Gov Mbah”s bold steps to ending Mondays sit-at-home in Enugu- A rare feat

When the Governor of Enugu state ,Dr Peter Mbah announced cancellation of Mondays sit-at-home on June 1, 2023, after he  presided over security meeting in Government House, many, who heard it, wondered how he was going to achieve that, what magic he was going to perform to stop a sit-at- home that had ran for one year and ten months, with it’s socio-economic negative effects. 

The governor announced Monday, June 5, 2023 as effective date to end sit-at-home, saying such orders were restricting creativity, entrepreneurship, and productivity in the state.

Mbah reminded the people of the direct connection between his lofty promises he made to them and the vibrancy of commerce in the state

He expressed government’s readiness “to engage in dialogue with people, who have genuine grievances towards bringing lasting peace and securitty to Enugu State”.

The governor also  appealed to president Bola Tinubu to release the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu” to quicken the much-needed healing process in Nigeria.”

On Monday,June 5,2023,, the Governor visited some offices at the state Secretariat and  some markets to monitor the level.of compliance,which he rated 60-70,%. He appealed to people to come out on Mondays and do their lawful businesses.

 Governor Mbah  Saturday,June 10, engaged various stakeholders in a town hall meeting on the Theme:: Ending sit-at-home in Enugu, the way forward”

 In his opening remarks at the event held

at the Banquate hall of the Old Government Lodge,G R.A Enugu, 

Governor Mbah, thanked the people of Enugu State and security agencies for the  relative success of the first Monday after the cancellation of the sit-at-home. He disclosed that he cost of each sit-at-home was N10 billion and that  the state could not hit the $30 billion gross domestic product (GDP) target set by his administration at that rate.

“If we take the impact the Monday sit-at-home has on our GDP, you will then begin to see why it is almost impossible for all of us.

“We have proposed to grow our GDP from the current level of $4.4 billion to $30 billion. That growth is going to come from the private sector. And the private sector will not come to Enugu to reside their business if they know that we do not have five workdays, which is obtainable elsewhere”, he said.

The governor lamented the grave consequences of sit-at-home on the future Enugu children and psyche of the people.He sdded that the deliverables by his administration were equally hinged on the ability of the state to work on Mondays.

“We have a bargain that water will flow in your homes in Enugu city in 180 days and I am sure that you won’t take any excuses. But if you look at the number of Mondays that we will lose if we continue with this practice of sit-at-home, we will be denied about 20 Mondays. But what we want to do is to make sure that water is flowing in your homes in 180 days.

“pix: CP Ammani

“So, I am calling on us to rise to the occasion, to understand that this is about us, this is about our children, and our children’s future and we can’t not afford to fail them”, he said.

Speaking at the event, the Commissioner of Police ,Enugu Police Command, Ahmad Ammani,  urged residents of Enugu State to end Mondays  sit -at- home and go about their businesses ,in support of Governor  Peter Mbah’s cancellation of the illegal order..

He assured the people of Enugu state  of adequate security, lamenting that the Southeast Region had lost a total of N5.375 trillion to the illegal sit-at-home order; with Enugu State alone, losing N9.33 billion.  

Ammani ,who spoke on behalf of the Heads of all the Security and Intelligence Agencies in the State, said the Town Hall, was convened for the actualization of His Excellency’s unequivocal declaration and fervent commitment to end the inconceivable illegal sit-at-home order.

” This Meeting is not just timely, but very expedient and consequential in the Security Agencies’ unwavering commitment to bring the lingering and ill-fated order in the State to an end” ,he said 

He commended the state Governor, Dr Peter Mbah for taking a bold step to end the illegal sit-at-home .

“We sincerely want to thank His Excellency for his forthrightness, the decisive and bold steps he has so far taken towards reversing and completely bringing the ugly trend of the illegal Sit-at-home order to an end.

 We also wish to immensely appreciate and commend Your Excellency for adopting the kinetic and non-kinetic approaches in handling this situation, which we strongly believe is germane and timely in this wise.

The Commissioner of Police disclosed that through their collaborative efforts and commitment to ensure that the lives and property of the  people are secured and protected, even as they go about their lawful businesses on the hitherto illegal sit-at-home days, the security agencies  had collapsed their individual structures  into one structure.

” By so doing, we have galvanized the personnel, operational and intelligence resources of the Agencies, and deployed them towards ensuring adequate security and safety of the people.

“Accordingly, we have mapped out and will continue to ensure the maximum deployment of the personnel and resources to strategic locations within Enugu Metropolis and beyond, while also ensuring intense visibility patrols of our nooks and crannies.This is in addition to the Air Force deploying aircrafts to carry out air surveillance and reconnaissance.

“”We, therefore, urge our people not to panic due to the massive land and aerial deployments that will be observed on the hitherto illegal sit-at-home days and beyond, as all of this is aimed at building the right confidence in them as they go out and to ensure that those who may want to test our collective resolve to reverse this ugly trend are decisively dealt with.”, he said 

 Ammani called on the stakeholders and the entire citizens of the State, to continue to support the security agencied with credible information and the intelligence they require to tackle the situation 

“This is even as we also call on you to talk to your subjects, particularly the young ones, who may have in time past allowed themselves to be used by those hell-bent on disrupting the peace and causing havoc on the lives and property of their brothers and sisters in the State, all in the name of enforcing the illegal order, to turn over a new leaf.

Pix: Archbishop Chukwuma

We also implore those may have succumbed to what has been termed the “Fear of the Unknown” to the illegal order, to have a rethink and revert back to going out on the illegal sit-at-home days to contribute their quota to the economic and social growth of our dear State.

“This has become necessary, given the report published on 6th January 2023, by the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), which shows that the entire Southeast Region had lost a total of N5.375 trillion to the illegal Sit-at-home order; with Enugu State alone, losing N9.33 billion. 

“This manner of loss, for an industrious and enterprising people like the citizens of our beloved State, is one we are very sure no one would genuinely want to see continue.

“To this end, while reminding us that security is everybody’s business, we wish to categorically state that we are prepared for this very important task and sincerely enjoin Ndi Enugu State to rise up to the occasion, make conscious and deliberate efforts to join us and support His Excellency, in his quest to stabilize the peace and security order, as well as reposition the State for economic, social and otherwise prosperity”, Ammani said.

Earlier, in his welcome address,the  Secretary to State Government, Professor Chidiebere Onyia, observed that Mondays sit-at- home, started on August 2,2021. “unlawful issuance of the illegal order lasted 91 Mondays,over 22 months  in South East. Since then, insecurity had hightened, economy cripples Enugu state has lost over N10 billion every day there was sit -at- home.”

Pix: SSG,Onyia

He stressed that the state  has the responsibility to.protect the people and give a sound vision “to our children” 

The SSG noted that the meeting was very important as the deliberations will help lift Enugu  high to where it was before.

The Stakeholders and representatives of various bodies, institutions, organisations, associations, professional bodies, government officials, and heads of security and intelligence agencies rising  from the town-hall meeting, endorsed the  ban on Monday sit-at-home by the Enugu State Government, saying it was detrimental to productivity, investment flow, and the Igbo spirit of creativity, entrepreneurship and commerce.

The town-hall enjoined members of the public to resume work and go about their normal daily businesses as various security and intelligence agencies have, in their joint and collaborative efforts, given assurances of citizens’ safety.

The town-hall backed and commended Governor Mbah “for the laudable steps taken so far to ensure peace is returned to the state, which include his recent visit to the President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, for the release of the leader of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu”, which the stakeholders said would “expedite the process of national healing, national integration, and national reconciliation”. 

The stakeholders, after extensive and exhaustive deliberations at the town-hall, which also had Governor Mbah; the Deputy Governor, Barr. Peter Ossai; Commissioner of Police, Ahmed Ammani, clergies, town union Presidents-General, traditional rulers, labour and market unions, students and youths, among others, in attendamnce, gave their total supports to “any security measure or measures and other steps the State Government deems necessary in order to end the Monday sit-at-home and get people back to work in the overall interest of the state and its residents”. 

While urging the security agencies to continue to work round the clock in order to reassure citizens and residents of their safety every day of the week, the town-hall equally called on the Enugu State government to “resuscitate, overhaul, rejig and strengthen internal security mechanisms, such as the Community Policing, Neighbourhood Watch, Forest Guards, amongst others, in the state”.

They called on members of the public to support the crime fighting efforts of the government and security agencies by sharing information on suspicious movements and gatherings by strange persons or groups of persons in any part or borders of the state.

While emphasising more public enlightenment on the adverse impacts of sit-at-home on Enugu State, it urged persons and groups with genuine grievances to take the opportunity of dialogue offered by the Government of Enugu State to engage the government on their grievances to ensure lasting peace and security in the state. 

The 21 signatories to the communiqué, who were  among the speakers at the town-hall, included the Commissioner of Police in Enugu State, Ahmed Ammani; Anglican Archbishop of Enugu Ecclesiastical Province, Most Revd Emmanuel Chukwuma; Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria, Enugu State, Rev. Emmanuel Edeh; Coordinating Chairman, Nigerian Bar Association, Enugu State, Barr. Ugo Ferdinand Ukwueze; Coordinator, Financial Institutions in Enugu State, Prince Chiwetalu Nwatu; HRH Igwe Lawrence Agubuzu for the Enugu State Traditional Rulers Council;  and Chairman of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria, Hon. Solomon Onah;

Pix: Gov Mbah

Others included the Chairman, National Union of Road Transport Workers, Enugu State, Chief Martins Asogwa; Sammy Ajufor for the media community; President of Enugu State Amalgamated Traders Association, Comrade Stephen Aniagu; Chairman, Nigeria Labour Congress, Enugu State, Barr. Fabian Nwigbo; Chairman of the Enugu State chapter of the Trade Union Congress, Comrade Ben Asogwa; Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Teachers in Enugu State, Comrade Nweke Odoh; Chairman of the Enugu State chapter of the National Youth Council of Nigeria, Comrade Ebuka Okoh, Chairman of the Association of Presidents-General of Enugu State Town Unions, Barr. Paully Eze; and Chairman, Tricycle Riders Association, Comrade Monday Onwuka.

The Chairman, Inter-Party Advisory Council, Enugu State, Comrade Edwin Ikechukwu; Chairperson of Nsukka Traders Association, Hon. Ngozi Ozioko; leader of the National Association of Nigerian Students, Enugu State, Comrade Ugochukwu Anichukwu, were equally among the signatories.

Enugu state Governor, Dr Peter has taken a bold step in ending Mondays Sit-at-home,  he needs the support of the people to make it work. It’s really a rare  feat.

Author: Maureen Ikpeama

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