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Dakuku and APC’s dilemma in Rivers

By Leo Sobechi (Assistant Politics Editor)
23 August 2018   |   4:22 am
Despite reports of massive infrastructure development in Rivers State, Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Adol Peterside...

Dakuku Peterside, NIMASA Boss

Despite reports of massive infrastructure development in Rivers State, Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Adol Peterside, said he does not believe that the incumbent Governor Nyesom Wike has not done enough to sustain or surpass the massive all-round development achieved by the preceding administration of Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi.

He decried the wanton violence, which the state has come to be associated, stressing that as a result of insecurity and lack of transparent governance in the state, many businesses and families are moving out from the state.

Pleading with journalists to be fair to Rivers people, the DG noted that democracy would make greater meaning if journalists persist in holding governments to account. He remarked that it beggars belief that projects that do not pass through competitive bidding process should be heralded as achievements.

To contest or not
As the 2015 gubernatorial candidate of APC, what does the 2019 election year hold in store for Peterside, would be throw his hat in the ring again or not? The NIMASA boss exposed the apparent dilemma in which he has found himself: Would he remain behind in the maritime agency to carry through his range of reforms or cut short his stay and hit the campaign trail in another quest for the mandate of Rivers people to be their governor?

“I was in Radio programme in Port Harcourt recently and I was being inundated with same question. My response was that I was still consulting and I have until the end of August to disclose my stand,” he said, adding that that answer suffices for now.

However, the politician, who said he has known Amaechi for the past 29 years, disclosed that what is certain is that he was not considering quitting active politics, remarking that whether he runs or not, he would support a candidate be out their in the field to canvass support for APC candidates.

With that he descended into unconscious analysis of what was likely to play out in the 2019 poll. Dr. Peterside dismissed insinuations that the emergence of Comrade Adams Ohiomhole as national chairman of the party and the recent defection of the former Senate minority leader, Senator Godswill Obot Akpabio could throw up some supremacy battles among the trio.

He said although his friend and benefactor, the minister of transportation original threw his weight behind Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, immediately President Muhammadu Buhari indicated interest in Oshiomhole, Amaechi switched his support to the immediate past Edo State governor.

Admitting that Oshiomhole, like Amaechi, is often frank and brutal, Dr. Peterside said their roles being poles apart would not dispose them to any clash, noting that unlike in 2015 when the party had no core, the Director General of the Presidential Campaign Organisation and national chairman, would respect the fact that there is a leader, in the person of the President.

On the aspect of who becomes APC political leader in the South-south zone, the NIMASA DG observed that quite unlike Southeast and Southwest, the South-south has never been known to play as a bloc during election.

He recalled that while Edo was often disposed to tending towards the Southwest, Rivers and Bayelsa have always looking to the north, a development he said played out in 1993 when while other states in the region voted for Moshood Abiola and Social Democratic Party (SDP), Rivers and Bayelsa voted for the National Republican Congress (NRC) and Alhaji Bashir Othman Tofa.

Feasibility of victory
DR. Dakuku Peterside said he was not under any illusion that the ruling party and its presumptive presidential candidate, Buhari, would not emerge victorious in the next year’s election.

On the reasons for his optimism, the APC chieftain said the main opposition would still have a lot of issues to settle, stressing that unlike APC, the party has no core or rallying point. He added that while the northwest remains intact for Buhari, there was no stopping the ruling party from netting at least fifty per cent of the cast in Southwest and South-South, stressing that even if Southeast forgoes real politic, APC would still garner more than twenty-five per cent of the valid votes in that zone.

The sure banker for the APC according to the Rivers State gubernatorial hopeful of APC is that the votes from northwest alone would obliterate the ballot from Southeast and South-south.

However, what Peterside did not reckon with is that the caliber of PDP’s presidential candidate alongside the socio-political re-engineering going on among the Middle Belt states and Southeast and Southwest could make things a bit tough for the ruling party.

But, even at that, the NIMASA DG said PDP lost all claims to Southwest bargain for votes when it deflected the post of national chairman away from the zone, adding that “APC is doing good in southwest” with choice appointments and visibility in the government.