Rotimi Amaechi’s Crocodile Tears


By SHEDDY OZOENE

Former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, is a sharp-shooter and newsmaker any day. As far as our national political issues go, he hardly sits on the fence, so his abstinence from those public commentaries that draw attention to him, has raised a few eyebrows.

Penultimate week, however, he came out of his ‘hiding’ to headline TheNiche public lecture in Lagos and he was at his singing best. The news is not what he said at the public lecture, the reason he gave for restraining himself from commenting on political and governance-related matters, is somewhat curious. Since he crashed out of the presidential nomination contest in the All Progressives Contest, very little has come from him.

“What is there to talk about, anyway?” he asked rhetorically, when Nigerians have become so docile, numbed if you like, that they “are not bothered about anything anymore.” He is worried about many things but one was more troubling: inspite of the fact that many of our leaders do not possess the certificates they claim, “Nigerians know and still vote for them” while situations that elicit citizens’ reactions in other countries have little impact in Nigeria.

In frustration, he obeyed his publicist and kept to himself.

Surprisingly, Rotimi Amaechi spoke so passionately about the nation’s inept and insensitive leaders. He comes across as a man who now advocates for good governance and moral rectitude. Surprisingly!

Rotimi Amaechi

He is right but that is just partly. While there is really nothing new to say to rouse the average Nigerian from docility, the truth which Amaechi did not admit is that he is also out of public attention because he has been outmaneuvered, politically, on all fronts. A man who is used to being in charge of affairs will always find it awkward watching from the sidelines like he has been confined of recent.

He was two-term Speaker of the Rivers state House of Assembly; former Chairman of the conference of Speakers; two-term governor of Rivers State; former Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, Director-General of Muhammadu Buhari’s presidential campaign Council and two-term minister of Transportation. And now, for the first time in 25 years, the self-styled Lion of Ubima is chased out of his usual hunting ground.

“What is there to say, really”?

Not much, but there are things to do and think about. Amaechi can spend his quiet moments reviewing how much he has contributed, in real terms, to the rot in the politics of his Rivers State and Nigeria. He should look back and think about his place in history. Will history be kind to him or not?

By insisting that Nigeria’s greatest problem is a followership that is comfortable with the poor state of affairs, he just states the obvious. It may be convenient for him now to blame Nigerians for the acts of their leaders, but has he evaluated his role in that anomaly in recent years?

For a man who spent so much time and the resources of his state to foist one of such inept leaders on the country, will history be kind to him? For a man who is believed to consistently pursue personal glory at the expense of the people’s general wellbeing, how will he like to be remembered?

In response to his recent sermon in Lagos, I also ask: when did it begin to worry him that in spite of the inadequacies of those who present themselves for political positions, Nigerians still go ahead and make the wrong choices? When?

Amaechi is simply shedding crocodile tears. As someone said, he has not fully come out of the rude shock of losing the APC presidential ticket to Bola Tinubu. That in itself is good riddance for a man whose tenure as Minister of Transportation was, at least to his own geopolitical zone, a complete disaster. While he busied himself with developing the rail lines in other zones, and extending to the cities of neighbouring Niger Republic, it never bothered him that not one kilometer of a new rail track was laid in his zone and the entire old Eastern region.

Amaechi has not found it easy settling down since he returned to what should be his political home base. And he won’t for a long time. His one-time protégé and immediate past governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike is not just the leader of the Peoples Democratic Party in his state, he has effectively encroached into the rival APC and succeeded in sidelining Amaechi in his own party.

Amaechi didn’t need a publicist to tell him to shut up. And it may be too late in the day for him to try rewriting our recent history.

Sheddy Ozoene, Editor-in-Chief of People&Politics, is the Vice President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors


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