A Latin phrase: “nil admirari (wonder at nothing) comes originally from Horace’s Epistles, in nil admirari (proper res est una … quae possit facere et sevare beatum) [“to wonder at nothing (is just about the only way a man can become contented and remain so)].”
Though the veracity of the above submission could not be vitiated, however, nothing could make one cease from wondering how Mr. Rotimi Amaechi undertook a full-time study at Baze University, Abuja, during his stewardship as the Federal Minister of Transportation in Nigeria.
Again, though learning starts from conception till death, and educational pursuit is neither time nor age-bound, yet, it is know that “there is season for everything under the sun”. More so, as no wildcat moves about in the day; likewise a well-bred individual would neither night-crawl nor indulge in a self-serving scheme under the façade of serving the nation.
For this reason, I am wondering seeing a man accorded an uncommon privilege to revolutionize the Nigerian transportation system to a world-class standard and imprint his name in gold, but sacrificed the opportunity in desperation to obtain a Bachelor degree in law. Well, this sustains the fact that everyman decides whether to walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.
To jog our memory, having served as the Speaker, Rivers State House of Assembly for 8 years, and as the Executive Governor of the same State for 8 years, Rotimi Amaechi was appointed by President Mohammed Buhari as the Federal Minister of Transportation on November 11, 2015 and served in that capacity till the expiry of the first-term of Mr. President in May 28, 2019. He was reappointed to the same office on August 21, 2019. However, following his ambition to become Nigerian President, Amaechi resigned on May 16, 2022 to contest his party’s (All Progressive Congress) presidential primary election. He came second in the contest.
Indubitably, a good transportation system is the backbone of the economic development of any nation. A good transport system is sacrosanct to ease of doing business, as the connectivity of villages, towns and cities facilitates the seamless movement of goods and people. Therefore, a good transportation system attracts investment inflows and boosts industrialization and economic diversification.
Following this, the depth of my amazement has been unfathomable since I read in the national dailies about how Amaechi, who sat at the expense and comfort of the people of Nigeria while serving as the Federal Minister Transportation, jubilated in a “coup de theatre” manner, for bagging a Bachelor of Law (LLB) degree during the 9th graduation ceremony at Baze University, Abuja on November, 19 2022.
Regrettably, this former Minister had crafted a cavalier attitude to rules, principles and people feelings, by shirking his duties and responsibilities. In fact, he had converted at the expense of the nation, the official hours he ought to have deployed solving the county’s transportation problems to gratify his selfish ambition.
Most dishearteningly, as if the conduct conforms with the global best practices and/or apropos of someone holding such a highly exalted office, Mr. Amaechi put his head on the block, and boasted in a kindergarten-like manner while being interviewed on the subject. Vanguard of November 20, 2022, reported him saying:
“When I hear people say I bought a degree, I just laugh. I laugh because until I started campaigning for presidency I never missed a class. So for three years and six months, I never missed a class …
“The school gave me an award for being diligent and punctual”, he affirmed.
This is a win-lose award. The gain for Amaechi is the loss for the nation. The loss occasioned by conflict of interest. With no compunction, instead of maintaining a stance “if the sky falls I shall catch larks” as being expected from every public office holder, he startled everyone revealing how he enmeshed himself in the act of privatism and in “near is my kirtle, but nearer is my smock” conduct, disclosing as follows:
“I would go to school as early as 8am and report to work by 6pm. I would work from 6 pm to 11 pm and sometimes 11:30 pm then go home. I did that on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. Wednesdays were cabinet meetings. I worked Wednesdays and Fridays.”
The statement issued by the Media office of the former Minister which was reported in the November 20, 2022 edition of the Premium Times captioned: “Amaechi graduates with Law degree”, which I reproduced hereunder, corroborates the epithetic and absentmindedness with which the ex-minister served Nigerians:
“The former minister, in his numerous inspections of projects under the ministry, was seen reading books in his engagement with the contractors and workers on sites.”
November 20, 2022 edition of MONEY CENTRAL report on the scandal captioned: “Amaechi Bags Second Class Upper Degree in Law from Baze University” (https://moneycentral.com.ng) speaks volume:
“For instance, during the inspection of the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail line, Amaechi would use the opportunity to transit from one station to the other in reading ahead of his examinations”
Was Amaechi forced to accept this appointment? Could any servant concurrently serve two masters satisfactorily? It is only an unpatriotic persona that would not had resigned at the commencement of such a study.
No wonder, the train en-routing Lagos-Ibadan had to stop abruptly mid-way on Thursday, March 10, 2022 for running out of diesel because the boss was in the classroom, receiving lectures.
Surprisingly, the Presidency had never berated Mr. Amaechi work ethics to date. Is the silence not validating the assertion that the Federal Executive Council Members and other public officer holders in Nigeria are just doing whatever they like, pretending to serve the nation while feathering their own nest?
Even in the corporate world, any manager that resorts to maximizing personal interest at the expense of its principal – shareholders – is sanctioned or fired. Unfortunately, nothing is mandating, the public officer holders in Nigeria to hold themselves accountably and responsibly.
To face the fact, between ASUU who agitated through a “dialogue of the deaf” for 8 months, demanding a better condition of service to pave way for improved output in our Universities and Mr. Rotimi Amaechi who reported to office at 8 pm on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, after official closing hours, when the staff of the Ministry he superintended over had closed for three and half years, who ought to have been reprimanded with the policy of “NO-WORK, NO-PAY”?
If it is true that every tree is known by its fruit, the question is, “could a nation sowed thorns and gathers figs or planted brambles and reaps grapes? Obviously, no country that pampers such Amaechi’s work ethics would not be tanking consistently in all her socio-economic fabrics.
The failure to sanction Amaechi unpatriotic work ethics is a tinderbox for the country. It is signaling a time when public office holders in Nigeria would be concurrently undertaking a full-time study/employment abroad.
To this end, I call on President Muhammed Buhari to commence the process of recovering salaries and allowances proportionate to 8 am to 6 pm Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thurdays for three years and six months which Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, as the Federal Minister for Transportation collected, but did not worked for.
I conclude with the motto of HAWAII “ua mau ke ea o ka ai-na i ka po-no (the life of the land is established in righteousness)”.