2023: Who Does The APC Cap Fit?

Muhammadu Buhari, Rotimi Amaechi

By Emmanuel Onwubiko

“If you want to be successful, don’t seek success – seek competence, empowerment; do nothing short of the best that you can do.”

Jaggi Vasudev

This first week of June the year of our Lord 2022 is a determinant factor which will enable Nigerians have a bird’s-eye view of the character of the most likely successor of the incumbent President,  Muhammadu Buhari just as the ruling national political party- The All Progressives Congress will today June 6th 2022 select the most competent candidate to stand for the election to become the next President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. 

The question on the lips of most political pundits is who fits the bill and who does the cap fits to become the flagbearer of the ruling party in the midst of a galaxy of aspirants jostling to be favoured by the delegates who will gather in the Nation’s capital to make this choice. Already President Muhammadu Buhari has indicated that he would prefer that his political party selects the best person who will give the leading political party- the People’s Democratic Party a run for their money going by the fact that the opposition party may have committed a political suicide by nominating a serial failure in elections Atiku Abubakar as their Presidential candidate.

A frontline choice of majority of the pundits in the All Progressives Congress is the immediate past minister of Transportation Mr Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and the general perspectives is that he fits the descriptions of the character that President Muhammadu Buhari wants and should adopt as his best suitable successor who will not only make the All Progressives Congress proud but will revolutionise the infrastructural projects of Nigeria and put Nigeria on the way to economic growth,  prosperity, and technological advancements in the shortest possible time frame. 

It is argued severally that Mr Amaechi, a former governor of Rivers State, has all the values and qualitative attributes to beat his competitors to clinch the plumb position of the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria given the array of energetic and forward looking youthful candidate that the Labour Party has produced in the person of the most performing governor that Anambra State has ever produced Mr. Peter Obi. The 2023 Presidential contest is being said to be a straight fight between individuals with some of the finest characters of charismatic leadership potentials and not really about political parties. It is argued strongly that the All Progressives Congress won’t stand any good chance at the next General election should they go for a Presidential Candidate who is not young, healthy, energetic, ideologically principled and committed to the ideals of national unity of Nigeria, inter-ethnic and inter religious harmony and sustainable development such as Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi who governed Rivers State for eight years and served at the National level as a Transportation minister for about 7 years in addition to his enormous legislative experience that he garnered even as the Speaker of the then Ricers State House of Assembly.  Amaechi has a knack for introducing developmental initiatives targeted at making the people of Nigeria the owners of the government of Nigeria,  so argues persuasively by his millions of supporters including the immediate past Army Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai. 

As he announced his intention to be elected as the most suitable  flag bearers of APC to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari,  the immediate past minister of Transportation  said thus: “I stand before you today to declare my intention and submit my application to serve as your next President.”

Mr Amaechi’s declaration ended months of speculation that he plans to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023 and it is believed that he enjoys widespread supports across the political spectrum and across the Country. He is also one of the strongest pillars that has supported the All Progressives Congress that made the party cruise to victory twice in 2015 as an opposition party and in 2019 as an incumbent.  

A look at his declaration speech will help us navigate into his mindset and then conclude if he indeed fits the cap of APC as its Presidential candidate in the 2023 Presidential election.  

Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi said thus: “I stand before you today to declare my intention and submit my application to serve as your next President.

I did not come to this decision lightly. I have served our nation for the last seven years as Minister of Transportation. For eight years before that, I served as Governor of Rivers State. In the preceding eight years before that, I was Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly. These 23 years of service have equipped me not only with great experience in governance and public service but also compassion for the ordinary citizens of our dear country.

After more than two decades in the public arena, I had wanted to go on holiday and spend more time with my family before charting a new course outside politics. But at 58, and a member of the generation born after independence who has seen the good, the bad and the ugly of Nigeria, I am compelled by the urgency of our present challenges to place my experience and proven capacity at the service of the nation at the highest level.

Those who know me can testify that I have always been a straight talker. This trait has not always made me popular, but I speak truth with conviction. So, allow me to speak the truth here today.

We are facing some very serious challenges as a country. These are problems of insecurity, challenges of greater accountability in governance, youth unemployment and the scourge of spiraling poverty.”

Presidential hopeful Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi pledged further: “The current administration under the able leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari has planted many such trees in Nigeria’s future. We have invested billions in infrastructure, human capital development and made reforms that will pay off over time in terms of socio-economic growth and stability. We have invested heavily in projects and initiatives that will secure a brighter, better future for Nigeria.

I am proud to have been part of this success story. It has been an honour overseeing the Ministry of Transportation in reviving the moribund railways, and working tirelessly to create an integrated national transportation system that will positively impact our economy, trade, employment, business, and national cohesion. Have we achieved everything we set out to do? Of-course not. Could we have done more? Undoubtedly, there is always room for improvement.

On reflection, the notion of running for President would have been far beyond the imagination of the young lad running around the streets of Diobu or our small compound in Ubima. Not to talk of the young indigent student leader, mobilizing peers at the University of Port Harcourt. But my aspiration is not about fulfilling any personal ambition. I am contesting for office because I believe that it is my moral duty to give what I can in the service of my country.

To sustain and intensify present efforts at solving our national problems, our democracy must ensure the emergence of a leadership that is equipped with broad experience in governance to ensure stability and continuity. To sustain our democracy and preserve our unity, we need a steady hand and a passion for success in a nation that remains united to pursue prosperity for all Nigerians.

It is this combination of experience and patriotic passion that I bring to the table. I have been in the political arena for 23 years. I have served at every level of government – local, state, and federal. I have served both as a political appointee and an elected official. I have served both as an executive – as Governor of Rivers State and as a legislator – as Speaker of the State House of Assembly.

In these capacities, I did not just fill vacant posts. As a Speaker, I managed the legislative process in a difficult transition from military rule. As Governor, I defeated mercantile militancy and restored security. As a minister, I can modestly claim to have justified the trust of Nigerians.

I do not come from a privileged background. I grew up poor. I understand how it feels to go without some meals in a day. I know the pain of lack and the agony of want. I know what it means to see your parents toil just to keep a roof over your family’s head. I know what it is to feel the weight of expectation when you are the only one in your family who enjoys the opportunity to attend university. Subsequently, I funded the education of my siblings to be university graduates as well. I know what it is to scrimp and save and struggle.

I believe that despite our cultural differences, we remain one people under God. We may speak different languages or worship in different ways, but we all want the same things – a better life for our children, the ability to support our families, the freedom to live in peace without fear for our lives or properties.

I have never been the type who folds his arms and complains about inadequacies I see around me. I have always jumped in with both feet to do whatever I can to help, to try and bring relief to those suffering, to work to make things right where I see wrong. If you elect me as your President, I promise to play my part to the best of my ability. Every day I will rise and go to work for you. I will never forget the fact that I am there to serve you.

Today, I stand as an aspirant to the position of President because of that same passion for people; that same drive for results. More than ever before, I am burning with the zeal to make a decisive difference in the lives of all Nigerians.

No matter the darts and arrows that come my way, I will remain steadfast because the stakes are too high. We cannot afford to fail. We cannot afford to veer off-course.

I pledge my heart, mind and soul to the task of building a Nigeria in which every child can go to school, every young person can find work or support to start a business, every citizen can travel safely around the country and sleep at night knowing that law and order prevails and every Nigerian feels included, heard, and respected.”

The road ahead will be long and arduous. But we go forward with faith, Amaechi concluded. 

Already, a group, which goes with the name Amaechi Vanguard USA/Canada, loyal to the former Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, has said the Northern regions would support Amaechi, in 2023 because he (Amaechi) supported the North to produce the presidency in 2015.

The group’s Coordinator, Daniels Chukwuma, made this statement to newsmen in Owerri, while defending the 2023 presidential ambition of Amaechi.

And as the consultations with delegates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) across the country by Presidential Aspirant and former Minister of Transportation, Rt Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi continue to attract high profile support, a former Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusuf Buratai has endorsed the former Minister, stating that his loyalty and love for Nigeria and humanity is unmatched.

Gen. Buratai who is currently, Nigeria’s Ambassador to the Republic of Benin, gave this endorsement at a parley with delegates of the APC in Bauchi, Wednesday night, when he and other dignitaries accompanied the Presidential hopeful, Chibuike Amaechi to solicit delegates’ support in Bauchi ahead of the party’s primaries.

Burutai stated that he was spurred to give his support to Amaechi due to his outstanding profile and vast experience in governance.

He said, “You can see from the introduction, the experience of our Presidential aspirant. The profile of Rt Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi is quite intimidating. He has proven to be a sound administrator, a versatile leader, a good strategist and a politician per excellence, who has shown good qualities in all areas he had worked. As Speaker, as Governor, as Minister and also first among equals during his tenure as Chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum, as well as the dexterity and the quality of the campaign (for President Buhari) that he led on two occasions. That is why I am giving him my full support.

“He did that diligently with all his determination, loyalty and of course with love for Nigeria and love for humanity irrespective of what religion you belong to. This is quite commendable, that’s why he’s here today to solicit for your votes. From what you have heard about him, I believe you know that he’s the man of the moment. He is the right choice. So, I urge you to make the right choice and vote for him,” Buratai said.

Addressing the delegates, Amaechi said he is the only aspirant in the party with impressive records that would defeat the opposition party. He urged the delegates to vote for him for the overall benefit of all Nigerians.

According to him, “This is the moment of decision. For twenty two years I have held public office, as Speaker, as Governor and as Minister. And in all of these, you will see my footprint. There’s a railway construction going on from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri. It includes Bauchi and it’s called the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri railway. If you vote for me, that project will be completed and it will create employment. So vote for me, make me the candidate of the party. I doubt that the other aspirants have the capacity to defeat me, If you vote for me I will defeat PDP.”

Earlier, at a visit to the Emir of Bauchi, HRM Dr. Rilwan Suleiman Adamu, Amaechi used the occasion to re-emphasize his commitment to deliver on infrastructure and tackle insecurity if elected.

“I have the energy, I have the capability, I have the knowledge and the strength to be the President of Nigeria. I have the experience of what the problems are and what the solutions should be and I’m seeking your support to provide solutions to those problems”. 

Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai as a statesman who has seen it all believes that Rotimi Amaechi fits the cap of the APC’s Presidential candidacy for 2023 Presidential poll and so do hundreds of thousands of his supporters from East, North, West and South do think that he is the Philosopher King. 

EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO is head of the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA and was NATIONAL COMMISSIONER of the NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION OF NIGERIA.

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