The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi has been under the radar, as pundits have the reason to believe that the two-term governor of Rivers State is eyeing the presidency. In reaction to the indication, Amaechi was once quoted as saying “I am still the Minister for Transportation and only God can tell who will be the President of Nigeria in 2023. According to him: This statement is complex and does not rule him out of the presidential bid in 2023. However, if project and program delivery is a yardstick to determine who gets what in the peculiar structure of Nigerian politics, Amaechi will no doubt have his name written in the list. City People also have in on good authority that Rotimi Amaechi will run as a presidential candidate in 2023, all things being equal.
In 2020, the Minister of Transportation introduced something unusual to his usual south-south outfit. Throughout his political career, the so-called ‘Lion of Ubima’, born in Rivers State and raised in the bustling state capital Port Harcourt, has always appeared in public wearing his trademark ornately embroidered cap.
On very rare occasions, he had been seen in public wearing the hat favoured by his Ikwerre ethnic group, or in western attire without a hat on. In December 2020 however, Rotimi appeared on Channels Television wearing something else altogether. He rocked a plain red cap and a white shirt embroidered with the recurring motif of a lion head.
A non-Nigerian viewer will only believe that the whimsical choice of clothing might have escaped notice. To those in the know, this was a bombshell on par with what he was about to say. Alongside the spectacle of an ethnic Ikwerre rocking the Igbo ethnic group’s famous apparel and red cap, it was no longer a subtle hint – it was now a statement delivered: “I want to be Nigeria’s first ‘Igbo’ President.”
To get the grip on why Amaechi’s ethnicity hopping is an important political statement it is important to understand that ethnicity and geographical origin are central to Nigeria’s electoral political positions. the unwritten principle of “zoning” has since the fourth republic become almost the only conventional agreement that all the six zones have dully considered in the choice of the presidency.
This means that the next president, which of course is expected to be from the south, should come from the southeast, which is overwhelmingly populated by the Igbo ethnic group. It so happens that Rotimi Amaechi’s hometown of Diobu falls just within the arbitrary boundaries that define the “South-South.” On paper, therefore, his candidacy should not fly – except he can co-opt a south-eastern identity for himself.
Rotimi Amaechi is seen by many as the least problematic southern off-ramp for a government that has been accused of being excessively northern-centred. On paper, Amaechi’s strategy makes sense. Himself, Bola Tinubu and Peter Obi look set to be the front running southern candidates in 2023.
Truth be told, Amaechi has remained one of the very few executives under President Buhari’s cabinet who have not allowed the political banters distract them. Amaechi has since taken over at the transportation ministry and shown that one can actually break forth in any given responsibility for as long as there’s commitment and dedication to such assignments. Despite the political differences and affiliations that had caused lacuna between himself and the former president, Goodluck Jonathan, Amaechi completed all the ongoing projects of the past government without bias, especially the railway projects.
Even if one takes a cursory look at the many other agencies and parastatals under his ministry then, one would know that result is only a function of leadership, commitment, dedication and hard work, which he has continued to offer, even with a lot of personal sacrifices.
From the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Nigerian Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), Nigerian Institute of Transport Technology (NITT) and Maritme Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Amaechi has shown capacity, innovation and leadership in a way that leaves no one in doubt about his competence in any way.
His political journey is dated back to when he was in the University from his home state. University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT) in Rivers State was where Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi laid the foundation of his political life, participating actively in the student union politics, especially in the National Union of Rivers State Students (NURSS), of which he was President, and the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS).
After graduation, he cut his teeth in politics as Secretary of the now-defunct National Republican Convention (NRC) in Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State from 1992 to 1994. He was Special Assistant to Dr Peter Odili, the then Deputy Governor of Rivers State, and also a member of the Board of West Africa Glass Industry as well as Risonpalm Nigeria Limited. He was Secretary of the Caretaker Committee of the Rivers State Chapter of the disbanded Democratic Party of Nigeria (DPN) in 1996 during the transition programme of the General Sani Abacha junta.
In 1999, Amaechi contested and won a seat to become a member of the Rivers State House of Assembly to represent his constituency. He was subsequently elected Speaker of the House of Assembly as well as Chairman of Nigeria’s Conference of Speakers of State Assemblies. He was re-elected into the State House of Assembly in May 2003 and equally re-elected Speaker. A Master’s Degree holder; Amaechi’s assumption of office as Governor based on a Supreme Court judgement after PDP dumped him despite his convincingly winning the party’s gubernatorial ticket, remains a mystery to many political watchers in the country. He spent eight years as Governor of Rivers State. He was the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF). His unprecedented feats in the transformation of Rivers State have won him many international and local awards as well as the respect of the great world and Nigerian leaders. He currently serves as the Honorable Minister of Transportation under the Presidency of Mohammadu Buhari.
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TRANSPORT Minister, ROTIMI AMAECHI’s 2023 Ambition Revealed! was last modified: June 7th, 2021 by
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