Shared estates between Emmanuel Macron and Peter Mbah: When meaning is rethought as form

By Reuben Onyishi

While reading through the recent internal speech made by the French President, Emmanuel Macron, on the new world order, the emerging nations, the Russia question, the fading of Western hegemony, values and culture, and the way out, especially for France, playing leadership roles in Europe, by the historicity of words, I heard an echo of the name, Peter Ndubuisi Mbah, at the background of Macron’s speech. I have a witness. Prof Damian Opata, my teacher and supervisor, had drawn my attention to it.

One spirit in different bodies manifest in diverse dimensions in different horizons, Emmanuel Macron, the young President of France, and Peter Ndubuisi Mbah, the young Governor of Enugu State, share estates in thoughts and spirit. The same spirit of innovative strategy founded on courage to disrupt the status quo finds habitation and manifestation in the two leaders when taken in the metaphorical sense in which Jacques Derrida views art as meaning rethought as form. The same meaning cloaked in different forms. That is the sense in which Mbah compares to Macron.

In mythic thinking, a flash of instantaneous comprehension, one would find that the vital influence that produced Macron fashioned Peter. Although dualism is doubtful in metaphysical reflection of reincarnation, even the biblical account of Elijah and John the Baptist as having the same spirit gives credence to the manifestation of one spirit in different bodies, though they did not live in the same generation.

The spirit is life, the flesh profits nothing. Peter and Emmanuel are a product of the courageous spirit which also did manifest in the biblical Caleb, as we read in the book of Numbers, the can-do spirit of looking beyond the Anakims, the giants, and doing away with grasshopper mentality, as fearfully reported by the spies Moses had sent to the promised land. Only Caleb and Joshua stilled the heart of the people, saying, “Let us go once and possess the land, for we are well able.” That also was the spirit that possessed David before Goliath whom he reduced to an uncircumcised Philistine defying the armies of the living God.

Macron began his public schools career in 2004 as a finance inspector for the French Ministry of Economy and Finance, about the same time Peter Mbah had a foray into public service. Four years later, Emmanuel Macron bought out his government contract for €50,000 to enter the private sector. In September 2008, he joined Rothschild & Cie Banquet, the French Division of the international Rothschild financial group, as an investment banker. Peter Mbah had founded Pinnacle Oil Limited in 2007. Macron did advance quickly at the company and in 2012, he brokered Nestle’s blockbuster $12 billion acquisition of Pfizer’s baby food division. He reportedly earned €2.9 million for his role in the deal. While he was still working with Rothschild, he began to work with Hollande, the Socialist Party’s nomination for president ahead of the 2012 election. He would later become Hollande’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Economy Adviser, and later Hollande’s Minister of Finance. Macron would be president by 2017 and is currently on his second tenure.

Two of a kind! About the time Macron began his public service career, Peter Mbah had also began his. He was the Chief of Staff to Chimaroke Nnamani, the then Governor of Enugu State, and would serve as the Commissioner for Finance up untill the end of the administration. Peter Mbah like Macron would move to the private sector, having founded Pinnacle Oil in 2007, an underdog that would later take over the oil and gas downstream sector in Nigeria, controlling the largest chunk of the revenue and market share. Some years later, in 2023, Peter like Macron would come back to public service as the Governor of Enugu State.

Having joined the administration of Hollande as Deputy Chief of Staff and later as the Economic Adviser, Macron became the face of France at international summits, even before he was elevated to Finance Minister in 2014. Macron promoted a package of reforms known as the Loi Macron( Macron Law) meant to spark the dwindling French economy. Loi Macron loosened restrictions on conducting business on Sundays and some professions were deregulated. The Loi Macron amounted to a relatively modest reform package for a country grappling with persistent high rate of unemployment and slow growth.

Peter Ndubuisi Mbah’s brand of Loi Macron is the disruptive innovation he has brought to bear on governance in Enugu State State. His governance philosophy is anchored on exponential growth of the Enugu economy and total eradication of poverty to zero percent headcount index

Like Macron, Mbah courageously took some radical decisions such as ban on Monday sit-at-home which is like Macron causing Manuel Valls, the Prime Minister of France, in February, 2015, to invoke Article 49 of French Constitution, a rarely used measure that allows a bill to pass without the consent of Parliament on the condition that the government is then subjected to a vote of confidence. This killed restriction of conducting business on Sundays in France the same way Mbah’s ban on sit-at-home removed insecurity and order by non-state actors restricting business on Mondays in Enugu State and the entire Southeast of Nigeria.

Great leaders are men of courage who advance the cause in which they believe in the interest of the people without looking back to self-serving emotions and sometimes ignorant ayes and nays. Sharma and Abinadab, David’s brothers, rebuked him when he stirred his heart towards the Philistine defying the armies of Israel. But David insisted there was a cause. He ignored them, and wasted Goliath. For an economy headed for such exponential growth as Mbah proposes, sit-at-home order was a Goliath of sort whose carcass Mbah has fed to the fowls of the air. It is this same spirit of courage and resolute determination that drives the two leaders, Peter Mbah of Enugu State of Nigeria and Emmanuel Macron of France. The spirit is one though the bodies are different.

Reading through Macron’s internal speech, one could see the spirit of change and innovation in him. While acknowledging the fading of Western hegemony and the influence of emerging nations, the technological upheaval that is sweeping ferociously across the world, artificial intelligence, the globalization of intelligence, leading to the globalization of emotions, the fading away of European culture and its unmarketable values to the emerging nations, Macron seeks Europe’s radical change of political and ideological strategies. “Europe will loose control completely. So, believe in only one thing so far, and that is bravery- the political strategy of daring to break through and take risks,” Macron said. The strategy he talks about is such that is different from the past. And it takes a brave heart of imaginative thinking, compelled by the extraordinarily spirit to resist the status quo.

He also reflects on the question of Russia and avers that Europe should reach out to Russia to keep it in Western fold, check its global ambition, and avoid being caught in the web of new cold war. He reasons that because America is a friend of Europe should not mean that America’s enemy is Europe’s enemy.

Macron thinks imaginatively and I can hear an echo of Peter Ndubuisi Mbah’s voice in Macron’s. Mbah is an imaginative thinker who believes in change and innovation(if disruptive ), leveraging advancement in technology such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality, cyber security, and the migration of governance to e-platforms. What Macron seeks is a new way of doing things in order to adapt to the inevitability of globalized intelligence and digital innovations which are akin to Mbah’s popular fad- it is business unusual. Both Macron and Peter are agents of change such as driven by bravery and imaginative thinking. That is the spirit.

Emmanuel, God is with us. Peter the Rock. The word became flesh, and dwelt among us. You are Peter the Rock, and upon you, the revelation that Jesus is the son of God, shall the church be established, and the gates of hell shall not prevail.

If Peter is the Rock, and God the Rock of Ages, what difference does it make? Alas! What is in a name! It could not have been coincidental, I can catch the revelation quite clearly. The same spirit drives Peter and Emmanuel, if you can catch the revelational realities that tied Abraham Lincoln to John F. Kennedy, then you are game. The similarities could not fall before the speculation of coincidences.

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