“2015 will take care of itself“– Princewill
By Nwaorgu Faustinus
For some time now, the grapevine has been awash with reactions, comments, views and scepticism of what the former AC governorship candidate in 2007, Prince Tonye Princewill wants in Rivers State politics, given his past and present actions which some school of thought feel to be a political Launchpad to market himself prior to the 2015 Governorship election .
Some analysts argue that his various billboards with different inscriptions which adorn strategic spots in the state capital as well as his philanthropic works are signs that point to his intention to contest for the 2015 gubernatorial seat. But what does Prince Tonye Princewill, the only scion of the kalabari king make of this?
The above and many other issues agitating their minds regarding the current administration’s policies, actions and perceived inaction, programmes in Rivers State to wit; unabating flooding in the state, transaction that led to the selling of Obiwale Cultural Centre to Silverbird, wisdom behind the building of monorail and its sustainability, etc were what some socio-political commentators or analysts and the fourth estate drawn from Port Harcourt based newspaper sought to know in a media chat at Hotel Riveria recently from Prince Tonye Princewill.
To clarify these issues, the Prince thought it prudent to call for media chat where he can feel their (the Press) pulse through discussion, because they are closer to the grassroots than most politicians and in a better position to gauge the feelings of the common man as regards government policies that affect them either positively or otherwise and spread same to the government of the day through the various media they represent.
Setting the ball rolling, the Prince of Niger Delta Politics as he is fondly called by his associates said he was not disposed always to hear about the good things the present dispensation is doing but attaches importance to hear (the bad and ugly- my words) what Amaechi’s administration is not doing right, for he is a constructive critic of the State government.
Answering question on his link with the transaction that ushered Silver Bird into the former cultural centre (Obiwale Cultural Center), Princewil said it was the first investment he attracted to Rivers State and this can be verified from Silver Bird not minding contrary opinions adding that initially, 80 per cent of the capital was sourced by Silverbird and 20 per cent is from the state government but due to the delays the government has now negotiated a reduced stake for the Silverbird group who now have 70%. This is hinged on the Silverbird giving a 2 million dollar guarantee and evidence of contractor mobilisation. According to him what is on ground at the moment is the first phase of the investment as hotel, shopping mail among others will be incorporated, apart from recent efforts to attract Game and ShopRite - two world class investor outfits to come and invest. Though he admitted the slow pace of work at the Silverbird Cinema with unhappiness, Princewill expressed optimism that in no mean time things will fall into place.
On his assessment of Amaechi’s administration, Princewill scored him 6/10 in his first term as well as 6/10 on his running term based on what he described as “anticipated gains”, adding that in recent weeks his hope has rose but noted that the team on board of the executive does not march the vision of the Rivers State government. “I am not enthusiastic about his team. They have nice schools but buildings do not teach”, said Princewill while expressing his worry about the absence of teachers in some schools. Acknowledging that something has been done in the area of infrastructural development across the state he holds that a lot still needs to be done.
Reacting on the Mono Rail being constructed by Gov. Amaechi’s administration, Princewill opined that there are school of thoughts who believed that the project was a white elephant project doomed to fail but he does not belong to such school of thought. While the government sees the project as viable and beneficial to the government and people of Rivers State, Prince Tonye is of the view that the project is worthwhile, achievable and sustainable in the long run if marched with the needed political will to achieve it.
Responding on what he has about 2015 and what he wants in Rivers State, his answered that 2015 is too far away, to start thinking about it, as according to him it is something he can start while asleep noting that when time comes he would make his intension known because he is not the type of politician who puts hand on the plough and start to look back. “2015 will take care of itself. I am not ruling anything in or out”, said Princewill, while appealing to all to focus on what Rivers State government wants to achieve. On the question on what he wants, this was his reponse: I want to see good roads, hospitals, schools, security etc. I want to see Rivers State move forward and the money for the state to work for the state”.
He explained that the goal, aim or what Princewill’s Political Associates intends to achieve is to arose political consciousness in the apolitical, make members know politics should be people-oriented as well as build army of people who will question, criticize constructively the policies and programmes of the government of the day.
On empowerment he said he was more interested in giving postgraduate scholarship to Rivers State natives but the state government favoured graduate scholarship, explaining that the Rivers state has the largest number of natives who are on scholarships around the globe when compared with other states in Nigeria.
On national issues such as the realistic revenue sharing formula, sovereign national conference and the recent petroleum scarcity in Port Harcourt he said there is need to look for appropriate revenue sharing formula that will assuage the needs of other brother states especially in the north and supported sovereign national conference to be held, as no one knows what the future holds. According to him, the sooner they had discussion the better, because in the absence of dialogue there can only be distrust. Describing the present fuel scarcity as embarrassing, he pointedly blamed the federal government for it.
Finally on his take on the Greater Port Harcourt City. For him it is a project that can be developed in addition to other parts of the state as it can be driven by the private sector.