The Rotimi Amaechi Factor, the APC and 2023 Presidential Race by Dahiru Maishanu
Little by little, the haze on the political landscape is clearing and thawing. The race for the apex and most coveted political office in Nigeria, the largest democracy in Africa, is gathering momentum. With regards to the primary contest within the fold of the All Progressives Congress, APC, the emerging picture of what to expect has now gone beyond the domain of speculation.
It is by now, crystal clear that the APC, as the ruling party, is leaving nothing to chance in its efforts to secure another round of four years in the aftermath of the 2023 polls. This much is evident in the frenzy and horse trading that preceded its just concluded national convention at the end of which, Senator Abdullahi Adamu emerged victorious from the lot of heavy weights that had jostled for the post of National Chairman.
The decision of the APC strategists to settle for the two-term governor of Nasarawa state is telling. Politically an old war horse, Abdullahi Adamu at seventy-five, however, remains a sturdy political warrior with the muscles and pedigrees required by the party to wade through the turbulent waters that lay ahead. Known for his focus and single-minded commitment in the political arena, not a few in the opposition camps and, even within the APC would have been rattled with the coming of a man reputed to suffer no fools in political duels.
From the array of the aspirants angling to fly its presidential flag in 2023, another obvious indication on the direction the APC is headed is that the party has settled the question of zoning its ticket in favour of the south of the country. It is conclusive therefore, that the ultimate winner and candidate of the party will be one from among those that have declared their intentions from any of the zones in that region. Beyond the geopolitical zone from where the flag bearer comes from, the APC also looks ardently focused on the choice of a wining horse in the historic contest. The overriding interest in success at the polls surpasses all other considerations.
The party will try to put its right foot forward by not just trying to fulfill all righteousness by sticking to the unwritten but solemn article of faith on “power shift”. After all, in the presidential election, the battle field will be the entire country and that implies that whoever the candidate is, must be one with a national aura, reach and acceptance. That is, in other words, the game plan must be fashion-aimed at killing two birds with one stone.
Another emerging discernible picture on the APC canvas, is the spectacle of pretenders, those in the garbs of grandeur that do not reflect who they truly are. There are the jesters and the gamblers who are, perhaps, simply prancing the space for the kick and fun of it, in the hope that the pendulum could mystically swing their way. There are also the smart mercantilists, the carpetbaggers, cleverly jostling for recognition and relevance with the aim of being reckoned with at the end of the day in the sharing of the spoils of victory.
Going into the serious business of the upcoming contest however, are a sprinkling number of top quality materials from the horde on the APC platform currently aspiring to take over from President Muhammadu Buhari. The task before the party leadership and general members is not, of course, made easier by this fact. The options may be few but a lot of dexterity and painstaking calculations must be deployed in ensuring that it is the finest of the best that is thrown up on the long run. This demands that sentiments, deafening propaganda, intimidation and blackmail by aspirants, groups or enclaves of vested interests are not allowed to blur or distract attention on the ball.
Placed on the template of the exigencies of the nation and the APC’s desire for victory, Mr Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, the present Minister of Transportation has been adjudged by political pundits, within and outside the APC circle, as one of the party’s surest pick of the basket.
Beside meeting the criterion of an outstanding member of the party from the south of the country where the party’s presidential flag has been conclusively zoned, he as well, fits the clamour of a cross-section of citizens, including notable Elder Statesmen, for a generational shift in the political leadership of the country. At fifty-six years, he stands as a fitting bridge between the old and younger generation of the nation’s crop of front line political actors.
The APC, like any other political party that is seriously hoping to take over the reins of power at the centre in 2023, its standard-bearer in the coming race must be one with an awe-inspiring background as an astute politician and an achiever in public service. His political dexterity is needed as an essential arsenal in the political rigmarole and intrigues that is inevitable in the presidential contest of the magnitude ahead. An impressive record showcasing his capacity in his previous positions in public service are germane in wooing the majority of the electorate who have become despondent, skeptical and weary of flowery rhetorics not backed by concrete and empirical evidence of those asking for their mandate.
Crucially, Nigerians will want to interrogate the panacea and concomitant capacity of the nation’s next President in tackling the pervading behemoth of insecurity in the land. For a people so polarized along the divisive lines of religion, region and ethnicity among other primordial fault lines, citizens are most disposed to the candidate known for his honest and remarkable tracks as a pan Nigerian because so much is expected of him on the task of healing and fence mending.
That is just as the past achievements of a prospective national leader next time around, must illustrate convincing records to show his capacities in fixing the nation’s cascading economy, the resultant monster of poverty, spiraling youth unemployment, tardiness in the educational system, crises in the power and energy sectors among the other perennial maladies confronting the country.
A two term Speaker of the River State House of Assembly, an eight year stint as Governor of the same state followed by his present position as the Minister of Transportation, from 1999 to date, Chief Rotimi Amaechi is, literally, a colossus in competition with Lilliputians in the contest for the APC presidential ticket and, against the others so far lining up in the opposition camps for the decisive ultimate race. There is no gainsaying the fact that, his experience garnered as a Spartan soldier that successfully led the battle of the election of President Buhari in 2015 and in 2019, will come handy when, this time, it is his own battle.
Going for Rotimi Amaechi as well, is that, he has a trail of phenomenal milestones and enduring legacies in his sojourn so far in the public and political spheres. While he was superintendent as Chief Executive of Rivers state, not even his most acerbic critics can sincerely deny the fact that he initiated and put in place a galaxy of transformational projects that progressively impacted on the social, economic and infrastructural facets of the state. What indeed has been going on in the state since he exited office can be summed as building on the foundation and roadmap laid by the regime of Amaechi between 2007 and 2015.
The APC and eventually, the rest of Nigerians will reckon and appreciate the go-getter from Diobu by elevating him to higher pedestals on the nation’s political ladder to unfold further the bounties from his incisive intelligence, uncommon vision, courage and single-minded pursuit of set goals.
For example, the long overdue railway revolution kick started by Amaechi, is one programme that is direly needed to launch the country on the path of national integration, social and economic advancement and which, must be sacrificed on the altar of individual ego, clannish or ephemeral political expediencies.
Pertinently, the man who will best guarantee that the APC gets the gold laurel in 2023, is certainly the one who has built bridges of friendship and goodwill in all parts of the country. A thoroughly cosmopolitan and detribalized personae, the onetime Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum has, over time, woven a meshwork of friends and goodwill from which he draws from in all nooks and crannies of the nation as a presidential candidate.
On a final note, though an Ikwerre from the Niger Delta region, Amaechi is, ethnically, an Ndi Igbo whose candidacy has embraced and welcome by the Ohaneize Ndi Igbo as meeting the craving for a Nigerian President of Ndi Igbo extraction in the aftermath of the next general elections. And what about his status of being the Dan Amana of Daura, which translates to mean, “the confidant and trusted One of the Daura Emirate”, the historical cradle of the Hausa people? What a dizzying mix, an amazing and scintillating political potpourri. Few can compare with a man of wide reach in a nationwide electoral contest.
Written by Dahiru Maishanu, a political analyst and commentator can be reached via Moyijoh62@yahoo.com