By Edet Okpo
Maybe I should begin this piece by postulating that if a name really has anything to do with the person who bears it, the Honourable Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi CON, is a paragon of the most positive.
When translated into English, his first and last names mean, “God is strength and power” and “Who knows tomorrow”. Incidentally, the providential utility of these names have clearly manifested in the life and exploits of this great Ikwerre son and Nigerian icon. “Therefore, when on October, 25, 2017, friends, supporters, loyalists, admirers, family members and the generality of fans trouped to the streets of Port Harcourt in their numbers and colours to commemorate the 10th Anniversary of the Supreme Court landmark judgment that restored the stolen mandate of His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, as Governor of Rivers State, the essence of the day was beyond that celebration.
Fond memories and indelible marks
It captured the personality behind it and the history that trailed the persona. “Recalled that on October 25, 2007, the Supreme Court of Nigeria had ruled that Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, immediate past Speaker of Rivers State House of Assembly, was the rightful candidate of the PDP and therefore winner of the April, 2007 Rivers State Gubernatorial election; although his name was illegally substituted by some power brokers in favour of Celestine Omehia. Mr. Rotimi Amaechi then became the Governor of Rivers State on October 26, 2007 – one historic day in his political life and triumph of justice in Democracy.
“That the people have chosen to keep the day in perpetuity, always mopping up resources within themselves to observe it, neither on the express request or contrivance of their former Governor, clearly attests to the fond memories and indelible marks their superhero leader must have left on the physical canvas of Rivers State and on appreciative minds of the populace, further reminding us of historian H.G Wells’ pontification that, “A man’s greatness is measured by what he leaves to grow, and whether he started others to think along fresh lines with vigor that persisted after him”.“Born on 27 May, 1965 in Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State,Rotimi Amaechi’s public leadership role and emancipatory politics may have begun in his undergraduate days at the University of Port Harcourt, where he served as President, National Union of Rivers State Students (NURSS).
He then would progressively rise to serve as Secretary to two political parties at different times, the NRC in Ikwerre Local Government and that of Democratic Party of Nigeria. Having been so honed, he rose with rapidity to become Special Assistant to Governor Peter Odili, a platform of experience upon which he sprang meteorically to become Member and Speaker of Rivers State House of Assembly, and later, the State’s two-term Governor from 2007-2015. “Chibuike Amaechi is till today a household name in Rivers State for his unprecedented achievements in urban renewal and upgrade of rural communities to metropolitan status through infrastructure development, modernization of transport services, remodelled education standard, generation of employment, capacity-building and inspiration for self-reliance, etc. “Gov. Amaechi’s tenure was distinguished as the era of road dualization in Rivers State. Available record shows that as governor, he constructed more number of roads than any administration before and after him, amounting to 900km, prima facie.
Score card of roads constructed
That may mean that successive administrations shall have but little to do in that connection. Prominent amongst these include construction of Eleme Flyover; dualization of Airport-Isiokpo-Omerechi Road; dualization of Ada George phases 1&2; dualization of Rumuola-Rumuokuta Road; dualization of First Bank-Rumuomasi Road; dualization of Slaughter-Trans Amadi- Rumuobiakini Road; shore protection and land reclamation. He holds the record of being the first governor of the State to have initiated a mono-rail to ease traffic in the metropolis and also launched a campaign for remodelling of antiquated primary and secondary schools in the state to meet modern taste and conveniences.
“Hon. Rotimi Amaechi’s meritorious appointment by President Muhammadu Buhari as the Honourable Minister of Transportation on November 11, 2015 could therefore not have only been for reason of politics, but on account of his towering and unblemished service record as former Speaker and Governor of Rivers State. Also, having demonstrated extraordinary commitment and capacity in 2015 as Director-General of the Buhari/Osibanjo Campaign Organization that would triumphantly herald President Buhari’s election, the President saw in him excellence, loyalty, patriotism, innovation and zeal to add value to the emerging leadership.“And, in fairness to evidence, he has done just that.
As a master strategist, Chibuike Amaechi stepped into office as Transportation Minister with peculiarities and innovative model he anchored on the 2015 National Master Plan for the sector, driven by Rehabilitation, Restoration and Procurement, aimed at achieving sustainability through robust engagement with government and stakeholders on the development of the transport sector. “Like a soothing but curative balm to an old wound, the Honourable Minister has assiduously applied this model in the transformation of the nation’s dynamic transport sector, which comprises Nigeria Ports Authority, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Nigerian Airport Authority, Nigeria Railway Corporation, Nigeria Shippers Council, National Inland Waterways Authority, Nigeria Institute of Transport Technology, Council for Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria, and with subsisting tertiary institutions like the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron, Akwa Ibom State, University of Maritime Studies, Okerenkoko, Delta State, etc. “In all of these, Chibuike Amaechi firmly stamped its footprint in the way he has set new records.
The summary is that there has been incremental growth in the composite segments of the sector. According to the Central Bank of Nigeria 2018 Data, GDP from the sector hit an all-time high of 253325.52 in the fourth quarter of 2017, at a growth rate of about 3 per cent, when compared to previous years. “By extrapolation, work has either commenced on some rail projects or abandoned rail networks resuscitated in certain parts of the country, with the Nigerian Railway Corporation having procured 2 locomotives and 10 coaches for the Abuja-Kaduna Railway and 17 for Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri route.
Massive reforms in NIMASA
There have also been massive reforms in NIMASA and sister agencies, one of which has to do with prompt response to obligations to affiliate institutions under their purview. The Minister has also set up a Monthly Steering Committee charged with the responsibility to assess performance and ensure compliance with schedules of work and targets in the Ministry.
As a man of practical proofs, the honourable Minister not too long ago personally embarked on a two-hour ride aboard a train form Lagos to Papalanto community in Ogun State.“It is to the credit of the Honourable Minister that it is during his regime at the Transportation Ministry that the Maritime University of Nigeria, Okerenkoko, Delta State has been established. It is also to the excellent record of the Minister that, he is the one who has turned things around at the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron, Akwa Ibom State, after many years of rot. His formation of a Ministerial Committee, constitution of an Interim Management Committee, composition of a Governing Council, and ultimate appointment of a seasoned naval professional, Commodore Duja Emmanuel Effedua as substantive Rector of the Academy – all were stop-gap and silver bullet mechanisms for the repositioning and restructuring of the 41 year-old premier maritime training institution. On November 2, 2018, the Academy held its 2018 Passing-Out-Parade, after six silent years. The graduation ceremony showcased excellence, restoration of the lost glorious days, the effectiveness and achievements of the Commodore Effedua-led administration.
Magic solution and therapy
“For providing the magic solution and therapy to the contagious epidemic that once inflicted the Academy, Commodore Effedua has clearly proven to be a fixer of loose bolts who believes in action than words. He thus has vindicated the discretion of the Presidency through the Hon. Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amechi to superintend over the Academy against all manner of sponsored media attacks and inconsequential protests.“The showers of positive commendation poured by Stakeholders on the Rector of the academy for his overall superlative performance vindicated the Minister’s discretion on his appointment. “With Commodore Emmanuel Effedua’s unwavering commitment to repositioning the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, in line with global best demands through the support of the Honourable Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Ameachi, it is hoped that Nigeria will reclaim her category C position in the International Maritime Organization (IMO) white list.“
•Edet Okpo is an Uyo-based Journalist, Maritime Commentator and Public Affairs Analyst.