CHAIRMAN House of Representatives committee on Petroleum Resources, Mr Dakuku Peterside in this interview, explains why he staged a walk-out at the Federal Ministry of Works budget defence session in the National Assembly. He also spoke on other issues including the chances of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2015.Excerpts
BY GBENGA OKE
How will you describe weekends Congresses of APC across the country?
I am unaware of crisis that rocked some states during the APC congresses, but I can confirm that the congress was peaceful in the whole of South-South and South-East. For a large party practising democracy, such is expected. That is the very nature of political contest but what is important is the management of the process.
APC is no longer the majority party in the House. Do you foresee more members leaving for the PDP?
I don’t see more persons leaving for PDP. The movements of members recently were in both directions. It also showed that people are enjoying more freedom which is fundamental in democracy. However, you are aware that there is allegation that some of these movements were influenced by inducements.
I may not know the veracity of that allegation but it is definitely a scenario. Ultimately, what I am sure is that most members of the National Assembly identified with the philosophy of APC . Very few persons are comfortable with the current dysfunctional system. Most persons yearn for change meaning they believe in APC, though local factors vary. You cannot ignore the influence of local politics.
It is unfortunate that some party chieftains left. But if you consider the sentiments of youths in their respective states you will agree with me that it is almost a none issue. Nigerian youths are interested in a party and leaders who can guarantee them quality education, employment, security of lives and properties among others.
Neither these leaders nor their new party can give them that. So you can see that Nigerian youths know what they want and they constitute the bulk of voters.
How sure are you that APC has what it takes to retain the governorship seat in Rivers State come 2015?
Retaining power in Rivers State involves a combination of factors. Who among the gladiators will protect the interest of all Rivers people against the interest of a particular clan? Who will work for the interest of Rivers people above personal consideration? Who among these political actors have character and competence? Character will be the key in deciding who to follow in the state. APC in Rivers State is led by men of character.
Most importantly, APC leadership in Rivers State is populated by God fearing men and women. The recent party registration exercise in the state has shown that majority of registered voters, registered as members of APC to the chagrin of our detractors.
Some have argued that your party will disintegrate with time, what is your take?
It is unfortunate that PDP is behaving like the proverbial woman who cannot give birth and is blaming her mate. PDP will be disappointed. It does not make sense to hope on the misfortune of your neighbour for you to thrive, instead of planning and working hard to emerge victorious. PDP had opportunity to solve some of Nigeria’s problem in the past, but it blew it.
The party has by its actions and inactions promoted corruption to new heights, advanced impunity to a level never seen before in the polity. They also institutionalised mediocrity and nepotism in governance. If you ask the average Nigerian on the street what he will associate the PDP with, the best he can tell you is election rigging and corruption.
Recently you staged a walk out during a Federal Ministry of Works budget defence session in the National Assembly. What actually happened?
I looked through the budget proposal and confirmed that there is absolutely no intention to do any project in Rivers State in the year 2014 despite our contributions to the economy and the votes we gave to the current government. I raised alarm that the implication of denying Rivers infrastructural projects is akin to declaring war on the state.
I saw this zero allocation to all federal road projects in Rivers State as an extension of the political persecution Rivers State is going through for some time now. I considered it morally indefensible to seat in a session where Rivers State will be cheated.
I had to loudly register my protest by staging a walk out. I am told the Minister did not deny my assertion but explained that the Ministry discovered that Ahoada-Omoku road dualisation has been awarded by the NDDC, thus his Ministry is not proceeding with it. The Minister said the money meant for that project will be applied to Degema-Abonnema road which is not in the budget. How he will do that is yet to be seen as there is no budgetary provision for such.
The Minister is not the National Assembly that appropriates. The Minister claimed that Bonny-Bodo road will be executed under public private partnership after being listed in the budget for several years. On rehabilitation of Enugu-PH Expressway, the minister said it will be given adequate attention this year but refused to acknowledge that Rivers State government has awarded the section within the state to JDP Limited, an Israeli firm. .
Do you share the assumption of some that Amaechi likes courting trouble?
I don’t agree with them. Some persons may not like the fact that Governor Amaechi is vocal and forthright, nobody will take away the fact that Amaechi is fighting for the right ideals. Nobody will deny the fact that Amaechi has performed well, has character and can go to any length to protect the things dear to the minds of Rivers people.
Governor Amaechi is not our everyday politician who quite often lacks courage and do not have principles and ideals to live for.