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Thursday, 07 August 2014 22:41

A governor must be visionary, a transformational leader not a garrison commander - Dagogo-Jack

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A governor must be a visionary, a transformational leader not a garrison commanderThe Minister of State for Education, Barrister Nyesom Wike was recently reported in several media as saying that nobody can defeat him if he chooses to run for Rivers State governorship in 2015.

The Minister of State was quoted to have said “Most of them who say the governorship seat is zoned to them, can they win in their local government? I can tell you that if I declare today that I want to run, none of all those claiming that it is their turn would win me in their various wards. So, if you cannot win me in your ward, whose vote are you going to use to win me in the election?”

Barrister said further that “Let’s take for example, the Ogonis, we have Tai, Eleme, Gokana and Khana – four local government areas. Those who want to run there under PDP, which of them can win me? Come to the riverine area, in Andoni, who wants to run there? I heard a retired Major. Come to Opobo, who wants to run? Come to Bonny, who wants to run? Come to Akuku Toru; I read it on Sunday that (Beks) Dagogo-Jack said he wants to run. There is also (Nimi) Walson-Jack, (Dumo) Lulu-Briggs. But which of them will beat me in their various wards, if I want to run?

In this interview with Owuje Park Harry, the Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Power, Engr. Reynolds Beks Dagogo-Jack, comments on Nyesom Wike’s outburst.  

Your recent press conference announcing your decision to join the race for the Rivers State Governorship ticket in the PDP seems to have ruffled some feathers. Why is that?

I’m not sure whose ruffled feathers you noticed but as you well know every race involves several competing interests and each new entrant into the race depending on his or her weight typically impacts the odds in the race.

Specifically we observe that last week the Minister of State Nyesom Wike whilst addressing press men made specific mention of your name among others he claimed are political paper weights he will beat even in their respective wards. What do you say to that?

I think those comments were quite unfortunate and undignifying especially from a cabinet member who should be a mature bridge builder. Also as you know we are currently still at the party primaries stage which is very largely an internal party affair to be managed strategically in readiness for the main election without unduly weakening the electoral fortunes of our party. I will rather not respond to his claim of superiority.

So even if you want to avoid responding to his claims the general public would want to know your political stature as a gubernatorial candidate.

Let me remind you again that politics is a team game with people of like minds coming together to build a leadership organization and agenda. The political structure typically has different layers of leaders, workers, volunteers etc. who come on board with various political assets.

I have been involved in this process at different levels for several decades now. I’ve been involved in developing campaign materials and government blueprints for candidates at both governorship and presidential campaign levels. I’ve been a leader of my ward, PDP Ward 12 in Akuku-Toru Local Government for so many years. I’ve served in various appointive posts at State and Federal levels in cabinet and senior non-cabinet positions. I have also run a primaries race as Senatorial aspirant as far back as the NRC days.

The main point to note here is that in all of these experiences, I resolved from day one not to be a jack of all trades but to remain devoted to my skills as a technocrat with proven track record of performance knowing that in any team I belong there shall always be those more verse in the field operational aspects of elections. I tell you, I am not a neophyte in this business yet I totally believe that a candidate is only as strong as his team is.

From the public utterances of the Minister of State it can be deduced that he feels exclusively entitled to the governorship ticket based on the huge investments he single-handedly incurred to rescue Rivers PDP. What would you say to that?

I recall that it was the famed Douglas Adams who said, I am paraphrasing, that if any man has the capacity to single-handedly procure his election to any office, he must be stopped at all cost in the interest of democracy. Politics is about change and progress which involves people’s free choice. Investments and sacrifices is an ongoing phenomenon in building political parties the world over. People have invested in the party at different critical times long before now. If everyone who makes investments and sacrifices to the party dictates exactly how he/she should be compensated, then I’m afraid our democracy risk being captured by private forces to serve private interests. Politics is for public service and development. It’s not a commercial business and should be approached as such.

Do you think your attempt to consciously separate shades of competences would work in our current political system which seems to have been hijacked by political field operatives?

Thank you for this question. You know I firmly believe that a key reason why we are still struggling to entrench democracy as a system for delivering effective service lies with this current very dysfunctional culture you have referred to and indeed it’s so unfortunate we degenerated to this level because this was not the case even in the first republic. I will illustrate with a few examples.

In those days, politics still had the Adedibus and the Awolowos yet no Adedibu would aspire to be an Awolowo and verse versa. Both were comfortable with the natural slants in their individual capacity. An Adedibu would be seen and respected as an effective operative or garrison commander whilst an Awolowo would be seen and respected as a visionary and transformational leader. Our late political icon was able to leapfrog the human capacity index of the South West over the national average with such effectiveness that decades after the benefits are still with us.

The greatest mistakes we have been making from around 1992 to date is permitting and promoting the blurring of the distinguishing lines between these two different but equally critical set of skills in a democratic process. I firmly believe that specialization is a universal imperative for efficiency in all human endeavors politics inclusive. I also believe that these two specialized political skills are mutually complimentary, not exclusive.

The current political culture must therefore be reviewed for the sustainability of our democracy. We must strive to keep each specialized set of skills within the limits of the skills. We must deemphasize the culture of ‘settlement’ that compensates field political operatives with critical developmental and management positions because these operatives very often underperform, abuse the position and complicate things for all. If the first republic achieved this, we can too. I rest my case.

How do you rate your chances?

I offer myself as a committed change agent. I have proven track record as a worker and project leader. I have considerable regard as a public servant across the State. I have been around long enough to learn from our past mistakes. I have imbibed a culture of integrity and goal-getting. I am not seeking office to achieve personal material goals. Our people have begun evaluating aspirants. The people will decide. Thank you.

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