By Allison Abanum

A certain man got enough money and decided to construct for his family a nice bungalow that will get them out of the ‘face me I slap you’ yard they have lived in, on tenancy.

This man who had worked tirelessly for years to get and save up to the amount needed contracted the services of the best architect and structural engineer who in turn contracted the services of the best craftsmen needed for the job. With money in hands of the people supposed, work commenced. In a matter of months, the house was just one more layer of blocks away from reaching the roofing stage when tragedy struck.

The engineer in charge suddenly fell ill. Due to the suddenness of the illness, he couldn’t get someone to take over him himself and the mantle again fell on the owner of the building to get another engineer. In less than three days of searching, one presented himself to house owner to be as a qualified engineer. The joy of the house owner to be knew no bounds meeting the engineer. It was not as difficult as he had thought, getting another engineer to take over. Clearly blinded by joy and the prospects of becoming a house owner in a few weeks time as promised by this self identified engineer, he failed to check neither about his qualifications, nor his track records. Instead, he handed over everything needed to this engineer, including the whole money, totality of what he had saved for the project and travelled back to his place of residence and business.

Coming back after two weeks to check on the progress, our house owner to be cannot contain the bewilderment he had discovering that his house is still a layer of blocks away from getting to the roofing stage, exactly the state the former engineer handling the project left it. There was no sight of the engineer, or construction workers, no sight even of the construction materials he had purchased for the building. Only his uncompleted building stood there as a testament to an effort made at raising a building. All efforts to reach the engineer were abortive and it became obvious to the man that he has been duped. It became obvious to him that his life struggles and savings have amounted to nothing and that he has longer days of facing people, of slapping people and of being slapped.

Twenty five years later, the man’s first daughter became so well to do and decided to make the house a storey building rather than the bungalow her dad already planned. The ailing and tired father took her to the site, now covered with grasses. She got workers to clear the place and got surveyors to check how well the existing structure could take an addition. They tested and relayed to her that had it been fifteen years earlier, she could have just continued from where her father stopped, but now, adding even one more layer of blocks to the structure is an invitation to a collapse in the near future not to talk more of making it a storey building. The exposure to all the tidings of the season has rendered the building weak and useless and thus, the whole thing had to be pulled down and started afresh. The rich daughter paid for everything and within a year, a new state of the art one storey building was standing in place of the uncompleted building. Finally, the man and his family left the ‘face me I slap you’ yard for a building of their own, after many years of waiting and hoping and suffering and mourning and regretting.

Delta State is today at that stage whereby there will soon be an absence of the engineer. Delta State has gotten to that stage where what is needed is just one more layer of blocks to get the construction roofed. Who does she ask to serve as her governor at this crucial time? Does she ask one who is ever ready, skillful and knowledgeable enough to continue the construction or one who is not qualified, before whom the building would soon be in ruins? The thing about progress is that when it is not happening, one may be under the delusion that there’s a stability, while retrogression is actually taking place.

“Delta State is in a very delicate stage of its journey and cannot afford any reversals or slow-down in the pace of development. The previous administrations have laid down social, economic, and infrastructural foundation for the State’s sustainable development. It would be unfortunate at this point if political power were to pass into inexperienced hands lacking the capacity to manage the State’s diversity or having a sufficiently deep understanding of how to build upon the accomplishments of the past.”

Those exactly were the words of Mr. David Edevbie, a gubernatorial candidate for the 2023 Delta State’s General Elections. David Edevbie understands the delicateness of the stage at which Delta State is at her development today and acknowledges the fact that unless one more layer of blocks is laid, we may be faced with a roofless building of a State. While responding to a question on how he will restore investor/contractor confidence considering how contractor debts stands in most part of the country today, the well-meaning gentleman in very clear terms painted how regression happens in face of stoppage of progression. In his own words:

“A delay in payment to a road construction company may delay payments to its vendors, leading to an even disproportionate delays further down the supply chain thereby limiting fund circulation. This results in a reduction in overall consumer spending and the gross domestic product.” He continued after a brief pause, “Delayed payments also translate to delayed receipt of related taxes that could be channelled towards executing other government projects/programs and so on.”

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Listening to these words one is not for a moment left in doubt about the Intellectual capacity of the person from whose mouth they drop. The good news is that this intellectual capacity of the University of Lagos Economics graduate who has also attended other prestigious institutions like the Cardiff and Harvard Business Schools is likewise matched with a blazing administrative capacity and capability. This is as a result of the previous numerous administrative and political positions he had held over a very long span of time. David Edevbie has worked for many global development agencies, notably the Commonwealth Development Commission (CDC) and has travelled across Asia and Pacific helping build their economy. He has also been involved, directly in Delta State’s politics and building since 1999 when he first served as the Delta State Commissioner for Finance, a position he was later retained in, for another two tenures due to his excellent performance. From 2019 to 2021, he was the Chief of Staff to the Government of Delta State. This is to say that he has been part of all the progress Delta State has made for over a decade now. And he is as exposed on the national level as he is on the International and State level having served as the Director of Finance and Administration of the Yar’Adua Campaign Organization in 2006 and 2007.

A man of this sterling profile is no doubt an experienced hand with sufficient capacity to manage the State’s diversity and deep understanding of how to build upon the accomplishments of the past. He’s like an experienced engineer taking over from another experienced engineer who sees to the successful completion of a building project. He understands that “the current administration’s job creation and empowerment programs have been mainly adjudged as successful, so it only makes sense that one should build on it.” Laying this one critical layer of blocks to him “means adopting a multi-faceted approach to combating unemployment rather than relying on a single silver bullet,” which is why he calls in ICT, “an area that not only creates employment but sustainable wealth.”

One is convinced that a Delta State that has David Edevbie at the helm of her affairs is a Delta State headed for the skies, a Delta State who’s roofing is no longer to be postponed. It is important that every Deltan that thinks about the continued progress of his/her State throws their full support behind David Edevbie for continuity, qualifications, experience, integrity and knowledge is the key and David Edevbie is an embodiment of all these. For this he pleads with all Deltans at heart:

“The upcoming general elections are a chance to transition into new frontiers of economic and infrastructural development, but we must get it right. If nothing, we must have learnt by observing politics nationally over the last six years that qualifications and experience matters … So let us resist the temptation to resort to sentiments of pettiness and immaturity that can only poison our politics for generations unborn. We must build collectively, BRICK BY BRICK, BLOCK BY BLOCK, a sustainable State for future generations.”

Which Engineer will the good people of Delta State contract to do this building? Only 2023 can tell, but here we are, already with one who is ever ready, skillful and knowledgeable enough to continue with the construction.

  • Abanum is the Senior Special Assistant on Strategic Communication and Documentation to the Governor of Bayelsa State.

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