Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, held quite an active front in driving the Buhari legacy from the ministry of
transport where was in charge as minister right from 2015 until last year when he resigned to
contest for presidential primaries.
A key figure in the drive all the way, he put up a larger face in the affairs of government than
the ministerial portfolio he held. By word and by action, Amaechi played a notable role towards
both Buhari’s victory at the polls and the success of his administration.
He held himself out as the ‘poster minister’ in the stage, a defender of the President to the core
and a level headed loyalist that can as well pass as a hero worshiper. It isn’t that simple to trust
a politician when it comes to the reason for such a rare devotion. But the Rivers State born two-
time minister of Transport looks good to make his papers with the President if loyalty is tested.
He seems to have played his game well as a right hand disciple of a man he believes in and
whose legacy he has pursued aggressively and has shown that his goal was for his boss to win.
And so the President himself isn’t going to rightly count the dependable people in his
administration without Amaechi making the top names in the list.
One of the major areas of that the Buhari’s government has made a big difference in his eight-
year rule is railway infrastructure development, which the minister pursued with a passion
while in office in order to fulfill the promises of the President to the people.
The records of his stewardship reflect the changes he brought about in the nation’s transport
system. Under his watch, major progress was made in the development of the rail sub-sector,
improvement of security in Nigerian waterways, seaport reorganisation for efficiency as well as
regulatory improvement in the operations of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety
Agency (NIMASA) towards a blue economy project.
The former minister understands the place of railway as a social service that will boost the
economy and did everything he could to ensure he registers Buhari’s name as the man who
made modern railway service happen in Nigeria.
Beyond trying to show his boss in good light, Amaechi was keen to show how his administration
has impacted the lives of Nigerians positively. Railway development was therefore designed to
provide solutions to people and businesses along the linked cities. The targets include creating
employment, empowering manufacturing operations, providing logistics solutions and
attracting new industries around the corridors.
The Abuja-Kaduna rail line and Lagos-Ibadan line that came on stream during his tenure among
other rail projects stand out as some of the biggest infrastructure projects undertaken by the
Amaechi’s challenge on the job is that the projects are capital intensive and they have to
happen at a period that the required funds are not there. He points to railway development as
a visible destination of a good part of borrowings that have happened under the Buhari’s
administration. He said the Lagos-Ibadan rail project was funded with a loan of $1.4 billion.
Notwithstanding the security challenges encountered on the Abuja-Kaduna rail line, it is a great
milestone attained by the Buhari’s administration in making it possible for people to move
between the two cities by rail. The Lagos-Ibadan rail line was given a standard gauge face lift
and rehabilitation of the narrow gauge lines was also undertaken.
Other major projects of the transport ministry include the Ibadan-Kano railway, the Port
Harcourt to Maiduguri and Lagos to Calabar railway projects, the repositioning of the Maritime
Academy of Nigeria (MAN) Oron in Akwa Ibom State and the establishment of the University of
Transportation in Daura.
A marked improvement in maritime safety and security was also a major achievement of the
former minister of transport. He said his ministry contracted the Israelis at a cost of $495
million to secure the nation’s waters for two years.
His ministry alongside the ministry of defence initiated the blue economy project – the main
objective of which is to secure Nigerian waters up to the Gulf of Guinea. The project has three
categories of platforms fully equipped to tackle maritime security issues from land, air and sea.
The specially trained troops on land are equipped with armoured vehicles among others for
coastal patrol. The air assets include special mission aircraft for surveillance, special mission
helicopters for search and rescue operations and unmanned aerial vehicles. The sea assets
include special mission vessels and fast interceptor boats.
Improved security of the waterways has helped to boost investors' confidence and positioned
Nigeria towards harnessing its ocean resources under the blue economy project. A sharp drop
in the cases of piracy and kidnapping in the Gulf of Guinea attest to the success of security
measures in place in the maritime industry.
The benefits to the nation come by way of removing Nigeria from the red list of global maritime
insecurity and consequent reduction in the cost of transporting goods into the country and the
delay time of cargoes at the seaports.
Amaechi has left the duty post at the ministry of transport with satisfaction that he has made
his mark in contribution to the success of the Buhari’s administration. He attributed his
achievements to the commitment of the President in developing rail and other transport
infrastructures as his legacy to the nation.