Dictonary.com defines audacity as boldness or daring, especially with confident or arrogant disregard for personal safety, conventional thought, or other restrictions, effrontery or insolence; shameless boldness. Defining audacity in action, Carl von Clausewitz, a Prussian General and Military Theorist, said: “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.”
Commenting on leadership, and according 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.” ““Leadership to me means duty, honour, country. It means character, and it means listening from time to time.” To 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.”
Hon Dr Dakuku Adol Peterside, the Rivers State All Progressives Congress (APC) gubernatorial candidate, seems to be the character Dictionary.com, the Prussian General Clausewitz, President Bush and King Princewill had in mind in 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 day of his birth as well as his personality in the politics of Nigeria. From 6th July, 1967 to January 15th, 1970, the Nigeria/Biafra War raged on. To some pundits and political analysts it was the birth of this divine gift to Rivers State on 1st January, 1970 that actually brought that unfortunate war to an end. They posit also that in the battle for the soul of Rivers State come 11th April, 2015 which has been turned into a war by the PDP leadership, 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 Rivers State PDP from coming to power and making Rivers State very unsafe for all and sundry.
Dr Peterside is a native of Biriye, Opobo Kingdom of Rivers State. A true Nigerian, Dr Peterside grew up in Azumini and Aba, both in present-day Abia State, as well as in Kaduna and Port Harcourt. Dakuku attended Okrika Grammar School (OGS), University of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt, University of Port Harcourt, Georgia State University Atlanta, USA, and is also an alumnus of Harvard-Kennedy School, University of Harvard, USA.
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.
Dr Peterside is a member of the Nigeria Institute of Management (NIM), fellow of Institute of Management Consultants of Nigeria (IMCN) and member, Institute of Medical Laboratory Sciences of Nigeria.
The great Philosopher, John C. Maxwell, with Dr Peterside in mind, postulated thus: “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 Governor Rotimi Amaechi’s phenomenal transformation of roads and infrastructural landscape of Rivers State. He concurrently served on the Board of Greater Port Harcourt Development Authority (GPHCDA).
Before serving as Rivers State Commissioner of Works, Dr Peterside served as Executive Director of Development and Leadership Institute (DLI) between 2005 and 2007, Senior Special Assistant to the Governor of Rivers State on Works (2003-2005), Chairman, Opobo-Nkoro LGA (2002-2003). As LGA chairman he was declared the most outstanding Chairman by the then State Governor of Rivers State, Dr. Peter Odili. He previously served as Special Assistant to the Rivers State Governor on Youth and Student affairs and concurrently as a member of Board, Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilisation (CBAAC), A Federal Government arts and research establishment.
Dr Peterside has at various times turned down at least 14 chieftaincy titles, several honourary doctorate degrees and awards, rather believing in the people as a reason for service. In the House of Representatives he serves as Chairman of the strategic Petroleum Resources (Downstream) Committee that oversees the management of the key driver of Nigeria’s economy (Petroleum Industry). Dakuku also serves in the House most important committees of 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 the key to unlocking development potentials.
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.
According to Rivers 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.”
DR DAKUKU PETERSIDE AND HIS MISSION
Here is what Dr Peterside 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 Chibuke Amaechi. We all know Governor 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.”
DAKUKU PETERSIDE AND SUPPORT BASE
That Dr Dakuku Peterside is the popular gubernatorial choice of the various strata of Rivers State is very obvious. Immediately after handling over his mandate to God through a well celebrated praise and worship service at Dr Wali International Conference Centre, Port Harcourt, where Bishops, Pastors and other members of the clergy prayed for his success at the polls, Dr Peterside swiftly moved to consult traditional rulers in the State to seek their blessings for his candidature. And the royal blessings have come in torrents!
Dr Peterside has visited and received the blessings of First Class Kings in Rivers State such as King Kaleh Obuge, Oda Abuan King of Abua; Onneh eh Eleme, King Ejire; Eze Ekpeye Logbo Eze Robinson Robinson; Amanyanabo of Bonny, King Edward Asimini Pepple; and the Kalabari Monarch, King Prof TJT Princewill, amongst others.
At Buguma, the traditional headquarters of the Kalbari Kingdom, Peterside told the monarch, King Prof T.J.T. Princewill: “I am a son in this house. It is only a son who does not know his rights that will not know when to approach his father. I know my right and I know when to approach my father. I am therefore here to seek your fatherly blessing. By April 11, our people will be electing a governor. One of the major political parties, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has given me their flag as their candidate. But I resolved within myself that I will not accept the challenge without seeking your fatherly blessing. If I have your blessing, I will succeed. I am a son you raised properly and the promise is that I will not disappoint you now that I have been given a huge responsibility. You taught us not to run away from any fight that will bring development and progress. As a bearer of your vision, I will be going into this race pursuing the unity and wellbeing of our people. I shall advance your dream and vision for Rivers State where everybody will have a sense of belonging, not where some people will be second class citizens. And we must defend the values and convictions you hold dear.”
Peterside, who explained that a time like this requires serious consultation with forthright and perceptive monarchs like King Princewill, pledged to offer Rivers State quality leadership anchored on his Roadmap to Prosperity if voted into office.
Responding, King Princewill said it would have been unthinkable to say anything contrary. “You said I groomed you but you are not the only one I groomed. President (Goodluck) Jonathan, Governor (Chibuike) Amaechi and others were also my students. If any of you comes for blessing, I will say that blessing was even granted before you came. But you must go to the field and do your best. I want to request that we ensure a violence-free election. We in Buguma have seen violence. We don’t want to see it again,” he said.
The royal father blessed Peterside via the laying of royal hands on the candidate’s head. He called on him to build employment of jobless youths into his Manifesto, if he had not yet done so, and if elected, to ensure that such youths in his kingdom are gainfully employed. “We have a lot of problems among our youths. How do we get them engaged? How can we make them not to be idle?” the monarch asked. He called on Peterside to continue being a good boy, saying: “If you want to remain my son, then you must continue to do the good you have always done.”
PETERSIDE IS OUR NEXT GOVERNOR – MONARCH
At Obua/Odual Local Government in the palace of the Uwema Ogbo Abua, His Royal Majesty, J. Umar II, a first class traditional ruler, pointedly told Dr Peterside: “You are our next Governor after Governor Amaechi.” This happened during a courtesy call by Peterside, his running mate, Honourable Asita O. Asita, and APC members and supporters in continuation of his campaign in Abua/Odual Local Government Area. The monarch, who received the APC governorship candidate and his entourage with other traditional rulers in the local government area, called on the people to support Peterside. He described Peterside as a patriot and dependable gentleman with sterling qualities and impressive record of achievements. The royal father assured Peterside of his kingdom’s unwavering commitment to his ambition, adding that his people have already embraced APC’s progressive policies.
Peterside and Asita were later honoured by the monarch and other traditional rulers with the privileges of a high chief in full traditional attire. The APC candidate promised to spend every minute of his time working for the people and representing their interest.
ADOPTION OF PETERSIDE AS SOLE CANDIDATE FOR THE IKWERRE KINGDOM
Out of all the kingdoms visited by Dr Peterside, what happened in Ikwerre Kingdom is perhaps the most significant, as he was enthusiastically received and endorsed by the Ikwerre Supreme Council of Traditional Rulers in Isiokpo, the spiritual and traditional headquarters of the Ikwerre ethnic nationality, as the sole governorship candidate for the Ikwerre nationality for the April 11 election. The Council comprises First Class and all Government-recognised traditional rulers in the four Ikwerre local government areas in Rivers State which comprise Obio/Akpor, Port Harcourt City, Emohua and Ikwerre.
The Council, which declared that its endorsement of Dr. Peterside was out of its resolve to uphold equity and justice by ensuring that the riverine section of the state produced the next governor, emphasised that by its action, no other governorship candidate would receive its endorsement. The paramount rulers enjoined all Ikwerre sons and daughters all over the world to support Dr. Peterside come April 11. Significantly, the PDP gubernatorial candidate, Chief Nyesome Wike, is a son of the Ikwerre Kingdom. With his rejection by his people we can now understand why his camp is in disarray.
The overwhelming endorsement of the candidature of Dr Dakuku Peterside by our revered traditional rulers is a sign of imminent victory and yet one more proof that Rivers APC made the right choice in electing him to fly our flag during the April 11 governorship election.
NON-INDIGENES ADOPT PETERSIDE
Apart from the royal fathers, non-indigenes numbering about 960,000 residing in Rivers State have adopted and endorsed Dakuku Peterside as their candidate for the April 11 polls. They spoke through their leader, Barr. Chuma Chinye, the Rivers State Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, saying: “No non-indigene in Rivers State will vote for PDP or any other political party as we are not ingrates considering all that Governor Chibuike Amaechi has done to improve our lot. Today, one of us – my humble self – is a member of the highest ranking governing body in Rivers State, the State Executive Council, while others such as Chief Ade Adeogun is the Chairman of the Sanitation and Environmental Company of the State, Mr. David Iyofor is the Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to the Governor, amongst other strategic positions of our people in government. Our kids are paying the same fees with indigenes at the various strata of education. We must appreciate all these by ensuring that we vote APC in all the elections to avoid those who have vowed to deal with us once they come to power.”
Other non-indigenes that spoke at the endorsement ceremony in Port Harcourt were Chief Dr Williams Ubeka, who spoke for the South-East; Chief Joseph Ijede for the South-South; Alhaji Ahmed Adisa for the South-West; Alhaji Sulaiman Hussaini for the North-Central; and Alhaji Tanko Yusuf for the North, while Mrs. Chief Ijede spoke for the women. The speakers highlighted all the good things non-indigenes have enjoyed under the administration of Governor Amaechi and contrasted it with the evil and humiliations they suffered when Chief Nyesome Wike, the PDP Governorship Candidate, was Chairman of Obio-Akpor Local Government, when he introduced various taxes to scare away non-indigenes from Rivers State. They maintained that if the non-indigenes have any enemy in Rivers State, Chief Wike is the Chief Tormentor of non-indigenes. They promised to ensure that he does not smell the Brick House for the sake of Rivers people, whether indigenes or non-indigenes.
Dr Peterside a non-violent politician par excellence who knows the worth of human blood and life and that is why he has continued to preach the peaceful conduct of the 2015 elections in order to perpetuate and sustain the country’s democratic experiment. Hear him: “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 conclusion, I wish to say without fear of contradiction that Dr Peterside is a symbol of unity, visionary, egalitarian and, most importantly, a great patriot whose love for Rivers State and her people is infectious. Here is a man who has earned a reputation as a charismatic and disciplined leader; creative and hardworking, a broad-minded fellow with strategic insight who brings integrity, compassion, pro-poor perspective and intellectual dimension to bear in tackling tough national issues; a man whose loyalty to friendship and bridge-building skills are remarkable; an international resource person on oil and gas matters; a leading leadership/management scholar and speaker in leading conferences around the world; and a respected authority in corporate political strategy and Business-Govt 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 Rt. Hon Chibuike Amaechi. With Dr Peterside in the saddle, the future of Rivers State is truly great. We therefore wait his crowning after April 11, 2015 gubernatorial election.
•Eze Chukwuemeka Eze is a Media Consultant based in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.