’Why I want to be Rivers gov.’
Reynolds Beks Dagogo— Jack, a PDP chieftain in Rivers State, speaks on the 2015 general elections and the chances of President Goodluck Jonathan. Dagogo Jack also sheds light on his ambition to become the governor of his state.
There are speculations and even poster evidence that you are in the gubernatorial race in Rivers State. Is this true?
For the record, I was just as surprised to see those unsolicited posters as anyone else. Indeed I had to put out a disclaimer of sorts to forestall anyone capitalising on the act for political mischief. I also want to say that it is perfectly possible for some well-wishers to do this as this is fast becoming part of our culture in politics . And to you question , yes, I am an aspirant waiting to progress to being a candidate of the PDP for the 2015 gubernatorial race.
Now don’t forget that I still have a job to which I am fully committed. I am convinced to prepare for the race in order to enrich the field. You know the peculiarities of our state being very strategic to the national economy and, in the face of the needless acts of political rebellion, our party cannot afford to make tactical mistakes ahead of the main elections which we stand a very good chance of winning landslide.
Rivers State remains a PDP state at all levels . Rivers people are waiting to massively vote PDP in all the elections especially the presidential and the gubernatorial polls. All current pretension to the contrary is mere grandstanding and shall fizzle out in due course.
What are your core political interests?
People say there are no permanent enemies in politics but only permanent interests. Even then, interests are bound to shift based on circumstances. My interest in the foreseeable future is not to do or be involved in any activity which can pose even the remotest threat to the re-election of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan in the 2015 election. Every other political consideration must be fully subjected to this paramount goal. Once all plans , choices and actions fully align with this goal, any secondary interest can queue behind this.
What motivated you to come out?
My first motivation is to enrich the field knowing that, over the years, I have received the preparation required for a high public office like the governorship of our state. On a personal level, I am motivated to offer a credible alternative to the regime of conflict, suspicion and exclusion-based politics which have dominated our political landscape for over a decade now.
It will surprise many to learn that the Rivers State GDP is larger than that of Gabon or Senegal. We have what it takes to perform as a country yet we live like beggars in the midst of plenty because we allow ourselves to be misgoverned. My strongest motivation is my personal conviction that our President desires to leave enduring developmental achievements especially in the Niger Delta in order to fully resolve the restiveness in the region and this can only be successfully delivered when the states are governed by adequately prepared, humble and committed transformational leaders who would work to earn the trust and followership of the people.
I believe that if we get development right in Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta , Akwa Ibom & Cross Rivers, we can create a momentum of economic opportunities which could cascade across the country with far reaching nationwide impact. In this sense therefore, I share the view that the decades of mismanagement of the economy of the oil bearing states has been not only a disservice to the people of the region but also to Nigeria as a whole.
I am motivated to present myself as a committed agent of change who would see the state and our neighbours as a huge economic asset to be optimally exploited for the full benefit our people and Nigeria at large. The challenges shall be significant in view of decades of practicing wrong politics and to deliver this change shall require discipline, tenacity and exemplary leadership. It will require ability to set clear targets and secure the buy-in of critical stakeholders ; it will require transparency and accountability in governance . It will require capacity to build consensus. I am well armed for the challenge.
From information available to us, the Minister of State Education, Nyesom Wike, is also a candidate and he has the state and national party structures fully secured to his interest. Why do you think you can compete fairly at the primaries under such a situation?
I have seen different groups filing out in newspapers and mini rallies endorsing Mr Wike for the ticket. Indeed there is even news of the state party chair openly canvassing for him. Yet I have yet to hear him say he is running; so it will be improper to speculate too widely.
I can only adduce that going by the current brand of politics which has failed to serve the people for decades, I will not be surprised if indeed it is restless political jobbers, incurable dependants and hangers-on who are piling the pressure on him for what they can corner for themselves now and in the future. I believe all prospective candidates for governorship should fully respect the facts that political interests are both interconnected and hierarchical.
By this I mean we must first design a winning model for the President’s re-election and avoid placing our interests ahead of his own thereby putting his victory prospects under any undue and unnecessary stress in the state. As members of the same political family which has the sitting President, we must be ready to make any sacrifice required for his re-election.
Unless subsequent events indicate differently I want to give all interested candidates, including Mr Wike when he declares publicly, the maximum benefit of doubt on this. Again you know very well that the primaries are meant to be a family affair. I strongly believe that our party would conduct the primaries , produce a flag bearer and still remain united for the main election ahead.
Do you think rotation of key political offices should come before the capacity of a candidate?
I do not think the two elements are mutually exclusive. We are 165 million people in Nigeria with around five million in State. In Rivers, we have well known ethnic nationalities which unfortunately denote our political groupings for now . I make bold to state that each of the groups is richly blessed with prepared and experienced leadership materials who most often get crowded out by the more desperate power mongers in our midst.
To suggest that we should at this vulnerable stage of our political evolution pretend we do not know that once a particular group gets elected into power it can manipulate the dynamics to perpetrate its kind in office on the basis of a jaundiced “capacity & qualification” argument is to my mind self serving and deceitful. No group has the monopoly of capacity and experience.
The compelling arguments in favour of rotating executive offices amongst the constituent groupings is well known chief of which is equity, fairness & trust which are the irreducible requirements for sustainable peace & development. Now if a group cannot trust others to govern over them , tell me what gives them the right to govern over others. It is as fundamental as that. A time shall come when we shall transcend such proclivities and collapse the ethnic boundaries into better integrated social classes which shall then predicate our political process. Until then let honesty and integrity prevail.
In this context, how do you explain the unprecedented and unimaginable victory of Mr Fayose against the incumbent in Ekiti State?
The Fayose victory shall remain a political case study for some time in the annals of contemporary history , yet I see the twin elements of capacity and equity at play here . Without doubt the incumbent Governor Fayemi took far more for granted than he should. Not taking anything away from Fayose, he seemed to have resonated well with the mood of the people. On one hand, he enjoyed an overflow of emotional redress from the injustice of his forced displacement by the Obasanjo government.
There was also the factor of public repulsion with expansionist politics, etc. I know some people are desperately drawing a parallel to justify endorsing one candidate but quite honestly the two cases are fundamentally wide apart relative to the states, the opposition quality , the imperative for maintaining equity and even the respective profiles of the candidates at play. In politics as in real life it is very unhelpful to compare oranges with apples.
We have heard people say you are a well respected technocrat, and you are really not a politician; can you take on Governor Amaechi’s (APC) candidate as well as Wike, the Minister of State for Education?
Again I want to really avoid being presented as the Minister’s bitter rival for whatever reasons because I am not. He is my younger brother . I have a lot of respect and admiration for him. He is a very strong politician and we both have a duty to work together and retain Rivers as a PDP state it has always been. I repeat, it is not so much about us as it is about our boss political calculations which guarantees a win- win for both of us who are the President’s aides. Talking of being a technocrat, I fail to see that as a liability.
Politics is a people and contact game which can be likened to football in its simplest form. An all defenders and no strikers line up cannot make a good team & vice versa. The potency of my candidacy is not anchored entirely on my skills, muscles and orientation, but its rather a coming together of several socio-political like minds and interests who share a common set of core values and have agreed to rally support behind a single point of leadership.
What are your strengths as a candidate?
I am a very credible alternative which can be used to change the destructive direction of our politics to make significant improvements in all socio-economic indices including health, education, industry, employment, business, quality of life , etc. Of course I have other strengths but it is a bit too early in the game to let them out of the bag.
What specific values will you bring to the process as the governor of Rivers State?
Strong and clear vision ; discipline and robust work ethic ; transparency and accountability; I shall do everything in my power to restore peace and security to the State and set the State on the path of irreversible growth into being the destination of first choice by investors and tourists during my tenure .
If you become the PDP flag-bearer, how would you rate your chances against the APC candidate in Rivers State?
I have not the foggiest idea who the APC candidate would be . I told you Rivers State has no business with APC. I will always show respect to my opponent but I sincerely doubt it if the APC in Rivers State can boast of the kind of the candidate line up from the PDP and, even if this remotely happens, Rivers people will be the last to allow a former governor of another state in competition with our state to come in from the back door to continue the recolonisation of our state as they have done in recent years. You know it is all about the electorate. Rivers people do not know APC.
What is your message to the PDP faithful in Rivers State as primaries draw nearer?
The party leadership in the state should fully align with the paramount political calculation which is the re-election of Mr President. Whatever choice results from that primary strategic calculation should be embraced by all. The party leadership should commence and sustain grassroots engagement to galvanize the people to stay faithful to their PDP origin. They should really avoid promoting any one candidate at this stage which can inflict mortal wounds on the party and render us vulnerable to opposition attack.