Long before his official declaration to join the presidential race the body language of the Minister of Transport, Honourable Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, more often than not gives him out as somebody angling to succeed his principal President Muhammadu Buhari, as the next occupant of the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja by May 29, 2023.

In this vein, Amaechi is not leaving anything to chance with a view to getting the number one job in Africa’s most populous country-Nigeria.

As part of the game plan sources who do not want to be named in this report hinted that he (Amaechi) barring any last minute change has secured the backing of the Chinese Government, even though that country has always pride itself as a nation that maintains non-interference in the domestic affairs of other countries.

The Minister, who made his intention known in a statement recently, hinged his presidential ambition on the urgency to contribute his quota at the highest level towards tackling Nigeria’s present challenges.

The statement quoted him as saying, “Fellow Nigerians, 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. I was Governor of Rivers State for 8 years. 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.

The two-time former Rivers State Governor will, however, have to face a tough battle on the road to the 2023 general election day.

For instance, to emerge standard bearer of the All Progressives Congress, APC, he will have to slug it out with the likes of the former Lagos State Governor and frontline member of the ruling party, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu; the current Vice-President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo; another formidable force is the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Mr Godwin Emefiele(yet to declare), incumbent Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello; and Pastor Tunde Bakare.

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Other notable figures include Owelle Rochas Okorocha, former Imo State Governor; Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi who was rumoured to have dropped his life-long ambition, may be preparing to join the race.

Before the emergence of the aforementioned candidates, former President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan , had been rumoured as ‘‘the successor’’ to Buhari on the APC platform.

Apart from being a member of the kitchen cabinet in Buhari’s administration, Amaechi seems to be the surest channel that the Chinese government needs to wrest superpower from the USA, and install its dominance in Africa. China sees Amaechi as a strong ally having protected and advanced their interest economically in Nigeria with several multi -billion naira projects completed and also ongoing as the current Minister of Transportation.

“An ally like Amaechi is the surest and safest way for China to gain absolute dominance in Nigeria, said a reliable source”.

China must have been unhappy seeing the USA support Buhari to become the President in 2015. Over the years, the Chinese government has been working round the clock to achieve its dreams through grants and contracts to Nigeria and other African nations.

As at September 2021, Nigeria’s debt to the Chinese government had risen to $4.15 billion. Data from the Debt Management Office, DMO, in December had revealed that Nigeria’s debt to China stood at $4.1 billion.

The amount was out of the total debt of $6.5 billion that was available for Nigeria to draw down from.

Alleged Shady Deals

Last February, some construction companies in Nigeria instituted a suit against Amaechi, and the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, over the alleged unlawful award of 190 kilometres rail line construction to a Chinese firm without due process.

The suit, marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1426/2021, was filed at the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court. Justice Ahmed Mohammed was to hear the matter in which Amaechi, Malami, the Federal Ministry of Transportation and the Chinese firm, China Civil Engineering Construction Company, CCECC, were the defendants in the suit. Duluidas Nigeria Limited, Duliz Dredging and Construction Limited and Consortium of Duluidas Nigeria Limited, Duliz were the plaintiffs in the suit.

The plaintiffs instituted the suit praying the court to declare that the minister and his agents were biased in their assessment of the bidding in favour of the CCECC.

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In a writ of summons by their lead counsel, James Okoh, the plaintiffs were seeking the court to cancel the letter of ‘‘No Objection’’ issued by the Bureau of Public Procurement, BPP, in favour of CCECC.

They averred that the letter was issued for the award of the N91.5 billion rail line contract in breach of procurement laws. They prayed the court to re-issue another letter in their favour.

The plaintiffs claimed that the NRC invited them through a private tender on February 23, 2021, to submit a financial bid for the job, and they emerged successful along with other companies.

According to the writs of summons, the disputed contract in the sum of N91.5 billion with a completion period of 36 months was for the reconstruction of narrow gauge track from Minna in Niger State to Baro with extension to the Baro River.

Subsequently, an order of injunction against the Minister, the ministry and the CCECC from continuing with the award of the contract, and execution of the same on the basis of the flawed process was believed to have been issued.

In the alternative, they sought an order setting aside any purported award on the basis of the flawed and compromised bidding process by the Nigeria Railway Corporation, NRC, with concurrence of other defendants.

The companies are asking the court to set aside any purported approval received from the FEC awarding the disputed contract to any other company during the pendency of the suit.

In the discharge of his duty as a rail minister, Amaechi, while implementing Buhari’s policy of reviving the rail sector, did so by encouraging the President to obtain controversial loans from China worth about $3 billion.

According to reliable sources, who did not want their names to be revealed, several meetings were held between Amaechi’s allies and the Chinese government.

When our source was asked how much the Chinese were ready to give as their campaign support, the source could not say the exact figure of the amount that would be involved.

“But it is going to be huge – a huge one. I’m very sure about that”, the source said.

Another source told our correspondents that it was the meeting that gave Amaechi the confidence to declare.

“The last meeting they held was in January 2022,” the source revealed.

The source added that they both agreed to meet again, once Amaechi gets the APC presidential ticket.

The news of China’s dominance in Africa is not new, considering its huge economic investments.

Now, China is looking at expanding its territorial dominance, not only in economic terms, but also politically. Amaechi may find the APC ticket as a big mountain to climb. This newspaper is yet to ascertain America’s position as regards 2023 elections.

It would be recalled that the West had been accused by many of the third world countries of influencing presidential elections in their countries and China coming from Asia might be joining to influence elections around the globe.

Recall that America, under President Barack Obama, supported Nigeria’s incumbent President, Muhammadu Buhari, against his immediate predecessor, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, in the 2015 Presidential election, this claim was published in Jonathans book launched few years ago in Abuja where he claimed that the US especially supported openly the presidential ambition of the then General Buhari who later emerged Nigerian President, an allegation the Obama government has not refuted.

As the 2023 general elections draw nearer, all is now set for the political gladiators to find different foreign and local sponsors to provide cash and materials, even technical know-how in making sure their candidate emerges victorious.

Meanwhile, Amaechi has failed to inaugurate any major project in his home Rivers State as they say,”Charity begins at home” but he began from outside President Buhari’s Daura.

This failure has only worsened his relationship with his people in the state.

Like the past Chiefs in the security all built universities in their various states as a testament that they went to Abuja and brought something home but that wasn’t the case with Amaechi who jettisoned the Railway czar his Greater PortHarcourt Railway project started during his term as governor. The Eastern Railway corridor started in his Ikwere Local Government to Maiduguri still in moribund state and single gauge. Amaechi facilitated and also ensured that a transport university was built in Buhari’s hometown, a move critics say was done by Amaechi to ingratiate himself to the President.

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Currently, he is also supervising the construction of railway from Nigeria into Niger Republic, a move which the President has commended on several occasions and the Nigerien counterpart had in a few weeks ago visited Buhari for a befitting rail project gift to his country.

In early February, Amaechi was conferred with a traditional title in Buhari’s hometown, Daura, as part of his campaign for the Presidency.

The title from the Emir of Daura may give Amaechi a stamp of approval. Nevertheless, the road ahead may not be smooth for the Minister.

Culled From: Aljazirah News

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