He is a big issue, love him or hate him.
Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has become a household name across every region. Rising from a child prodigy to the man with the magic touch in everything he lays his hands to do.
Amaechi’s heart goes in even before the whistle is blown.
From a powerful youthful Speaker to Governor and Minister of first class order.
You may not fancy his paper qualification but you can’t fault his practicality in good Governance, in spite of several pitfalls and mistakes, which he has never denied nor dismissed.
He was the apple of the eye of the once powerful Rivers Governor, Dr Peter Odili. Those he brought into the banqueting hall to have a taste of Odili’s exceptional generosity conspired and edged him out. After several stumbling and standing, Amaechi became the stranger in the home he built and prided as the “first son”, which was where popular singer and music crooner, Duncan Mighty extracted the title of his song track, “Port Harcourt First Son” and rightly accorded Amaechi that title.
Amaechi moved on and solidified his relationship with the then Vice President, Goodluck Jonathan. Not many knew of their close family ties when Jonathan served as the Deputy Governor of neighboring Baylesa State, under Gov Alamieyesiegha of blessed memory. Upon his ascension to the seat as President, through divine orchestration, Jonathan was home and dry with Amaechi as his point’s man in the Niger Delta, and beyond, as the latter was Chairman of the Governors’ Forum.
That relationship placed Amaechi as the cynosure of all eyes and the envy of both enemies and friends.
It was not long after, that those he helped to power took advantage of the now strained relationship between the duo to throw in spanners in the works. The cause of the not very cordial relationship between them was because Amaechi insisted that his colleague and friend, Timipre Sylva, Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, who was seeking renomination as Governor under the ruling PDP, be allowed to have a constitutional second term. But Jonathan had reasons to disagree with Amaechi, who was playing the Mother hen of the Governors.
That became the genesis of the road to perdition of a once robust relationship. The rest is history.
In a bid to save nit just his political career but his future, Amaechi quickly found a new alliance with Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, with whom he worked with assiduously to deliver his preferred Presidential candidate of the newly formed APC, in the person of General Muhammadu Buhari.
Amaechi had taken a deep interest in Buhari who had an asset that was needed to pull the rug off Jonathan’s feet. It was integrity, in spite of whatever weaknesses Buhari had and would still have, beyond the time.
Again, he became the toast of the moment and the eye of Buhari, even in his home.
This again no doubt was going to become the springboard for the conspiracy and hate which Amaechi would face once the deal was done on May 29, 2015.
Amaechi may not be a replica of Buhari, but surely, the President knew that he could still count on him to give his government a face, not as a spokesman – a feat Amaechi would not have passed for anyway, but as the game changer in the area of infrastructure development. You can’t deny the fact that Buhari got this 100% with the successes recorded by his Government in this area, and with Amaechi standing out as “Minister of the Decade”.
Again, the same demon is rearing its head again as some of those who were lifted by the Ubima-born politician have gathered, armed with truths, half-truths and outright falsehood, seeking to deal a heavy blow on him.
It is no gainsaying that Amaechi’s friends and associates have been his greatest albatross.
First, they ensured that he did not emerge as Buhari’s running mate in 2015. Next, they moved to see that he had a tough time being cleared as a Ministerial nominee. Not done, they rooted for the balkanisation of his Ministry, which was considered one of the biggest and most influential.
While still on the voyage of destruction, he was to lose the Party to some insider hatchet men of his political rivals, within and without the ruling APC, which he worked hard to come to fruition.
Sadly, he fell to the superior firepower of the gangsters who took the advantage of a willing and daring Wike, Governor of Rivers State to further frustrate his party from fielding candidates during the last 2019 General elections.
While Amaechi was busied with the tough return of Buhari, his home front was being raped, battered and decimated; yet, he put his hands on the plough and never looked back like Lot’s wife.
This singular pummeling of his political base has almost demystified his political sagacity for which he was known for. No doubt, when a good fighter loses back-to-back, it erodes the feeling of confidence in his admirers, though his true supporters and allies believe that the champ will definitely bounce back!
The battle for 2023 is thickening by the day and all daggers are going to be drawn and thrown in the direction of any potential candidate. Amaechi is not a stranger to political battles. He doesn’t shy away from challenges, even when the chances appear slim.
Having been wounded by his former ally and pointsman, Nyesom Wike, who in active connivance with the current PDP National Chairman, Uche Secondus, hijacked the structure of the PDP from him in 2014, Amaechi cannot stand as the proverbial tree which waits at a stop for the one who threatened to cut it down. If he has learnt anything, he must have been through enough baptism of fire not to allow powerful forces to edge him out of control in his Ministry. It is said that “once bitten twice shy” but Amaechi has had enough of multiple unpleasant experiences to know that it is time to apply the brakes.
The grand plot to further Balkanize his Ministry into Ministry of Road Transport and Ministry of Marine Transport in 2019, immediately after he led the Buhari Presidential campaign to victory twice, was enough red light for the workaholic Minister to go for the jugular before it was too late.
Those he trusted with responsibilities under him sought to overthrow him through a subtle civilian coup. But Buhari was on hand to save the day.
In a bid to ascertain the veracity of the allegations leveled against the Board of one of the Agencies under him, Amaechi moved to seek President’s permission to investigate the issues raised by some members of the National Assembly, who have refused to approve the Budget of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA for 2021.
The suspension of Ms Hadiza Bala Usman is now brandished by opponents of Amaechi as a ploy to muzzle the Agency for his personal interest, yet, no one is worried that the nation’s revenue may have been compromised, assuming without conceding that the allegations of infractions are true.
Again those who have not forgiven him for the role he played in upsetting the unbroken 16-year reign of the PDP are always quick to join the foray of those who would go for his jugular at any hint of alleged wrong in Government. They really do not care if Amaechi is empowered by the constitution to call for an inquest into the activities of an Agency under his supervision.
Whatever be the case, the undeniable truth remains that more fact less stories and spurious claims will be churned out daily and that’s simply because Amaechi is involved!
Written by Obiaruko Christie Ndukwe
Port Harcourt, Nigeria