Engr. Beks Dagogo-Jack was Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Power and Adviser to former President Goodluck Jonathan.
He also ran for the governorship ticket on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party in 2014. A fellow of the Nigeria Society of Engineers , a Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Management and a recipient of the National Honour as Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic OFR.
He is a leading member of the All Progressives Congress Rivers State and currently serves as the Chairman of the all- important Contacts and Mobilization Committee of the APC in Rivers State.
African Update cornered him recently for his comments on the state of politics in the State.
Question: Kindly give us a short background of your public service career.
I started my public service career in 1989 when I was appointed Special Assistant to the Hon Minister of Youth and Sports , Alabo T O Graham Douglas. We moved to the Ministry of Aviation in 1990. Before then i worked in the petroleum sector where i rose through the ranks to the position of District Manager( East) Elf Marketing Nigeria Limited. As you well know I have also served as Sole Administrator Rivers Transport Corporation RTC, Commissioner of Works and also Transport at various times. My last public service engagement was on the Nigeria Power Sector Reform and Privatization program where I was Chairman of the Presidential Task Force in Power, the special purpose agency which designed, developed and supervised the implementation of the Power Sector Reform and Privatization program. In terms of running for elective office I cut my tooth in 1992 when i ran for the Senatorial ticket on the platform of the NRC. This was followed by the 2014 gubernatorial primaries in the PDP.
Question: What exactly was your mandate in the Power team under President Jonathan?
I was appointed Senior Special Assistant to the President on Power in the Presidency in 2010 and a departmental head on the Presidential Task force on Power under Prof Barth Nnaji . I replaced Prof Nnaji as Chairman in 2012. I was also a member of the Presidential Action Committee on Power, the apex decision making body for the Power Reform Agenda , chaired by the President.
So you can say that I worked closely with him. It’s important to clarify though that my appointment came through a professional competency process and not through a political slot reserved for Rivers State.
Our mandate as the power team included unbundling the vertically integrated monopoly called NEPA /PHCN into stand alone generation, transmission and distribution companies in readiness for their eventual privatisation ; establish a power sector regulatory agency ; roll out a cost reflective tariff structure to provide the commercial basis for attracting new investments into the sector; establish a securitized single off-taker /settlement to facilitate energy trade and manage credit risks ; settle legacy liabilities including staff terminal benefits ; hand over the privatised companies to the new owners and effect the take-off of a fully commercialized electricity market.
Question: There are still widespread complaints of inadequate and unreliable electricity supply in many parts of the Country. Would you say the reform and privatisation program was a success ?
I would say yes , the components of the reform program we implemented succeeded in achieving the desired deliverables. However a reform of the magnitude and complexity as we had is a marathon and not a sprint with several moving parts as well as interdependencies. It is quite normal to have such programs take as much as 8/10 years from roll out date to fully achieve its target objectives provided all other interdependencies such as exchange rate, labour rate , interest rate etc all remain within the permissible bandwidth.
Question: Now to politics at what point and why did you leave the PDP for the APC?
Most people will agree that by 2014, the PDP had become thoroughly power drunk and grossly incapable of conducting its affairs in a disciplined and orderly fashion. Millions of Naira was collected from over 20 aspirants for the guber race all of whom were brazenly swindled as all were deliberately excluded in the primaries wherein ghost delegates were used to elect a flagbearer. My soul left the Party immediately after that mess. The rest is history.
My decision to join the APC took its main root from my assessment of its leader the Rt Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi. In my view , his decision to stand up for what he believed was the right thing to do marked him out as a natural leader. He was eventually proved right on almost all the issues he fought for. The abandonment of the East West Road; the oppression of the rights of the Soku community because of oil; the refusal to fund the Bonny Road ; etc. In spite of the open confrontations between himself and the former President who enjoyed the support of a vast majority of the riverine people out of geoethnic alliance, Governor Amaechi did not see it fit to punish them for taking sides with the President. He had all the power to take the governorship to any part of the State. He could have even presented an Ikwerre candidate to match Wike but he stood firm for fairness and equity. He picked a riverine candidate as flagbearer for the APC . Such men are rare. They are even more scarce in our State. Now don’t get me wrong. Amaechi is not perfect. He has his own faults as all humans do but I place major emphasis on the morality and integrity of a man. I decided by November 2015 to join Amaechi as part of his political family and that’s what brought me into APC.
Question: What is your relationship with the Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Amaechi?
He is the leader of our political family in the State. Over the last two years I have come to know him much more than i did from a distance. We enjoy a healthy relationship and I am confident that our relationship will continue to mature with time. If you are honest with yourself you will concede that our State is suffering from a huge gap in terms of having an honest , selfless leadership class which will always work together in unity and place the State above personal or sectional interests. We have a Governor who is running a closed private enterprise. APC is committed to rebuild the lost leadership class of dedicated , experienced and public spirited persons under the overall leadership of CRA. I’m fully invested in this mission.
Question: What do you consider the biggest asset of your Party the APC?
A very credible Head in the person of President Buhari at the national level. As they say When the head is rotten , nothing is left .
Also at the State level a leader with an unmatched record of empowering and transforming the highest number of our youths from obscurity and poverty to fulfilment.
Lastly the strong anti corruption agenda of the APC which has the best promise of turning our situation as a country around. The idea of an oil producing country with several other resources being one of the poorest in the world per capita can only be explained by the culture of corruption which has eaten deep into our fabric. APC under President Buhari has what it takes to tackle this menace and make steady positive change in this area.
Question: Would you please let us have your assessment of the performance of the current governor?
Very dismal but it will be very unfair to blame him. He got into office through the commission of our people either by sitting on the fence or accepting a mess of porridge to sell our consciences.
We the people must begin to take some responsibility for how leadership emerge. Standing idly by or sitting on the fence has done us enough damage. Time to take our destiny in our hands. I had said it in a number of occasions that the Brick House was not designed to be an Apprentice workshop. Tried , tested and proven public servants , not political bulldozers are urgently needed to turn our situation around for the better. All the key fundamentals of Our State economy have been in steady decline since May 2015.
Question: Sir, As Chairman of the Contact and Mobilisation Committee of the APC for the State , what is your assessment of the people ‘s reception to the APC?
Super receptive. Our people are fatigued. Every other month bogus biometric exercises announced as a ploy to delay and dodge paying civil servants. Medical bills for households going through the roof. Students withdrawing from schools every semester because their parents can’t afford to keep them there . Businesses leaving the State in droves or downsizing seriously. . I can go on and on.
I tell you the people can’t wait to try the APC . They are fed up with Wike and his personalised Party PDP which receives more money and attention from him than the people whose commonwealth he uses for these political escapades and gerrymandering.
Question: From our opinion polling there are suggestions that the divisions in the Party promoted by gubernatorial aspirations , some of whom are also raising ethnic tensions in the State can significantly weaken your Party for the elections . What do you say to this ?
My friend the governorship is just one of several very important political positions which get to be shared equitably in every election cycle. Our Party in the State is particularly lucky to be led by a politician who has spent 16 unbroken years in directly managing the politics of our State first as a Speaker of the House and later as Governor. He may be young by numerical age but i know of very few in the State who have faced as many political challenges , won as many political battles , lifted as many persons from obscurity to political limelight and suffered as many betrayal as our Leader in his still youthful life. He knows the nooks and crannies of the State. He is fair, bold and courageous. Accordingly much of what you media people want to promote as crisis are not as serious as you people make them and certainly not big enough to overwhelm his capacity to handle. Does it not wow you that we are in opposition in the State and yet we command a grassroots followership that can only be associated with a sitting government?
We shall resolve our differences and will get our people to come out enmasse to vote ans end the nightmare from the current government.
Question: Comparing the Ekiti elections with the 2019 elections for Rivers State , do you see any links ?
Yes indeed. I see a lot. There are some similarities and parallels.
One : The two governments are notorious at shortchanging the people , pulling wool over the people’s eyes and looting them blind.
Two: They both don’t accept that stealing public funds is corruption.
Three : One down , one to go.
Four : Our victory in 2019 will be far more decisive and emphatic than the Ekiti victory because our people will use their votes to make a bold statement : that for peace to reign in Rivers State, for development to return to Rivers State, power must rotate and Wike’s brazen violation of this understanding in 2015 will be severely punished in 2019 as a clear warning to anyone who would like to copy Wike’s footsteps in future. Wike will be made to pay dearly for usurping power and disrupting the peace and mutual trust between the different peoples of our State. It will be a super landslide.
Question: Accepting but not conceding to your projection on the Rivers State election in 2019 what is your assessment of President Buhari’ s chances in 2019.
I’m convinced beyond doubt that President Buhari will also win more convincingly. His brand is very difficult to match in politics. The absolute trust he enjoys in many many parts of the Country is second to none.
As we speak ee do not even have the Party which shall be competing with the APC. The PDP is currently undergoing voluntary liquidation at the end of which it might resurrect with a new name , which no one knows of yet. We all await the new name but be assured that even the illiterate vulcanizer by the roadside will still recognize them as PDP. A mere change of name will not change their corruption DNA .
President Buhari will win the elections in 2019.
Thank you very much.