THE evolving trend in most parts of the world is for tested technocrats to adorn the garb of politics after serving humanity in different capacities. When technocrats enter governance in Nigeria they do so via two means. Either by getting appointed by a government that wants to benefit from their technical expertise or by getting fully involved in the electoral process and getting elected.
Either of both ways, the technocrat in government is of the conviction that he or she has something to contribute to governance and improve the quality of life of the people. This is the case with the personality known as David Edevbie.
It was General Ibrahim Babangida who, as Nigeria’s military president, first courted technocrats and activists whom he brought into government between 1985 and 1993.
There is a settled fact that the best policy statements to have ever come out of the Nigeria were designed and enunciated during the Babangida years. The problem then was insincerity and lack of will to implement the policies. The Babangida era saw technocrats and activists like OluFalae, BolajiAkinyemi, Ibrahim Gambari, OlikoyeRansomeKuti, Tai Solarin, Wole Soyinka and Jerry Gana serving the Nigerian state. These fellows brought fresh thinking to the running of government. Ghana’s Jerry Rawlings also did the same. The difference, however, was that while Ghanaian leaders were sincere and had the will to implement the sound policies which brought that country back from the precipice, Nigerian leaders fiddled like Nero and the country plummeted into the valley of underdevelopment.
When Chief Olusegun Obasanjowas elected president in 1999 he tried to satisfy the politicians who helped him to ascend the exalted office of President. So he appointed old political war horses as ministers to work with him. He made little or no progress. It was as if the country was in a very deep slumber from which it would never wake up. Then during one of his trips abroad Obasanjo lamented how docile his government turned out to be. His foreign host advised him to engage tested technocrats and activists who are hungry for change and development to work with the politicians and see how the nation would become transformed in no time. Obasanjo had to wait till after the 2003 elections that earned him a second term in office as President.
After winning that election Obasanjowent on to recruit new hands who are tested technocrats and activists to work with the politicians. It was that period that saw the likes of Dr.NgoziOkonjo-Iweala, Mrs.Oby Ezekwesili, MallamNasiru El Rufai, Prof. Charles Soludo and a host of others becoming ministers, thereby influencing government policies for good. In a very short time, Okonjo-Iweala got debt relief for Nigeria. The privatization programme that put Nigeria on the path of development took off. These guys brought remarkable competence and depth of character into public office. Nigeria started working again.
However, just like the Babangida period Obasanjo was not sincere and soon the government was derailed and distracted by his third term ambition and many of these technocrats and activists became disillusioned. But Nigerians will remember that the country became a place of hope between 2004 and 2007 when these men and women were ministers. They had the drive, ideas and enthusiasm to take the country to greater heights.
As Nigerians prepare for the next elections, come 2015, many are anxious about the character and competence of the individuals who will run the nation and the different states from 2015 till 2019. The anxiety is very high because of the reality that development is eluding Nigeria. We are now very much aware that the Federal Government alone cannot develop Nigeria from Abuja. All the 36 states need good hands to run them from 2015 till 2019. This is where the anxiety comes from. For how long shall we remain in the wilderness of underdevelopment? For how long shall we grope and not reach our destination as a developed nation?
An overwhelming number of technocrats and activists are ever conscious of their hard earned reputations and would embark on measures that will stop mindless corruption in their states. This will enable them have enough resources for development. The technocrats also have the leadership skills and managerial acumen to manage resources. They are turn-around experts who usually inspire development wherever they work.
There is no doubt that some states are making progress that is quite visible and appreciated. But we need to accelerate the pace. That is why many states are making a case for the enthronement of technocrats who have what it takes to develop the states as governors come 2015.
In Delta State, the people felt a sense of great relief when Edevbie, the world acclaimed development finance expert, entered the governorship race. Edevbie has the requisite leadership skills, management acumen and urbane and cosmopolitan temperament to run a multi-cultural state such as Delta.
He has served the world, Delta State and Nigeria. He has what it takes to initiate people-centred development. He understands Nigeria’s problems and he knows what it takes to get society out of the woods. As a development thinker he was instrumental to bringing development to parts of South East Asia and the Pacific Islands. For some years now he has been keenly involved with Deltans, especially at the grassroots and champions the need for the industrialisation of the state through agriculture and agro-allied industries.He is expected to deploy his vast national and international connections to attract investors to the state and make it a hub of development. by entrenching peace and security, infrastructure and human capital development. He has promised to eradicate unemployment and he has the Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan’s Delta Beyond Oil policy to further work with and take the state to the realm of developed entities. Surely, Delta State needs this man so that we will not be left behind. Delta no dey carry last oooooo…..
Mamuzo Okoro, a social critic, wrote from Lagos.