Thursday, January 3, 2019
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Jos, Nigeria

ever have I admired a man like I admire Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi – the Honorable minister of transport. Truth is, I see him more like a father than a politician and, this is because of an indelible impression he made on me many years ago when I served our beloved country as a youth corps member in Rivers state of Nigeria. It was in 2007 that I hit Nowa gbon-tai where the Orientation Camp was located.

Camping lasted roughly a month or so, after which about 2,200 ‘Ajuwayas’ were posted to various schools within the state. It was my first time in Port Harcourt and having spent most of my life in the North, the life in Nigeria’s oil-rich state was not the kind I was used to. That did not mean I wasn’t prepared to taste it. In fact, none doubted among those who knew me so well, that I was going to make good of my stay in Rivers state.

Anyway, I served in Community Secondary School, Omuike-Aluu and His Excellency came into my little story following the landmark Supreme Court verdict on the 25th October, 2007 which ousted Sir Celestine Omehia as governor. These memories are still so clear because back then, corps members were owed backlog of allowances and that left us stranded as the state made it clear they wanted all of us to serve in their schools.

So, regardless of whether one trained as an engineer, a sociologist or a biologist; teaching was the most available primary assignment. Hopes of being retained were no where and then comes Sir Omehia’s refusal to ‘sort us’ our 10K. Again, the memories have remained so strong because in the heat of the discomfort my colleagues and I endured, we turned into ‘Prayer Warriors’ and our prayer point was simple: Lord, uproot this usurper and bring the one that will pay us our due!

We continued this prayer for months and when I heard the court judgment over the radio on that faithful Thursday, I shouted ‘Praise God!’ Guess what happened afterwards? His Excellency Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi only spent about a month as Governor when our ‘allawee’ was paid us in cold minted cash. By then it was already December, 2007. It was a most memorable Christmas for me that year; one that had indebted me to this great man.

Blogging technology has over the years made it easy to access those in power. I hope Your Excellency is reading this. I want to use this medium to pay the huge debt of gratitude I owe you. Thank you Sir, for what you did back in December of 2007. You saved lives. You protected us when we (my fellow corps members and I) were most vulnerable just because we were Nigerians posted to serve the country in your state – Rivers state.

You gave us good enough reasons to believe in government’s ability to fulfill its promises and, showed that ‘system’ was not a problem when an effective leader is on the saddle. For my Batch A set, you paid us the total nine months allowances which your predecessor – Sir Celestine Omehia owed us. I chose this medium to thank you because of the enormous traffic on social media and because I wanted to celebrate you. Thank you again and again.

It's been 11 years since 2007 and I have watched how Sir Omehia's political fortunes had continued to plummet. And it makes me to admire you the more. I didn’t know why or what informed your decision for that timely payout. All I can claim is that God used you to dry our tears back then. You understood that it wasn’t right to deny corps members their due. Not like some governors today who paid themselves their salaries but denied those of volunteers.

As if to say they were the only ones who worked for the state’s progress. I am sure you may have received commendation from one of us since then but if you’ve not; kindly accept this show of gratitude like Jesus received the Samaritan Leper who came back to give thanks. Politicians are believed – by this society – to be people that should never be depended on but your consistency of character since 2007 is no doubt a trait that is rare.

Also I have watched you rise from honor to honor and it is not a surprise particularly to me. This is because I am one of the few Nigerians who believe that a performer – who has proved his worth in little things – should be given higher honors. You so skillfully transformed the popular Eleme roundabout into a well built flyover and bypass. I knew what that point was like and what motorists suffered there before you came on board.

This is not forgetting the Greater Port Harcourt City Estate or the Runway for the Port Harcourt International Airport you built. You touched all the primary and secondary schools in the various local governments (as I later got to know) and generally spearheaded the infrastructural rebuilding of Rivers state. You sanitized society of cult related activities and brought sanity to a decaying polity.

I knew this much back then because it was those days when the Sagboma George, Ateke Tom and Asari Dokubo militant groups troubled the country. I have also followed your sterling performance since 2015 when you became the Honorable Minister of Transport. You completed the runway for the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja in record time and did a tidy job of that project. You have added value to the lives of Nigerians!

The performance of the Nigeria Ports Authority and the NIMASA are not in doubt. In collaboration with the Nigerian Navy, crude theft has disappeared from our high seas. I have made attempts to come see you with a gift but never got past the ministry’s reception desk. My 7 wishes for you as you begin the years’ journey for 2019 are: (1) A happy birthday in advance. (2) Long life. (3) Good health.

(4) More accomplishments in your position as minister. (5) God’s grace and protection for you and your family. (6) A stronger fellowship with God and finally, (7) To have your desires for the year come to fruition. These are my 7 New Year wishes for you sir. I do not want to be greedy and that’s why I chose a modest 7. Besides, it is believed that 7 is the number of perfection and what this means here is that I WISH YOU PERFECTION THIS 2019.

My own wish for myself this 2019 is simple: TO MEET YOU PERSONALLY SOMEDAY AND SHAKE HANDS WITH THE MAN I ADMIRE SO MUCH. New Year greetings to your Excellency – Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi – and family.