Unwrapping Dr. Dakuku And His New Book, ‘Strategic Turnaround…’

Unwrapping Dr. Dakuku And His New Book, ‘Strategic Turnaround…’

By Prof. Steve Azaiki, OON

  
          Opobo, one of the centers of history and civilization in Izon Nation, Niger Delta and Black Africa, parading a cream of progressive men and women, no doubt genetically influenced the meteoric rise of Dr. Dakuku Adolphus Peterside, the Ama Opusenibo to soaring heights. Yet, his own talents, self-development, growing up in the commercial city of Aba, besides mentorship by other leaders, may have also cleared the pathway on which he is soaring higher.
           Indeed, the aforesaid factors influenced his life’s choices, even early enough. This was first, at the famous Okrika Grammar School (OGS), where he was groomed in the sciences, and in leadership as one of the prefects.
          His choice of studying the sciences, held high in society, may have been a childhood ambition hence he enrolled in Medical Laboratory Sciences at the Rivers State University of Science and Technology. But, this was not to last because he rediscovered his real calling in leadership through admirable handling of student union activities in the National Union of Nigerian Students (NANS) as well as the then National Union of Rivers State Students (NURSS) which he served as President.
           The leadership outings in RSUST and coordination of the NURSS nationally, which afforded him opportunity to interact with academics, industry and political leaders, for the sake of students’ matters, was the pace-setter for greater heights in later years. Another catalyst to his advancement is the decision to deviate from Medical Laboratory Science (Hematology, Option) to graduate studies in Management discipline in RSUST, and University of Port-Harcourt (UNIPORT), even after qualifying to practice the first profession.
          An unrelenting Dakuku stepped up his managerial and administrative competencies at the Harvard Kennedy School, University of Harvard; Georgia State University, Atlanta and the Kellogg School of Management, with doctoral and postdoctoral studies. These are in addition to relevant charter qualifications. Not known for eloquent public-speaking home and abroad alone, Dr. Dakuku is also a strategist and pragmatist. Thus, he applies his specialized knowledge in Organizational and Leadership Behaviors, Public Policy and Public Affairs as well as Development Studies, in organizational settings, for the benefits of private and public institutions and society at large.
           Philanthropy takes most part of Dr. Dakuku’s personal gestures to needy individuals and communities. This is besides institutionalized selfless and development-oriented leadership services through the Development and Leadership Institute (DLI) which he served as the Executive Director. This initiative was influenced by the quest to tackle the many years of environmental mishap, economic deprivation and underdevelopment in Opobo, Izon and the Niger Delta, arising from colonialism by Britain and Nigeria’s skewed federalism.
           Politics has also enabled him to contribute to the development of his home front, Rivers State and Nigeria. Dr. Dakuku, as Senior Special Assistant to the Governor, on Works and later Commissioner for works and member Board of Greater Port-Harcourt Development Authority (GPHDA), was one of the pivots of the infrastructural projects executed in Rivers State, by the then administration of Chief Rotimi Amaechi who was then governor.
          These positions, on which he stood out, were after he had served as Special Assistant on Student Affairs in the State Government, besides being Chairman of Opobo-Nkoro Local Government Council. In the short tenure, he turned things around in the council for the benefit of the people, a feat that earned him Best Performing Chairman award by the State Government.
          Dakuku’s outing at the House of Representatives, between 2011 and 2015, further attests to his vibrancy, resourcefulness, articulacy and patriotism to his Andony-Opobo/Nkoro Federal Constituency which got effective representation. With that legislative opportunity, chairmanship of Petroleum Resources Committee (Downstream) and membership of others such as Election; Anticorruption and Ethics/Values Committees, the fiery politician and lawmaker, made invaluable contributions to bills and motions of local and national relevance.   
          In the light of the leadership and service profile, so far sketched, there is no misgiving why Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu recently said, Dr. Dakuku Adolphus Peterside “leaves progressively indelible mark everywhere he goes”. 
          Governor Sanwo-Olu’s statement, like those of others, is not a misnomer, given Dr. Dakuku’s stunning performance as Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA). Moreover he is the governor of Lagos State hosting the NIMASA hence he had firsthand experience of the activities of the agency under Dr. Dakuku.  
          Indeed, the strategist and pragmatist, has repositioned NIMASA, one of the most complex national institutions in a very vast and turbulent but important sector, for better service delivery. The strides by Dakaku and his team are visible in many aspects, for instance: implementation of the Cabotage Act of 2003:  opening of opportunities for more local content in terms of production of maritime products, increased participation of local operators in the maritime sector; increase in number of vessels; encouragement of littoral states to key into the sector; clarification of what constitutes sea piracy and robbery as well as distinction between Federal Government’s powers over international water ways and states’ jurisdiction over territorial waters; revival of the Exclusive Economic Zones; creation of more businesses and employments; state-of-the art satellite-based surveillance and inspection of vessels and operations as well as streamlining of transaction billings to remove double standards and delays in completion of transactions.
          Others are dispute resolution mechanisms for operation conflicts and labour matters; gender sensitivity; creation of an online portal and directory of vessel operators and service providers for easy access and tracking; enforcement of security and safety measures for operators; setting up of search and rescue volunteers in 10 states; institution of awards to best staff of NIMASA; operators; producers of local products, training institutions and financiers;  local and foreign training, professional examinations; product exhibitions, trade fairs and workshops and collaboration with stakeholders such as staff, unions, Federal Ministry of Transport, Nigerian Content Development Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Nigerian Navy and others in  accomplishing some of these efforts.
          These were all aimed at institutionalizing global best practices in a sector handled by an agency which Dr. Dakuku felt must achieve its core mandates of regulating and enforcing standards in maritime operations. Moreover, these mandates, for him must be executed to satisfy all stakeholders as well as boost economic development to elevate the wellbeing of the citizens. 
           The efforts of the Dakuku-led NIMASA attracted local and international recognitions, for instance, from the International Maritime Organization (IMO), and as the best in Port and Flag State   Control in West and Central Africa Sub-Region. 
           The scholar and administrator, has painstakingly chronicled the strides of NIMASA under his watch, in a must-read book, dubbed “Strategic Turnaround: The Story of a Government Agency, 2016-2020. His effort in writing the 250-page book to document his services and experiences, is equally worthy of commendation. 
          Dr. Dakuku who clocked 50 years, December 31, 2020, has indeed made remarkable achievements in the prime of his life, and still forging ahead for more accomplishments. 
          A detribalized man who speaks three other Nigerian languages fluently, apart from his, and nice to everyone, he will be feted by relatives, friends and well-wishers across the country at a public lecture in his honour, as part of the Golden Jubilee Birthday Anniversary and presentation of his new book. The event, to be held at Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, January 28, 2021, with strict Covid-19 protocols is in collaboration with Leadership and Business Day newspapers.
           As the day of the anniversary inches nearer, I join the numerous well-wishers of Dr. Dakuku Adolphus Peterside to once again say happy celebrations to the strategist and wish him successful presentation of his book, The Strategic Turnaround...
     

Prof. Azaiki is Chairman, National Think Tank Nigeria and Member, Nigeria’s House of Representatives.

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