BY TONYE TIMI
On the day announcement was made of the appointment of Mr. Chiedu Ebie as new Chairman of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), the oil flow station at Owa-Alidinma, a shouting distance from Agbor-Alidinma, Chiedu Ebie’s community was crowded with workers and engineers of Pan-Ocean Oil Company as if they were gathered to welcome the new chairman of NDDC back to the petroleum industry.
This group was supported by workers from the Obi Anyima cluster of oil wells and Ekuku-Agbor oil well.
For a seasoned technocrat and a player in the oil industry whose ward harbours oil yielding wells and crude gathering stations from many drilling points in Pan-Ocean’s OML 147, Chiedu Ebie’s appointment as Chairman of the board of the NDDC presents a new challenge for him to impact on the development effort of the devastated oil producing communities of the Niger Delta.
Now his community and the entire nine states where crude oil is presently produced in Nigeria look up to him and his interventionist agency to ameliorate their deficits in infrastructure and human capital development.
Chiedu Ebie from birth was always expected to be an outlying achiever and much has always been expected of him as the scion of the respected academic and administrator, Professor John C. Ebie, a psychiatrist and pioneer Chief Medical Director of the University of Benin Teaching Hospital and helped nurture the institution to the excellence it has achieved today.
His uncle, Sir Fortune Ebie, was also the pioneer Chief Executive of the Federal Housing Authority. Fortune Ebie was the one who conceived and built FESTAC Housing Estate in Lagos with then Brigadier Olusegun Obasanjo as Minister of Works and Housing and thereafter moved to Nairobi, Kenya to head Shelter Afrique.
Mr. Ebie from this progeny of great men and women has continued in and is advancing the achievements of his ancestry.
His first stint in public service of Delta State was when he was appointed as the Commissioner for Education (Basic & Secondary), an assignment he took on so well that Governor Ifeanyi Okowa during the 3rd anniversary celebration of his administration singled him out as the most outstanding of his appointees.
For his diligence, hard work and commitment, Okowa rewarded him by making him the Secretary to Delta State Government (SSG) at the start of his second term.
This elevation to SSG was known to all and sundry to be purely on merit.
Before then, he was a player in the oil industry.
He brought with him to government, steady hands and a quiet panache to a charged political environment. This quality proved invaluable in stabilizing the government of Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa.
Ebie’s two year stay as Secretary to the State Government of Delta State has remained remarkable as the years of achievement of the Okowa administration in the state.
His organizational skills, hands on commitment to the job held the state steady and are still applauded as the years of achievement even when Governor Okowa immersed himself in national politics and was projecting to the national stage.
Without being accused of any wrongdoing, Ebie was removed as the Secretary to State Government in a brusque and unfair manner.
Chiedu Ebie’s appointment as Chairman of the board of the NDDC presents a new challenge for him to impact on the development effort of the devastated oil producing communities of the Niger Delta
Rather than this removal hurting him, it rather energized him to work with others in convening a pan Deltan political group, Delta Unity Group (DUG) to collaborate and work with the All Progressives Congress in the recently concluded elections.
The involvement of DUG in APC created a strong resurgence in the party that gave her the victory at the national and indeed at the state where her victory will soon be properly scheduled after the governorship election petition tribunal judgement.
He will be supported by Monday Igbuya, one of Delta’s finest public officers as Delta State representative at the NDDC. Igbuya, an experienced public administrator was a one-time Local Government Chairman, a member of Delta State House of Assembly where he attained the office of the Speaker.
It is instructive to note that Igbuya was the chairman, House Committee on Delta State Oil Producing Area Development Commission (DESOPADEC).
This exposed him to the yearnings and aspirations of the oil producing communities in Delta State.
It is now clear that providence was taking him through the trajectory in preparation for this onerous task. A task we are convinced is not beyond him, considering his experience and pedigree.
The loud roar or statement from the jungle by the lion through these selections and appointments is that only the best is good enough for Delta State and Nigeria. Never again will situations where top government offices were used to promote cronyism, mediocrity and inefficiency be tolerated or accepted.
We are assured that Chiedu Ebie and Ovwigo Igbuya will bring their usual commitment and panache to the infrastructural development of oil producing states in Nigeria.
•Tonye Timi writes from Warri, Delta State.