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Wednesday, 18 April 2012


2015 : ‘The moment for Tonye Princewill’
By Chris Eze 

EVEN as discussions and permutations ahead of 2015 general elections are yet going on in hushed voices, political watchers believe that this is the moment for Prince Tonye Princewill, the Prince of Niger Delta Politics.

For nearly a decade, Princewill has remained a dominant voice in the political firmament of Rivers State, with even occasional flashes on the national scene. His foray into serious politicking was when he moved into the then Action Congress Party, AC, and to the amazement of many political watchers brought sanity and stability into the party and steered it out of troubled waters the party had long been swimming in.

Thus he automatically became the leader and financier of the party culminating in his running under the party ticket for the governorship election in the state in the 2007 elections. He not only rebranded the party, but made it the foremost opposition party in the state, where opposition politics had been reduced to a 'bread and butter' thing for many years.

And to demonstrate that he has a clear picture of where he was going and the modus operandi of attaining what he wants he hit the bulls eye by securing one of the best hands the pen has produced in the person of chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze who has turned Princewill into one of the most sought after news makers in the Niger Delta and even beyond.

Throughout the time Princewill sojourned in the AC, he availed Rivers people for the first time in a couple of years, the opportunity for an alternative point of view over issues concerning them contrary to what the PDP led government would always want them to believe. Thus the political consciousness of the people grew in leaps and bounds.
A close associate and follower of the Turakin Adamawa, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the former vice president, Princewill has also amply demonstrated that to be a good leader one must first be a good follower. He has followed and understudied the former vice presidents political character and even when it mattered most in the political history of the Niger Delta, pitched tent with his political mentor against the overwhelming choice of the people of Niger Delta who all rooted for a Jonathan presidency, the same way he decamped from the ACN when Atiku directed all his followers to return to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.

So, in Princewill could be found a consummate party man, dependable loyalist and a team player who is a nationalist indeed. He does not believe that the Niger Delta should produce a president just to take a turn, but that Nigeria should have a president who has what it takes to move the nation to the next level, politically, socially and economically.
And so, for his broadbased vision for our country and the impeccable principles, he holds, Princewill has continued to endear himself to people and organization of goodwill. He is the youngest member of the Economic Think Tank of Rivers State Government that counsels the state on investment and good governance. He is also involved in most key investment decisions of Amaechi Administration. He was member, presidential technical committee on the Niger Delta and was the chairman Niger Delta subcommittee of vision 2020.
Princewill believes and preaches the sermon that all Rivers people should have a stake in building and developing the state despite anyone's political leanings. Thus while in the ACN, he galvanized all the opposition political parties in the state under one umbrella organization and they came to be known as forum of opposition political parties in Rivers State (FOPP).

He used the platform to bring sanity and finesse to politics in the state, thus promoting a healthy opposition that speaks in one voice, instead of having disoriented parties throwing muds and missiles in the name of opposition. So even in opposition he believes that the state is bigger then any individual or any political party for that matter.
When he eventually moved into the PDP, Princewill again galvanized his followers into PPA Princewill Political Associates. Through this platform the Prince of Niger Delta politics has amassed an astounding support for the Amaechi administration, to the extent that observers often wonder why he spends so much to bring the Amaechi government into positive public view more than the government deems fit for itself. At many strategic points in the state capital are towering bill boards with varying inscriptions either professing support for Amaechi or urging Rivers people to key into the programs of the governor.

Perhaps where Princewill demonstrated the highest humanness in him that shocked many observers was when he declined to accept hundreds of billions of naira Omehia camp had reportedly offered him to truncate Amaechi ascension to power even when the Supreme Court had enthroned Amaechi.

Princewill had then opted to withdraw the suit he had instituted against the victory of PDP after the 2007 gubernatorial elections but Omehia and his team wanted Princewill to sustain the action, believing that the tribunal would find sufficient reasons to cancel the election and order for a fresh election. But Princewill refused to be a conduit to nail Amaechi! Observers often refer to this gesture of Princewill whenever Amaechi goes about boasting that he is a product of the Supreme Court, forgetting that his case could still have gotten another k-leg here if Princewill was hungry, looking for money.

Beyond all this, Princewill has been going about touching lives in various ways. Mention his name in the orphanage homes in Port Harcourt and see the inmates all stand in awe because of the impact Princewill has made in their lives. And it was for the sake of such less privileged children that Princewill got involved in the production of a movie entitled "Nnenda", which was dedicated to showcasing the plight of the less privileged children in our society and calling attention to their care and upbringing.

Recently, Princewill also gave hundreds of millions of naira to some Nollywood artists to enhancing their career and extended micro credit to the women in PPA. He is unarguably the only politician in Rivers State whose door is open to journalists 24 hours a day.
Although not overly ambitions, there is no way anybody doing any informed analysis and projections into 2015 elections in Rivers State would not factor Princewill seriously into the discussion. He has demonstrated purposeful leadership in many spheres. He has taught many that selfish interest should be subsumed under the greater interest of the state. He has given unequalled support to the incumbent government in the state. He is also involved in many of the investment decisions of the incumbent government and as such, the problem of continuity or sustenance of ongoing program of government would non existent if he becomes governor.

Even if he argument would be on power shift in the state as the people are fighting hand to play down the Riverine- upland dichotomy Princewill would still be in the picture. The Riverine people started looking up for the governship position since the Peter Odili era. Amaechi has also come with the Riverine still playing the second fiddle. The Riverine many come out boldly and strongly this time to make a claim and Princewill a Kalabari Prince from the Riverine may be their joker.

This however does not mean that it is only when the choice is narrowed down to blocs that Princewill will have a chance. Far from that. The Prince of Niger Delta politics as he is often addressed has his influence traversing even beyond the creeks of the Niger Delta. As he is received and accepted in Kalabari his native home, the same way the Ikwerres, Ogoni, Etches, Opobo, etc receive and accept him based on his proven track record.

The governor of Rivers State recently made a curious statement. He said he would not have a hand in choosing his successor. Let us believe him, and expect a level playing field. When that times comes, it may not be surprising if Princewill having endeared himself to all the nooks and crannies of the state emerges almost effortlessly. But come to think of it would it not even serve Amaechi better that he is succeeded by one who has almost a similar idea on how best to govern and develop the state as Princewill has hinted demonstrated over the years.

Princewill apparently knowing that the bell is tolling for him to come of the shadows to make a statement about his 2015 plans had hinted that when he makes up his mind on 2015, it would be public knowledge without fear or favour, but with the consent of a multitude of stakeholders. Rivers people are waiting.

Chris Eze is a Port Harcourt based Journalist

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