A Loud Toast to Amaechi @ 54

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Many think he is quarrelsome and combative.Others think he is even troublesome. But those who really know him understand that he is none of the above. On the contrary, he is a gentle, thoughtful, considerate, kind, highly principled and fiercelycourageous person. A rare public servant. His name is Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, the immediate past Minister of Transportation.

Last Monday, he turned 54. In his 54 years, he has achieved what many could not have achieved even in three life times. Little wonder many describe him as a child of destiny. Great destiny it must have indeed been for a single young man to attract the grace and grant of Heaven’s favour. Or how else can we explain the steady ascension of a young man from a quiet Ubima community, raised by economically humble parents, attended regular schools to become a Personal Assistant (PA) to a former governor of the state, Dr Peter Odili. He rose through that to become a Speaker for eight years; became chairman of All SpeakersConference in Nigeria, became a governor for eight years (without printing a single campaign poster).He also later became Chairman of Nigerian Governors’ Forum.

Until last Wednesday, he was the Minister of Transportation. He was a star minister. He was, for two times (2015 and 2019), the Director General of President Mohammadu Buhari Campaign Organisation. He delivered him on both instances. He is thus most likely going to be re-appointed by his principal from whom he enjoys great confidence and support.

Perhaps two things that offer him for wrong perception in the public space is his boldness and inability to “package” his feelings. He says it as he sees it. He does no diplomacy. And both virtues(?) have clashed him with many. Too often , he is powered by his careful convictions. Soon as he is convinced about a thing or approach, he sticks to it, no matter the storm of opposition. That’s what many see as “stubbornness”. But behind that veil is the touch of humanism and a large heart, often too willing to pursue peace, though never afraid of war.

In 54 years, Amaechi has accomplished so much. Yet, like Lord Alfred Tennyson’s Ullyses, I can say“tho much is taken, much abides”.

This devout Catholic, has been a Thane of Glamis, has been a Thane of Cawdor, yet he could be also a King.

So, to the one they call the Lion of Ubima, I say Happy Birthday in arrears, as I enjoin him to rethink the lyrics of that song, ..”he who fights and run away, lives to fight another day”.