By Loveth Orheruata
It is not uncommon to see those who already see their failure in a contest resort to mudslinging. That is precisely what comes to mind reading a recent gibberish titled: “Edevbie Aspiration Wobbles as Ibori Sins Haunt Him,” published in Deltacreekreporters.com on February 15.
While it was obviously a demonstration of cowardice for the writer to use a pseudonym, it aptly reflects the unstable character of his sponsors.
In the attempt to discredit David Edevbie, the frontline aspirant for the PDP ticket for the governorship of Delta State, the writer, dwelling on the testament of one Strive Masiyiwa over his ECONET loss, merely regurgitated a worn-torn bitterness against against Chief James Ibori and failed to articulate any offence by David Edevbie.
However, on Ibori, Deltans have continued to and will forever appreciate him for his great achievements in the development of Delta State when he was Governor.
They know what happened to him. They know how he fought and gave his all for resource control and how the struggle led to the payment of 13% derivation for the oil-producing states, an achievement without which virtually all South-South and the Niger Delta States would have been wallowing in a financial lurch.
Deltans know how he supported Chief Alex Ekwueme against the return of President Obasanjo in 2003, how he fought against the Third Term agenda and the gang up to punish him for being independent, daring and committed to a better bargain for the Niger Delta, all of which culminated in his being hunted down.
The likes of Ken Saro-Wiwa and Diepreye Alamieseyeiha were also hunted down for this cause just as Government Ekpemupolo (Tompolo) was dragged to the wires for years. It is only unfortunate to see that some fellow Niger-Deltans would be sold to and would celebrate the propaganda and onslaught against them.
The ECONET story is old and also well known. Masiyiwa did not bring a dime to invest in Nigeria but believed he should maintain a huge shareholding in the business over and above the real investors. Worst still, he arrived in Nigeria with over 200 foreign workers for a business supposed to employ Nigerians.
Challenged to pay for his shares, he resorted to blackmail, which didn’t hold any water. His removal from the business has been his source of bitterness, for which he mustered his international connections to get back at Ibori.
So much for that. Suffice to repeat, as earlier stated that, no matter how much you throw mud at Ibori, Deltans will forever regard him as the political father, the architect of its increasing development.
On Edevbie, the writer, unable to tie any wrongdoing to him, only ended up emphasising his outstanding qualities.
The article inaccurately states that “Edevbie was an investment banker at the London office of the Commonwealth Development Corporation when he was called up to serve as Commissioner for Finance and economic planning in the Government of James Ibori in 1999.” For the record, he was actually a Development Economist at this stage of his career, but it’s evident that the writer would not know the difference. He was in charge of the Commonwealth development investments in Asia and the Pacific, a position by which he was involved in developing such Asian countries as Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong etc.
Let us add that he had had a distinguished professional career as an Investment Banker at Barclays and Hill Samuel Banks before then, all of which accounts for his great experience.
In obvious jealousy and fright over Edevbie’s high qualification, capacity and competence which are well acknowledged by all Deltans, the writer suggests that “there was nothing remarkable in his knowledge and practice of financial management, but he had the good sense of appointing two very professional Special Assistants who introduced some novel efficiencies and centralised the payment system in the state ministry of finance.”
We thank the writer for at least crediting him with the “good sense” to employ competent hands, which is what is exactly needed for the job – the “good sense” to engage good hands to deliver development to Deltans. At least, Deltans can be assured that Edevbie has that “good sense.”
It is also reassuring, as the writer recognises, that the good hands he engaged helped to deliver “some novel efficiencies and centralised the payment system in the Ministry of Finance” managed by Edevbie.
Reminded about this innovation as the writer has done, Deltans can see that when Edevbie says his vision is to modernise the state, it is not an empty statement. He has demonstrated it severally.
However, the real import of the novelty is that the payment system was discharged with less physical or personal contact with contractors. The commissioner did not have to get into any relationship with contractors, and the contractors needed not to see the commissioner before their payment was processed.
It is common knowledge that such personal contact leads to compromises, bribery, nepotism and favouritism.
Understandably, the contractors who were used to undercutting the system had wished it remained as chaotic as possible so they could wangle their way against sanity and, as the writer suggests, they did not like him for the automation and efficiency he introduced – presumably the reason why they accuse him of snobbery.
The writer stated further that “people went to him with pretended smiles on their faces just to get their money… because he was the man who signed the cheques.” Again a display of extreme ignorance – the Accountant General and not Commissioner of Finance issues cheques. But again, why should Edevbie be expected to engage at the same level with those the writer himself has described as pretenders?
What the writer forgot to add, however, is that by 1999 the state budget level was a paltry N6b and that, within four years, Edevbie increased the state revenue and budget level to N60b, almost a 1000 per cent performance. This record is available at the state office.
That feat is what pushed the state onto the path of real capital development for which Ibori is credited and celebrated by Deltans, and which has been sustained into the present time.
It must be for these track records that Edevbie was not only appointed as Commissioner for two terms by Ibori but also by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa both as Commissioner of Finance and as Chief of Staff. Not bad for someone with an unremarkable knowledge of financial management!!
It must also be for his proven capacity that he was taken into the Presidency as Principal Secretary to President Umaru Yar’adua, a position he utilised most effectively to conceptualise, canvass and deliver the creation of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, the Amnesty Programme and the actualisation of the 13% derivation which the Niger Delta states now enjoy.
This attempt to throw mud at David Edevbie has only ended up like the story of Ballack and Ballam for, indeed, seeing and having nothing to say against Edevbie, the writer only reminded us of his high quality and demonstrated capability, and Deltans are grateful for it.
This obvious, poorly hatched de-marketing strategy will not work, no matter from which quarter it has been sponsored.
It is needless to state that in all that has happened over the years, Edevbie has not been indicted nor charged for any offence, neither in Nigeria nor outside our shores.
It is also needless to point out the contradiction in stating that he does not have a social life and to state at same time that he loves football, the passion of virtually all Nigerians.
The people of Delta State are now much wiser and know better. They know that no other aspirant matches Edevbie’s intellectual capacity, work experience, detribalised nature and open-mindedness. That is why they have resorted to attempting to tarnish his image with obviously false information.
Suffice to note that Edevbie, the shining star, cannot be buried under lies, and the truth will eventually prevail.
Deltans want real progress and development and not platitudes and deceit from primordial politicians of questionable backgrounds or that lack experience.
Deltans know what to do and will do the right thing to the chagrin of these traducers when the time is right.