Missing Transport Minister?

One of the more controversial nominees in the cabinet of President Buhari, is the Honourable Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi. There was a degree of opposition to his nomination and numerous petitions were filed against him. Now after being installed there are even greater questions surrounding his competence and focus as the serving Honourable Minister of Transportation.

When he began his tour of the national railway system, the honourable minister stated that he did not even know that Nigeria still had a railway system . His admonition throws into serious question his capacity to do the job that he was assigned by the president. In late 2015, he indicated that the government would create and implement a transportation master plan which has not been completed.

Before his appointment the president initiated a review of the national carrier, to date, the ministry is still working on this according to the honourable minister . Seven months ago I tabled a plan to revamp the national aviation sector that the government remains heavily invested in through AMCON and NEXIM bank. It seems from these developments that the honourable minister has a number of uncompleted assignments and a lot of learning to do with respect to Nigeria’s transportation system.

Despite this, today the honourable minister is back in his home state, where he remains heavily involved and focused in the local affairs of the state he used to govern while neglecting the nations transportation portfolio he was assigned by the president. The relocation of the minister away from his office headquarters in Abuja to focus on local affairs of his home state, given the current state of uncompleted assignments on his desk, is a gross dereliction of duty, to say the least. If the ruling APC truly needed a representative to go Rivers State, there are other people it could send than a serving honourable minister to go and meddle in the affairs of his home state and ignore his national responsibilities in the capital. The question is, why does the minister have such a vested interest in the local politics of the state he used to govern?

One of the charges that his predecessor, Governor Wike, has been leveling at him is how he spent 500 million dollars of his states money on a monorail that he never completed . The monorail project in Rivers, is a system designed by Intamin , and is identical to the monorail that was constructed in Moscow Russia for 240 million dollars by the same monorail manufacturer (SEE: http://www.liquisearch.com/moscow_monorail). Despite this, in Rivers state the same system has not been completed after spending more than double this amount–SEE:

1. http://guardian.ng/news/rivers-monorail-project-no-longer-tenable-after-gulping-n33-9b-says-technical-partner/

2. http://businessdayonline.com/2013/05/rivers-n150bn-monorail-project-to-be-completed-2015/

Given these irregularities, it makes no sense that today Rivers State is still without a functioning monorail, given that the government in Russia, which like Nigeria also has high levels of corruption, was able to construct an identical monorail system from the same manufacturer for less than half of what was spent in Rivers state. What is more disturbing is how, given these serious irregularities, it was deemed that Rotimi Amaechi was best suited to be the honourable transportation minister? His acknowledgement that he did not know the state of the national railway and current decision to run away from his responsibilities at his ministry to relocate to his home state speaks volumes about where he is in handling this very critical portfolio.

It is not clear what the ultimate goal of the honourable minister is by relocating to his home state and ignoring his national responsibilities. If his ultimate goal is to silence his critics and hide his record, particularly on the still uncompleted $500 million dollar monorail project, already more than double the cost of the identical fully-completed Moscow monorail, there is nothing that abandoning his ministry will do to hide these gross irregularities he has on his record back in his home state. Going forward, given the serious issues the president has already had with personnel in the budget ministry, it may be time to reevaluate a personnel shift at the ministerial level in the transportation ministry as well. Given that the minister is more focused on the affair in his home state, perhaps he is signaling his preference to be the honorable minister of Niger Delta Affairs and not the transportation minister. Certainly given his background and record, he arguably has a much stronger case to make for the Niger Delta portfolio than for the transportation portfolio.

Kuranga and Associates Limited is an investment management advisory firm and an asset manager with a principle practice area of Africa. To learn more about Kuranga and Associates go to www.kaglobal.net . © Copyright 2016 David Kuranga. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Articles by David O. Kuranga, Ph.D.