pragmatic, and intellectually sophisticated. The idea of a Citizens Charter started with John Major, a former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1990 – 1997. He introduced his idea of Citizens Charter on July 2, 1991.

According to Pirigi Garg (2006, 236),
“Citizens’ Charter is the preamble of an organization indicating the commitment of the organization towards its objectives, with the purpose of improving the quality of service provided and the degree of responsiveness. It informs the stakeholders about the rights, the services available, the standards, quality and time frame of service delivery, the procedure how these will be delivered and remedy that will be available in case of non-deliverance. It also includes the obligations of the citizens. The charter does not by itself create new legal rights, but helps in enforcing existing rights.”

His Excellency, Dr. Peter Ndubisi’s Mbah is, therefore, on the mark. His Citizens’ Charter is holistic, covering such general and pivotal areas such as ”transparency, accountability and fund traceability”. These are not new. Rather, they are simply the ideological props that will guide his noble and ambitious vision and mission to grow Enugu State to an enviable position. The sectors that will be seriously addressed include agriculture, technology, job creation, security, fostering an entrepreneurial spirit, education, etc. During his visit to the 68 development areas in the state, he made clear the strategies his administration would adopt in growing the economy to $30 billion. There is no doubting the apparent sincerity of purpose in his inaugural speech.

At the end of his speech, there was a thunderous ovation. Despite that, various reactions, as would be expected, trailed his speech. Most people I overheard discussing it agreed that it was a good speech, but different reservations were made. These include: “tomorrow is still tomorrow”, “very good, but not new”, “how will he implement all he has said?”, “the man is an intellectual guru”, “sweet talk, action awaited”, “the man is too much”, “Nna, this one no be Gburugburu”, “the powers that be will not allow him to do as he expects”, etc. Overall, I did not hear any person say that his speech was not good and to the point.

As a person, I believe in Mbah’s sincerity of purpose. The entire inauguration speech, especially the Citizens’ Charter, is like an oath document. This is especially so with his invocation of the name of “ancestors”. Those of us who practice Igbo religion know that one does not mention the ancestors in such a context in vain. No other leader, to the best of my knowledge, has intoned the ancestors in their inaugural speech. One can then understand why I call the text of his speech an oath document.

Having said that, let me right away make my major fear known. There is nothing as common in Nigerian politics as what I may call “sycophantic glorification of a leader as well as what some people have called an ”elite capture” Of course, there is the populist media frenzy of all variations and degrees. Yes, the Governor must spare some time to ‘eavesdrop’ on some of these commonalities, even listen to some perfidious criticisms, but he MUST remember the Igbo adage” “Mara onwe gi.” Yes, he must know himself, and he must take effective charge of the situation right from the word ‘go’. He must have a monitoring system that returns the truth to him. And he should never even contemplate failure, a sorry loner.

Yes, the inauguration speech is rich and very thought-provoking, but his governance should consequentially be high- yielding and wonders- provoking. His Citizens’ Charter should never return the people of Enugu State to the status of abject subjects. The citizens deserve adequate social infrastructure: good roads, flowing taps, light, energy, quality education, good health facilities, and dynamic opportunities to become the Ikechukwu he proudly used as a positive anecdote. ‘Japaism’, ‘yahooism’, scamming, ‘419ism’, etc., do not constitute an option for our teeming youths, a generation that is simmering with technological ingenuity and creative inventiveness. An enabling environment must be provided for them. Luckily, all this is in the inauguration speech. Their actualization is what is needed, NOW.

Our May 29th, 2023, in Enugu State is not a past. It is not even a future, but a continuing presencing. This is the major way in which “Tomorrow” can be here. Citizens should continually access their rights: civic, political, cultural, social, and economic. They must ask critical questions that are productive of good governance. In the same manner, citizens should continually offer their services, within a stable, secure, and friendly environment, for the upliftment of themselves and the Government. A continued presencing of this synergy will ever enable our tomorrow to be always available at any moment in time. The glory of May 29th, 2023, in Enugu State, must continue to glow every day. The only way this can continue to be so is for the administration of His Excellency, Barr. Dr. Pater Ndubisi Mbah, to ensure the welfare and overall wellbeing of Ndi Enugu and Enugu State.

On that 29th may, 2023, at the Okpara square in Enugu, the phenomenon of thunderous ovation and acclamation marked the mention of two names: Barr. Dr. Peter Ndubisi Mbah, and Barr. Sullivan Chime. Other Governors: Senator Dr. Jim Nwobodo, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, and Rt. Hon. Dr. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi were there, and were bountifully hailed each time their names were mentioned. However, the ovations for Mbah and Chime were always louder and more sustained. Through this, it can be argued that one of the takeaways of the inauguration day was an outpouring of passion and love for Barr. Sullivan Iheanacho Chime. No toast can be more valuable than this, eight years after he left office. The reason: he ran a highly successful government, in the peoples’ perception. He left enduring legacies.

His Excellency the Governor, Barr. Peter Ndubisi Mbah, must take a cue from this. He just has to emulate and surpass Barr. Sullivan Chime. He has no other option. That is a major way in which May 29th, 2023, will ever continue to be a memorable day in the life of Enugu State. That is how it will continually be a reminder that tomorrow is ever in the present. To paraphrase Franz Fanon, it can be said that by becoming the Governor of Enugu State, he has discovered a vital part of his destiny. He cannot afford to betray it.

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