Mayne David-West At 70, By Dele Agekameh
At work and leisure, David-West’s humaneness to peers and underlings is infectious: a warm, regal, confident man with reassuring calm, he brings out the best in his closest co-workers and associates. David-West speaks his mind without sacrificing honesty or empathy. That takes a lot of courage and discipline.
There are few men in science like Mayne David-West. Loving him isn’t much of a choice. It is something that comes naturally, given how he has carried himself through the years. Although his trajectory could be likened to that of a rockstar, David-West galvanises his universe with his gift of genius, moving in spaces that test his mettle as a prolific engineer. Having made enviable leaps in the field of engineering, with over 200 remarkable engineering projects to his credit, he has used engineering as a medium to express himself.
David-West brings creativity and art to engineering designs, giving them not just functions but form, like the proverbial renaissance engineer or virtuoso artist, if you like. When I ran into him in Port Harcourt a little over 11 years ago, it did not take long for me to know him as a straightforward, no-nonsense man. That afternoon, we were previewing the latest addition to his successful engineering career – a 706 kilometre long East-West coastal road (Calabar-Lagos) highway design for which his company had just finished the alignments. Since that meeting, our friendship has blossomed till date.
David-West is easily an immensely accomplished and brilliant individual. He is self-effacing, courteous, selfless and kind to a fault. Added to these are his great sense of humour and penchant for philanthropy. In short, his life is a fitting study of how to live a good life. There is no averageness to his genius; David-West, by his works, challenges the notion that the sky poses a limit to even the most astounding intellect as he dares to best himself in every fresh endeavour. It is no surprise, therefore, that he has certain fascinating landmark design projects to his credit.
The great feats of engineering that David-West is responsible for include the Abidjan–Lagos Corridor Super Highway (Lot 2), the construction, supervision and design review of a 850 metre Box Girder bridge over River Forcados at Patani in Delta State, for the Federal Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs. He was also the brain behind the cable-stayed bridge over Forcados River Crossing, “Wondrous Forcados.” The overall length of the Forcados is 3.48 kilometres, comprising a Cable-stayed bridge with a clear main span of 0.350 kilometres and side span of 0.215 kilometres connected to 1.35 kilometres long approaches. This project was described internationally as one of the most ambitious and sophisticated highway engineering designs ever undertaken in the world.
Similarly, he designed a suspension bridge over Bonny River Crossing, christened “Water Diamond of Grand Bonny.” The suspension bridge has a main clear span of 1.5 kilometres and side spans of 0.65 kilometres each, with 1.5 kilometres long approach concrete viaducts on either side. It is the fifth longest span in the world for a suspension bridge but the longest of its type on the African continent.
Blessed with astounding genius, David-West balances out his remarkable work ethic and achievements with a warm persona. Every shade of David-West’s persona, from his enchanting masculinity to his subtle assertiveness, conveys an inscrutable allure. The man is a fire starter; a glamorous equivalent of a modern hero: posh, inspiring and intelligent. A renowned icon of engineering, David-West is a star, a pioneer and workhorse with monumental focus. These towering traits have led in no small measure to his speedy rise up the ladder of science and acclaim. His meteoric rise, according to a lot of his friends and business associates, is actually worthy of his exertions and diligence. It is only fair then that he is celebrated on the strength of his exploits as he clocked the remarkable age of 70 last Saturday, July 13.
At work and leisure, David-West’s humaneness to peers and underlings is infectious: a warm, regal, confident man with reassuring calm, he brings out the best in his closest co-workers and associates. David-West speaks his mind without sacrificing honesty or empathy. That takes a lot of courage and discipline. There is no gainsaying that he would make good impact if he ever dabbled into politics. Though he loathes the political arena, he nonetheless deploys his brilliance and influence as an engineering genius to improve the world around him. He is also very easy to relate with on personal terms; for instance, he encourages young people to complete their education past high school and inspires all to interrogate their fears and surpass greatness.
On the strength of his humanity and exploits, David-West has received several awards and honours. Among them are the NICE Distinguished Award for Commitment to Professional Excellence in Civil Engineering Practice in Nigeria in 2011; NICE Meritorious Service Award For Contributions to the Advancement of Civil Engineering Profession in Nigeria in 2010; NIHE Merit Award in Recognition of Meritorious and Committed Service for Successful Achievement in Engineering Practice and Sponsoring of NIHE, Port Harcourt Chapter Investiture/Inauguration in 2014. He was also appointed patron, Nigerian Institution of Highway Engineers (NIHE), Port Harcourt Chapter in 2014.
Born on July 13, 1949 to the noble, erudite and amiable David-West family of Buguma, Rivers State, he had an good early childhood that was focused. As a child of good pedigree, his approach to life was robust and responsive. He graduated with honours in Civil Engineering from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in 1977 and discharged his National Youth Service under the Ondo State Housing Co-operation, Akure, Ondo State. He later joined the services of Etteh, Aro and Partners in 1978. There, he served faithfully as pupil engineer, rising to the peak of his career as partner in 1986, having been appointed resident engineer/manager earlier, to lead the Port Harcourt Branch of the firm in 1980.
David-West is an active practitioner of civil engineering, a fellow of the Academy of Engineering, fellow of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (FNSE), fellow of the Nigerian Institution of Structural Engineers (FNIStructE), fellow of the Nigerian Institution of Civil Engineers (FNICE), fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Highway Engineers (FNIHE), member of the International Association of Bridge and Structural Engineers (MIABSE) and member of the International Association of Hydraulic Engineering and Research (MIAHR). He is on the register of the Council for the Regulation of Engineering (COREN).
Among the several awards received are “NICE Award of Professional Excellence in recognition of exceptional accomplishments as a Civil Engineer, 2015” and “NICE Distinguished Award for Commitment to Professional Excellence in Civil Engineering Practice in Nigeria, 2011”.
In 1987, Mayne became a principal of Pearl Consultants, an offshoot of Etteh, Aro & Partners. As he celebrates his 70th birthday, however, it is noteworthy that the pedestal of his engineering practice was built by Rev. (Engr). E. I. Etteh and late Engr. Lawrence Arokodare. There is no way you engage him in any discussion that he does not make uncountable references to these great men who have played very significant and remarkable roles in what he is today. Even though Arokodare died many years ago, Rev. Etteh, now 82 years old, is still waxing strong.
David-West is married to the amiable and equally erudite Juliet Ogedi David-West, nee Nzeribe. Their over forty (40)-year union is blessed with four children: Sylvia, Juliet, Tavis and Brian. Let me end this tribute by proposing 70 garlands to a virtuoso scientist, a man of astounding exploits and humanness.
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