“By Dr. Richard Iyede
A compendium of controversies has trailed the decision of the Urhobo Progress Union’s (UPU) endorsement of Olorogun David Edebvie for the 2023 PDP Gubernatorial primaries. For information purposes, UPU is a non-profit, umbrella body and the mouthpiece of all Urhobo people around the globe which was established in 1931 under the auspices of Urhobo merchants, irredentists, and advocates in order to foster cooperation, unity, welfare, and protection of the Urhobo people’s shared values and traditions. UPU is the oldest socio-cultural union in Nigeria and second in Africa (second to the Africa National Congress of South Africa (ANC)) and has acted as a key stabilizer of the Niger Delta and Nigerian Federation. Therefore, due respect must be accorded to this vibrant, robust and highly respected ethnic organisation in Nigeria. I salute UPU for summoning such courage to make the right decision to save the Urhobo nation.
I am profoundly perturbed and perplexed to read anthologies of published articles and numerous social media platforms sponsored by external and internal Urhobo enemies, which have been mainstreamed locally and globally; basically founded on delusion and deceit in an attempt to blackmail, rubbish and denigrate UPU. Those wisenheimers, political gladiators and jobbers involved in such calumny, cynicism and unwarranted derogatory statements towards UPU’s informed decision on Olorogun Edevbie should be condemned by all well-meaning Urhobo people.
The decision of UPU to support Olorogun David Edevbie as the sole Urhobo PDP candidate is exceptional, irreproachable, clever and timely. It was a conscious decision to support one Urhobo candidate in order to mitigate the Urhobo nation from plunging into oblivion. So, we should be cautious about smear campaigns and focus more on constructive criticisms and avoid beating a sword into ploughshares. Candidly, the decision taken by UPU was not myopic but consulted various stakeholders: Urhobo Kings, UPU Presidents, Kingdoms’ President Generals, UPU registered branches, Urhobo political bigwigs and acumen, Urhobo business tycoons and industrialists, Urhobo youths, women, associations and other Urhobo personalities in the world, including the governorship aspirants. In addition, UPU realised that a bulk of the Urhobo Governorship aspirants are being sponsored by people outside the Urhobo nation in a desperate attempt to destabilise Urhobo block votes. It is laughable, regrettable and parochial that Olorogun David Edebvie’s endorsement by UPU is based on financial inducements, gratifications and nepotism. For clarification, Olorogun (Dr.) Moses Taiga, the President of UPU worldwide, is a billionaire with multiple functional companies across the globe and other signatories of the UPU decision are well-off individuals who are successful in their various endeavours.
UPU’s choice is not politically motivated or influenced but holistically grounded on neutrality and aimed towards the unity and harmony of the Urhobo nation with the following key parameters as the fulcrum and guiding principles after due and rigorous assessment of all the Urhobo PDP aspirants:
Understanding the Delicacies of the Job
Human and Resource Management
Altruism and Humanitarianism
Poised with Developmental Infrastructure/Industrialisation
Penchant in Meritocracy, Impartiality and Fairness
More Appealing/approachable to other Ethnic Groups in Delta State
Fortunately, Olorogun David Edevbie ticks excellently in all the above criteria for assessments and UPU has no other alternative than to act decisively.
Permit me to recap or chronicle Olorogun Edevbie’s career journey based on my little knowledge about his biodata that necessitated and justified the decision of UPU:
Olorogun David Edevbie graduated from the University of Lagos as an Economist in 1985, and after Youth Corps, he proceeded to the United Kingdom for further studies. He schooled at the Cardiff Business School, the University of Wales, between 1987 and 1988, where he attained a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) in International Corporate Finance.
Olorogun Edevbie worked in Barclays Bank Plc in London as a trainee immediately after his academic studies. Within a short time, he advanced through a series of qualifying programmes resulting in his admission to the Associate of Chartered Institute of Bankers (England & Wales) in 1990. Concurrently, he became a Member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing. Due to his intellectual capability, he progressed rapidly to the position of Manager’s Assistant, Corporate lending.
In pursuit of career advancement as a prospective young man, Olorogun Edevbie hooked up with Hill Samuel, a traditional U.K. Merchant Bank, as an Investment Banking Executive. He used his vast experience to optimise the processes that led to bottom-line savings. As a result of his proven financial managerial prowess, Olorogun Edevbie was moved to the Commercial Banking arm of the bank. He rose to the position of Manager, Corporate Recoveries Department. During this period, Olorogun David managed a whopping £60 million (N36 billion) portfolio of bad and non-performing loans, developing, implementing, and monitoring appropriate recovery strategies.
In March 1995, he was engaged with Commonwealth Development Corporation (CDC), UK (now known as ACTIS) as an Investment Officer responsible for the Asia and Pacific Regions; he assisted in building their economies. In 1996, he was promoted to Deputy Country Head, CDC Philippines, and was responsible for setting up their office in Manila. In the same vein, he was in charge of developing new business opportunities and managed a portfolio of loans, quasi-equity and equity investments valued at about $200m (N95 billion). He represented CDC on the boards of several investee companies, such as power, telecommunications, and venture capital companies. A few years later, Olorogun Edevbie was promoted to investment manager after returning to CDC in London.
As a result of his plethora of experience in multiple sectors, Olorogun Edevbie was convinced to return home and was appointed in June 1999 as Honourable Commissioner for Finance and Economic Planning by the Governor to transpose his expertise into Delta State Government economic planning for efficiency. With a passion for improvement, Olorogun Edevbie re-engineered the finance and cash management systems, leading to the timely preparation and publication of the Delta State Governments Audited Accounts – the first State in the Country to do so. Similarly, he developed and implemented the government’s privatization policy and established the highly successful Delta State Small Business Loan Guarantee Scheme and other States followed suit. At the end of their first tenure in 2003, David Edevbie attended the prestigious Harvard Business School Advanced Management Program (AMP) to prepare himself for higher profile duties. On the fulfilment of the programme, David was reappointed as Commissioner of Finance and remained in office until November 2005.
In 2006, Olorogun Edevbie was co-opted into PDP’s presidential campaign team as Director of Finance and Strategy by Governor Umaru Musa Yar’Adua due to his interpersonal and analytical skillset. In recognition of his significant and explicit role exhibited in the presidential campaign organisation, Olorogun Edevbie was appointed Principal Secretary to the President, Federal Republic of Nigeria. Olorogun Edevbie also played a crucial role in developing and implementing several policy initiatives, including the Niger Delta Amnesty Program; the establishment of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC); the creation of the Ministry of Niger Delta; the introduction of the Land Reform and Petroleum Industry Bills; dredging of the lower River Niger; National Railway development program; Civil Service and Electoral Reforms. Olorogun Edevbie remained in this role until President Yar’Adua’s death in April 2010.
Following Olorogun Edevbie’s resignation as the Principal Secretary, he became the Principal Consultant at AvantGarde Financial Consultants, an indigenous consulting firm focused on providing world-class project finance advice and monitoring services. In September 2015, Olorogun Edevbie was reappointed as the Honourable Commissioner of Finance, Delta State and was later redeployed as Chief of Staff to the Governor of Delta State from 2019 to 2021 until he was wooed by concerned Deltans to vie for the Delta State Gubernatorial position.
A nation that believes in advancement cannot ignore the above startling and sterling accomplishments. A man with such dynamism and vibrancy with overwhelming charisma coupled with hands-on experience has enough capacity to manage the State’s economy and diversity. The fact remains that it is one aspirant that will be the PDP flagbearer.
It is worthy to observe that the political scene so far has been peaceful. I sincerely appreciate all the Urhobo aspirants for their maturity, wisdom and humility during the current electioneering process irrespective of UPU endorsement. I want to appeal to the other Urhobo PDP candidates to shun resentment and seek a peaceful resolution of this issue instead of going to the contest to divide Urhobo votes. They should think ‘Urhobo First’ against personal aggrandisement. I also use this media to appeal to Dr Okowa and the other two Delta State Senatorial districts to respect the sanctitude and inalienability of the PDP rotational arrangement that has snowballed peaceful co-existence in Delta State. Any deviation from this gentleman’s agreement will lead to mutual distrust, surmounting and dismantling PDP political structures, and it will be a big challenge to rejig.
In a nutshell, this is a clarion call to Urhobo people to be more united to fight against the evil forces trying to trample upon our existence as a nation. We must use our concerted efforts and synergies to explore all avenues to confront this evil machination against the Urhobo nation and to ensure that the next Governor is from Urhobo extraction. UPU appealed profusely to all the political parties in Delta State to field Urhobo person as sole candidate of their varied parties, not PDP alone. So why the condemnation? Politicians just took UPU decision on Olorugun Edevbie out of context.
“The delegates who are my supporters, who believe in me for youths’ empowerment, women’s empowerment, education empowerment, viable infrastructures and less privileged upliftment – this is my wholehearted position.”
‘A Luta Continua’
Long Live Urhobo Nation!
Long Live Delta State!
Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria!
Chief (Dr.) Richard Tiki Iyede, the Ebe-Agwhare of Udu Kingdom, the Akpoteheri of Agbon Kingdom, the President of UPU Ireland and the President of Urhobo United Assembly.
I come in peace and joy!!!