Eric Arthur Blair, better known as George Orwell (25 June 1903 – 21 January 1950), an influential English novelist, essayist, journalist and critic, once stated that he who controls the past controls the future and who controls the present controls the past. George Orwell must have the traditional institution in Africa in mind when he made that famous quote as no other institution in Africa controls our past and present more than the traditional institution.
The powers of the royal institution in a setting like Nigeria cannot be over-emphasised. For a candidate to have plethora of royal blessings from various kingdoms before a given election is not something any serious political analyst of note can overlook as this may be used to judge the popularity, acceptance or otherwise of the candidate in question.
In any African setting like Rivers State, Nigeria, the traditional institution is generally regarded as the custodian of the culture and closest power or government to the people. As a result, traditional rulers wield enormous powers and influence over their subjects and can decide, therefore, make or mar any candidate in a given election.
On the other hand, and according to one-time President of USA, George W. Bush, “Leadership to me means duty, honor, 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”.
DR DAKUKU ADOL PETERSIDE
The main thrust of this study given the explanations by President George Bush, King Prof T.J.T Princewill and George Orwell above is to examine the political leadership and avalanche of royal blessings so far poured on Dr Dakuku Adol Peterside, the gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State and its implication on the governorship election of 28th February, 2015, as well as other elections in the State. Apart from the above, this study will also be proffering answers to the following questions: Who is Dr Dakuku Adol Peterside? How did he manage to secure the ticket of such a big party like APC to fly her flag in a cosmopolitan State like Rivers State? And why should he be bestowed with such royal blessings that make his opponents envious and to think of stepping aside even before the electorate set out to cast their ballot?
Before delving into the plethora of royal blessings bestowed on Dr Dakuku Peterside so far, 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 and great star on 1st January, 1970 that actually brought this unfortunate war to an end. They posit also that in the battle for the soul of Rivers State come 28th February, 2015 which has being turned into war situation by the PDP leadership, the 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 foreign investors.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE BIRTHDAY OF DR DAKUKU PETERSIDE AND HIS RISE TO LEADERSHIP
Dr Peterside is a native of Biriye, Opobo Kingdom of Rivers State. A true Nigerian, Dr Peterside grew up in Azumini, Aba both in present day Abia State, Kaduna and Port Harcourt at various times. 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.
He 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 that, “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) where 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, he served as Executive Director of Development and Leadership Institute (DLI) between the year 2005 and 2007, Senior Special Assistant to 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. He previously served as Special Assistant to 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.
He 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 key to unlocking development potentials.
HOW HE EMERGED AS APC FLAG-BEARER
Dr Peterside emerged the flag-bearer of APC on 4th December, 2014 when at the Alfred Diete-Spiff Civic Centre, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, in a transparent election conducted by Prince Austin Eweka the 3774 gubernatorial delegates of Rivers State APC out of the 4,321 accredited delegates formally elected him as the APC gubernatorial candidate for the 2015 polls. Expressing his joy over this epochal event, Rivers APC State Chairman, Dr. Davies Ibiamu Ikanya, stated thus: “I congratulate our delegates that saw to the election of this great mind to carry our banner in our resolve to salvage Rivers State and our people from selfish politicians whose stock-in-trade is to loot our common patrimony and initiate our people into occult societies alien to our culture and belief as God-fearing State. I urge all and sundry to obtain their Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) to ensure that we collectively punish and bury PDP formally next February. I congratulate Dr. Peterside on his emergence and wish to assure him that we shall work day and night to ensure a landslide victory for him and our great party during the 2015 polls.”
DAKUKU PETERSIDE AND PLETHORA OF ROYAL BLESSINGS
That Dr Dakuku Peterside is the popular gubernatorial choice of the various strata of Rivers State is becoming very glaring by the day. 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.
Dr. Peterside has so far 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 TJT Princewill amongst others..
THE VISIT TO THE KALABARI KINGDOM
In this regard, after receiving the approval of men of God, Dr Peterside visited Buguma, the traditional, political and spiritual headquarters of the ancient Kalabari Kingdom, to inform King (Prof.) TJT Princewill, Amachree XII, Amayanabo of Kalabari, of his governorship candidacy and afterwards seek his royal blessing. Peterside, once an undergraduate student under King (Prof.) Princewill, told the monarch: “I resolved within myself that I will not accept this challenge of flying the flag of our party, APC without seeking your fatherly blessing. If I have your blessing, I will succeed”. Members of the Buguma Council of Chiefs led by Chief CPD Amachree, Chairman, Buguma/Kalabari Council of Chiefs, were also on hand to “welcome the august visitor in December, 2014”, according to one of the Chiefs who later spoke for the Council.
But even as the reception at the palace proved Dr. Peterside, no doubt, is the popular choice of Kalabari people, the crowd that welcomed the APC candidate was unprecedented. The crowd, in their thousands, sang, danced, chanted the praise of their visitor and ululated even as various cultural groups spiced the big show with their skills in the use of the African talking drum and other native percussions. The streets of Buguma were literally set agog and as the snaky throng marched from the town’s entry point to the famous Amachree Square en route King Princewill’s palace. Security personnel had a herculean time controlling the surging crowd as they pressed to touch or high-five the APC candidate. Brooms, the APC symbol, moved in a mass agreement. At some points, Dr. Perterside, waving his own broom, gyrated to the rhythm of the invading music. The scene was powerful as youths, women, children and the aged sang, “Gboo, gboo, gboo, Dakuku gboo o o! Gboo, gboo, gboo, Dakuku gboo o o! Dakuku gboo eh, gboo eh, gboo eh, Dakuku gboo eh, gboo eh, gbo, gbo, gbo!” (Come, come, come Dakuku come 2x, Dakuku come, come, come).
One of the youths in the crowd who gave his name as Damiete Dateme, explained that it was a sort of messianic song, inviting Dr. Peterside to quickly come and save Kalabari nation from further slavery. “In this song, we are calling on Dakuku to come quickly and deliver us from further slavery,” he said. At a point a young man seemingly possessed by the spirit of the huge reception rang two large bells while he stood in the balcony of a church. The scene was moving and like was predicted, that reception turned out to be a token of what transpired at the king’s palace.
At Buguma, Dr. Peterside was at home, like he later said, “a true son of the house”, as top members of the Kalabari nation were on hand for the flamboyant reception even though his visit was meant to be private. Dr. Dawari George, Secretary of the APC Campaign Organisation and member, Federal House of Representatives who represents Akuku Toru/Asari Toru Constituency, Hon. Daddy Pokima, Caretaker Committee Chairman, Degema local government, Hon. Ojukaye Flag-Amachree, a former Chairman of Asari Toru Local Government, Hon. Ben Fred-Horsfal, member, Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon. Joeba West, Rivers State Commissioner for Women Affairs, Dr. Ipalibo Harry, Commissioner for Employment, formed part of the powerful audience.
The Kalabari tradition was in its rich colour at the palace as every segment of the century-long rituals announcing the presence of an Amayanabo was performed. The palace drummer, specially attired and his eyes dim as if the gods were in conversation with him, paced the palace meeting room, drumming and chanting jargons known only to him, Kalabari gods and the initiated. All rose in respect, which tradition demands, when King Princewill, accompanied by the Queen and royal guards, walked in.
Dr. Peterside, who was introduced by the palace secretary, Hon. Prince Dateme, JP, said his inspiration to gun for the office of governor of Rivers State drew shape from the values espoused by King Princewill. “I am inspired by the things you believe in and the values you have brought to leadership. The time you spent teaching us, you emphasised that a leader is not worth anything if he or she does not represent the values of love, unity, peace and justice for his people. I am therefore proud that you groomed us in honesty, excellence and quest for knowledge,” the APC standard bearer told the monarch and the Council of Chiefs.
Peterside further told the monarch: “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 next year, 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 next year.
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/Oduai 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, 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 so far visited by Dr Peterside, what happened in Ikwerre Kingdom is the 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 February 28 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 February 28. Significantly, the Peoples Democratic Party (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 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE ROYAL BLESSINGS
The significance of this historical endorsement is not lost on perceptive political analysts. All the past governors of Rivers State as well as the incumbent Governor Chibuike Amaechi were endorsed by this body of Royal Fathers before they were elected to be governors. Peterside’s endorsement therefore forecloses the possibility of Chief Wike governing Rivers State come May 2015
“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 February 28 governorship election. 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,” Rivers APC Chairman, Dr. Davies Ibiamu Ikanya, said.
Ikanya assured the royal fathers that Dakuku Peterside will not disappoint them but will live up to expectation if given the mandate on February 28. “Dr. Peterside has tremendous respect for the traditional institution; he will not only carry our respected royal fathers along if voted into power but will also build on the solid foundation laid by Governor Chibuike Amaechi,” Dr. Ikanya said.
The Rivers APC Chairman noted that while Rivers monarchs and elders have embraced Peterside, they have vehemently rejected the candidature of Chief Nyesome Wike of PDP. “It is not surprising that Wike’s camp is in disarray as he has been rightly rejected by Rivers State Elders and Leaders, who see his imposition as an affront and a symbol of injustice since it is another way of saying that our riverine brothers have no right to produce the Governor of our dear State. We call on all Rivers people to collect their Permanent voters Cards and to use this wisely on February 28 by voting massively for Peterside and for the APC,” Ikanya said.
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 February 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.
DEPUTY GOVERNOR IKURU AND SENATOR ABE ON DR DAKUKU ADOL PETERSIDE
Rivers State Deputy Governor, Engr. Tele Ikuru, has rightly described Dr Peterside as Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi’s best and final gift to the people of Rivers State. He stated this at the APC Abua/Odual Local Government Area campaign rally at Ayama-Abua, saying: “Our leader and governor, the Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has given us so many good gifts but Dr. Dakuku Peterside is his best and final gift to us. Amaechi gave us world-class schools, hospitals, roads, power, free education opportunities, purposeful leadership and security, among other good things. But let me tell you that Peterside is his best gift to us. I therefore wish to assure you that Peterside will give you double of all these great and wonderful things.” Ikuru also described Peterside as a visionary and consummate public servant who will bring his expertise, humility and fear of God to the leadership of the State.
To Senator Magnus Abe, “Dr. Dakuku Peterside is a symbol of unity, equity, continuity, progress and hope for not only Rivers State but for the future of the Nigerian nation.”
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 program 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.”
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.
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 await his crowning after next month’s guber election.
The attached pictures will go a long way to explain this article better to any doubting Thomas.
Eze Chukwuemeka Eze is a Media Consultant based in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.