I still want to make a difference in politics, says Princewill
A Prince of Kalabari Kingdom in Rivers State, Tonye Princewill, businessman, petroleum engineer, movie producer, philanthropist and politician, was governorship candidate of defunct Action Congress in 2007 and Labour Party (LP) in 2015. He shared GODWIN IJEDIOGOR his thoughts on, governance and the situation with All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state and country.
Will you run for the governorship of Rivers State next year?
That decision to run, I will like to reserve for after I complete my own consultations, which I will soon begin.
I think it was John Maxwell that said, “He who thinks he leads, but has no followers, is only taking a walk.” I’ve always maintained that for me to run for office, the people I’m fighting for have to be ready to run as well. My primary constituencies are women and youths, the old and the disabled, those who are the most vulnerable. If they don’t support my running, then there is no point, because I’m here to bring change or nothing at all. Status quo politics is not for me.
If the support is there, I will run, but if it is not, I will continue to touch lives from the sidelines. It is not by force that I must be a governor; I already feel like one.
What is your motivation?
Because my people are suffering. Not just from lack of knowledge, but from lack. Plain and simple. They are standing in water and yet soap is still entering their eyes. I want to show them how easy it is to make things better and why it doesn’t have to be this way.
How can I know how to give my people a better option in life and not want to then do so? Many people focus on getting themselves out of poverty. I don’t need to, and my children have been given the tools to take care of poverty eradication by themselves. That’s why my focus is on others.
What is your general assessment of governance in your state and the country?
Poor generally. Some of it is systemic and some of it is leadership based. It is there from federal to state, getting gradually worse as it comes down the chain, but it’s not news and it’s not ever going to change anytime soon.
I don’t bother criticising (Governor Nyesom) Wike again. It’s no use. The people know what is right and what is wrong. He has done some good things and he has done some abysmal things, but whatever he is today, we in APC allowed it to happen. My focus is how to move us forward. The past is the past. Have we learnt from it is the question to ask. I know I have.
What’s your take on division within APC in Rivers State?
It’s not the issue because there will always be division. Unless you are dealing with a party leader who is a dictator, in which case, the divisions will be in hiding, until the right moment comes. So varied voices and saboteurs are a dime a dozen and moles are part and parcel of the game.
Our problem in APC, not just in Rivers APC, but APC nationwide, is that our reward system is deeply flawed. Here in Rivers, our leaders are all waiting for our leader (Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi). One man, to do it all. When he was governor, maybe, but now he isn’t, there is no way that is possible. Some will survive it, others cannot. So, our opponents are taking advantage of it. But not everything is money, as we have seen in the past.
While some have left us, the truth is, we have remained surprisingly intact. That, to me, is a signal of intent. It’s a foundation to build on. Fix the reward system and allow the youth to take their destinies into their own hands and a different tune will start to play out in Rivers.
What is your view on the party’s struggle to hold its national convention?
Is there still a struggle? I believe it’s over. There were differing views on how to proceed. All valid. But time was not on our side and it was not practical to wait for reconciliation to be completed before electing national officers.
What is your relationship with Amaechi, Senator Magnus Abe and others?
I am close with Amaechi, cordial with Abe and fully engaged with others.
What is your take on menace of soot and illegal petroleum refining in the state?
It’s a reflection of the intersection where unemployment meets corruption, entitlement and insecurity. You can act tough on illegal refining, but you also have to be tough on the causes of illegal refining, or else, it’s a non-starter.
And I don’t see any sign of that happening. If the issue wasn’t so serious, how it is being handled, would actually be funny.
Is your friend (Amaechi) running for presidency?
He should contest! There’s a grace that has been covering him and a history that suggests that he was quietly being prepared all along. I wouldn’t rule him out, but I know that his focus is on finishing his work in his capacity as Minister of Transport and doing so strong. You don’t become President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by being desperate.