Tunde Opalana, Abuja
Rotimi Amaechi is one person who has not been politically found wanting in the last twenty years of Nigeria’s fourth Republic.. Since 1999, he has served as Speaker of Rivers State House of Assembly for eight years, as an elected governor of the oil rich state for another eight years and the remaining four years as a cabinet minister in President Muhammadu Buhari’s first tenure in office.
In government or out of government, his imprint has been in every dispensation in the state. Irrespective of whichever party in power, Amaechi has been in the scheme of things.
As a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Amaechi served as Speaker of the state Assembly from 1999 to 2007 and he was elected on the platform of same party as the fifth governor of Rivers State from 2007 to 2015.
He defected to the All Progressives Congress on 27 November 2013, and became a staunch member of the APC in the Niger Delta region.
Amaechi is reputable to be one of the strongest supporters and financier of the Muhammadu Buhari campaign Organisation of which he was appointed the Director General.
He committed his youthful energy and political sagacity to the nationwide campaign for Buhari and the party cruised to victory and ended the 16 years continuous rule of the PDP.
Among his peers in the G-7 defection group from PDP to APC, Amaechi was so powerful to break into the inner caucus of President Buhari’s government. He was rewarded with an appointment as Minister of Transportation.
As a minister, he drove the vision of the APC administration in the transport sector, most especially the ongoing rail road network projects across the country.
Amaechi proved bookmakers wrong when in late 2018, he was saddled again with the task of leading the APC presidential election campaign as the Director General.
The party won again and President Buhari was re-elected in February 2019. It is expected that Amaechi will continue to be relevant in Buhari’s second term in whatever capacity.
Amaechi first office in politics was as Secretary of the now defunct National Republican Convention in Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State.
Between 1992 and 1994, he was Special Assistant to the Governor of Rivers State, Sir (Dr.) Peter Odili.
Odili believed in him as a young man with potential in politics, and adopted him as a political son, guiding and nurturing him in politics, and consequently facilitating his election into the Rivers State House of Assembly in 1999.
He was subsequently elected as the Speaker of the House of Assembly. Amaechi was elected the Chairman of Nigeria’s Conference of Speakers of State Assemblies. He was re-elected into the State House of Assembly in May 2003.
This relationship between him and Odili translated into a harmonious relationship between the Executive and Legislative arms of government in Rivers State.
In 2003 when the National Assembly moved to hijack the legislative functions of the Rivers State House of Assembly as enshrined in the constitution, he and his colleagues took the matter to Nigeria’s Supreme Court and the court gave a judgment that the control and supervision of local government is the prerogative of the State House of Assembly.
He contested and won the Peoples Democratic Party primary for Rivers State Governor in 2007. His name was substituted by the party, an action which he challenged in court. The case eventually got to the Supreme Court.
He became governor on October 26, 2007, after the Supreme Court ruled that he was the rightful candidate of the PDP and winner of the April 2007 Governorship election in Rivers State.
He was re-elected for a second term of four years in April 2011.
His administration invested in infrastructure development, construction of roads and bridges, sticking to the vision of connecting all parts of the state by road.
The governor was also committed to urban renewal and modernisation of transportation services. His administration began building a monorail to provide mass transportation within the city of Port Harcourt.
Some power plant projects (Afam, Trans Amadi, Onne) were also built to improve power supply in the state.
Chibuike Amaechi holds the national honour of the Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON). He is a Christian Catholic and a Knight of St. Johns.