There was palpable fear and anxiety in the land as the oil price dropped to USD70 per barrel, before climbing to its present $73 per barrel.
Economic analysts went to town screaming that Nigeria was suffering because the government has increasingly refused calls to diversify and cease operating a mono-product economy.
They also pointed to the fact that years of arrant profligacy has led to the depletion of the Excess Crude Account leaving nothing, as it were, for the rainy day.
As the nation’s drivers of both fiscal and monetary policies as well as sundry financial experts tinker with ideas on how to stave off the looming financial crisis, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan is increasingly looking like a prophet because a few years back, he had launched the much lauded initiative tagged ‘Delta Beyond Oil’ which anticipated a day just like this, when oil revenues would no longer be as abundant as it has always been.
In explaining the rationale behind the project, Governor Uduaghan has said that “Delta Beyond Oil’ Initiative was conceptualised as a means of ameliorating, not just the effect of oil on the polity and people, but ensuring the continued survival of Delta state when the oil runs out.
In the new dispensation, especially with shrinking oil revenues only states like Delta state with well-articulated and implemented policies that ensure alternative revenue sources beyond oil will survive.
Which is why it is imperative that whoever takes over from Emmanuel Uduaghan must continue with the implementation of the ‘Delta Beyond Oil’ policy.
As the primaries hold on the 8th, it is instructive that we look at the field which has narrowed significantly to identify who amongst the lot will carry the vision through into a new dispensation.
So, what does the next governor of Delta state have to possess in order to ensure the state continues on its trajectory of self-sustenance outside oil?
The next governor must be more of a technocrat than a career politician. He must be a man or woman who understands governance and policy making. One who has the educational qualifications and experience needed to make an impact from the get go.
The next governor of Delta state must be forward looking and I dare say, prophetic in his visioning and planning. But in outlining a long term vision and crafting his strategy, the next governor of Delta state must be a man of action, a thinker and a doer, someone akin to a philosopher king who is at home with planning and implementation.
A close look at the field, in my humble opinion, points to Sir Tony Obuh as the man who best fits the bill, the gubernatorial aspirant with the most experience and expertise to ensure continuity and a new era. His resume presents the picture of a consummate technocrat and well-versed civil service operative who has worked and been exposed to all areas of governance from personnel issues to economic planning, transportation to climate change, public service matters to research and statistics.
And it is easy to see why. Obuh retired as a civil servant after 32 years of meritorious service in the Delta state civil service. Obuh functioned as Director of Personnel in the Governor’s Office, which saw him overseeing the co-coordination and management of the careers of the Senior Management Group of the entire Public Service. His brief also included processing the appointment of the junior staff of the Governor’s Office.All of these before retiring as a Permanent Secretary.
A man like Obuh would not only be at home with politicians, he can engage with civil servants, negotiate with labour, talk policy with multilateral institutions and finance with bankers and fund managers.
As Delta state (and Nigeria as a whole) enters into a new era of life with oil as alternative revenue source, we need men who understand not just politics but policy to handle the reins.
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