By ‘Dare Odufowokan And AbdulGafar Alabelewe, Kaduna
TRANSPORTATION Minister Rotimi Amaechi has debunked claims that he is nursing presidential ambition ahead of next year’s election. The former Rivers State governor said on ARISE TV on Friday that those urging him to enter the race should rather give him the money for the procurement of nomination form. “The people that want me to run for the presidency in2023 should just give me the money,” the former Rivers state governor said hours to the National Convention of his party, All Progressives Congress (APC), in Abuja.”
Recall that some groups had called on the APC chieftain to run for presidency in 2023. Last Friday, just before the Minister’s statement, a northern group, Equity Alliance, on Saturday, still threw its weight behind the candidature of Amaechi. Addressing a press conference in Kaduna, the National Chairman of Equity Alliance, Hon. Magaji Baba, said as an organization, they have critically scrutinize all the aspirants from the southern part of the country and came to the conclusion that Amaechi stands out amongst them as a better aspirant to be supported by all and sundry.
“As the Minister of Transport, Rt. Hon. Amaechi has put his footprints as a Minister who has distinguished himself, and with all the achievements in the transportation sector under his leadership, there is no doubt that he will transform the country if given the opportunity. We are therefore urging the ruling party, the All Progressive Congress (APC) to give the ticket to Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi as the presidential standard flag bearer of the party,” Baba said.
Also, Nasir el-Rufai, governor of Kaduna, had recently said he will “reluctantly” contest the 2023 presidency in a joint ticket with Rotimi Amaechi, minister of transportation, if President Muhammadu Buhari insists. El-Rufai spoke during an interview on Channels Television. Asked about the rumoured presidential bid of Amaechi, el-Rufai confirmed that the minister of transportation is interested in being president.“I have said it over and over but I guess the trust in politicians is very low. Nobody believes me. I have said over and over that I’m not a contestant for any office. I’m not an aspirant for anything,” he said.
“Rotimi Amaechi is interested in running for president. He has the right to do so but I’m not running for anything. I’m not going to be on his ticket. When asked of his potential response if Buhari directs him to run for president or serve as Amaechi’s running mate, el-Rufai said he will oblige if the president insists. “That is a different conversation. I will have that conversation with the president and explain to him why I don’t think it is a good idea but of course if he insists I will,” he said.
A frontline politician and a chieftain of the APC in Rivers State, Prince Tonye Princewill, also claimed stakeholders across the country were consulting on behalf of the Minister Amaechi to contest for 2023 presidential election. He said though the Minister is yet to initiate his consultation for the job, he and other stakeholders who believe in Amaechi’s worth have started making consultation to draw support for the former governor of Rivers State as to enable him to contest the 2023 presidential election.
Reacting to the endorsements of his alleged presidential aspiration by groups and individuals, Amaechi said “The people that want me to run for the presidency in 2023 should just give me the money. I need money to survive. Tell them they don’t know what to do. Instead of running around and spending all these monies, they should give me the money. I need money to survive. Whenever they come to you and say they want to appear, tell them to give me the money. That is what I am saying,” he said.
Denying any link between the chieftaincy title he was recently honoured with in President Buhari’s hometown, Daura and a political ambition, the Minister said the people of Daura honoured him because of his efforts towards the establishment of the new University in the town and not because he was being considered for any political position as being alleged. “They recognized my ability to negotiate the University out of the railway contract. It was not part of the deal at all. They also appreciate my insistence on citing it in Daura. A railway line is also passing through Daura into Maradi. These are the things they appreciated and I am grateful to them,” he said.
In spite of the denial, Amaechi’s presidential campaign posters and that of other chieftains of the ruling party flooded the Eagle Square, the venue of the ongoing National Convention of the party. Other aspirants’ posters displayed at the convention venue are that of former Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the Central Bank Governor, Dr. Godwin Emefiele and the current Governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi. Tinubu and Umahi have both declared their intentions to run for presidency in 2023. Emefiele has not publicly announced his interest in the race.