The Chairman, House Committee on Petroleum (Downstream), Hon. Dakuku Peterside, spoke to Adeola Akinremi on political developments in Rivers State. Excerpts:
Would you say the transfer of former police commissioner in Rivers State, Mr. Joseph Mbu, signifies peace in the state?
Yes and No. Yes, because I believe that the police authorities have replaced him with a more professional and competent public officer. CP Mbu who was at the centre of the show of shame in Rivers State is simply a politician in police uniform. In the discharge of police responsibility, integrity and impartiality are fundamental, if the people you are supposed to police must have confidence in you. Joseph Mbu did not earn and could not have enjoyed the confidence of Rivers State people.
Conversely no because the insecurity in Rivers State is an institutional problem facilitated by the same persons whose duty it is to care about the protection of lives and property of the people of Rivers State. The transfer of Mbu could be a change of strategy due to the persistent pressure of the people and concerns raised by the National Assembly and other well-meaning individuals in our country. You know evil cannot thrive for a long time. Our approach is to wait and see.
So, what has changed since his transfer?
So much has changed. Our people are no longer under that cloud with which Mbu operated. The fear that was everywhere has given way to a peaceful environment that Governor Rotimi Amaechi is working day and night to create. Of course, Mbu and those who sent him could not have affected the fortunes of our great party APC, in Rivers State. APC is actually a mass movement whose time has come. APC offers Rivers people hope as the platform that will restore the dignity of the Rivers man. APC is waxing stronger and stronger by the day as more persons realise that the dynamics of national politics has changed.
The reality that PDP will soon be an opposition party stares everybody in the face. The non-performance, avoidable mistakes and insensitivity of PDP has further contributed to strengthening APC. The difference between APC and PDP in Rivers State can be likened to the difference between light and darkness. Rivers people would once more be rewarded for their contributions to the national economy. Rivers people know that a good friend is better than a bad brother. The days ahead will show that the ordinary people of Rivers State would love quality service as represented by Governor Amaechi to continue and will outright reject corruption and the politics of exclusion.
Does APC have what it takes to retain power in Rivers State?
Retaining power in Rivers State is a combination of factors. Who among the gladiators will protect in a fair and equitable manner the interest of all Rivers people against the interest of a particular clan? From the antecedents of the political actors and leaders, who will work for the interest of Rivers people above personal consideration? Who among these political actors have character and competence? Character will be key in Rivers people deciding who to follow.
APC in Rivers State is led by men of character who have shown that given the opportunity, they will place the interest of Rivers State above their selfish interest. Leaders of APC in Rivers State are those who can give youths in Rivers State hope that there is a future for them against the current regime of hopelessness, exclusion and violence. APC in Rivers State has proven beyond doubt that they have the capacity to bring about change. Most importantly, the APC leadership in Rivers State is populated by God-fearing men and women. The recent party registration exercise in Rivers State has shown that a majority of registered voters in Rivers State registered as members of APC to the chagrin of our detractors.
Some people believe Governor Amaechi likes to court trouble?
I donâ€™t agree with them. Some persons may not like the fact that Governor Amaechi is vocal and forthright, nobody will take away the fact that Amaechi is fighting for the right ideals. Nobody will deny the fact that Amaechi has performed well; has character and can go to any length to protect the things dear to the minds of Rivers people. Governor Amaechi is not our everyday politician, who quite often lacks courage and do not have principles and ideals to live for.
Love him or hate him, Governor Amaechi represents the new face of democracy in Nigeria. Whenever Governor Rotimi Amaechi has cause to challenge the establishment, it is certainly in the interest of the people and not for selfish interest or ego. A few persons would have preferred the status quo to remain, yet hopes for change, what a contradiction? It is almost obvious that nobody is comfortable with the way things are going currently in the country but very few are ready to risk the comfort of their life and office to champion change in the society.
But the PDP believes that APC will disintegrate with time?
It is unfortunate that PDP is behaving like the proverbial woman who cannot give birth and is blaming her mate. PDP will be disappointed. It does not make sense to hope on the misfortune of your neighbour for you to thrive, instead of planning and working hard to emerge victorious. PDP had opportunity to solve some of Nigeriaâ€™s problem in the past eight or particularly the last four years, endear itself to the people but it blew it. The party has by its actions and inactions promoted corruption to new heights, advanced impunity to a level never seen before in our body politic and institutionised mediocrity and nepotism in governance.
Some founding APC members like Shekarau and Bafarawa have left for the PDP. Are you not worried there could be more of such as the elections draw near?
It is unfortunate that it happened. But if you consider the sentiments of youths in their respective states, you will agree with me that it is almost a no issue. Nigerian youths are interested in a party and leaders who can guarantee them quality education, employment, security of lives and properties amongst others. Neither these leaders nor their new party can give them that.
So you can see that the Nigerian youths of today know what they want and they constitute the bulk of voters. You cannot suddenly tell them that a government that has been directionless and colourless in the past six years will now tend to those things dear to their heart. It will be a hard sell. From all empirical evidences available, the movement of some of these leaders is insignificant. A few of them actually live in the past.
The APC has lost the majority it had for some time in the House and still counting. Isnâ€™t that a downside?
I donâ€™t see more persons leaving for PDP. The movement of honourable members recently has been in both directions. It also shows that democracy is taking root and people are enjoying more freedom which is fundamental in democracy. However, you are aware that there is allegation that some of these movements are influenced by inducement. I may not know the veracity of that allegation but it is definitely a scenario.
Ultimately what I am sure of is that most members of the National Assembly identify with the philosophy of APC which is change. Very few persons are comfortable with the current dysfunctional system. Most persons yearn for change, meaning they believe in APC though local factors vary. You cannot ignore the influence of local politics, thus, you have a few persons whose heart is in party A but they are physically in party B.
Where do you see Rivers in the next dispensation?
Rivers State is a very peaceful state where the people are all interconnected and work very hard daily to earn a living. Politically orchestrated crisis seems to divide us and has affected our accelerated development championed by Governor Rotimi Amaechi. We have been denied our due by those who control the reins of power at the center.
At the end of these politically motivated struggles, I see Rivers State more united, more prosperous and our dignity as a people restored. I have no doubt that the adversaries of Rivers State will fail and collectively, Rivers people will queue behind a common agenda which is security, economic growth and opportunities for all. From the little I know, a glorious future lies ahead in Rivers State.