In an interview with Newsmen in Abuja, Hon. Dakuku Peterside who represents Andoni/Opobo-Nkoro Federal Constituency of Rivers State in the House of Representatives, and also House Committee Chairman, on Petroleum Resources (Downstream) speaks on the Rivers State crisis, as he also said that History will soon justify Amaechi. The Excerpts.
Honorable as a key stakeholder in Rivers State, do you see peace returning to the State?
I see peace returning to Rivers State. All those who destabilised the peace of the state for their personal and parochial interest would have seen the futility of their action. I have always known that evil will not triumph over good just as darkness cannot resist light. Governor Amaechi represents light in many ways.
But opponents of the Governor have placed advertorials on pages of newspapers and in the electronic media that Gov Amaechi is averse to reconciliation
Governor Amaechi desires and is committed to reconciliation but not at the expense of Rivers State interest. He has taken steps to show that he is not averse to reconciliation. The Governor has gone to brief the President and I believe that the President is committed to the peace, progress and stability of the nation. The implication of that for me is that the President will take steps to advance peace in all parts of the territory of Nigeria including Rivers State. I am optimistic that the President will not allow political considerations including his own perceived ambition prevail over the overall interest of the country. I know the President is conscious of his place in history. Even at the risk of repetition, Gov Amaechi is not averse to reconciliation and peace.
The Governor’s opponents say his stubbornness is part of the problem of Rivers State
It is possible that Governor Amaechi is stubborn in upholding the truth. It is possible Gov Amaechi is stubborn in defending Rivers resources and Rivers interest. But they should know that we are running a Federal system and Gov Amaechi is accountable first to God and to Rivers people who elected him. Nobody has said Gov Amaechi is dishonest. It is unfortunate that Gov Amaechi has tremendous courage in a society where courage is lacking, courage to stand up for the truth. In other climes courage and success attract respect but in this society it attracts envy and attack and vilification. I do not think Rt. Hon Amaechi has any regret. He might be misunderstood today but history will be kind to him.
Is it true that Gov Amaechi has lost focus in Governance since this crisis started?
Absolutely not. Governor Amaechi has rather stayed focused on the main task at hand – Serve the people of Rivers State and help them take the revolutionary development he started to the next level. In fact he has accomplished more in six years to deserve optimal respect. You may have noticed his television appearances in recent times and will agree with me that each time he appears cool and confident. Nobody can deny the fact that under his administration, Rivers State has made and is still making tremendous progress.
There is this talk of EFCC investigating Rivers State officials and ESI, the Governor’s wife’s NGO. What is your take on this?
The Governor is not averse to investigation. I stand to be challenged; he is one of the most transparent Governors today in Nigeria. He is equally vocal thus cannot afford the risk of corruption. But any investigation by EFCC which is a creation of the law or legislation must be in the context of law. There is a subsisting court order barring the EFCC from investigating Rivers State. Governor Rotimi Amaechi did not secure that injunction so EFCC must vacate it first before proceeding to investigate Rivers State and her officials. When we act outside the framework of the law, it is an invitation to anarchy. We are a society governed by law and not brawn. On the threat to investigate ESI, the NGO founded by the wife of the Governor for which I am Chairman of the Board of Trustees, it is nonsensical as it is unlawful. ESI is not a government agency nor is it a statutory body. No trustee of ESI has complained that there is fraud or that the non-profit has acted against the spirit of the foundation on which it was established or acted against public interest. It is only when a trustee of ESI complains to law enforcement agencies that you can call for investigation of its finances. Whereas ESI is open to scrutiny by foundations that sponsor its activities, the invitation by political jobbers is outside the contemplation of the law thus futile and of no effect. We have too many ignorant busybodies posing as party officials in Rivers State. I sympathize with them. I sincerely thought we have gotten to a stage where the interest of Rivers State and Rivers people should be uppermost in our minds.
Recently the Police stopped a rally organized by Niger Delta Civil Society Coalition in defence of democracy. Do you believe that their action is in the best interest of democracy?
I thought you knew where I stand on this. I join other well-meaning Nigerians to condemn in strong terms the illegalities being perpetuated in Rivers State by the Mbu-led Police Command. As you are aware the constitution of the country guarantees freedom of expression, freedom of association and assembly. Not even Mbu can deny us this constitutionally- backed right. Peaceful rally is an essential ingredient of sustainable democracy. Mbu, without any doubt, is on a mission in Rivers State but he will fail. This same Mbu who is stopping civil society from protesting has actively supported anti-Gov Amaechi protests thus cannot conceal his bias against Rivers people and Governor Amaechi in particular. I am still optimistic that the police authorities will do what is right by immediately re-deploying Mbu to allow peace reign, unless they are saying the Police High Command does not want peace in Rivers State.
There is this story that CP Mbu was transferred out of Rivers State but the IGP was prevailed upon by some persons to bring him back to the State against the resolution of both Chambers of the National Assembly calling for transfer of Mbu. What is the truth in this?
I cannot say whether it is true or not that CP Mbu was transferred from Rivers State but knowledgeable police sources can confirm that indeed Mbu was transferred and made CP in charge of NPA. The same source named the person posted to Rivers State as Mohammed Katsina. If this is true I don’t know what other evidence we need to realize that some persons in high authority do not want peace in Rivers State. On the resolution of both Chambers of National Assembly, Police high Command cannot afford to confront the people of Nigeria through the institution of National Assembly. This call for immediate transfer of CP Mbu out of Rivers State is a resolution of both chambers of the National Assembly where all parts of Nigeria have Representatives. Mind you there is no way the National Assembly will fold its hands and look helpless lest impunity triumphs over the will of Nigerian people. Neither the Presidency not Nigerian Police is bigger or stronger than Nigerians as collective. There is sufficient justification to transfer Mbu out of Rivers State so peace can reign. Time will tell. My prayer is let reason prevail.
There is a threat by the current Executive of PDP in Rivers State to suspend you and other National Assembly members from PDP?
You mean the persons parading themselves as party Executives in Rivers State? This threat shows two things; the first is that they are the ones who do not want reconciliation in the party because they are afraid of what fate will befall them. Anything established on wrong foundation will certainly fail. The second is that it shows the degree of their desperation and ignorance of the constitutional provisions of PDP constitution. Those who genuinely desire the good of the country are calling the attention of those who are presently in charge of PDP to matters likely to affect the chances of the party in future elections whereas political jobbers are busy protecting non-existent territory and their political interest. It is most regrettable.
There is an allegation in the social media that there is a significant arms buildup in Rivers State in preparation against Governor Amaechi. Is this true? Who is responsible for this arms buildup?
I read it like you did. I do not know the truth. There have been allegations in the past of meetings between immortal CP Mbu and ex-militants. The public did not take the alarm seriously at that time but we saw what played out, how these same ex-militants enjoyed police protection to stage several protests on the streets of Port Harcourt. This time I don’t think this allegation should be taken lightly. Whether it is true or not one thing I am sure is that those behind this arms build-up will fail. Rivers people will rise up to defend themselves against every act of aggression. God is solidly with Rivers State and I have never had cause to doubt God. All those planning evil against Rivers State should be mindful of the fact that there is a God that reigns in the affairs of men. The greatest weapon we have had as a people is truth even in the face of intimidation and harassment for no justifiable reason.