Rotimi Amaechi – Eastern Nigeria’s Candidate for Presidency ?
Bolade Olawale, Staff Writer
The battle for 2023 Presidency is ruthlessly ongoing and a major contender is the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi. The strange thing about his candidacy is the realisation that the former Rivers state governor actually represents both South South and South East zones in the 2023 permutations.
Amaechi has two strong ancestral legs, one in the South East and the other in the South South. Igbos may have a rallying they are not thinking of in the frank speaking minister. But nobody has made that claims before . The Minister has also never mention his blood link with the South East. But Nigerians know there are Igbo stock in Rivers state.
Amaechi falls within that caucus. He is both of South South and South East. So Igbos appear to have strong claim to the Presidency if eventually the ruling party agreed to zone the Presidency to the South. The bitter truth many Igbos may have to come to term with is that Amaechi is seen in the North as an Eastern candidate due to his dual ancestral linkage. There is also a measure of trust within Arewa in both the competency and loyalty of the Minister.
The former House Speaker also excites the Arewa establishment due to his frankness and the readiness to play and act nationalistically even when it is at huge cost. The Minister acts as a defender of the South and the North at the same time, serviing the Yorubas ( branch new rail line from Ibadan to Lagos), promoting the Eastern zone ( Eastern coastal rail & Portharcourt -Maiduguri rail corridor) and protecting the North on many fronts too numerous.
Of all southern candidates for Presidency within the ruling party, the duo of Amaechi and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu are dear to the heart of northern establishment. Both aspirants have advantages and disdavantages. The two top the list in the North for many reasons.
Some in the North want to fulfil all righteouness in Nigerian power equation. First reason is to ensure religious harmony ruptured in the last few years. So backing a Christian is considered strategic as it will earn votes of the Christian Middlle Belt and please Southern Christian community. Second reason is to satsify Eastern agitation for power shift. This involves ensuring that power is shifted to the Eastern bloc especially to a zone that satsifies equity and Justice.
On the above counts, Amaechi supercedes the former Lagos Governor. The claim of the East on the Presidency is considered stronger than that of the South West. The issue of religious balancing also favours Amaechi. These are basic considerations in the North.
As to relationship with the North, both presidential hopefuls are entrenched. The two are considered friendly liberals by Arewa political elite. Many in the North also think any of the duo will protect the interest of the Arewa in Nigerian power struggle.
What may tip the balance in favour of Amaechi are the religious factor and the tough question of equity and justice in power sharing.
But will the Igbos realise the opening ? Will South East elite accept the Amaechi proposition? Time will tell.