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Amaechi and Emiefile: APC’s shadow presidential aspirants (I)

When it comes to the names being mentioned as possible presidential candidates for the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) in the 2023 elections, the ones…

When it comes to the names being mentioned as possible presidential candidates for the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) in the 2023 elections, the ones that prominently feature are Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to a large extent and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. Former President Goodluck Jonathan is occasionally thrown into the conversation but as everyone knows he is the default option of a gaggle of powerful persons in the Aso Villa in their calculations as to who will best serve their interest in a post Buhari presidency.

We do often also hear of significant others like Transportation Minister Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and Central Bank Governor Godwin Emefiele. Indeed for the two we see more than we hear of them as presidential aspirants.

For Amaechi we see of him being turbaned as “Dan Amana” in Daura, President Buhari’s hometown in an elaborate ceremony which many believe is a prelude to the declaration of his presidential ambition. We also read reports in the media (most likely leaked by his media minders) that he is the secret “anointed’’ of President Buhari and all the shenanigans happening in the party are to pave the way for him to eventually get the presidential ticket of the party.

Just recently, Amaechi came out to debunk “rumours’’ that he was interested in running for the presidency. But I believe, like most Nigerians, that even Amaechi himself knows that it will be easier for a camel to walk through the eye of the needle than Nigerians will believe him.

Of Emefiele however, absolutely mum is the word from him as to his presidential ambition which like Amaechi’s is one of the worst kept secrets in the polity. The dour, taciturn central banker thinks he has us all fooled that he is not interested in running for the job and that all the ostentatious bills and posters and Emefiele-must-contest-presidency demonstrations are the handiwork of admirers not linked to him in any way.

But we all know that is the corniest gag in Nigeria’s political system. Amaechi and Emefiele are not only interested in running for the presidency; they are actually bankrolling (that word again) well-oiled campaign activities to achieve their presidential ambitions.

Emefiele for example is allegedly working with powerful persons within the presidential villa very close to the President Buhari whose support he seeks in that regard. Sources told me he allegedly underwrote half the cost of the last APC convention which accounts for why it was his supporters, bills and posters that were more prominent than those of others at the Eagle Square Convention venue of the event. For the resources he allegedly contributed in helping to organise the event, he allegedly extracted a commitment to have his presence more prominently displayed than those of others.

Emefiele has also secured the services of a prominent publisher who is a consummate lobbyist and influencer in the vast world of public affairs in Nigeria. The publisher in question is the one behind the public campaigns and under the radar intensive lobbying currently going on to push the Emefiele candidature across the length and breadth of the country. Thus far this aggressive campaign push has netted Emefiele the secret endorsement of many ministers, governors, prominent political figures, National Assembly members and traditional rulers across the country.

As for Amaechi, although his campaign structure is not as elaborate, his campaign strategy is nonetheless deep rooted.

Amaechi reveals the fact that as the director of President Buhari’s presidential campaign in 2015 and 2019, he is to a large extent indispensable as a member of the president’s kitchen cabinet.  He leverages on the warm regard that he enjoys from President Buhari and the positive sound bites emanating from the president on the projects he has been able to implement, especially the railways.

The fact that Amaechi superintends a ministry whose activities impact visibly on the public enables him to milk them for the positive optics they generate. And this Amaechi has exploited to the fullest in his bid to promote his under the radar presidential campaign through his publicists.

But Amaechi and Emefiele have got to know that there is something not so kosher about their presidential ambitions. There are ethical, procedural and even moral questions swirling around which the two cannot ignore even though they may both seek to do so. And Nigerians are justifiably asking these questions in view of the positions both of them presently occupy which imposes on them a code of behaviour consistent with the demands of public probity and integrity.

In his characteristic devil-may-care attitude, Amaechi often damns the consequences and defends his actions even when they sometimes fall short of the standards of public service propriety. He often does this on the altar of his own definition of selflessness, patriotism and service to the country. And by implication he seeks to invite Nigerians to look away from what possible infractions there may be in his many public centred actions all because he thinks and defines them in his own way as being for the public good.

But can Nigerians lower the bar of their expectation of probity from public officials just because they present themselves in the garb of messiahs as Amaechi is doing? Indeed what are the tangible benefits that Amaechi brings to the country in his activities as transportation minister that may warrant Nigerians to grant him the latitude he seeks in doing what he is doing outside of the bounds of public service regulations?

 

(To be continued)