BY Innocent Orok
When in 2015, Hon. Rotimi Chubuike Amaechi was appointed as the Director General of the Presidential Campaign Organisation by Mohammadu Buhari during the presidential election, many knew such position is given to a trusted political ally with the hope to master not only financial resources, but the act of election power match to lead his candidate to victory at the polls.
No doubt many knew if Amaechi perfect the acts and Buhari emerged victorious, he will be bountifully rewarded.
And so Rotimi Amaechi, the former two time Governor of Rivers State delivered his principal at the poll , as Buhari becomes the fourth democratic elected president of Nigeria in the new dispensation since 1999 at the 2015 election.
With his excellent performance leading a northern candidate to defeat a southern candidate, especially from his former party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) placed Amaechi then as a political bulldozer.
Sooner after the elections, political speculators have started assigning portfolios to footsoldiers who help Buhari to power. Amaechi was rumored to either be the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) or Chief of Staff to the President. When those positions were filled up by northerners, Amaechi was again proposed to either be the Minister of Petroleum Resources or another juicy position in government to compensate him for his resources and active deployment of manpower to enthrone the government in power.
Finally, after six months, when President Buhari then named his ministers, Rotimi Amaechi name was among. And when they were assigned portfolios by the president, Amaechi was assigned the Minister of Transportation, covering both Maritime and Aviation sectors.
Many applauded the president for the choice of Amaechi as the Transportation Minister, not because he knew about the industry, but because he can recoup his investment in the 2015 elections, as the sector is a goldmine next to the oil industry in the Nigeria economy.
And so Rotimi Amaechi resumed as Nigeria’s Transportation Minister at the Bukar Dipcharima house as a learner
By his appointment, Amaechi was to control some of the grade A money spinning parastatals in the Country.
A total of over ten agencies both in the Maritime and Aviation industry were under him. They were, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Maritime Academy of Nigeria , (MAN), Oron, National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Nigerian Institute of Transports Technology (NITT)and Council for Regulations of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN).
In the Aviation industry, he also supervised money spinning agencies like
Nigeria Aviation Management Agency (NAMA), Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) etc. With these grade A parastatals, the Ikwerre , Rivers State born politician was ready to do exploits.
On assumption of duty ,his first assignment was to bootout, Patrick Akpolobokemi, who then was just handed over a letter for second tenure in office in March 2015, by the outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan as the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
Amaechi begins to spark fire, talking tough, but he admitted to be a learner in the maritime sector.
After studying the sector for about four months as Minister, on March 2016, he made his first appointment, the DG of NIMASA. Amaechi has singlehandedly appointed his former Commissioner of Works and his political son who was also a governorship candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in the 2015 polls in Rivers state , Dr Dakuku Peterside as the new DG of NIMASA. There was public outcry on the choice of Dakuku, who knows nothing about the maritime industry, but the cries of stakeholders fell on deaf ears.
At the NPA, though he did not nominate, the Managing Director, Hadiza Bala Usman, but he was given the opportunity to appoint , the Executive Directors and some board members, after he was refused the chance of appointing the Chairman of the NPA board.
Sensing danger and political clash in appointment’s to the juicy positions in his ministry, Amaechi quickly appointed the Managing Director of NRC, Engr.Fidet Okhiria. Before he knew it NIWA , Managing Director then, Boss Mustapha, the current SGF was appointed without his consent.
Amaechi quickly play a fast one to avert wittering down his control, appointed an Interim Management Committee (IMC) to run the affairs of the Maritime Academy of Nigeria ,Oron for six Months.
He at the same time quickly smuggled in a rector into the IMC of the academy , Comdr. Duja Emmanuel Effedua (rtd). Again, when there was huge criticisms on why he is appointing a rector and an IMC at the same time to manage the academy, Amaechi quickly obtained an appointment letter and asked the understudying rector to study the IMC of which he was a member, in concluded arrangement that he will take over after the IMC tenure expired.
This was an aberration in the history of the over 40 years institution. Despite the huge cries by stakeholders, he never bothered.
For NITT and CRFFN, the Minister bothered not,because both agencies are the dead woods in his ministry which has nothing to offer.
AMAECHI SUPERFICIAL ADMINISTRATION OF THE MARITIME INDUSTRY SINCE 2015.
Settling down to work after the politics of fixing their candidates in required positions. Amaechi, though had a minister of State for Aviation then, Captain Hadi Serika, ( now the Minister of Aviation) was not too bothered about the Aviation industry, but fully concentrated in the Maritime sector.
By now he was able to fully conquered and control NIMASA having Dakuku Peterside his boy as the DG and some board members. For Amaechi NIMASA was like ( we go die here if anyone tries to take it from him).
At the NPA, the Minister partially was in charge , but as the tide grows, he could no longer control the MD, Ms Hadiza Bala Usman, as such he was just watching, but not in control.
Another agency the Transportation Minister puts under his full control was the NRC. In fact many stakeholders have christened him “Minister of Railways”.
Here he is fully in charge, no controversy.
Amaechi also controls, the MAN, Oron, in fact he detects what is happening there and remotes the rector to his whip and caprices.
At the NSC, Amaechi also have a good working relationship with the ES/CEO, Barr. Hassan Bello, but he is not in control, because he meet Bello on ground, more so the Council does not have funds and is not a revenue generating agency that will attract political big eyes.
As for NITT and CRFFN, the Minister paid little or no concentration as they practically are funds trapped.
Though, the Minister has tried to reorganised the CRFFN, but the intrigues of bridging the Council’s Act to favour the Minister and the Transportation Ministry is still causing crises in the CRFFN despite the election and appointments of board members over a year ago.
Again, the crisis at the CRFFN has also stalled the collection of the Practioners Operating Fees (POF) which hit the rocks due to multiple court cases and non proper coordination between the Council and freight forwarders.
For NITT, since his over four years in office, Amaechi has no concrete plans for the transport school.( Continues in Part two tomorrow).