By Eddy Odivwri
I am not sure those who win awards go about their tasks with the object of winning such awards, ab initio.
The awards thus come as Value Added incentives, to serve as tonic to do even more. That may have been the summation for Rt Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, the Minister of Transportation, who recently bagged the Minister of the Decade award, by THISDAY Newspaper to mark its 25th anniversary.
Amaechi is certainly not new to awards. He has a very large collection of them, right from his days as Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, through his governorship days in Rivers State government and now as Minister of the Federal Republic.
Several names had featured at nomination stages, and for the management (Board of Editors) of the newspaper house to have finally settled for Amaechi bespeaks of just one thing: performance.
No matter what people will say, Amaechi has come to be the poster boy of the President Buhari administration, what with his deep devotion to driving the railway project of the country. Never before has any minister shown that degree of commitment to public task.
He drives himself to all project sites, no matter how far and rough the paths may be. Once, he plunged his personal car into a shallow pond which was an obstacle to the continued inspection of the project. Although he managed to wangle his way through the muddy pool, he lost the engine of the car eventually.
Those who have followed the zealotry of Amaechi in driving the railway construction work of the present government will shudder at the incredible energy he has shown and continue to show in over seeing every inch of the work. He remains a challenge to the physical fitness of even younger engineers and ministry staff who often accompany him on such inspections.
With a monthly inspection of the rail project, Amaechi has proven beyond any string of doubt that when he is committed to anything, he gives it his all. That indeed earned him all the applause and accolades while he served as governor of Rivers State. The stories were told of how he undertook project inspections between 2.00am and 5.00am on such days, so he will have no distraction.
Perhaps one even needs double strength, wisdom and tenacity in dealing with the Chinese, who, several times, had appeared to have dribbled Amaechi both on speed of work and on timeous delivery of project landmarks.
Listen to Amaechi discuss railway project and you will shudder how a rugged politician speaks with so much knowledge of a technical task. His use of the right jargons, understanding the dynamics of the task and complexity of the project will shock you. Surely, he throws his all into it.
Perhaps only Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola, current Minister of Works approximates the field appearances of Amaechi. And for Amaechi, the results are there, getting clearer and clearer.
Beside the rail construction, Amaechi is almost as deeply devoted to the development of the maritime sector.
Until the recent appointment of a minister of State, Senator Gbemi Saraki, who oversees the maritime sector, Amaechi has shown great capacity in managing the affairs of the ministry
Those in the maritime sector are also full of praise for the innovations and the adroitness he has shown in the management of the sector. His recent promise to release the cabotage funds held by government all the while, will further up the ante of his rating in the industry.
It is remarkable that the other winner of the Minister of the Decade award, Dr Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, is someone who had also shone brightly as a great servant of the people, while she served as Minister of Finance under President Olusegun Obasanjo and some part of President Jonathan’s tenure.
She came to office with panache and left with a prized medal. Earlier this week, the Harvard University named her as the next Angelopoulos Global Public Leaders Fellow, amongst the many other awards she had also won in the past.
All said, Amaechi’s winning of the THISDAY laurel speaks to his commitment to service. I join others to thus deservedly congratulate him.