Wednesday, January 8, 2020
Jos, Nigeria

ot too many Nigerians understood why Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi was named honorable ministerfor transport again upon the reconstitution of the federal cabinet following the landslide victory of President Muhammadu Buhari in the last general elections.

As a friend,follower and admirer of this great advocate for the masses, it’ll be adisservice to the Nigerian people and indeed a dishonor if I failed to go downmemory lane – to enable us understand the character and person of the honorableminister – as I write him this New Year wish.

Fate had determinedthat among the 32 friends and course-mate graduating from the Applied Geology Programmeof the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University in Bauchi state in 2006, I was goingto Rivers state of Nigeria for the mandatory NYSC experience.

It was a trend backthen and even now for folks to ‘work their posting’ to places of choice but Iwas really adamant to join the bandwagon. And so it was that when the postingscame through I would be going down south for the first time in my life to spenda year working.

I have always lovedto travel not just for the fun of it but primarily because of my passion forwriting about the polity, the policies of government and stuffs. In going toRivers state, I saw a chance to learn and to get a feel of politics in thatpart of the federation.

Meanwhile, the yearwas 2007 when I got to Port Harcourt and was redeployed to community secondaryschool Omuike, Aluu after the 3 week-long orientation exercise. It was indeedan interesting time of my life which I spent a better part of teachingchemistry to senior students.

To be honest, the onlydiscomfort I suffered while in Port Harcourt was the inability to meet my needsdue to the high cost of living. Being a community school that was captured underthe state’s school board system, corps members were supposed to be paid stipendsto augment what came from the federal government.

But for 9 months,the stipends weren’t forth coming. Now, read the story of how a politicians’ goodheart affected the masses and how fate brought the man Chibuike Amaechi to therescue of poor corps members.

The first thing Ilearnt upon arriving Rivers state in 2007 was the shaky arrangement left behindby former Governor Sir Peter Odili. The government of Sir Celestine Omehia hadproved to be illegitimate not only by the outcome of the supreme court judgmentbut also by the shabby manner it treated corps members during its short stay inpower.

Not too many knowthat the emergence of Governor Amaechi following the October 25th2007 judgment of the supreme court Abuja was also complemented by intenseprayers from the corps members who were already finding life difficult to copewith and had to resort to fervent praying. Thankfully, Governor Amaechi wastedno time to pay up the backlog and he did so within the first 3 weeks ofassuming office!

This gesture broughtsmiles to the corps members and increased efficiency of service on our part.But more significant was the fact that from then on I began to observe and to followthis great man closely primarily because even before he paid up the backlog; I perceivedhis emergence as answer to our prayers!

He saved me andfellow corps members from starving in 2007! Again, I began to follow himbecause by his speedy response to our plight and those of regular civilservants in the state, he showed that he realized his mandate as governor wasdivine and for service to the people!

As governor, Rt.Hon. Chibuike Amaechi distinguished himself as an advocate for the masses inseveral other ways. For instance, Eleme Flyover/Roundabout used to be a majorJunction/Intersection that cost motorists hours in traffic but had to beremoved by the notable Julius Berger Plc during Amaechi’s reign as advocate forthe people.

Public schoolsacross the state received great attention and facelifts. The Port Harcourtinternational airport’s runaway was expanded and built to standard. Also theGreater Port Harcourt city was borne. Amaechi introduced the culture of savingaway the sum of 1 billion naira every month from the state’s share of federalallocation.

Since he becameminister of transport in 2015, I am not particularly surprised that he haddevoted more attention to reinventing the train system. For those whounderstood the transport sector; the train transport is a symbol of comfort, affordabilityand an answer to the masses’ cry for a safe and stress-free form of ferry.

This devotion totrain technology alone is sign that Amaechi is an advocate for the masses. Weall know that for long, comfort has been excised from the public transportationsystem as motorists chased more profits to the detriment of passengers and theautomobiles they used.

So for a ministerwhose ministry oversaw the maritime sector, the aviation sector as well as theroad sectors, it is ingenious to find that Chibuike Amaechi was up andperforming while not leaving any of these other sectors without properattention.

His choice to give attentionto the train sector showed that he understood how that affected the masses’comfort. You only needed to take a train to Kaduna – for those who haven’t – inorder to understand what our honorable minister has in stock for Nigerians!

It is a reason for whyhe retains the ministry particularly if we realized the fact that even thepresident – who is also an advocate for the masses himself – knows thisquintessential man of the people and his ever-burning love for the people’scomfort. The Eleme Flyover/Roundabout eased a lot of stress back in Riversstate; remember?

Rt. Hon. ChibuikeAmaechi is a man I have grown to not dismiss as one of those politicians sinceI discovered his heartbeat simply pounds for the masses and for how he coulduse his position to the benefit of the people.

So I do not knowwhat a man like this deserves – who seeks to bring the experience of air travelthat cost thousands of naira to the doorstep of ordinary Nigerians for a token– more than a sincere approbation of his giant strides!

Last year, I got acall from a guy who accused me of seeking cheap publicity after I sent a NewYear wish online; who knows what will come after I share this New Year wish. Iam a lover and a fan of train transport and I do not need any oracle to tell methat the same goes for Rt. Hon. Amaechi!

Sir, I may not havethe capacity of renting a page or two from the dailies to express my wish butthrough which ever means it gets to you; be rest assured it is coming from thedepth of love. I wish you’d come on stage long before now for you are not justa visionary with great foresights but also a mentor with a strong influence.

I wish you God’sblessings. I wish you good health and strength. I wish you a stronger passionfor the job at hand and above all I wish you the benefit of finding and workingwith people you can trust and depend on. This is wishing you a prosperous year2020.