Going by all ramifications and sound reasoning, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi will be rightfully adjudged to have assumed an indispensable status in the present political configuration, by sheer hard-work and willful audacity.
A two-term Speaker of Rivers State House of Assembly; chairman, Nigerian Conference of Speakers of State Assemblies; two-term governor of Rivers State; former chairman, Nigerian Governors Forum, Amechi is virtually prided and adored for his doggedness, sagacity, and audacity. He definitely means and represents many things to different people.
Amaechi’s early sojourn to limelight began with his appointment as secretary of the defunct National Republican Convention in Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State. Between 1992 and 1994, Amaechi had become special assistant to the deputy-governor of Rivers State, Dr Peter Odili, a member of the Board of West Africa Glass Industry and Risonpalm Nigeria Limited.
Upon identifying his great potentials in politics and public administration, Odili adopted him as a political son, guided and nurtured him in politics and later facilitated his election into the Rivers State House of Assembly in 1999. He was subsequently elected Speaker of the House of Assembly and chairman of Nigerian Conference of Speakers of State Assemblies. He was re-elected into the State House of Assembly in May 2003, as well as re-elected Speaker of the State House of Assembly.
Amaechi contested and won the People’s Democratic Party primary for Rivers State governor in 2007. His name was substituted by the party, an action he challenged in court. The case eventually got to the Supreme Court. He became governor on October 26, 2007, after the Supreme Court ruled that he was rightful candidate of the PDP and winner of the April 2007 governorship election in Rivers State. He was re-elected for a second term of four years in April 2011.
Amaechi’s administration invested massively on infrastructural development, construction of roads and bridges, sticking to the vision of connecting all parts of the state by road. He was also committed to urban renewal and modernisation of transportation services. Amaechi’s government by sheer foresight, began the construction of a monorail to provide mass transportation within the city of Port Harcourt. While exiting his constitutional second term as governor of Rivers State, Amaechi was merely in a quagmire as his hitherto good relationship with Dr Goodluck Jonathan, immediate past president and Commander-in-Chief, soured, nosedived and eventually crashed. Jonathan and his henchmen toppled and dismantled his political structure in his former party, the Peoples Democratic Party. This jolted Amaechi into reworking his political roadmap.
Amaechi had embraced then presidential candidate, Gen Muhammadu Buhari, as he strategically resurrected and overhauled his seemingly dwindled and nearly dropped presidential ambition. He encouraged and psychologically re-inspired Buhari’s spirit and morale towards re-contesting the presidency for a record four times and frontally against his kinsman, Jonathan, who was also seeking re-election. Upon his appointment as the director-general of Buhari’s Campaign Organisation, Amaechi was further confronted with a survival battle. His future hovered between victory and defeat vis-a-vis the gains and consequences associated with both. Apparently propelled by an audacious spirit driven by high propensity for success, Amaechi fearlessly weathered the storm and as he made history by serving Buhari with the first-ever democratic victory in his lifetime.
As a way of compensating his doggedness and unquantifiable contributions towards President Buhari’s victory, many bookmakers predicted and closely expected the president to appoint Amaechi either Secretary to Government of the Federation or his Chief of Staff. That wasn’t the situation, hence President Buhari had a better plan and arrangement for his campaign chief. Thereafter, Amaechi was appointed Minister of Transport and charged with the enormous responsibility of revamping Nigerian transport system, as well as redesigning the administrative apparatus for its functionality. As a patriot, he accepted that challenging responsibility hence he refocused his disposition towards offering a quality service to Nigerians. His scorecard as Minister of Transport vis-a-vis critical reforms spearheaded upon his appointment undoubtedly speak volumes of an achiever ostensibly disposed to the service of his people even amid daunting challenges.
But Amaechi’s re-engagement as Buhari’s campaign director-general has again posed fresh challenges. Is Amaechi disposed politically and mentally to deliver again? Is President Buhari’s electoral value still intact and appreciable to enhance Amaechi’s success in 2019? Is President Buhari favoured by critical variables and political dynamics that tend to change the 2019 turf? What strategies will Amaechi deploy to deliver victory for Buhari again?
An aggregation of opinions still rate Amaechi high on strategy formulation and political permutation. While many entertain fears over Buhari’s 2019 chances, Amaechi, as reliably gathered, has already designed a roadmap with right strategies mapped out for the reelection of President Buhari. Among his many strategies is a reconciliation which he identifies as a potent and veritable tool for electoral victory. Conceding that President Buhari has within the last three years ruffled some feathers, unimaginably stepped on toes, marginalised and obviously failed to galvanise and politically protect diverse interests of some of his allies and ethnicity, Amaechi, upon underscoring that political calculations tend to suffer a setback amid grievances, bickering and internal wrangling, is genuinely championing a true reconciliation. Among other clear-cut strategies, Amaechi is taking critical steps to reconcile aggrieved stakeholders who rebelliously are regrouping to retire President Buhari back to Daura in 2019. Amaechi is strategically closing ranks with notable Igbo leaders within and outside the All Progressives Congress (APC) to ensure that the president wins in the zone, against all odds. He is already making an inroad by selling the 2023 dummy to Ndigbo and, thus, conditioning its realisation to a support for President Buhari in 2019.
Also collaborating with Amaechi, an Igbo and Pro-Buhari Re-election group, known as One Destiny Organisation (ODO), believes that a massive and resounding support for President Buhari will morally but politically justify the 2023 Igbo presidency under the platform of APC. The group, through its national coordinator, Ohiri O Lewis, had declared:
“It has become obvious that Ndigbo did not take the right decision in the last general elections when it comes to the presidential election. That, among other things, has set the zone backwards in the present Nigerian political arrangements. To regain our position, the Igbo must be properly positioned and physically seen to be supporting the re-election of President Buhari in 2019.
“It behooves on Igbo leaders to bring our people together from wherever they are for them to throw their support for the re-election of president Buhari. We must genuinely redouble our efforts towards sensitising and mobilising our people to ensure that President Buhari wins in South-east in 2019.”
It is generally expected that Amaechi will swing into full action immediately APC concludes its national convention. His action plan, as clearly mapped out, and should they be carefully executed, shall potently turn things around and eventually shock those that are predicting President Buhari’s defeat in 2019.
•Uzoukwa, a seasoned journalist and PR practitioner, is currently pursuing his Doctorate Degree on Mass Communication in Imo State University (IMSU), Owerri.