Hon. Dakuku Peterside, is a member of the House of Representatives, representing Opobo/Nkoro/Andoni Federal Constituency and Chairman House Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream). He recently spoke to some journalists on the prevailing situation in Rivers State. Excerpts:
BY OKEY NDIBIRE
As a key stakeholder in Rivers , do you see peace returning to the State?
I see peace returning to Rivers State. But that would happen after all those who destabilised the state for their personal and parochial interest would have seen the futility of their actions. 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 the pages of newspapers and in the electronic media stating that Gov Amaechi is opposed 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.
Can you comment on the allegation by the Governor’s political opponents that 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 Governor Amaechi is accountable first to God and to Rivers people who elected him. Nobody has said Gov Amaechi is dishonest. It is true that Governor Amaechi has tremendous courage in a society where courage is lacking.
Can you comment on rumours making the rounds that EFCC is investigating Rivers State officials and the Governor’s wife’s NGO?
The Governor is not averse to investigation because he is one of the most transparent governors in Nigeria today. He is equally vocal and thus cannot afford the risk of corruption. But any investigation by EFCC which is a creation of the law or legislation must be within 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. 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 group 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. 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.
There is a threat by the current leadership 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 provisions of the PDP constitution.