By Onyeka Ibe
I have never met Chief David Edevbie but have been hearing about him and observing his words and actions in Delta State Government circle for a long time.
One of the legends I heard (later confirmed) was how he resisted attempts by a high ranking member of their government and political clique to expropriate Delta State money through frivolous and wasteful spending when he was Commissioner of Finance in Chief James Ibori’s government nearly 20 years ago. For this effrontery, the legend went, the senior politician slapped David Edevbie in the face and Edevbie resigned from the government.
It was said that it took many weeks of intercession by the Governor and guarantees of financial restraint by the whole administration before he agreed to return to his position.
There is another instance when Chief Edevbie proved that he was different from most Nigerian politicians or public servants. This time the events played out publicly.
After the death of President Umaru Yar’Adua, the EFCC under President Jonathan began a comprehensive and vengeful criminal investigation of Chief Edevbie’s tenures, both as the defacto Chief of Staff (Principal Secretary) to President Yar’Adua and as a two-term Commissioner of Finance in Delta State.
Desperate to nail Chief Edevbie because of political considerations, this investigation continued for nearly five years, yet they couldn’t find any evidence with which to charge him for corruption. But they did not exonerate him either. He was left in limbo.
As a man whose whole relevance depended on his reputation of competence and integrity, Chief Edevbie went to court and sued the EFCC, challenging them to charge him or openly pronounce him guiltless.
As far I know he was the first and only Nigerian politician or public servant to do this. The EFCC eventually quietly stopped bothering him.
Typically, Nigerian politicians under investigation would bribe and negotiate their way out of pending charges.
From observations and a firsthand account of someone who has worked closely with him, Chief Edevbie’s life in public service has been a reflection of British understated competence, prudence, ramrod integrity and clockwork efficiency.
He has not the obsession for power or desperation to retain it, nor the cunning to flatter the king. What drives him is an unshakable confidence in his ability as a Development Economist and manager of resources, in addition to a bottomless passion for public service in the midst of so much underutilized potential in our country, especially in Delta State.
I have comprehensively read through his 2023 Election Manifesto and what I gleaned left me with mighty hope that given the chance, Chief Edevbie would begin the transformation of the economic and social life of Delta State.
He elucidated comprehensive and crystal clear policies and paths to the modernisation and economic development of Delta State. He enunciated policies on energy production and distribution of electricity as catalyst for economic growth and industrialization, as well as pragmatic policies on security, job and wealth creation, agriculture, education, health, the creative and entertainment industries, information technology, urban development, sports and recreation, and housing and transportation.
Reading through Chief Edevbie’s manifesto it was difficult to see any aspect of the life of citizens that he had not systematically thought about. But the most beautiful aspect of the proposed policies is that Chief Edevbie has a first class training and ocean-deep experience in the field of innovative transformational development which he gained as a Development Economist with the Commonwealth Development Corporation, working in nearly all continents of the world.
In public policy we can only judge government or potential government leaders by their training and prospective public policy pronouncements. Chief Edevbie’s outstanding status in this regard is so clear that it almost feels like an insult or an impending tragedy for Delta State to compare him with one or two of the other characters with glaring intellectual deficiency and questionable certificates parading themselves as anointed governorship aspirants in Delta State.
To this end, all well-meaning people of Delta State, influential citizens and opinion leaders like traditional rulers, business leaders and political leaders must defy any power that stands against this once in a generation opportunity for Delta State to join lucky states around the country such as Edo, Anambra, Lagos, Borno, Cross River etc, in electing a committed technocrat with the capacity for critical thoughts and innovative policies, and for once, set aside their neutrality or personal interest to intervene and prevail on PDP delegates and their sponsors to clear the path for Chief Edevbie to win the PDP ticket.
Anybody denying Deltans the opportunity to elect such a man will be doing a great disservice to the long-suffering citizens of Delta State and the future generations.