By Clifford Ndujihe, Politics Editor
BARRING unforeseen circumstances, Transportation Minister, Mr. Rotimi Chibike Amaechi will on February 5 be turbaned as Dan Amanar Daura (trusted son of Daura) by the Emir of Daura, Umar Farouk Umar.
Daura is the Katsina State hometown of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Amaechi will be given the traditional title in recognition of his contributions to the socio-economic development of the country, especially for his effort in bringing to life the rail sector that has been moribund for over three decades, according to the spokesman of the Ministry of Transportation, Eric Ojiekwe.
Indeed, no emirate in the North or town in Nigeria has reaped as bountifully from the table of the Transportation Minister as Daura. Against criticisms, Amaechi ensured that a Transportation university is sited in Daura. He also ensured that the US$1.959 billion Kano-Maradi Standard Gauge Railway line passed through Daura. Construction of both projects is ongoing.
Coming at a time hordes of politicians are angling to be at a vantage position to succeed President Buhari, the Daura title for Amaechi is sending many signals in the polity. It is also raising some questions with regard to the 2023 power tussle.
Could Amaechi have been considered for the title without the approval of President Buhari, an influential son and elder of Daura? President Buhari’s son, Yusuf, is the District Head of Kwasarawa under Daura Emirate and was recently turbaned the Talban Daura.
Is a message being passed with the title? Is Amaechi the one President Buhari said is his favourite successor in 2023?
In a Channels’ Television interview on January 6, the president said he had a favourite successor but would not disclose the person’s identity for safety reasons.
Asked whether or not he has any favourite presidential aspirant in the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Buhari answered in the affirmative. Pressed to disclose the person, he said: “No. I wouldn’t because the person could be eliminated if I mention it. I better keep it a secret.”
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Many presidential aspirants on the banner of the APC, including Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi, have visited Aso Villa to inform the president of their 2023 presidential ambition.
There are also a host of others, who are yet to make their intentions public. Mr Rotimi Amaechi, a two-time Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, two-time governor of Rivers State and former chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, is one of those considered to be eyeing Buhari’s seat in 2023.
Buhari’s trusted minister
Amaechi is one of the most loyal and trusted ministers of President Buhari. He reportedly played crucial roles in Buhari’s emergence as APC presidential candidate in 2015 in terms of mobilisation support and funds. He was the Director General of President Muhammadu Buhari’s presidential campaign in 2015 and 2019.
Although he is yet to declare his intention, Amaechi is considered to have a very good chance of picking the APC presidential ticket and going ahead to win the 2023 poll, if he gets the backing of the President.
Already, foot soldiers are on the prowl working on the Amaechi 2023 Project. In their estimation, Amaechi’s presidency will address many issues surrounding agitation for the presidency. He is a Christian, an Igbo, and hails from Rivers State in Southern Nigeria. In essence, his supporters said with Amaechi as president the question of power-shift to the South, a president of Igbo extraction, and a Christian succeeding a Muslim president would be answered.
The Dan Amanar Daura title is expected to further deepen Amaechi’s affiliation to the North and boost his marketability for the presidency as a detribalised Nigerian.
How Amaechi became a trusted son of Daura
Amaechi mounted a stiff defence for the Kano-Maradi (Niger Republic) rail line. The $1.959bn, 248 kilometre Kano-Maradi railway project will start from Kano, pass through Dambatta, Kazaure, Daura, Mashi, Katsina, Jibia and terminate in Maradi.
In a marathon interviews on some TV stations in October 2020, Amaechi said the Kano-Maradi rail line will afford the country the opportunity to compete in the area of transporting cargoes, goods, and services to and from landlocked neighbouring countries like Niger via the seaports in Lagos, adding that it’s all about economics, not politics.
“Last week, we awarded the contract for Kano to Maradi and people were screaming, why are we taking it to Niger Republic? It’s important to take it to Niger because of economic reasons. Most coastal territories in Africa are competing better than us in terms of cargoes coming from the hinterland in the landlocked countries.
“We decided to join the market and compete so that we can make our seaports very viable. We decided to introduce the Kano-Maradi rail so that we can convey their goods from Maradi (a boundary village) to our ports with ease. I don’t know why people are screaming about it. It’s about economics, not politics.
On December 2, 2019, Amaechi, at the groundbreaking of the Transportation University, Daura, Katsina State, disclosed how he forced the Chinese construction firm, CCECC, to construct the university.
“I engaged the companies. The first engagement was when they were constructing Lagos-Ibadan. They were not so keen at spending their funds to build a university for Nigeria, until I refused to sign the contract for the Lagos to Ibadan railway,” the minister said.
Amaechi said he only agreed to sign the Lagos to Ibadan railway contract if CCECC met three conditions. “The first thing is to take our children to China and train them by giving them a first degree in railway technology. The second is that, if we must sign the purchase of locomotives in China, they must build a factory where we can construct coaches, locomotives and wagons and today at Kajola that factory is being constructed. Finally, I insisted on the University of Transportation.”
Amaechi said he had no regret for his actions including siting the university in President Buhari’s hometown, saying: “When we sited the factory at Kajola, there was no noise, nobody debated about it; nobody abused us for it unlike the site for the university.”