The Philanthropic and People-oriented Princewill At 45


By Hector Spiff

The fourth of January of every year is not only an important milestone
but also a remarkable as well as a gala day in the life of the only
scion of the King of Kalabari Kingdom, king (Prof) TJT Princewill,
CFR, Amachree XI, of Buguma in Asari Toru local government area of
Rivers State.

Prince Tonye Princewill, a blue blood, orator, business tycoon,
philanthropist, engineer and consummate politician was born to the
family of King Theophanous Jacob Tom Princewill on 4th January, 1969.
Prince Tonye attended the Hillcrest High School in Jos. He gained
admission to further his education at Federal Government College (FGC)
Port Harcourt where he sat for his WAEC examination in 1985. He
graduated from Petroleum Engineering at the University of
Port-Harcourt. Tonye Princewill who has Master?s degree in Mineral
Resources Engineering at the Imperial College, London has relentlessly
put smile on the faces of many through his philanthropic gestures
which influence his key decision not minding opinions to the contrary.
This many believe to have distinguished him from other politicians or
businessmen from Rivers State.

He started off as a professional with Shell Petroleum Development
Company where he worked as a reservoir engineer. He later on served at
different times as a risk analyst with the United Kingdom?s Oil and
Gas regulatory agency, a back office IT consultant to CityBank Global
Asset Management and as a Chief Technologist to Panasonic UK. He has
business concern which cut across entertainment, waste management, oil
and gas, petroleum products marketing, construction, telecommunication
and transportation.

As a believer and advocate of liberalism, which informs his choice of
political philosophy, Princewill holds tenaciously to the spirit of
equality and liberty. One Mr Eze who in the time past wrote on the
liberalism disposition of Prince Tonye said: ?The political philosophy
of Prince Tonye Princewill is anchored on liberalism as he believes
strongly in equality and liberty. Liberals are known to espouse a wide
array of views depending on their understanding of these principles,
but generally, they support ideas such as free and fair elections,
civil rights, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, free trade,
and right to life, liberty and property?. He holds the opinion that
politics is ?too important to be left in the hands of politicians?.

TP as he is fondly called by his many admirers, prior to 2003 was
prominent for his business perspicacity but his resolution to come
back to his fatherland ? Nigeria and particularly Rivers State to
contribute in resolving the intractable crises in his community-Buguma
was a momentous period when he decided to participate in partisan
politics. As a result of this, he became the governorship candidate of
the defunct Action Congress party in 2007, the leader of Forum of
Organized Opposition Political Parties (FOOPP) from 2008 to 2010 when
he rejoined the Peoples Democratic Party.

Prince Tonye has taken part in many advocacy works, philanthropic
activities, and the entertainment industry among others that made him
to become loved by many which are well captured by many online media
portals, national dailies, regional/local newspapers. If one should
base his selection/contesting for the governorship position comes 2015
on his educational qualification, scholarship scheme, philanthropic
works/humanitarian services, job creation, his sincere love for a
peaceful, development drive-Rivers in all facets, the vim he can
employ in serving his people, there is no doubt he is qualified to
have a shot at Brick House.

Recently, Prince Tonye has been in the news over what he described to
be Mr Amaechi?s mistake given the current perceived proxy political
war orchestrated against Amaechi.

?The short answer is No. Moving to APC is a mistake for him which has
become inevitable. So I call it the inevitable mistake. The Governor
boxed himself into that position almost deliberately and so if it
looks like beer, smells like beer and taste like beer, then let us all
all acknowledge that it is what it is. He chose the path he is
walking. Talk of him being forced to take it is for those who don?t
know any better. Mr President loved Amaechi but Amaechi put that love
aside to perform his first love which was Chairman of the Governor?s
forum and his performance of it undoubtedly brought them into
conflict. He naively thought that it wouldn?t. Many of us advised him
against it but he said, ?The President is the Commander in Chief, I am
just a Chairman, there will be no conflict.? Now we can see how wrong
he was. The President may have made peace with Amaechi but the
President?s men and women wouldn?t especially considering the media
approach he (Amaechi) employed. The insults were too much and it only
made a bad situation worse. People who have tried to kill the
President have made peace with him so why not Amaechi. The answer
comes from the lack of a sufficient desire for peace.

?Very few people have the authority to talk on this matter like small
me. I understood the internal working of Amaechi?s mind on this issue,
I am very familiar with the President?s personal view on this matter,
I have worked with the heads of the current APC family (Tinubu and
Buhari) at close quarters and I understand the pulse of both teams
very well. So when I, who understands this in and out, say Amaechi was
wrong, I know what I am saying and when I who has been there before
say, ?don?t go?, I know also what I am saying. Asking me to go there
is like asking me to return to secondary school after leaving
University many years later. A big mistake. It is the Governor?s
supporters I feel sorry for. He has been Speaker for eight years and
will be leaving as Governor after eight years, so he can?t complain.
But thanks to his decision, his ?inevitable mistake?, many
councillors, LGA chairmen and other political office holders will have
their political prospects cut short. It is them I pity. They are the
real victims, alongside Rivers people. Amaechi will be fine?
Princewill responded during a recent interview.

Prince Tonye is a man who believes and places the interest of his
people above any other consideration. ?This must have informed his
resignation from Vision 2020 committee, to protest a military assault
on Gbaramatu Kingdom, in Delta State. Again, his decision to drop his
ambition to occupy the Brick House in the face of water-tight evidence
that he was rigged out of the 2007 election so as to allow peace reign
in Rivers State was unheard of. Instead he decided to work with Mr
Amaechi in what was called unity government. For Princewill at the
time, the enemy of his enemy was his friend and this made Princewill
and Governor Amaechi at the time to be very close friends but the
situation today is different.

Hear him: ?It is no longer what it used to be but that is also
inevitable. I have supported him at my own expense and it was no
longer wise to continue to do so. Each man to a box they say. Most of
the negativity I get today was because I decided to support Amaechi?s
government in 2007. Some accuse me of doing it for money, others
accuse me of lacking the fighting spirit, and some go as far as
calling me a sell-out. All that because I decided after fighting a
good fight that I should allow what I saw as a divine decision to
stand. I sold all I had to fight the 2007 election but after I
supported Amaechi, I had to leave the state to survive because I was
not a government ?pickin? who survived off government leading up to
2007 so why should I be lazy and become one now? Amaechi knows this. I
did some work but it was not at all commensurate with my input and
even though I finished it after one year, it took them over two years
later to pay me. But I never complained. Amaechi was a good man and I
know he appreciated me.

?Amaechi was like aradite anyway so empowering me was not his first,
second or third interest. I noticed this and went about my business.
Many say I was involved in Silverbird, the 1000 bed hospital, waste
management and many other things but the truth is not what it seems
and one day it will all come out. In 2011, I engineered over 1/2 a
billion Naira of contribution to Amaechi?s campaign. Majority of the
contributors came with money from outside Rivers state. Did Tonye
Princewill see one contract worth that much? No. Yet I still stood by
him. Because I was there for the state?s interest, not my pocket. That
support I gave Amaechi cost me politically but I didn?t look back. I
gave it. In the end God will judge us.

?My people supported him tooth and nail but yet they were not
acknowledged. I asked and asked, they were promised and promised but
even after he told them in public and on National TV that he likes to
keep his word as an example to his children, he didn?t. Still I
supported him. He removed our commissioners in his cabinet, still I
supported him, he promised other appointments and failed, still I
supported him, because I was not there for me. If I was interested in
me, I would have done things differently, had a deal with Omehia and
collected 1.5 billion from him. All this I did because I believed
Amaechi came from God. I never knew him before October 2007, yet I was
more useful to him than people who grew up with him in politics. Many
of my supporters felt that my refusal to fall out with him signified I
was eating fat and content. This was not the case.

?I saw my support as a stabilising force. The Riverine were agitating
for a Governor after eight years of an Odili upland regime. People
like me deciding to stand by Amaechi gave him credibility and soothed
the Riverine / Upland divide that has dogged our state for so long.
One day I sincerely hope that Amaechi looks at my role and realises
that he lost a friend given to him by God. It might be too late for
us, but let him not do this to others. Eventually it catches up with
us. The same man he called corrupt aka Mr Consumables and not wanting
to do politics with is now the interim Chairman of APC in my state,
the same man he called an irritant and refused his calls is now his
spokesman and the list goes on. He deliberately poached members of my
team without the courtesy of my consent and did it only when he needed
them. But I am not bitter. They are good men and deserve recognition.
I am glad for the role I played in their lives. Good luck to them. I
only wish he had recognised them sooner?.

As you get set to mark your birthday, I enjoin you to reflect on
issues in advance that will change the current atmosphere in Rivers
State to what it used to be when you established an amiable
relationship with Governor Amaechi in 2007 and to find a place in your
heart to forgive him in any way he has treated you. This is a divine
call. You may be in different parties but still relate well. This
should be the joy of politics. As you do consider this, may God in his
infinite mercy continue to give you wisdom on how to better the lot of
your people through numerous acts of kindness. ?Happy birthday the
Prince of philanthropy

Hector Spiff can be reached on?

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