One powerful Igbo proverb reminds us that those who are born on top of the anthill take a short time to grow tall. There is no doubt that Hon. Rotimi Amaechi was born on top of something bigger than an anthill. His political career is a testimony that he who God don bless, no man can curse.
Rotimi Amaechi became the governor of Rivers state on October 26, 2007, after the Supreme Court ruled that he was the rightful candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party and, thus, winner of the April 2007 Governorship election in the state. This was after his name was substituted by the PDP after their state primaries. It was, thus, Rotimi Amaechi that set the precedent that has deterred political parties from indiscriminately substituting the names of candidates that won primary elections.
Also, like an Igbo warrior, Rotimi Amaechi survived the onslaught of presidential intimidation and harassment from Patience Jonathan and then minister Nyesom Wike. It was Hon. Rotimi Amaechi that eventually led the charge in mobilizing the members of the PDP that defected to the APC. That political move led to the collapse of the PDP and their defeat at the 2015 Presidential election.
It was not, thus, surprising that the apostles of Goodluck Jonathan have been waiting for his political demise. They have been speculating and predicting that Buhari has used him and will eventually dump him in the run-up to the 2019 Presidential election. Against all odds, Rotimi Amaechi has remained relevant, very relevant, politically in the administration of President Buhari. He is currently spearheading a revolution in the expansion of a network of rail lines across Nigeria.
There was, however, some backlash when be claimed that he refused to sign the contract for the Lagos-Ibadan railway until the Chinese construction firm, CCECC agreed to meet three conditions one of which was the establishment of the University of Transportation in Buhari’s hometown, Daura.
Many Nigerians from the south wondered why Amaechi did not attract the university and rail infrastructure to the South-south or Southeast region. The Igbos in the Southeast, particularly feel let out in the rolling out of rail lines across Nigeria. It is very disappointing that Igbo land with the highest number of entrepreneurs and travelers in Nigeria is completely neglected in these rail projects.
This is a legitimate expression of reservation and concern. But, it is not, completely, the cook’s fault when the cassava turns out to be hard and tasteless. Clearly, it is not Amaechi’s fault that none of the rail lines that this administration is completing (with borrowed billions of dollars) did not pass through any major city in Igbo land.
It is, also, misleading to look at the completion of the many rail projects across Nigeria and blame President Buhari for excluding the Igbo cities. The truth is that just like the Daura-Jibia, Kano-Lagos rail lines, the Abuja-Kaduna is not a new initiative. It was in the plan approved by the PDP under Jonathan, which Buhari is now implementing.
The Igbo political elites that have been with PDP through Presidents Obasanjo, Yar’Adua and Jonathan must, thus, explain to Ndigbo what happened under their watch and partnership in those administrations. Were they sleeping or only interested in their pockets when the rail maps were being designed and approved?
That said, whatever happened in the past should remain in the past. Rotimi Amaechi now has a golden opportunity to make himself an Igbo hero by attracting and completing major rail lines across the heartland of Igbo land. It is not too much to ask for.
He who loves the vase loves also what is inside. Rotimi Amaechi prides himself as an Igbo son. It is time for him to start showing signs of love for his people by attracting projects to the Igbo States. The good mother knows what her children will eat. Rotimi Amaechi knows what the people of the old eastern states need. We need infrastructure to maximize our entrepreneurship.
To be specific, the Igbos need rail lines linking the heartland of the southeastern region to Lagos (west) and Abuja/Kano (north). Also, there is a need for the design and construction of a ring of rail lines that will link the major commercial cities in the southeast, Onitsha-Enugu-Umuahia-Aba-Owerri and back to Onitsha.
Rotimi Amaechi must attend to the business with the vendor in the market, and not to the noise of the market. He should disregard the noise and distraction from people that are calling for his downfall and attend to the business of attracting these much-needed infrastructures to Igbo states.
Finally, the eye is used to tell whether the corn is ripe. Rotimi Amaechi is ripe. As the saying goes, a boy sent by his father to steal does not go stealthily but breaks the door with his feet. Ndigbo are sending Amaechi to balance the equation in the rollout of rail infrastructure in Nigeria. That equation can only be balanced when the people of the southeast are included.
The elephant does not limp when walking on thorns. Rotimi Amaechi is not only an elephant, but he is also an elephant that has the listening ear of Mr. President. The Igbos, are thus not expecting him to be limping while pushing to attract the rail lines to the heart of Igbo states. That’s how he can make himself an Igbo hero.
On Twitter @Churchillnnobi