Like the ace of spades is conventionally the highest and most valued card in the deck of cards during play, iconic political figure, and Transportation Minister in Nigeria, Chibuike Rotimi Ameachi is unarguably one of the hefty factors that determine the sway of political tides on the Nigerian landscape in this dispensation.
Probably one of the most misinterpreted politicians around, the reason is not unconnected from the fact that Ameachi is a forthright and honest person, who says things as he sees them, without gratuitous coloration and needless sugarcoating of issues; as is characteristic of a typical politician. Several of his words in the past, had been taken out of context, and blown out of proportion in the media, to generate sensationalism.
Love or loath him, it is impossble to repudiate the point that Amaechi is a major influence on Nigeria’s modern day democracy.
In his political foray, Ameachi has probably crossed some paths and got on the wrong sides of a few more, for being unapologetically vociferous about the truth he believes in.
Like they say about the heat in the kitchen, avoid it if you cannot stand it; you cannot be friends with Amaechi, if you have a hard time receiving the truth.
One of many instances of his honest opinion taken out of context was his recent stance about the south-east not having negotiating power for 2023 presidency. And his position was based on the empirical evidence that the APC didn’t do too well in that region; although, the result was fair, compared to Buhari’s previous election outing in the region.
In the wake of campaign to the 2019 elections, Boss Mustapha, secretary to the government of the federation (SGF), had also said the chances of Igbos clinching the presidential seat would depend on the vote the region turns in for the President Muhammadu Buhari.
Put out by his statement, apex Igbo socio-political group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo had taken a swipe at Amaechi, describing his remark as an affront.
For a fact, Amaechi was not wrong. Nepotism aside, politics is a game of negotiation; you should be bringing value to the table to bargain. It was an open secret that the apex Igbo body including other socio-cultural groups like Nzoku Umunna, Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF), Igbo Bu Igbo Foundation, and World Igbo Assembly (WIA) among others all worked for the candidate of the opposition, Atiku Abubakar.
Apparently, these endorsements polarized the President Buhari’s vote from the region. Even if the Igbos’ go to the convention of the APC, they cannot win the primary election. Amaechi is an undisputable stronghold in the ruling APC; take his words for it, or jettison it to your political peril.
To suggest to you the amount of influence that the Ubima, Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State born politician have on the Nigerian landscape in the fourth republic, Amaechi was the rallying force behind mobilizing the governors under Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to support the presidential aspiration of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan during the PDP Presidential primaries that produced Jonathan as the PDP flagbearer and during the 2011 presidential elections, and went on to deliver over two million votes from his state to lend Jonathan his earned victory.
The internal crises that rocked the PDP in 2013 led the Abubakar Baraje-led faction of the party under the auspices of the ‘NEW PDP’ defected to the then opposition party, All Progressives Congress, APC. That defection in November 26, 2013 remained the most colossal mass defection in Nigeria’s political history.
The merger gave the APC a total of 18 governors and experienced political heavy weights like Romiti Amaechi, Minister of Agriculture and former PDP Chairman Audu Ogbeh; former Ekiti State governor, Segun Oni, Kwara State governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed; former Anambra State governor, Chris Ngige; former governor of Adamawa State, Murtala Nyako; and former Kano State governor, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso.
In the 2015 presidential election, Hon. Amaechi ably steered the Buhari campaign in such a way that brought the old candidates into reckoning in ways never imagined. Amaechi’s input transformed the Nigerian perception of Buhari who was construed in the Nigerian mind more as General Mohammadu Buhari to President Mohammadu Buhari. Amaechi brought dynamics and strategy to the campaign. He was in direct control of strategy and deployment of personnel at the campaign headquarters.
Thanks to Amaechi’s magic wound and ingenious strategy, PMB won Jonathan in that election by over 2.5 million votes. Amaechi re-wrote history then, to lead an opposition party to an election and defeated the incumbent President.
He repeated his victory streak again in 2019, by leading President Buhari’s campaign organization to the election for a second time in office, defeating the PDP’s Atiku Abubakar by over 3.9 million votes.
*HIS ENDLESS ENEMIES:*
While he was Governor of Rivers State, under the PDP, Amaechi had incurred the wrath of President Goodluck Jonathan because, he was perceived to be exposing corrupt activities in his government. The major reason for his battle then was his rejection to be subdued by then wife of the President, Dame Patience Jonathan who parades herself as the highest ranking office holder and Lord of Rivers States politics; despite the fact that, she does not hold any political office, and not recognized by the constitution of the land.
Part of the other reasons he was constantly at loggerheads with Jonathan was, that the President had taken about 41 oils wells from Rivers and handed them to Abia and Bayelsa, the President’s state, and he (Amaechi) had kicked against such.
With Senator Magnus Abe, Amaechi was angry with him, because of his perceived greed, ego as well as feeling of entitlement. Magnus was consulting and setting up structures outside the recognized structure for his governorship ambition in Rivers state. Amaechi would not have that.
The case of is loggerheads with Governor Nyesom Wike, is that of loyalty turned betrayal. While Amaechi was a sitting Governor in Rivers State, Wike was his Chief of Staff, by implication, his most trusted right hand man. Wike was chairman of council in the state. He was a minister because of Amaechi’s support. But today, the governor now berates his former boss at every given opportunity he has.
Following the political antecedents of this political titan, from being a member of the Rivers State House of Assembly in 1999, and rising to become the Speaker of the state house of assembly, serving twice in that capacity, until 2007.
October 26, 2007, he became the governor of Rivers State under the People’s Democratic Party; and was reelected in 2011 for a second tenure.
Amaechi’s administration as the fifth governor of Rivers state, had been underscored by pundits one that foresaw the rise in infrastructural developments; particularly on road construction, urban renewal and modernized transportation in the state.
As the current Minister of Transportation, he is replicating his usual feat of excellence in that sector with several innovative road constructions completed and more still in the works across the federation.
For a man who is just 54years old, the years ahead holds limitless promises for Amaechi. He is indeed a material to be proud of anywhere in the world!