WHAT IS IN A NAME? DISSECTING THE MYSTERY IN THE NAME “CHIBUIKE ROTIMI AMAECHI”
Chief Chima Nnokam
As Africans, there is a long-standing belief that the name a person bears goes a long way in determining his or her destiny in life, hence, parents give their children names that seem to suggest what they want them to become in the future.
There are many factors that sculpt our personalities and what we become in life yet some believe that a name is not one of such factors that has the potency of shaping our destinies no matter how rich and deep the meanings they convey might be.
However, there are those whose names are an express mirror of their lives with its meanings playing out clearly in their destinies and Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi appears to be in that category. The names, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi which mean God is my strength, God Stays with .me and Who knows tomorrow, respectively, have all had their meanings play out significantly in Amaechi’s life in a manner that tempts one to embrace the widespread belief that a name affects the destiny of its bearer.
The story of Amaechi’s political life is surrounded by lots of intrigues, fraught with numerous battles and ladened with travails yet he continues to triumph in a manner that clearly suggests the involvement of an external and superior force in his life.
How Amaechi goes through the travails and scathing battles he faces and comes out victorious in the end remains a puzzle to observers.
Amaechi rose from the lowly University days politics as Student union President to become a Special Assistant to a Governor, a Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Governor of Rivers State and a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Even though this geometric political growth followed in quick succession, they were borne through blistering political battles, crushing travails and arresting ordeals. It is a success story of sweat and blood. The stories of Amaechi’s political ordeals are endless but out of every new challenge, he comes out victorious and stronger, strengthening the belief that his name is truly making a positive impact in his life.
His election into the Rivers State House of Assembly was not an easy ride as he had to reclaim his mandate through the Court in 1999 and moved on to become the Speaker of the House.
As Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, he found himself in Court contending the matter of who controls the Local Government between the State Assembly and the National Assembly. Amaechi eventually won as the Supreme Court ruled in his favour. This was one of his earliest political battles.
Ever after, Amaechi has gone on to face stiffer battles and at the very end emerged victorious.
In 2006, despite winning the PDP guber primaries convincingly, he was denied the flag of his party at a South South rally where President Obasanjo declared that his mandate had “K- leg” He challenged the matter in Court and in what appeared like nature’s way of compensating him for the broad daylight robbery of his mandate, the Supreme Court of Nigeria in a historic judgment, declared Amaechi the Governor of Rivers State on the 25th of October 2007. The Supreme Court judgment is in the class of the numerous miracles recorded in the scriptures. It was the first of its kind, historic and unprecedented. Never has anyone in Nigeria’s democratic dispensation become a Governor without standing an election. In fact, it’s on record that he’s the first and only Nigerian to be declared Governor despite not being within the shores of the country at the time.
Amaechi had barely started his second tenure as Governor before trouble came knocking and metamorphosed into what could rightly be recorded as the highest political victimization, witch hunt and onslaught against a sitting Governor in Nigeria’s political history. His second tenure was tumultuous, filled with several battles as he struggled to survive the weight of the federal might unleashed against him by his political detractors at the time.
In the early days of his first tenure as Governor, Amaechi waged a total war against criminals who masqueraded themselves as Niger Delta agitators and terrorized the State making it largely unsafe for residents and investors. Within a year of his government, he successfully dislodged and expunged the criminals from Rivers State. This restored sanity to the State and was considered a bold move. It was a war he personally led from the front like a general and indeed, he would become the ‘General of the Common Sense Revolution.”
By the second year of the Amaechi-led government, his political will and resolve was once again put to test as the activities of the popular and widely used Okada riders became a major societal menace, promoting all sorts of criminalities in the State. Amaechi did not fail to rise to the occasion by placing a ban on the activities of these Okada riders within Port Harcourt and it’s environs. Many could not believe it was possible to ban the popular Okada riders because it was an unpopular decision, but, Amaechi did, and despite early criticisms and protests, the people became the ultimate beneficiaries.
On April 13, 2013 during the course of his second tenure as Governor, the Obio/Akpor Local Government Council premises was shut down using security agencies to deny the Caretaker Committee access to the Council premises. Undeterred, Amaechi directed the CTC to operate from a temporary office. This was quickly followed by another onslaught on April 26, 2013, wherein a Rivers State Government Aircraft conveying him was grounded by the NCAA, on orders from above but again the God factor in his name gave him victory.
Only three days after his aircraft was grounded by the NCAA, some members of the Rivers State House of Assembly who stood by him were suspended by the leadership of the PDP. This was followed by Amaechi’s suspension from the PDP on May 27, 2013, on his 48th birthday, yet again, Amaechi survived the onslaught.
His planned impeachment by only five out of thirty two members of the House of Assembly which led to a major fracas that saw the Assembly complex shutdown for months did not see the light of the day because Chibuike “God is my Strength” prevailed.
In the thick of the plots to shame Amaechi and oust him from office, a willing tool was found in senior police cop, CP Joseph Mbu Joseph. Mr. Mbu, backed by Abuja forces, deployed the full powers of his office against Gov. Amaechi. Mbu banned all pro-Amaechi gatherings and committed untold atrocities against him including striping him of his police details and denying him access to the government house, but again the power in his name prevailed.
Last month CP. Mbu was in court standing trial for a murder charge brought against him by the Cross Rivers State government. Who knows tomorrow?
The same story of nemesis is told of former Governor Jonah Jang of Plateau State who made himself a willing tool to abort God’s plan during the Nigerian Governor’s Forum leadership tussle orchestrated to whittle Chibuike’s towering influence as Chairman of the Forum during his reelection for a second term but as always Amaechi emerged victorious defeating the President’s preferred candidate. The former governor Jang is presently facing trials for graft in his home state and has lost political relevance.
When Oluwarotimi found himself heading the Presidential Campaign of the opposition All Progressive Party which eventually ousted President Jonathan in a record-breaking polls. Thus, Amaechi became a survivor of not just the onslaughts unleashed against him but most importantly, a survivor of the punishment that would have been meted out on him had Jonathan’s PDP won, recall they boasted then that the land and sea borders would be shut down to prevent his escape after the election but in a twist of fate, for seven years running, the ministry of transportation has been under his watch.
After Amaechi’s contributions towards the enthronement of Buhari-led APC Government, his traducers who are ignorant of his divine assignment to humanity gathered again to deny him any appointments in the new Government by advancing bogus allegations of corruption but to their bewilderment he made the list of the first batch of Buhari’s ministerial nominees. Again, when it was time for confirmation of the ministerial nominees on the floor of the Senate, several petitions were sponsored against him before the Senate to stop his screening and confirmation, yet this Enigma survived and became not just a Minister but an award winning Minister of the decade.
In 2019 during President Buhari’s re-election bid, Amaechi was favoured as the Director General of Buhari’s Presidential Campaign for the second time. This elicited several agitations and conspiracies against him as these fifth columnist tried to stop him but he still emerged as the DG. Oluwarotimi! because God was with him.
Only recently, the All Progressives Congress APC, in Amaechi’s home State suffered a lot of legal and leadership tussles making it unable to have a regular Party structure as was seen in many other States. This continued over the years, with Adams Oshiomole at the helms of affairs who appeared unwilling to use his office as National Chairman to resolve the crisis being that it politically benefitted some persons in some quarters of which he was suspected to have some interest. The inaction of the Chairman and the politics that surrounded it played a role in denying Rivers APC a chance to partake in the 2019 general elections. Adams Oshiomole was later removed from office as National Chairman in a most inglorious manner. Yet Amaechi trudges on and now has a legally recognized Party structure backed by the National leadership in his home State.
This article is not intended to portray Amaechi as some super human or ascribe some supernatural powers to him, but as one who follows the political trajectory of this enigma, one considers the way he survives his battles as too much of a coincidence. Amaechi’s life is simply a reflection of an uncommon grace that has kept him going, otherwise, he would have long been sent into political oblivion. At the risk of sounding too ambitious, Amaechi’s type is rare and appears once in a generation; those who are gifted with nine lives don’t die irrespective of what you do to them. Amaechi is simply a man on a divine mission. Like a moving locomotive, it’s been forward ever backward never, with God always his source of strength, Chibuike! Only he can tell the pact he has with his ‘Chi’ Amaechi’s story goes ahead to remind us of the biblical verses that state clearly “If God be for us, who can be against us” further suggesting that “one with God is Majority.”
Allegorically, Amaechi fits into a bible character called Jonah but on the flip side. Jonah comes as a character whose presence in a boat caused great distress that rocked the boat until he was thrown out, the boat didn’t make any meaningful progress. Amaechi is the exact opposite of this character. He is one whose presence in a team or group brings good luck and progress. President Buhari struggled to be President for years without success until Amaechi was drafted into the boat as the captain then he made history by being the first man in Nigeria to lead an opposition party to power, ousting a sitting President.
The Nigerian Railway system was comatose with worn out rail tracks and coaches, Amaechi came onboard, and today, the Railways are one of President Buhari’s biggest achievements and legacies in almost eight years.
The Nigerian Maritime Management and Safety Agency, NIMASA, was barely existing in name only, without meaningful productivity and impact, in fact, virtually all Director Generals of the agency ended up in prison after leaving office, then again, Amaechi came onboard and the dysfunctional NIMASA became a world class maritime Agency competing effectively with major global players in the maritime industry. Amaechi unlike Jonah simply knows how to keep the boat afloat.
There are several other, instances where Amaechi proved to be on an unstoppable force not by his own making but by some inexplicable means. This has played out clearly and resoundingly at every stage of his political sojourn reminding us at every instance, that a name could be more than just a name. This is so, considering the fact that in many cases, those who have played any role in the vilification, victimization and unjust persecution paid a heavy price.
Significantly, many of those who engaged in these unholy alliances against Chibuike ended up retiring dramatically from the political scene in a way that suggests a sort of recompense.
Of a truth, if God is my strength, Chibuikem, and stays with me, Oluwarotimi, then who knows tomorrow? Onyemaechi!
Chief Chima N. Nnokam
A member of the Nigerian Hoi polloi writes from Onigbongbo LCDA in Ikeja, Lagos.
March 7th 2022.