Through Chijioke Nwachukwu
Except At any last minute shift, Rotimi Amaechi, the Nigerian Transport Minister, would be turbaned the Dan Amanar Daura, on Saturday, February 5, 2022, at the Old Daura Palace, by Alhaji Faruk Umar Faruk, the 60th Emir of Daura. The turban ceremony was previously scheduled to take place on Saturday, February 27, before being postponed to the new date.
The planned event is significant in many ways. It is both unique and instructive. First, it is an acknowledgment of Chief Amaechi’s contributions to the socio-economic development of Nigeria and in particular the Emirate of Daura in his official capacity as Minister of Transport. The establishment of the University of Transport in the ancient city by Amaechi was a bold strategic step in itself. Arguably, Daura does not have its fair share of federal presence compared to similarly relevant historic towns in the North. The choice of the city of Daura as the seat of the first specialized university which would be solely devoted to research and technology in the field of transport in Nigeria and even in Africa is a good turning point which surely deserves another.
It is instructive to note that before this time there was no federal university in the city. China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), the contractor in charge of the project, has already started construction works on 413 hectares of land in the city, near the Niger border. The Chinese construction giant has also pledged to bear the $50 million cost of the project as part of its corporate social responsibility. The people of Daura can be expected to rejoice that the works which were to be completed within 18 months will also be inaugurated by this administration in record time.
Apart from the employment opportunities it provides to the people of Daura and its environs, and indeed to the nation as a whole, the university is expected to produce professionals and technicians for Nigeria’s rapidly growing rail and road networks. Undoubtedly, Katsina and even the North West are considered a catchment area in such an endeavor. The awarding of the title to the Minister of Transport could therefore be seen as a real gesture of appreciation.
But then, observers can argue, quite rightly, that bestowing the title of Dan Amanar of Daura on Amaechi, a Nigerian of South-South descent, at a time like this goes beyond a mere gesture of gratitude in return. This borders on the thorny question of Buhari’s successor in 2023.
Remarkably, political gladiators have since formed alliances and groups in their quest to position themselves for the plum job of the President of Nigeria. Notably, stalwarts of the All Progressives Congress (APC) like Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Transport Minister Amaechi, are reportedly eyeing the job. Indeed, Tinubu, the national leader of the APC, has declared his intention and has gone out of his way to launch consultations in the northern part of the country where the ultimate power currently lies. There is also former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Governor of Sokoto and former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, and former Speaker of the Senate, Anyim Pius Anyim of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who have expressed their interest. Of course, there are other less visible aspirants. They are eminently qualified men for the position to which they aspire.
But Amaechi’s turbaning by the traditional Daura council as Dan Amanar Daura raised a critical and more salient question in leadership, the issue of trust. For observers of political events, this is a bold statement on the position of Daura’s sons and daughters, including Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, in the presidential elections of 2023. In his recent interview on Channels TV, it was asked President Buhari who was his successor for 2023. Specifically, the TV presenter had sought to know the president’s preferred candidate choice in the upcoming presidential election of 2023. The question clearly caught the president off guard. The Feb. 5 event in Daura may have inadvertently exposed what Buhari was trying to hide when he said, “I don’t have a favorite for 2023 and if I do I won’t reveal his identity because, if I do, he can be eliminated before the election. I better keep it.
The title, Dan Amanan Daura gives a clue.
With Amaechi’s coronation, only a few would be left in doubt as to where the president stands on the question of his successor.
The turbaning is an endorsement, a strong and eloquent statement of the position of the current ruling northern establishment regarding the 2023 presidential election. As in all democracies, it is logical to assume that there are dissenting voices based on individual, group or class interests. The North, with its huge and diverse population, has divergent positions, which is expected in a multiparty democracy, but as has often been demonstrated, the interest of the ruling elites of the North has always found convergence on how and who could best protect the interests of the North on the basis of trust.
Recent developments within the ruling All Progressives Congress party vis-à-vis the revised amendment to the electoral law, among other political measures, suggest that Buhari holds the yam and the knife on the questions of the party’s presidential candidate. for 2023. His choice is likely to weigh heavily on the side of confidence.
•Sir. Nwachukwu writes from Owerri, Imo State