If and when an epithet will be written for Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, Governor of Rivers State (2007-2015), Minister of Transportation, (2015-2019), it will be: “Here is a man who sold his fatherland for a mess of portage”.
By all standards, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi is supposed to be an Igbo man of the South South geographical zone, since his first and last names, “Chibuike” and “Amaechi” (God is my strength) and (Who knows tomorrow) respectively, are clearly Igbo names. Similarly, Chibuike Amaechi hails from Ubima, an Igbo town, which is in Ikwerre area of present Rivers State.
It appears however that Amaechi feels more at home with the dictates of his middle name “Rotimi”, a foreign name, and bows to it in his political activities.
As Governor of Rivers State, Amaechi also doubled as Chairman of Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF). He however used that position to consistently attack the government of former President Goodluck Jonathan, a fellow South South man, and to frustrate every effort of his administration.
Towards the end of the first tenure of Jonathan administration, Amaechi led some Governors and other party bigwigs from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), to decamp to the newly formed All Progressives Congress (APC), aimed mainly at frustrating Jonathan’s second term bid. He was subsequently made Director General of Buhari Campaign Organization, whose main goal was to unseat Jonathan.
After he had helped to pull down Jonathan from his reelection bid, Amaechi was rewarded with the position of Minister of Transportation. His portfolio was however limited to rail and marine transportations, since both the road and air transportations were taken away from him.
That notwithstanding, Amaechi was very much comfortable with the role assigned to him. He then went to China and negotiated loans for the modernization of the Nigerian Railway. But that was only for rail lines in the Western and the Northern parts of the country since he completely ignored or excluded the South South and the South East geopolitical zones, his own area, from the new railway scheme.
In addition, Chibuike Amaechi did not consider it necessary to work for the development of Port Harcourt seaport, which should have been of tremendous benefit to people in the eastern part of the country. He was only concerned with developing the Lagos seaport.
During the last general elections, Chibuike Amaechi remembered that he came from Rivers State. But he did not have anything to show to the people as to why they should vote for him or any of his candidates.
Consequently, he decided to go to nearby Army Barracks and mobilized soldiers there and instructed them to open fire on anybody who failed to vote for his candidates. He thereby turned Rivers State to a warfront during that election and got scores of people felled by the bullets. At the end of the day, the Rivers people still rejected him and refused to vote for his candidates.
Now, Chibuike Amaechi has asked the Igbo not to aspire to contest for Presidency in 2023, insisting that they did not merit to be President. He hinged his reason to the fact that the Igbo did not vote for Buhari in 2019 election.
According to Amaechi, “for refusing to support APC they (the Igbo) cannot come to the table to demand the Presidency slot”. That was the gospel, according to the “Lion of Ubima”, even though Wike has now reduced him to the “Lizard of Ubima”.
Even if on the basis that the Igbo did not vote for APC in 2019, and therefore they should not aspire to be President in 2023, would it be Chibuike Amaechi, an Igbo man, who would be arguing it, instead of defending his people, that all the other zones, except the South East, have been President?
But Chibuike Amaechi is not God. He is a mere mortal. The Igbo Presidency will come when it is the will of God (if that was the priority of the Igbo), and one million Chibuike Amaechi cannot stop it.
The literary meaning of “Amaechi” is, “who knows tomorrow?” In other words, who knows what the Igbo will be tomorrow? Only God knows it. Chibuike Amaechi does not know it.
Meanwhile, those who have been President, what were they able to do for their people? Do their people enjoy better quality life than the Igbo who have not produced any President? Katsina State, for example, has produced two Presidents, Yar’Adua and Buhari, but the people of Katsina State are still very backward, while the state counts among the poorest states in the country.