BY IFEANYI OKOLOCHA
THE politics of Delta State has always been relatively complex and intriguing compared to that of other states in Nigeria. Even though the next elections would hold in 2015 many politicians in Delta started getting positioned for the plum office of governor as far back as 2011 when the incumbent Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan was sworn in for his second term.
A disturbing reality is that it is mostly the same set of political aspirants who have been in circulation for almost a decade or more now that also filed out again to contest for the office of governor. This did not appeal to Deltans. Deltans want somebody who is new to the fray of Delta politics; they want a man or woman with fresh ideas about how to develop the state. The people of Delta State also want somebody who is detribalised. They look forward to a bridge builder who is cosmopolitan and acceptable to the diverse ethnic groups that make up the state. In fact they want somebody whose emergence will inspire genuine confidence in them.
The hope of the majority of Deltans for something new and refreshing materialised recently when the very likeable David Edevbie joined the governorship race. Many people remember Edevbie as the highly detribalised and efficient Commissioner for Finance from 1999 to 2005 in the government of Chief James Ibori. Many of us who were in Asaba in those days were inspired by the character and personality of Edevbie. He was courteous, humble, down to earth and highly focused.
His high integrity quotient was always the subject of discussion in many circles at the time. Many people ascribed his high achievement to the fact that he was a technocrat.
Mr. Okolocha, a political analyst, wrote from Lagos.
The emergence of Edevbie on the political scene to majority of Deltans is a welcome relief. They see him as the man who is fit and capable of converting the gains of the past 15 years into a transformational strategy that will endow Delta State with the character of the First World from the Third World. Right now Edevbie
is the best for the job of the governor of Delta State not in terms of strong arm tactics, but in terms of intellect, exposure to local, national and international service, management and leadership skills. Edevbie is also very detribalized, a factor which is much needed in the politics of Delta State today.
Edevbie has a sound pedigree. He studied Economics at the University of Lagos. After completing his National Youth Service Corps programme he proceeded to the prestigious Cardiff Business School at the
University of Wales in the United Kingdom where he obtained the Master of Business Administration degree in 1988. His desire to build his capacity made him to attend many academic and professional courses which fortified his intellectual, leadership, management and strategy acumen. He worked in different highly competitive investment banking positions before joining the prestigious Commonwealth Development Corporation, CDC, in the United Kingdom in 1995. It was here that Edevbie cut his teeth as a development economist. His strong credentials, excellent capacity and evidence of service delivery made him the natural choice as CDC investment officer for the whole of South East Asia and the Pacific regions. Edevbie became more or less a ‘’development missionary’’ taking development first to the Philippines and later to every continent of the world. The impact of his work was contributory to the strides recorded by many developing countries in the countdown to the millennium year 2000.
His sterling credentials was what qualified him for the job of the Delta State Commissioner for Finance and Economic Planning in 1999. He was probably Nigeria’s most dynamic Finance Commissioner of that era. He led the campaign that compelled the Federal Government to begin the payment of the 13% derivation fund in the year 2000. He was the first Finance Commissioner in Nigeria to publish government’s audited accounts. He also introduced the prompt and monthly cash budget for payment of contractors in Delta State. The monumental achievement in infrastructural development in the Ibori era was as a result of this innovation.
As Finance Commissioner Edevbie initiated a visionary empowerment strategy which is now adopted by almost every state in Nigeria. He not only designed and implemented a privatisation policy, but also started the Delta State Small Business Loan Guarantee Scheme. Edevbie internationalised the affairs of Delta State when he floated the Delta State Revenue Bond and won an ‘’A’’ International Credit Rating, the first of its kind in Nigeria. Edevbie reluctantly accepted to be reappointed to the same portfolio after the 2003 elections.
He continued his great job until he voluntarily resigned in 2005 to develop more leadership and management skills. But there was no hiding place for Edevbie who had by then become a well known management expert. It was not long before the Peoples Democratic Party Presidential candidate Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua appointed him into his campaign organization and he subsequently appointed Director of Finance and Strategy. Edevbie was later appointed as Principal Secretary to President Yar’ Adua to replace the out-gone Chief of Staff.