Mbah: Urbane entrepreneur, technocrat from Enugu

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By Ignatius Idoko

Peter Ndubuisi Mbah has achieved a huge chain of revolutionary successes in the public and private sectors. This feat defines him as a leader with a unique can-do spirit that spans industry, government and philanthropy. His life trajectories are summarized by that quip which says the elevator of life is out of order and the wo/man heading for the top will have to use the stairs…one step at a time.

The steps of life Mbah has taken thus far were a mixture of the rough and the smooth; many of them taken with great pains and discomfort. The ladder steps have made him the proverbial man who knows where the shoe pinches, giving him the ability to decipher the colour of pains and the power to intuitively recognize someone who lacks.

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Born on March 17, 1972, in Enugu, Enugu State, to the family of Chief and Mrs. Gilbert Mbah, Mbah hails from Owo, in Nkanu East Local Government Area. International maritime lawyer, business magnate, public administrator and philanthropist, this young goal-getter is the founder and chief executive officer of Pinnacle Oil and Gas Limited, an indigenous oil and gas company, which has displaced dominant players in the industry and taken the number one position in this mature industry by eliminating multiple handling of operations in the space and building facilities that have enabled the industry cut down on so much cost and turn-around time in operation. Renowned with a corporate watchword that is driven by an innovative mindset, this watchword has helped Mbah’s Pinnacle to disrupt methods and conventions, into becoming a numero uno force and dominant player in the sector.

In climbing the stairs to where he is today, Mbah’s buzzword is that inside this short life of his is packaged grit, frustration, disappointments, rough tackles but each step with very strong determination. In fact, he describes himself as a man whose life can be summarized as a race run with an amazing vigour.  In climbing to the top, Mbah has walked steadily through a thorns-laden path, to arrive at this pinnacle of his career.

A holder of an LLB. honours from the University of East London (UEL), during his time in school, Mbah acquitted himself brilliantly as a first-class organizer of men, with a long track record of a leader and intellectual. Between 1998 and 1999, he was the president of the Students’ Law Society. During this period, the society won the Students’ Union prize and certificate of achievement for the ‘Most Productive Society of the Year.’ He was also nember, Students’ Representative Council of the UEL, from 1999 to 2000, as well as being Member of the School Law Board between 1999 and 2000, where he represented the Final Year students. Peter Mbah also won the First prize of the University of East London Mooting Competition, and led the University’s team to the International Negotiation Competition. In addition, he was a recipient of the Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn Major Bar Vocational Course Award in 2000.

Within this period at UEL, Mbah distinguished himself as a foremost student representative whose knack for excellence and organization of men was unexampled. He was later called to the Nigerian Bar and awarded the Bachelor of Law (BL) at the Nigerian Law School. He did his youth service in Lagos with the law firm of Udeh & Associates and was lucky to drink from the brooks of law under the tutelage of the inimitable Justice Nnaemeka Agu. 

Mbah’s academic records and grasp of administration, even in his student days, could be gleaned from the testimonials to his leadership given by his former lecturers and tutors at the University of East London, as well as here in Nigeria. Colin Sumner, Professor of Law and Head of the School of Law at the UEL, wrote this about him: “Peter has always struck me as an extremely determined and immensely capable young man. He is very sharp and alert, despite his easy-going manner… He resurrected a dormant body and won the university’s prize for the most productive society of the year… (he) led our student team in the International Negotiation Competition.”

For Ken McGuire, senior lecturer and Mbah’s personal tutor at the UEL, “Peter is personable and well-mannered. He is liked and respected by his fellow students and members of the academic at UEL. (He) is diligent, well-organized and (a) hardworking student (and his) academic abilities are excellent… one of the best students I have taught at UEL. He is confident of his abilities and works extremely hard.”

His lecturer in Nigeria, Professor Chris Ohurogu, also said of him: “He struck me as a very hardworking, intelligent and highly motivated person (who) possesses such a degree of foresight and problem-solving mentality which surpass those of his peers.” 

Mbah made significant impact and strides while in the public service of his home state of Enugu as Commissioner for Finance and Economic Development under Governor Chimaroke Nnamani. There, as a testament to the uncommon development he made in the state’s fiscal operation, through the strategy document he evolved which became the operating document for Enugu state government’s development programmes, the NewsWatch magazine’s special publication of July 3, 2006, described Mbah as “a man ahead of his time.” He had earlier served as Chief of Staff to the Governor in 2003.

As the Chief of Staff to the Governor, Mbah was chairman of the Enugu State Tenders’ Board; member of the State Executive Council, as well as member of the State Security Council. As the Commissioner for Finance, he was a member of the Federal Accounts Allocation Committee (Nigeria’s highest fiscal allocation body), chairman of the Federal Accounts Allocation Committee’s Sub-Committee on Legal Matters; chairman of the Enugu State Joint Account Allocation Committee; chairman of the board of directors for the Enugu State Insurance Company and chairman of the board of directors for the Enugu State Finance and Investment Company.

Mbah attended the Army Children’s School, Bori Camp, Port Harcourt, and Owode High School, Owode Egba, Ogun State, where he obtained his first school leaving certificate in 1984 and senior secondary school certificate in 1992, respectively.

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After his first degree, Mbah proceeded to acquire a master’s degree in Maritime and Commercial Law from the Lagos State University in 2004. In addition to these academic achievements and in the spirit of lifelong learning, he has continued to expand his boundaries of knowledge by participating in numerous other academic and capacity-building programmes, including the master’s degree in Business Administration from the IESE Business School, Barcelona, University of Navarra, Spain; the Chief Executive Programme at the Lagos Business School; postgraduate programme in Strategy and Innovation at the Said Business School, University of Oxford and numerous other certificate programmes in leading business schools across the world, including the Stanford Business School and Harvard Business School.

In November 2021, the Godfrey Okoye University in Enugu, at its 8th and 9th combined convocations, conferred on Mbah its doctoral award, honoris causa in Political Science.

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Since leaving school, Mbah has distinguished himself remarkably, seemingly to justify his tutors – Sumner, McGuire and Ohurogu’s projections of him. Aside founding Pinnacle Oil and Gas in 2007 from an almost zero base-worth and nil reckoning in the corporate world, he has to date taken the company to the zenith of corporate success as one of Nigeria’s leading, independent oil and gas sales and distribution companies. He also sits atop the board and management of a Group subsidiary company called Pinnacle Pointers, a real estate and hospitality company.

His business and professional track records have taken him through several spheres of activity such as Import trade, Oil and Gas sales and distributions, maritime logistics and public service. As diverse as his career in the oil industry has been, its consistent underpinning factor has been the passion for organisation, corporate governance and the perpetual search of knowledge.

Pinnacle Oil and Gas Nigeria’s renown as the most dominant downstream oil and gas business has been remarkably underscored, even more emphatically, with the recent launch of the Company’s ultra-modern Offshore Petroleum Products Intake and Off-take Facility in the Lekki Free Zone, Lagos, the first of its kind in West Africa. The Facility, the first of a planned three phases, currently boasts of two offshore moorings and 300,000,000 litres of petroleum storage, a multi-million dollars-worth 600,000 metric tonnes of storage and import, export facility at the Lekki Free Trade Zone, which is a West Africa-unprecedented venture aimed at battling the operational bottlenecks resulting from the intensity of berthing vessels at the Lagos jetties. This is already changing the face of the Nigerian downstream oil and gas industry, effectively removing numerous inefficiencies in the current product import processes. Its core areas of remarkable interventions in the oil industry are petroleum products importation, marketing and distribution, supply chain infrastructure, marine logistics, haulage operations and storage facilities.

Mbah’s Pinnacle Oil and Gas wears on its lapel and is celebrated in the oil and gas industry for its in-depth grasp of the sector and the business landscape of Nigeria in the six geopolitical zones. It parades an understanding of the strategic and well-structured apparatus of distribution channels in the oil industry which acts as its cutting edge. In its 14 years of operation, Pinnacle has served several multi-national organizations and high net-worth individuals, both in the private and public sector of the Nigerian economy, as a significant player and one of the driving forces of this layer of the Nigerian economy.

Pinnacle has also successfully completed the development of Single Point Monitoring (SPM) and Conventional Buoy Mooring (CBM) facilities, some of the essential projects conceived by Mbah to bridge the supply chain infrastructural gap in the downstream sector of the oil and gas industry. Pinnacle is today the undisputed commercial leader in the downstream sector of the oil and gas industry in Nigeria.

Mbah has been a managing director and chief executive officer of numerous successful companies and sits on the boards of several establishments. Before Pinnacle Oil and Gas, this entrepreneurial icon had earlier founded the Peter Mbah Investment Limited, a trading firm which served as the Nigerian representative to International Oil Corporation (IOC) based in Fresno, California, USA. He was the sole agent of IOC.

Mbah also founded GILPEL Industries Ltd., a trading company involved in the import and sales of domestic electrical appliances and also founded and runs Pinnacle Pointers, a Group Subsidiary real estate and hospitality company, as well as Focus International Schools, a world-class Nursery, Primary and Secondary schools established in Lagos Nigeria.

In addition to the huge strides he has made in the areas of business, human management and public service, Mbah is passionate about community development and service to humanity. His passion for intervention in community development is piloted by a zeal that can best be described as a daily and continuous drive for excellence, only made possible by his untiring resilience and personal ‘can-do’ spirit.

In line with this, Mbah is also the founder of Peter Mbah Foundation (PMF), a not-for-profit and non-political organization, an all-integrated innovative initiative and humanitarian oriented project aimed at improving the health of people and standards of living in rural communities. PMF kicked off a pilot scheme designed to operate in three communities of Enugu State. The first phase of the pilot scheme is an acquisition of layouts in some communities, of ultra-modern Motorised Hospital Beds, diagnostic equipment, radiographic instruments, x-ray facilities, school equipment, computer sets, laptops, etc. for pupils and students.

Mbah is a Fellow of the Certified Institute of Public Administration and Management, (CIPM), a member of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs and the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA).

Mbah’s leisure is spent reading biographies and autobiographies. He also spends his leisure time sailing, as a member of the Lagos Yacht Club.

He is married with a wife and children.

• Idoko is a Lagos-based attorney

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