Writing on Hon. Dr Dakuku Adol Peterside the Rivers State All Progressives Congress (APC) gubernatorial candidate on any issue is always a delight as his multifaceted and enigmatic personality comes to play. His phenomenal and cult-followership stature amongst the youths and God-fearing people puts him as a leader to be watched and associated with.
This resolute revolutionist and visionary democrat is seen in many ways by outstanding great leaders. To Carl von Clausewitz, a Prussian General and Military Theorist, described Dr Peterside thus: “If the leader is filled with high ambition and if he pursues his aims with audacity and strength of will, he will reach them in spite of all obstacles.” While to one-time President of USA, George W. Bush, said: ““Leadership to me means duty, honour, country. It means character, and it means listening from time to time.” To his father, King Prof T.J.T Princewill the Amayanabo of the Kalabari Kingdom of Rivers State, “a leader is not worth anything if he or she does not represent the values of love, unity, peace and justice for his people.”
Having followed Dr Peterside for about nine years, I can conclude that Prussian General Clausewitz, President Bush and King Princewill had him in mind while defining what audacity and leadership mean. Dr Peterside is someone who likes to tread where even angels are afraid to tread. Even though Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State has severally attempted to assassinate him he goes about his campaigns as if he has a spare life. When I confronted him on why he is not scared about all the killings, harassment and intimidation by PDP in the State, he simply answered me thus: “Chief Eze, if I get scared what do I tell my supporters? Besides, I am a Christian and my God is capable of protecting me in the hands of the evil minded fellows in PDP.”
Before delving into the main thrust of this study, let me highlight the significance of the birthday of Dr Dakuku Adol Peterside, Rivers State All Progressives Congress (APC) gubernatorial candidate for the 2016 rerun election, as well as his personality in the politics of Nigeria. From July 6, 1967 to January 15, 1970, the Nigeria-Biafra War raged on. To some pundits and political analysts, it was the birth of this divine gift to Nigeria on December 31, 1970 that actually brought that unfortunate war to a peaceful and amicable end. They posit also that in the battle for the soul of Rivers State, in the first quarter of 2016, during the obvious rerun election which has been turned into a war by the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Rivers’ APC is counting on this man of peace not only to win the gubernatorial election but also to stop the war mongers being paraded by the PDP, from coming to power again and making Rivers State very unsafe for all and sundry.
The making of Peterside
Dr Peterside is an indigene of Biriye, in Opobo kingdom of Rivers State, and was born into the family of Senibo Adolphus Peterside, a scion of a famous warrior cum merchant who is called Senibo Nibilagh Peterside. A true NigOerian, Peterside grew up partly in Azumini (Ukwa East Local Government Area) and Aba, both in present-day Abia State; as well as in Kaduna and Port Harcourt. Dakuku attended Okrika Grammar School (OGS), Okrika; University of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt; University of Port Harcourt; Georgia State University, Atlanta, USA; and Harvard-Kennedy School, University of Harvard, USA.
Hon Peterside worked as Special Assistant to the former Rivers State Governor, Dr Peter Odili, on Student and Youth Affairs, from 1999-2002 and as Chairman of Opobo/Nkoro Local Government Area from 2002-2005. He was the Chief Executive Officer of El-Darl Engineering Ltd from 2005-2007. He had previously served as a member of the Board of Centre for Black and African Art and Civilization (CBAAC). He was the Executive Director of Development and Leadership Institute (DLI). Earlier, he had served as the State Officer of the Defunct All Nigerian Congress (ANC) as well as Democratic Party of Nigeria (DPN). He had held the position of a Youth Leader in the Odili-led Restoration Team, a political pressure group that supports and held sway during his administration in Rivers State.
One time student-activist, Peterside was the first Opobo/Nkoro student to be elected as the National President of National Union of Rivers State Students. He contributed alongside others to establish the Vanguard of Opobo Nation (VON) in 1994 and was its secretary. From 2000-2008, he was the national president. He has also worked as an editor and columnist in some print media outfits.
A self-proclaimed Ogoni activist, Peterside recalls: “Ogoni people love me and are very hospitable. I grew up in Ogoni, where I spent over 10 years. I still have many childhood friends from Ogoni. I was at the forefront of Ogoni struggle in 1990, when Ogoni Bill of Rights (OBR) was put in place. Ogoni people are peace-loving and not violent. It was when I was Rivers Commissioner for Works that most of the roads in Bori (traditional headquarters of Ogoniland) were tarred. I will continue to protect Ogoni interest. Senator Magnus Abe is my brother and friend and we have had useful discussions. APC in Rivers State cannot be in reverse gear. We will place emphasis on equity, justice and fairness. We will ensure inclusive government. Everybody will be carried along. I am an Ijaw, but I will be the governor of Rivers State. We can together build a greater Rivers State.”
A non-violent-par excellence-politician, Peterside knows the worth of human blood and life. That is why he continued to preach peaceful conduct of the recently-concluded PDP primaries; and forth-coming governorship election, to all and sundry, in order to perpetuate and sustain the democratic experiment. His words: “Electoral victories like mine could only make meaning when it is won without violence. I abhor violence; no victory in any election and, indeed, in any human endeavour in life, is worth the blood of anyone; no victory is worth the life of any person.” In an unprecedented move, first in the history of his constituency, he embarked on the visit of 70 churches, to thank God for his immeasurable goodness, having achieved much as a politician of the Opobo extraction.
He used his position to attract state government projects in Opobo/Nkoro council area. One of such projects was the sand-filling of Opobo New Layout, a project for which his community will ever be grateful to the former Rivers governor, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi. During his stint as the Caretaker Committee Chairman of Opobo/Nkoro Local Government, he contributed positively to the development of the area. As a result of the foregoing, coupled with his non-discriminatory behaviour, a rare award (Honorary Life Membership of the Opobo Legislative Assembly) was conferred on him.
Academic & professional career
He earned degrees in Medical Laboratory Sciences (Haematology), Business Administration (Management) and certificates in Leadership and Project Management respectively. He has attended several oil and gas courses globally. Peterside is a member of the Nigeria Institute of Management (NIM), Fellow of Institute of Management Consultants of Nigeria (IMCON) and member, Institute of Medical Laboratory Sciences of Nigeria.
It is as if the great philosopher, John C Maxwell, had Peterside in mind, when he postulated: “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” In living this truism, prior to being elected to the House of Representatives, Dakuku served twice as Rivers State Commissioner for Works (2007-2011), during which time he anchored then Governor Amaechi’s phenomenal transformation of roads and infrastructural landscape of the state. He concurrently served on the Board of Greater Port Harcourt Development Authority (GPHCDA). Before serving as commissioner, Peterside had served as executive director, Development and Leadership Institute between 2005 and 2007; Senior Special Assistant to the Governor of Rivers State on Works (2003-2005), and chairman, Opobo-Nkoro LGA (2002-2003).
As LGA chairman he was declared the most outstanding chairman by the then State Governor of Rivers State, Odili. He had previously served as Special Assistant to the Governor on Youth and Student Affairs, concurrently as a member of board, Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilisation (CBAAC), a Federal Government arts and research establishment.
He has at various times turned down at least 14 chieftaincy titles, several honorary doctorates and awards, rather believing in the people as a reason for service. In the House of Representatives, Peterside has earned a reputation as a charismatic and disciplined leader and creative and hardworking legislator who is broad-minded with strategic insight. He brings integrity, compassion, pro-poor perspective and intellectual dimension to bear in tackling tough national issues. His loyalty to friendship, and bridge-building skills are remarkable. In the House of Representatives he serves as Chairman of the Petroleum Resources (Downstream) Committee that oversees the management of the key-driver of Nigeria’s economy (petroleum industry). Dakuku also serves in the House’s most important committees: Anti-Corruption, National Ethics and Values; Drugs, Narcotics and Financial Crimes; Co-operation and Integration in Africa, Electoral Matters; Industry; Communications and Works. He is a well-known champion of reform and strengthening of institutions as key to unlocking development potentials. Peterside is widely respected as an achiever and a strong voice for the House on national issues. He is a regular commentator in Nigeria’s leading media outfits.
In his home state, Rivers, he is respected as one of the most result-oriented, meticulous, consistent, trustworthy and God-fearing political leaders. In all public offices he has held, he has brought innovation to bear and made remarkable impact that has endeared him to compatriots. He is a role model and mentor to several young persons, who look up to him for inspiration. Hon Peterside, Amaopusenibo of Opobo, was elected to represent Andoni/Opobo-Nkoro area in the House of Representatives in 2011.
Outside the chambers of the green chamber, he is an international resource person on oil and gas matters and a leading leadership/management scholar and speaker. Dakuku speaks in conferences around the world. He is respected as an authority in corporate political strategy and business-government interaction in Nigeria.
A good family man, Dakuku Peterside, is married to Elima, a lawyer, and they are blessed with three children: Soba, Belema and Miebi. He is a committed Christian who believes his relationship with Jesus Christ is what gives meaning to life.
Peterside as an APC man
According to Rivers State APC Chairman, Dr Davies Ibiamu Ikanya, “Dr Peterside is a well-brought-up youthful manager of men and resources, who has been prepared for leadership by the invaluable lessons he received from elders across the state.” But the APC chapter captures him thus: “This astute politician and administrator is expected in the first quarter of 2016 to liberate the people of Rivers State from the shackles of an evil maladministration to which they have been subjected in the past seven months, by the Nyesom Wike administration. The ray of hope to achieve this is now realistic with Dakuku Peterside, the APC gubernatorial candidate celebrating his 45th birthday on Thursday 31st December, 2015.” The party observes: “This has become imperative in view of the sharp increase of insecurity, kidnapping, armed robbery and diverse criminal activities in our dear state since Chief Wike became governor by force on 29th May, 2015. We thank the good people of Rivers State in advance for their votes and wish to reassure them that Peterside shall, upon assumption of office as governor, wipe away the tears which Wike has inflicted on them,” Rivers APC said in a statement signed by the chairman, Ikanya.
The party notes that, “victory for Peterside in the court-ordered re-run polls will go a long way to address the three principal injustices visited on some sections of Rivers State: one of which is the riverine areas of the state not occupying the seat of power since 1990. The second injustice to be addressed is that of the Ogoni, a key tribe of the state, not producing a governor, deputy governor or the speaker of the State House of Assembly since the creation of the state as far back as 1970. The last injustice is that of the South-East Senatorial Zone not producing the governor since the creation of the state, as Rivers East produced Odili while Rivers West produced Amaechi, thus leaving the South-East in the cooler all these years.” According to Rivers APC, “Dakuku’s candidature is a divine script. It enables APC to achieve two of the three necessary goals of conceding power to the South-East Senatorial Zone, and also shifting power from the upland to the riverine area of the state. Peterside, from the riverine area of Opobo/Nkoro LGA, is a federal lawmaker, a symbol of unity and a symbol of hope for Rivers State and her teeming population.”
The party warned that if Wike becomes governor, it will make the upland to govern the state for 24 years, thus effectively excluding both the South-East and the riverine from governance of the state. “This, to us in APC, is the highest injustice that can be meted to a fellow partner in the growth and progress of our dear state. This is the mission and goal of the struggle and battle for the soul of Rivers State,” the statement said. It described Peterside as a personality widely accepted by all the sections of the state, a symbol of unity, visionary, egalitarian and, most importantly, a patriot whose love for Rivers State and her people is infectious. In addition, it described Peterside as a man who has earned a reputation as a charismatic and disciplined leader; creative and hardworking; a broad-minded fellow with strategic insight. “In all public offices he has held, he has brought innovation to bear and made remarkable impact that has endeared him to people.”
On his vision and mission
Here is what the governorship aspirant has to say about his mission: “We bring a roadmap of wealth for Rivers State anchored on a legacy and foundation of prosperity laid by Governor Chibuike Amaechi. We all know Amaechi’s legacies in education, health, agriculture and other areas. He has built world-class schools and hospitals in every nook and cranny of the state. His health centres can match any standard hospital found anywhere in the world. We have unveiled our campaign plans and programme and we can be judged by our vision and contract with Rivers State and our people contained in the Roadmap to Prosperity at the end of our tenure, if elected. This is Rivers Project. It is not about APC. We invite everybody to come on board, join us to move Rivers State to the next level. Rivers people’s support for me is overwhelming. I really appreciate the outpouring of love. I thank all Rivers people. I will not disappoint you. APC members rely on God, and I will continue to rely on God. I do not depend on my strength or ability. I will ensure unity in Rivers State. All Rivers people will have roles to play in my administration, when elected as governor by God’s grace. Our doors will be wide open.”
Throwing more light on his mission, Dr. Dakuku Peterside had on 31st December, 2015 while welcoming former PDP members across the State, said that both old and new members would enjoy equal status as long as they register with the party before the forthcoming rerun elections. He also stated that sooner or later PDP will soon be history.
Following the avalanche of defections of mainly PDP members to join the APC all over the State, it can be rightly stated that Dr Peterside is a true Prophet. He went further to state that APC and her leaders in Rivers State are committed to treating all members equally irrespective of when they joined the party. Indeed, the APC believes that, unlike the PDP in Rivers State which operates like George Orwell’s Animal Farmwhere a small clique is more equal than others, we are greater together because we are equal and like they say, the sky is so large that there is space for every star.
Indeed, the APC holds no blame for all those who have now seen the light and the truth that the PDP is led by wickedly selfish individuals who care only about themselves and sometimes their immediate families. Governor Nyesom Wike has proven us right in such a short period as governor. His first consideration for appointments is his brothers, relations or in-laws while even his close associates are left to their fate. Governor Nyesom Wike’s recent appointment of Commissioners and Special Assistants was obviously made grudgingly because his misfortunes at the election tribunals, Appeal and Supreme Courts made it compelling on him.
In the light of the discovery of the nepotistic style of Governor Nyesom Wike and the obviously sinking ship of the PDP in Rivers State, we believe that only fools commit suicide because only the living praise God and have the opportunity to turn a new leaf and make a fresh start that is likely to end in good fortune and praise to God Almighty. Dr Peterside concluded
In conclusion, I wish to say without fear of contradiction that Peterside is a symbol of unity, a visionary, egalitarian and, most importantly, a great patriot whose love for Rivers State and her people is infectious. Here is a man who reputed as a charismatic and disciplined leader; creative and hardworking, a broad-minded fellow with strategic insight. He brings integrity, compassion, and intellectual dimension to bear in tackling tough political issues. He is truly a bridge-builder and loyal to friendship. He boasts credible credentials as a renowned resource person on petroleum matters, leadership/management expert, motivational speaker and a respected authority on corporate political strategy and private-public interaction in Nigeria. Indeed, the great people of Rivers State have every reason to proudly endorse Dr Dakuku Adol Peterside as their next governor, after the departure of the goal-oriented Hon Chibuike Amaechi. With Peterside on the saddle, the future of Rivers State is truly great. We therefore await his crowning, after the 2016 gubernatorial rerun election.
Finally, may I seize this opportunity to wish my governor-in-waiting, Dr Peterside, a very happy birthday and many happy returns!” Happy birthday to a resolute revolutionary, exceptional visionary and democrat at 45!