Princewill: Quintessence of service & philanthropy
By Nwaorgu Faustinus
According to Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia dictionary, Philanthropy is defined as "the love of humanity"—love in the sense of caring for, nourishing, developing, or enhancing; humanity in the sense of "what it is to be human," or "human potential." In modern practical terms, it is "private initiatives for public good.
There are four relatively authoritative definitions of "philanthropy" that come close to the Classical concept: John W. Gardner’s "private initiatives for the public good"; Robert Payton’s “voluntary action for the public good";Lester Salamon’s "the private giving of time or valuables…for public purposes" and Robert Bremner’s "the aim of philanthropy…is improvement in the quality of human life". Combining these to connect modern philanthropy with its entire previous history, "philanthropy" may best be defined as, "private initiatives for public good, focusing on quality of life".
The Holy Bible in the book of the Proverbs chapter 28 verse 27 states that “He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack; but he that hideth his eyes shall have many curses” while the gospel of St Mathew explains the position of Christ on the art of giving which explains philanthropy in this format, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy”
Prince Tonye Princewil, who is seen as an enigma of politics among the new breeds in Nigeria and in particular Rivers State stated on his mission to the world: “I have seen wealth, but, I have not found it interesting accumulating it. What is of interest to me now is how to touch those lives that are not yet privileged to have the basic things they need for survival. I want justice to be done to all and to be able to speak for the voiceless majority who do not have access to the corridors of power. Those are the people I feel most concerned for, and as I said earlier, my desire to make their voices heard by those who lead, made me to join politics”.
The above statement and postulation of the scion of this Kalabari Kingdom in Rivers State in Nigeria on his art and definition of philanthropy is the main treatise of this attempt – to examine the past and recent activities of this erstwhile leader of Action Congress in Rivers State who is commonly addressed as the Prince of Niger Delta politics; though a greenhorn in Nigerian politics has traversed the political terrain of the country like a colossus, exhibiting rare knowledge of any young man of his age. His close political associates have captured his brand of politics thus: “His type of politics is a lesson in pragmatism, activism, political manoeuvres and proactive strategy in solution to political tight issues”.
Before I go into the main aim of this piece, permit me to expose this Prince particularly to any of my readers who is not so au fait with him. Born a prince of the renowned Amachree Dynasty in the Kalabari kingdom with its century-long history of bravery in war and gift of oral narration, trained as an aristocrat par excellence and bequeathed with an uncommon wisdom from God, this Prince hardly needs an introduction in any political gathering in Nigeria. Though it was beyond him to be born a prince, it is however in line with his character, remaining at the apogee of his life’s endeavour, through sheer hard work. The prince is calm, focused, intelligent, insightful and of humble personality.
Known as Tonye to most of his friends; he is a professional engineer and a business magnate who did not take politics as a profession for lack of means of livelihood but as a result of his concern for his people and personal attempts to help them. Even as a private businessman, he has been a people-centered person and has always been critical of corrupt regimes in the state that wasted the enormous resources at their disposal on selfish desires, instead of the empowerment of the people. Before contesting for the governorship position in Rivers state under the Action Congress in the 2007 general elections, Tonye was a senior technical project manager and business analyst of the highest caliber as well as a strategic thinker with an excellent problem-solving ability.
This excellent communicator who read Petroleum Engineering at the University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria is also a graduate of the Imperial College, London. He is a certified PRINCE II practitioner with a sound working knowledge of both ITIL and Change Management and has until quite recently, been a regular presenter on project management issues. In addition to his Information Technology and Oil and Gas interests, Tonye has a business empire that spans across the aviation industry and haulage of petroleum products for the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, and OANDO, a major oil marketing company in Nigeria. But more recently with his just concluded agreements with several strategic investors, his company is involved in strategic placement of resources with the targeted placement of investments from outside and within Rivers state.
In an unemployment ravaging society and being an employment agent, Princewill has been able to employ thousands of youths and graduates through his investment initiatives which cut across oil and gas, telecommunication, information technology etc. These youths would have been unemployed, indolent or at worse social misfits. Not done yet, Princewill is the brain behind his father’s Pet Project and Scholarship Scheme. In addition, he has not relented in giving arms to less privileged individuals, groups or organizations either morally, financially or otherwise. The latest is the donation of a bus to the National Association of Ijaw Female Students (NAIFS), an umbrella body of Ijaw female students both in Nigeria and in the Diaspora.
While premiering the first movie to be so premiered in Port Harcourt in Rivers State in October, 2009 Nnenda, Prince Tonye Princewill ensured that the orphans in Port Harcourt were part of the great event. It was indeed a good treat for various orphanage homes in Port Harcourt recently when a movie captioned“Nnenda” highlighting the plight of orphans in Nigeria was unveiled. More than one hundred orphans who had resigned themselves to fate were given the red-carpet reception and assured that the future is still bright for them.
The orphans were drawn from Lifetime Caring Orphanage Home, Seventh Day Adventists Homes and Port Harcourt Children's Home and given a treat comparable to the one given to the elites' children by Prince Tonye Princewill, the facilitator and sponsor of the movie.
“Nnenda,”a special movie premiere which was targeted at creating awareness on the plight of orphanages featured star actors like Stephanie Okereke, Ramsey Nouah, Francis Duru and Van Vicker. The movie examines the pitiable story of the plight of abandoned babies and the sacrificial attempts of a compassionate Doctor, Dr Nnenda Obiweli (Stephanie Okereke) who played the lead role in the movie to bring hope to the hopeless in the face of opposition from her hospital management. The sub-plots examined a man's (Ramsey Noah) fight against cigarette addiction and the battle between two men (Van Vicker and Adonijah Owiriwa) to win the heart of Dr. Nnenda. The pitiable and sorry condition of the Nigeria public health institution was also highlighted in the two-hour movie.
Unveiling the heart touching movie, Prince Tonye Princewill regretted that the orphans are left behind in the face of development and rapid expansion in the society stressing that the Nigerian society cares little about the orphans who he said were left to their fate.
He stated that the movie “Nnenda” named after the lead character, Stephanie Okereke, attempts to give those who do not have an insight into the lives of the orphans regretting that a lot of Nigerians especially the elites have become so hard from looking at their personal problems without caring for the less privileged. He pointed out that the movie highlighted the issue of environmental pollution, the rundown health care system, impact of smoking and the general insensitivity of man towards man.
In furtherance of his attempt to expose to the world the plight of the less privilege, the Melody Shelters Nigeria, a Prince Tonye Princewill backed initiative with a mandate to raise awareness for the plight of the less privileged in the society especially orphans, is set to launch its first TV Reality Talent competition for orphanages in the country. Dubbed the Melody Shelters Singing Talent Show, it has been conceptualized as a live-in reality programme, where participants will be ensconced in a house for a one month period. The show will feature singing groups from eight orphanages in the country: Lifetime Caring Orphanage, Rivers State; Rachel Orphanage, Abuja; Susanna Homes, Abia State; Gidan Bede Orphanage, Benue State; Godswill Orphanage, Kogi State; Compassion Home, Abia State; Adonai Orphanage, Kaduna and Our Saviour's Orphanage, Delta State. Performances will be judged by professional musicians and viewers at home. All the events and performances will be recorded and broadcast on television before the year 2012 runs off.
Rosemary Princewill, wife of the Prince was on 18th June, 2011 at VCP Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos hosted to a luncheon where her investiture as the Grand Matron of the Organisation was conducted by the Board of Directors of Melody Shelters’.
In his continuous identification with the plight of the youths, he also premiered Kajola the most expensive movie ever made in Nigeria at Silver Bird Cinemas Abuja on 30th July. According to the Prince, “my involvement in the Nollywood movies started with Nnenda, Figureine and now Kajola stems from my passion and love for excellence and the messages this industry wants to pass across to Nigerians so that we rebuild our country and enhance the future of our children. I wish many other Corporate Bodies emulate me and invest in the industry so that our common dream of taking the industry not only to a new height but to the point where we can give the Hollywood and Bollywood a fight of their lives materialises. That is my plea because I am convinced that our young men and ladies need to be encouraged and motivated to sustain the industry and keep our youths engaged which is the bane of our country today."
According to John W. Gardner in his definition of philanthropy "private initiatives for the public good"; Prince Tonye Princewill exhibited it when he recently during the Annual Niger Delta Polo Festival held at the Port Harcourt Polo Club in Rivers State on 28th January, 2012 made a whopping donation of the sum of N25M to the club for the construction of a befitting world class Pavilion in honour of his father, HM King Prof T.J.T Princewill, the Amanyanabo of the Kalabari Kingdom and the Chairman of the Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers.
While presenting the cheque, he stated that he is pleased to be identified with the success that is called the Port Harcourt Polo Club which has been a centre of recreation, relaxation and peace even when it was not safe to go out in Port Harcourt. He reminded people that they should never forget how bad it was before and the role of Governor Chibuike Amaechi in restoring it. He also urged them not to take peace for granted. “I hope to work with the present Executive of the Club into turning the Club into a world class Club every Rivers son and daughter will be happy to be associated with.” He concluded his speech by urging the people of Rivers State to continue to support and pray for the Rivers State Government under the watch of his friend. “With the feats so far recorded by the Governor, I still maintain that I have no regrets withdrawing my case against him in 2007 to ensure that a conducive atmosphere was provided for my friend to perform. Before the end of his administration, I expect all doubters to be proved wrong and converts made out of the Thomases.”
Mr. Bobmanuel the President of the Club who received the cheque on behalf of the club Management from the Prince assured the Prince that his investment on the club will be properly harnessed for the glory of us all. He enjoined others that are blessed to emulate the Prince and invest on projects that unite the entire Rivers State people and the future of our youths in order for us to create the Rivers State of our dream. “With this donation by the Prince, the Polo Club and the game of Polo will surely take a new level in the State.” He commended the Prince and urged him not to relent in all the good initiatives he is doing in the country.
To the world of entertainment now and the five Rivers State Youths that the Prince sponsored to the 2011 Del-York Film Academy are back. Mr Valentine Ohu in Broadcast Journalism, Miss Crystabel Goddy in Acting, Mr Telema Senibo in 3D Graphics, Miss Mercy Akudo also in Acting and Mr Stanley Kotey in 3D Graphics are now brand owners of a multi-million Naira standard Studio that will enable them put into practice all that they were taught during the training by the Del-York Film Academy. The training of these Youths was at huge personal cost to the Prince. He also donated a personal cash award to the most outstanding student. The successful student is now a broadcaster at Channels television in Lagos.
According to the Prince, it is one thing offering scholarships to people and another thing providing them what to do after acquiring the training; that is why I have to go a step further by providing a Studio to make these youth’s employers of Labour and not liabilities to the society. “I wish the Nigerian government, major multinationals, other businesses and blessed individuals will take a cue from this by providing jobs for most of the students enjoying support to acquire knowledge which cannot be channelled. This country needs jobs. We have to remember the youths because the young shall grow.”
Sticking to the world of entertainment and the Prince went another step to institute a fund that would be responsible for fishing out hidden talents and giving them a direct path to greatness. Consultations are still on-going with the technical partners as to the scope the beneficiaries will cover but it is expected to include music, comedy and contemporary dance in the first phase. The initial personal contribution to the fund will be N20 million with the figure expected to rise to match partner funding. “We are blessed to bless others,” the Prince said and I intend to pass the blessings around to encourage those who really want to make a difference. I of course can only do so much but I am determined to do my bit and leave others to do theirs.”
Pastor E. A. Adeboye the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God in a topic titled ‘Impacting Lives?’ “stated that your success in life and your ministry would be measured to a large extent by the number of the jobless youths in your environment, social outcasts and non conformists (area boys) and those in need that could benefit from the resources that God deposited in you. If your Ministry can not impact lives for good, its either you are hoarding your anointing or your oil has run dry. How much impact are you having on the people God has placed under your watch? In answer to Pastor Adeboye’s question, Princewill apart from the much he is doing, he also sponsors the multi million Naira Amachree xi scholarships Scheme for students in higher Institutions in Nigeria. The current beneficiaries totaling about 94 Rivers State indigenes from the 23 Local Government Areas of the State, selected after a vigorous screening exercise and examination gathered at the ancient city of Buguma on Saturday 25th June, 2011 as beneficiaries of the 2nd edition of King Amachree xi Scholarship Scheme (KAXISS) under the supervision of King Prof T.J.T. Princewill the Amachree xi, Amanyanabo of the Kalabari Kingdom and the Chairman of the Rivers State Traditional Council of Royal Fathers. The scholarship lasts until the students complete their education depending on the results they make from their schools.
Finally, Princewill stated that youngsters play a vital role in any country, adding that the training programme is a major and positive one. His words: “You can’t forget the young because if you don’t invest in them today, then we bear the consequences tomorrow. This initiative is a major and positive avenue where you can actually start to make a difference.”
With his intention to do even more, it is clear that many sons and daughters of Rivers state and its non-indigene population will be beneficiaries of the Princes Trust especially now that he has introduced free access with Tuesdays and Thursdays now his official visiting times. No appointment required.
Dr Don Cicero described the Prince’s activities in alleviating the situation of our youths in the country thus; “This is a laudable gesture by the Prince who has consistently shown his altruistic benevolence towards the less privileged in the society. Am proud to be associated with the leader of 'the new breed'; Sir, you are a blessing to Rivers people, the Niger Delta and Nigeria at large-kudos!”
A Social Commentator, Mr. Samuel Ekpe who observed the recent donations by the Prince stated and I quote, “Any sacrifice that cost you nothing is not a sacrifice. But to the blessed Prince Tonye Princewill, his wisdom to impact positively to humanity will remain throughout his generations yet unborn. The law of attraction is like atom which is not indestructible.
On his vision: “Rivers state should be one big development unit. I don't think that what we have now in the state is enough. Certain parts of the state are not yet feeling the impact of government and amenities are not evenly spread. While some areas are begging for the state government attention, others are having more than their fair share of the state's resources. This lopsidedness in the distribution of social amenities needs to be checked so that every part of the state would be adequately taken care of”.
Nwaorgu Faustinus writes from Port Harcourt,