The presidency has yet to respond openly to the series of audio leaks exposing remarks Transport Minister Rotimi Amaechi made about President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC government.
But there are indications Amaechi, who doubles as the APC Presidential Campaign director-general, may have touched Aso Rock in the raw with those unguarded statements.
President Buhari handed over the campaign machinery to the party national leader Bola Tinubu on Monday, saying he doesn’t want governance to suffer because of his campaign.
But the APC critics believe the move might have been occasioned by the leaks, which Amaechi has not refuted directly, thereby making him appear unreliable to Buhari and the party.
It is also speculated that Amaechi’s frosty relationship with Tinubu has been worsened by the reveals, and Buhari has to dance to Tinubu’s tune—which is harsh, as far as Amaechi’s leadership of the campaign goes.
Sources within Aso Rock revealed to the National Daily that since the leaks originated from the opposition Friday, the minister has been getting cold shoulders in the seat of power.
The nullification of the APC primaries in Rivers, Amaechi’s state—which effectively leaves the party with no guber or NASS contestants in the 2019 general elections—has also frittered whatever is left of the former governor’s political stock. Which means he’s now expendable.
In the first leak released on Friday, Amaechi said things many Nigerians perceived as disparaging to Buhari.
“The president does not listen to anybody. He doesn’t care. You can write what you want to write. The president doesn’t care. Does he read? He will read, he will laugh. He will say ‘come, come and see, they are abusing me here,’ said the minister in the first audio leak.
In the second leak, the campaign DG joked about the suffering Nogerians have to endure in three years of Buhari’s government.
“Three years of Buhari oo, everybody is crying, crying…pressmen are crying, farmers are crying, workers are crying, politicians are crying, students are crying, three years oo!” said Amaechi.
“The rate of poverty is very high. The people are hungry. Nigeria will never change!”
The third leak revealed how he compared Lagos with Abuja, describing the formal capital as a jungle.
“I live in Abuja, tell me where else we have infrastructure. Lagos is a glorified village. The only difference between Lagos and other cities is the fact that business is in Lagos, everybody is there doing business, so you can at least have food,” he said.
Amaechi’s aides have however dismissed the leaks, saying they were doctored by the PDP, and probably were twisted versions of what he said in 2014 about the Goodluck Jonathan administration and the then ruling party PDP.
In his own response many had anticipated would be loaded with denials of the audio leaks, the minister made no reference whatsoever. He just went on blasting the PDP.
“I appeal to Nigerians don’t give one vote to the PDP. They are hungry, they can’t stand poverty, they can’t stand not touching government money. Where money is given for prayers in Nigeria, I can pray in my church, nobody is giving me money to go and pray,” he said Monday during the inauguration of the campaign council.
“The President said he will fight corruption; that he is doing. We met a tattered economy that if we did nothing, Nigeria would be at a mess. But today the economy has been growing.”
Amaech was among the nPDP governors that skipped out of the PDP in the run-up to the 2015 general election when he worked for then opposition APC as the presidential campaign director-general.
His loyalty to Buhari made him one of the closest ministers to the president, and had been lapping up the favour that comes with being close to power.
But all that favour might have gone with the wind of the audio leaks.