By Nwaorgu Faustinus
Though the 2015 gubernatorial election in Rivers State is a few years ahead, there has been palpable questions, discourse in the media, political and elite circles as to whether the former Action Congress Governorship aspirant in 2007, Prince Tonye Princewill, will contest for the governorship position now that he is an active member of the Peoples Democratic Party. While majority of political pundits who have been watching closely the political arithmetic and pulsations in Rivers State had expressed possibility of Princewill contesting for the governorship position, others are of contrary opinion. This view which is held by majority of political observers in the Treasure Base of the Nation may not be unconnected to the plausible, emulative and commendable roles he (Prince Tonye Princewill) has continued to play particularly in his home state since he joined active politics in 2006. In the course of this write-up such plausible, emulative and commendable acts which have made this scion of the Kalabari King popular and also endeared him to a cross section of Rivers people will be reeled out.
This acclaimed political enigma may not need any introduction to those who are familiar with Rivers State and by extension Nigeria politics, but for the sake of those who are not familiar with him, an introduction in two or more paragraphs may suffice.
Introducing this acclaimed political colossus cum enigma, this writer once wrote: Born a prince to the famous 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 a rare 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.
In addition to his educational qualification and being 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 which he resigned because of government troops bombardment of Gbaramatu Kingdom in Nger Delta
This excellent communicator studied Petroleum Engineering at the University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria. He is also a graduate of the Imperial College, London. He has 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 cuts 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 women, youths and graduates through his investment initiatives and connections which cut across oil and gas, telecommunication, information technology, environmental sanitation etc. These women, who sweep major streets and roads and the youths in particular would have been unemployed, indolent or at worse dregs of the society. Princewill is the brain behind his father’s Pet Project and Scholarship Scheme where commendable numbers of Rivers State natives are given scholarship to study one course or the other in the higher institution.
In addition, he has not relented in giving arms to the less privileged individuals, groups or organizations either morally, financially or otherwise. He had in the past donated 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), set of computers and undisclosed cash to the Rivers State Chapter of NUJ, three laptops to the tide newspapers, sponsored twenty youths of Niger Delta stock, plus a few journalists to watch and cover the match between Portsmouth and Man U in Abuja in 2009 where cosy accommodation, feeding and daily allowance were generously provided for two days, sponsored the likes of 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 to the Del-York Film Academy. The above persons are currently owners of million Naira worth of standard studio that will aid them practice all they were taught at the Del-York Film Academy.
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.
As one of the prominent facilitators and sponsors of the first movie (NNENDA) to be premiered in Port Harcourt, Rivers State in October, 2009, Prince Tonye Princewill ensured that the orphans in Port Harcourt were part of the great event. It was indeed a remarkable treat for different orphanage homes in Port Harcourt at the time, when the movie captioned “Nnenda” which highlighted the plight of orphans in Nigeria was unveiled. More than one hundred orphans who had resigned themselves to fate were given 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.
In his additional attempt to reveal to the world the plight of the less privilege, the Melody Shelters Nigeria, a Prince Tonye Princewill backed brainchild with a mandate to raise awareness for the plight of the less privileged in the society especially orphans, set up its first TV Reality Talent competition for orphanages in the country, tagged the Melody Shelters Singing Talent Show. Melody Shelters Singing Talent Show, was a live-in reality programme, where participants were sheltered in a house for a period of one month, which featured singing groups drawn 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. The performance was judged by professional musicians and viewers at home.
The final event saw Godswill Orphanage of Kogi State clinching the coveted trophy and the Championship Prize of N10M while the Runners-up, the Lifetime Orphanage of Rivers State got the Prize of N5M. Rachael Homes, Abuja came in third carting home the N3Mprize.Five Hundred Thousand each was given to the other remaining five Homes as co-champions and what the Prince called “combined winners”.
Given all these good works that have endeared Prince Tonye Princewill and the political acceptance and popularity that he enjoys among his people, he has not yet come out publicly to declare his intention to run for the gubernatorial post.
While doing a comparative analysis on the strength and weakness of four likely aspirant who have not yet declared their intention to contest for the gubernatorial office in 2015 to wit; Engr. Tele Ikuru, Dakuku Adol Peterside, Sen. Abe and Prince Tonye Princewill one Mr. Bekee Anyaleweichi at the tail end of his piece captioned Amaechi’s fears for 2015 wrote: “Princewill is Amaechi’s friend but had not been in the governor’s caucus. Once the leader of the Action Congress, AC in the state, Princewill did a carpet-crossing prior to the last national polls. He had said he did so because his political mentor, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, had earlier done the same. At recent media events, the Kalabari Prince denied upped activities had something to do with the politics of 2015. However, his denials are familiar with men of his class”.
“Yet Princewill stands the strongest contender for the governor’s office from the riverine area but Amaechi’s fear in Princewill, The Neigbourhood gathered, is that his core loyalists and associates would label him a traitor should he hand-over to Princewill considered an ‘outsider’ to the camp”.
Prince Tonye Princewill may not be everybody’s ideal politician or business tycoon. This is because in the realm of active and or passive politics or entrepreneurship one must have stepped on allegedly perceived untouchables but touched toes who are believed to be kingmakers or installers of governors, state house of assembly members as well as their national counterparts, chairmen and councillors of council areas who can constitute an obstacle to those who are seeking elective posts. The above may be the challenge the Prince of Niger Delta politics as he is fondly called by his associates will surmount in the coming years if he declares his intension to vie for the governorship seat in Rivers State.
For now, the question on the lips of political pundits, analysts and observer in Rivers state is whether 2015 national polls with particular reference to Rivers State is really the moment for Prince Tonye Princewill. Time will definitely reveal.
Nwaorgu Faustinus wrote in from Port Harcourt. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org