If major players in Rivers’ politics have an ounce of objectivity, negative profiling should not be seen by any of them as subjectivity, regardless of political leanings and camps. Aren’t they anyways, especially the two major contending forces, branches of same fruitless fig tree, just full of green leaves? In a state where the rivers run crimson nearly all seasons, the songs even in happier times sound like dirge at their most melodious and the political men and women try with passion to outdo the most notorious animal in conducts, you should be permitted to think little of any active politician operating from the state, regardless of whatever “high” political office he or she occupies whether within or outside of the state.
So, Honourable Dakuku Peterside met journalists in Lagos last Wednesday, to discuss the prospects and problems of his current job; piloting the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and I had to be there because I must be. Nothing exciting. The Dakuku in my head; All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate in Rivers and honcho of controversial Transport Minister and plague of Governor Nnyesom Wike, Rotimi Amaechi, should not excite anyone who is desirous of a new electoral dawn for this nation. Though I never met him in person, until that day and could also be argued that nearly all the electoral and judicial shenanigans alleged against his camp, bore no imprints of his, yet he could be guilty by association since all the alleged indecorous and genteel acts by his leader, were geared towards enthroning him governor.
I was slightly taken aback when a mono-cut of Amaechi just without the trademark scowl, sauntered in, pumping hands with a child-like gusto. Obviously, he had met a lot of colleagues in the room and got as fresh as possible with them. We exchanged pleasantries and he took seat at our table. I was not impressed by his prologue apology for coming late. Fine, it was a worthwhile national assignment which he freely shared with evidence. I maintained an agitated silence, praying he would run through the usual ritual of seeking media’s support and I would go attend to something more cheering. This Amaechi-grafted-image wasn’t my definition of “good morning.”
Then Dakuku began to speak about NIMASA, the humongous economic opportunities, accruable prosperity for individuals in the sector, prospects for turn-around, unimaginable lost revenue opportunities and what could still be salvaged from a ruined system, raped by rapacious reapers.
For a lawyer, who resumed at the agency about nine months back, Dakuku proved to be a class act in content and delivery. He has mastered so much about the system, he could pass for a maritime veteran. Speaking extempore, he waltzed through his message, with facts and figures in sketching the fortune and future of the agency.
In less than five minutes of the informal speech, Dakuku got me. I was genuinely listening from this point. His oratory isn’t voluble. In minutes, he laid NIMASA bare. You would think he had lived all his live on the sea as a marine. You would know when someone had gone for verbatim loading and disgorging. Not Peterside. Without vilifying anyone, he listed the problems and he has a roadmap to reach the prosperity point. At a point, I almost asked which job did he actually prepare for; Rivers’ governorship or NIMASA Directorship General.
The story of NIMASA as told by the man who should know and demonstrated to us last Wednesday that he knew, is our collective shame as a nation. Imagine no single Nigerian ship doing any international import or export rounds, not even when our own waters are involved. Imagine just about only five Nigerians allowed on international trips that fetch a cool 1,000 dollars per day as income.
He spoke to the disparate system he met where religious studies graduates were employed to man critical points that required system experts. He shared the story of a stagnated workforce, the embarrassing downgrade by international assessors which is now expected to be reversed next February, inadequate training, et al. His greatest pain is the public perception of the agency as a cash cow or conduit pipe for outrageous sleaze. He told a story of a visiting friend who asked him for dollars that reputedly littered NIMASA. Though it wasn’t his mess, he wanted the media to help redirect the perception, starting with the newly-packaged roadmap for a new NIMASA next year.
Though massively impressed by Peterside’s sheer brilliance, I have doubts his targets are feasible. General elections are creeping on us again and the forces that made NIMASA a cesspool of contraband billions, aren’t completely out of circulation. Politicians are same breed, regardless of their emissions. They only cry out when outfox in their game of brigandage.
But Peterside can choose to be different, despite holding the job at the pleasure of someone and nominated by somebody. He has shown demonstrable capacity in the in-depth diagnosis of a wealthy but raped agency which should perhaps be the nation’s highest revenue grosser if not assaulted by grim reapers. I’m convinced he can also turn the agency’s fortune around if determined not to go the infamy way of his predecessors-in-office. The encounter reinforced the cliché of not judging a book by its name. After the interface, I requested a few seconds. He obliged without hesitation. I didn’t mince words in telling him of my opinion of him before the encounter. I advised that he should seek ways of taking himself out of Rivers’ ugly narrative and project his personality from the standpoint of intellectualism in which he isn’t lacking in all departments, for a different kind of persona. He thanked me for saying it all. Were I ever to be a political godfather, I would be proud to invest in a Dakuku. Whenever Rivers is also ready for intellectual governance, I will recommend Peterside.