By Chuks Ekpeneru
Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, holds a distinctive political record that only can be admired. He has since 1999 consistently been on top of the political game serving in three offices with uninterrupted two terms that reflect his shrewdness, sagacity, and skills.
Amaechi served for two terms as Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, two terms as governor, and is now serving his second term as minister of transportation.
He also has the unique record of being the only person in Nigerian history to have managed two successful presidential campaigns. He served two terms as chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum and before then, two terms as chairman of the conference of Nigerian Speakers. It is no surprise he is called the Lion of Ubima.
However, his political trajectory had been laced with many trials.
He became governor in 2007 after his political K-leg as described by President Olusegun Obasanjo was straightened and strengthened.
He had in 2007 contested and won the People’s Democratic Party governorship primary for Rivers State. His name was substituted by the party, an action which he challenged in court. The case eventually got to the Supreme Court and he was recognized as governor on October 26, 2007, by the apex court.
He was born on 27 May 1965 in Ubima, Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State to the family of the late Elder Fidelis Amaechi and Mary Amaechi. His first and last names are Ikwerre, meaning “God is strength” and “who knows tomorrow” respectively.
Amaechi received a Bachelor of Arts degree (Honours) in English Studies and Literature from the University of Port Harcourt in 1987 where he cut his political teeth as president of the National Union of Rivers State Students (NURSS).
He completed the mandatory National Youth Service Corps in 1988, and thereafter joined Pamo Clinics and Hospitals Limited owned by former Governor Peter Odili, where he worked until 1992.
Amaechi’s 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 Deputy Governor of Rivers State, Peter Odili. He was the Rivers State Secretary of the Democratic Party of Nigeria (DPN) caretaker committee.
Amaechi’s stewardship as governor of Rivers State is particularly remembered for the turnaround of the infrastructure of the state.
Public primary and secondary schools were modernized with modern educational aids including I.T. infrastructure that made the schools to become the cynosure of all eyes from across the country.
For the first time in the modern era, children were withdrawn from private schools into public schools while Amaechi was governor.
Primary healthcare infrastructure was also modernized with the building of more than 100 state of the art primary healthcare centres.
His administration also touched on recreation with the construction of a state of the art stadium in Port-Harcourt. He also commenced the building of a mono-rail to lighten transportation in the choked capital city. However, that project was uncompleted by the time he left power in 2015.
Perhaps to pay for his failure to complete the mono-rail in Port-Harcourt, Amaechi as minister of transportation is presently engaged in a race against time to ensure the completion of the rail modernization programme inherited by the Muhammadu Buhari administration from the Goodluck Jonathan administration.
While he is hailed for his steadfastness to his ideals, his name, however, evokes sharp comments from his critics in the South-South.
As vice-president Dr. Jonathan would visit and holiday in Rivers State as guest of Amaechi without going to neighbouring Bayelsa State. That was until the sharp division allegedly triggered by Mrs. Patience Jonathan in his second term as governor.
He turned from being the greatest supporter of President Jonathan to become the chief driver of the campaign that denied the first president from the nation’s South-South a second term.
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.