Monday, March 2, 2015 4:02 pm
The Rivers State All Progeressives Congress governorship candidate, Dakuku Peterside, recently fielded questions from journalists on the Okrika crisis, postponement of election, his chances in the coming election, Ogoni question and many other burning issues
You have claimed that Nyesom Wike is your friend. Are you thus surprised by the allegations of violence attributed to him and his party in your state?
Yes, but there are many friends you have you cannot predict what they can do!
How are you sure you will get the security agencies to implement the plans you have outlined to protect the citizens of Rivers State?
Everything you deal with in life depends on season and context. For those of us who are Christians, the book of Ecclesiastes says that there is time for everything. I know that if I get there, the contexts will be different, the factors at play will be different and I am optimistic that I will get all the cooperation I need to implement my security programme. Rivers State will be peaceful again, safe and secure again.
Are you optimistic that the votes will count?
I am optimistic the votes will count. Rivers people are optimistic of installing the government that they deserve. They won’t be intimidated by anybody, they won’t be harassed by anybody, they won’t submit to all that threat and intimidation. It is a matter of time and we will rise to the occasion. We will cast our votes, we will defend our votes and we will ensure that our votes count. I am very optimistic and I am very convinced.
I am also optimistic that we will get the cooperation of security agencies and will continue to spotlight what is going on in Rivers State and will attract the attention of the nation and the international community. It is not optional, because if votes don’t count in Rivers State, there is no guarantee that it will count elsewhere in the country. Today, we might isolate what is going on in Rivers State and say this is Rivers. If this trend of violence in Rivers continue, people in other areas may be emboldened and the whole country will run into crisis if we don’t tackle what is going on in Rivers. So, we must all work concertedly to ensure that we stem the tide of political violence in Rivers, it is in our collective interest and I am sure that Nigerians are listening.
What is your fallback option?
I have no fallback option than to work with other stakeholders to ensure that the elections in Rivers State are free and fair. Till now, nobody has found a better form of government than democracy. Democracy is our only option and we need to make sacrifices to make it work and I know that Nigerians yearn for democracy.
Will you follow the pattern of Ekiti in petitioning the National Human Rights Commission over the spate of violence?
The situation in Ekiti is not as bad as it is in Rivers. Ours is worse than Ekiti and it is degenerating daily. We have done a few petitions to the National Human Rights Commission and we will continue to petition, hoping that somebody, sometime will give attention to our cry in Rivers. So, it is not about following the Ekiti example and we will continue to act within the ambits of the law; we will not go outside the law to arrest the situation.
The alternative is to have a lawless state and that is anarchy; that is not the option in any civilised society. We are civilised men and women and will not resort to self help.
You have repeatedly stated you would continue with the policies of the present administration. To what extent?
Governor Amaechi has laid very good foundations for the state and we will continue with the things he has started, but that does not mean that we will adopt all his policies and programmes. No two governments can be the same just as no two individuals can be the same even if they are Siamese twins. We will progress, based on contexts and challenges that we confront, but if we are going to continue with most of his programmes, the answer is yes.
Would you continue with Amaechi’s policy of giving the model schools to Indians to manage?
The teachers are being retrained as you are aware and the retraining is for a maximum of one year, some in Oxford University and other UK based universities and some in Nigerian universities under a phased programme. After some time, you wont have Indians run the system again because we would have improved the capacity of our people so that we can get world class education.
We shouldn’t compromise our standards because we are scared of what people will say, a leader shows the people the way and not the people showing the leader the way.
How are you sure that you will win the election on April 11?
I am not a man who will waste my time on things that are not viable. I can feel the pulse of Rivers people, I know what the issues are and I have been involved in politics in Rivers State longer than anybody who is running now. I have been involved in the politics of Rivers State longer than anybody who is running election today, including Nyesom Wike. If this election is conducted three times, I will win three times.
I know that Rivers people are enlightened enough and the national scene is clear enough on who would win no matter how we pretend. All of us have an idea who will win the election and we wont be struggling with a six week-shift if somebody was not leading and leading clearly. We are battling with this shift and shift because somebody is leading clearly. The gap is not 60:40, it is not 55:45, it is 70:30, do your own investigations. If we continue like that, you can then be sure that it would be an easy walkover for me!
How will you deal with the Ogoni question?
I am more bonded to the Ogoni people than any other one. I come from that senatorial district, I lived in Ogoni land for ten years when my mother used to be a lecturer in what is now Rivers State Polytechnic and I pass through Ogoni land to get to my own place of birth.
The Ogoni issue is not just about environmental degradation. It has many components, including social justice, exclusion from the political leadership and I have had series of conversations with Ogoni leaders and they know that we are the ones with the capacity to deal with the environmental issues. My community is affected by the environmental issues in Ogoni and this is because Opobo has boundaries with Ogoni. So, when there is pollution in Ogoni, you cannot isolate Opobo. It is not possible. Will I also run away from my own area?
The Ogoni people, like other parts of Rivers State, are yearning for opportunity to pursue their own development and we will give them that opportunity by working with them.
What has happened to the peace accord between the PDP and APC?
We believe in the peace accord, it is still subsisting and every day we educate our people on the importance of peace and the importance of political tolerance. We hope that other parties to the peace accord are also doing that. If you noticed, there is a trend, all issues of political violence have been directed against the APC. So, is it by coincidence? I am sure that your guess is as good as mine! All the attacks so far have been against APC. They have been attacking APC structures and buildings, rallies. All those killed so far, all of them are members of APC. So, will APC kill their own people? Not likely.
Is it that the Police are doing absolutely nothing?
The answer cannot be yes. After the last Okrika debacle, I publicly commended the commissioner of police and said, yes, the police tried, but they were outnumbered by these armed thugs and armed militants. But it is the fault of the Nigerian state. All along, we knew that there were too many arms in circulation and that nobody is doing anything about it.
I must commend the current CP because there is slight improvement, we are not there yet. You know when Mbu was commissioner? You all know what happened!