Opobo Town was agog precisely two weeks ago during the investiture and award ceremony of an Honouary Life Membership of Opopb/Nkoro Legislative Assembly on Hon. Dakuku Peterside, Rivers State Commissioner for Works.
The ancient Kingdom of Opobo is known for its deep cultural roots, bubbled with excitement as different political groups laid the red carpet for one of their own.
The irony of the whole scenario is that though the Opobo people hardly bestow awards or title indiscriminately, however, for this occasion they were ready to relax their stiff tradition.
Indeed the message was clear – ‘ a prophet can equally be recognised in his home”. And the leader of the Opobo Nkoro Legislative Assembly, Hon. Atedo Sam-Sam Jaja enthused that the award was the first of its kind and was only bestowed on those who have shown exemplary leadership and have touched the lives of the people in ways beyond expectation.
Most importantly, he said Hon. Peterside has through sheer hardwork and commitment in the upliftment of the local government area by attracting government projects.
Hon. Sam-Sam Jaja further asserted”, everywhere we go we see nothing but development”.
Unique quality that singled out the Honourable Commissioner for the award according to the leader of the legislative, was his non-discriminatory attitude, “Having watched him from close quarters and afar”, he added, “the people have called for this award”.
This is not the first time Hon. Peterside is being recognised by his people.
As an elder or ‘Senibo’ in the Biriye Polo, Hon. Peterside has contributed immensely to the development of his kinsmen. Within the brief period he was the caretaker committee chairman of the Opobo. Nkoro Local Government Area, the works commissioner carried out and completed significant projects including the Opobo market.
Senibo Peterside was born to the family of Senibo Adolphus Peterside who is the son of a celebrated warrior/merchant Senibo Nibilagh Peterside.
He attended Okrika Grammar School, Okrika, Rivers State. University of Science and Technology where he obtained a B.MLS (Hematology) and MBA (Mgt). He has a certificate in Project Management obtained from a United Kingdom based institute, in addition to numerous executive programmes in and outside Nigeria.
Hon. Peterside served as Special Assistant to the Rivers State Governor (Student/Youth Affairs) 1999-2002, chairman, Opobo/Nkoro LGA (2002-2005) CEO, EL-DARL Engineering Ltd (2005-2007).
He has previously served on the Board of Centre for Black and African Art and Civilisation (CBAAC), a federal government owned knowledge institution. He was the founding Executive Director, Development and Leadership Institute (DLI).
On the political scene, he previously served as the State Officer of Defunct All Nigerian Congress (ANC) and Democratic Party of Nigeria (DPN) respectively. He was State Youth Leader of Dr Peter Odili led Restoration Team which is one of the founding pillars of PDP in Rivers State.
Dakuku is a celebrated Students Union activist. He is the first Opobo person to be elected National President, National Union of Rivers State Students (NURSS) in the old Rivers State.
At Opobo, Hon. Peterside as a core patriot joined other Opobo statesmen to set up Vanguard of Opobo Nation (VON) in 1994 and emerged its founding secretary. He has served as National President of the group from 2000-2008.
As a writer, he has at various times served as Editor, Port Harcourt Evening News (PEN), Editor, Voice of Opobo Magazine. Editor, Waves, a columnist with the Niger Delta standard.Newspaper and regular contributor to Guardian, ThisDay, Vanguard and Daily Independent Newspapers.
On the profession front, Hon. Peterside is a certified Management Consultant (CMC), Fellow Institute of Management Consultants of Nigeria (FIMCN) 2007 and is widely published in at least 19 learned journals of repute. His key area of research is leadership and the interaction between leadership and development.
The Honourable Commissioner is happily married to Elima, a lawyer and they have three children, Soba, Tamunobelema and Tamunomebi –all lovely kids.
Following the award accolades have started streaming towards Peterside, His Majesty King Dandeson Douglas Jaja, Jeki V of Opobo Kingdom in a congratulatory message said, “this award could not have come at a better time. It is a testimonial to your untiring effort to give a new meaning to the political development of our local government.
The king remarked that the zeal with which the commissioner has executed his assignment in office as works commissioner has led to even spread of projects to all corners of the state.
Noting he said, “we have no doubt that you will continue to show example to other youths of the state and beyond that there is dignity in hardwork. This is an honour well deserved. We have no doubt that more recognition will attain your efforts”.
Chief (Prince) Charles Douglas MacPepple-Jaja has this to say of the award, “your determination to improve our society is legendary; indeed you are an epitome of a modern political leader of our time. Your contribution to humanity and building of moral rectitude is no doubt as a result of your dedication to set pace or you were humbled by it as true son of Ibani – Nationality of Opobo Kingdom”.
In the view of Chairman of Opobo/Nkoro Local Governmetn Area, Hon. Maclean Uranta”, the decision of Opobo/Nkoro Legislative Assembly to bestow you with such great honour is because your leadership role is outstanding. You have contributed in no small measure towards the development of humanity in our LGA”.
Chairman of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Opobo/Nkoro LGA, Hon. Tonye Epelle said Peterside’s life, “has become a reference point for patriotism, hardwork and God’s benevolence.
Indeed Peterside’s love for his people has led to the empowerment of several youths in the community. A lot today have been employed by some of the companies executing contracts in the area. He is also a political mentor to most of the youth.
One particular project that the Opobo people would ever be grateful to Governor Amaechi is the ongoing sandfilling of the Opobo New Layout, fortunately, the commissioner through his position fought for that contract to be approved.
If it is completed, the people would hardly struggle for land as they have done in the last decade.
His colleagues in the State Executive Council who were present at the ceremony include, Chief Ikanya for Special Duties, Felix Nweke of Youths and Dr Dawari George in charge of Energy and Natural Resources.
As a former aide and close friend to Peterside, Dr Dawari George observed that the works commissioner has been honourable in words and deeds and therefore it was not surprising that he is being conferred with Honourary Life Membership of the Opobo Legislative Assembly.
Overwhelmed with the recognition, Hon. Peterside attributed his success to God and the strong support, he has gotten from the incumbent Governor, who according to him has been a strong pillar in the past 20 years.
He disclosed that he had refused the award several times “the reason why we shy away from award is because God that can give honour. The most important thing is your relationship with God”.
Despite the political differences in the area, he said the people have shown that they can close their ranks to move the local government area forward, while thanking the leadership of VON, a platform which he rose from, for giving him the opportunity to serve the people.
He assured that”, from today henceforth I will rededicate myself to the service of Nigeria, Rivers State and good people of ONOLGA by making sure the area gets a fair share of all its needs to develop”.
The commissioner also thanked the Legislative Assembly for initiating a memorial Foundation and Library in the memory of their late colleague, Hon. Adasa Wariso.
Highpoint of the occasion was the decoration ceremony on Peterside and the groundbreaking that was conducted by the commissioner himself for the constructing of the library in the council’s secretariat complex.