Who is Afraid of Rotimi Amaechi?

Presidential candidates come in different guises: there are those who want to run, those who might be persuaded to run, and then those who say they are above the fray but are ready to be conscripted by their legions of well-wishers for the good of the country. Regardless of their route to the candidacy, the paths are so well worn that future opponents are quick to grill them, question their qualities, or recall such-and-such a scandal from the history books before they assume the partisan mantle.

This week, former Buhari campaign maestro, current federal Minister of Transportation, and potential presidential candidate Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has taken his due moment of scrutiny. Questions were raised in the House of Representatives about the documents and standing of the UK-based company that won a circa $214M contract for the ‘Deep Blue’ offshore security project, which came under his ministerial purview. Amaechi says that the process was all above board. The scrutiny follows continued, scathing criticism of the Minister by his Rivers state gubernatorial successor, Nyesom Wike.

As the former governor of a state in the South-South, Amaechi is a lightning rod for attention as debate continues over the role of zoning in the 2023 election. Amaechi has battle scars like any serious politician, but he also has fans seeking to rope him into the race. And after eight years of Buhari’s leadership, the APC appears set on selecting a candidate from the south. The PDP, meanwhile, is still mulling the issue with a 37-member committee on the job.

Drama may come to a head for Mr Amaechi as the APC’s beleaguered March 26 National Convention, and later presidential primaries, draw nearer. Although Section 84 of the Electoral Act prevents a political appointee (i.e. Amaechi) from standing as a candidate in a party primary, a federal court on March 18 struck down the provision as unconstitutional. With stakes this high, it’s probably too soon to call these legal issues settled for good.

The question remains, who is afraid of Rotimi Amaechi?