By Chijioke Nwachukwu
Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of Transportation, was turbaned as the Dan Amanar Daura, yesterday, at the palace of Daura by Alhaji Faruk Umar Faruk, the 60th Emir of Daura.
The turbaning ceremony was earlier scheduled to hold on Saturday, February 27.
The event is significant in many respects. First, it is in recognition of the contributions of Amaechi to the socioeconomic development of Nigeria and, in particular, the emirate of Daura in his capacity as Minister of Transport. The establishment of the University of Transport in the ancient city by Amaechi was a strategic step in itself.
Daura has not got its fair share of federal presence when compared to similar cities in the North.
The choice of Daura for the first specialised university for transport in Nigeria and indeed Africa is a good turn that surely deserves another.
China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), the contractor in charge of the project, has already begun construction works on the 413 hectares of land in the city, near the Niger border.
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The construction giant has also pledged to bear the $50million cost of the project as part of its corporate social responsibility. It is expectedly delighting for the people of Daura that the work scheduled to be completed within 18 months would also be commissioned by this administration in record time.
Apart from the job opportunities it offers the people of Daura and environs and indeed the nation at large, the university is expected to produce managers and technicians for Nigeria’s rapidly growing rail and road networks.
Without doubt, Katsina and indeed the northwest, is reckoned as a catchment area in such venture. The conferment of the title on the Minister could therefore be seen as a gesture of appreciation.
But then, observers may argue, and rightly so, that the conferment of the ‘Dan Amanar of Daura’ title on Amaechi, a Nigerian of South-South origin at a time like this goes beyond a mere gesture of a returned gratitude. It borders on the knotty issue of Buhari successor in 2023.
Remarkably, political gladiators have since been forming alliances in their quest to position themselves for the plum job of Nigeria’s President. Notably, All Progressives Congress (APC) stalwarts like Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Amaechi are believed to be eyeing the job.
Indeed, Tinubu has made his intention known. There are also former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State and former Senate President Anyim Pius Anyim, all of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who have shown interest.
But the turbaning of Amaechi as Dan Amanar Daura has raised a critical issue of trust in leadership. For some watchers of political events, it is an audacious statement on where the sons and daughters of Daura, including President Muhammadu Buhari stand on the 2023 presidential election.
In his recent interview on Channels TV, Buhari had been pointedly asked to give an insight into his successor. One of the interviewers sought to know the President’s preferred candidate for the 2023 presidential election. The question clearly caught the President off guard.
The event of February 5 in Daura may have inadvertently revealed what Buhari was trying to conceal when he said: “I don’t have any favourite for 2023 and if I do, I won’t reveal his identity because if I do, he may be eliminated before the election. I better keep it secret”. The title Dan Amanan Daura gives a clue.
With the coronation of Amaechi, only a few would now be left in doubt as to where the President stands on the matter of his successor.
The turbaning is an endorsement – a loud and eloquent statement on where the current ruling northern establishment stands as far as the 2023 presidential election is concerned. Like in all democracies, it is logical to assume that there are dissenting voices based on individual, group or class interest.
The North, with its huge and diverse population, has divergent positions which are expected in a multi-party democracy, but, as often demonstrated, the interest of the ruling northern elites always finds convergence on how and who could best protect the interest of the North based on trust.
Recent developments within the APC vis-a-vis the revised amendment on the Electoral Act, among other political moves, suggest that Buhari holds the yam and the knife on matters relating to the party’s presidential candidate for 2023. His choice is likely to weigh heavily on the side of trust.
•Nwachukwu lives in Owerri, Imo State