The past year plus has been nothing short of a bag of total stress in more ways than one. A stress on not only me and my family but on my friends, my supporters and on all those who supported me in the battle to rid Rivers State of the evil of Sir Dr Peter Odili his legacy of dictatorship, looting disregard for human life and the now all famous rule of law.
Top on the list of those who faced this stress is my beloved wife Rosemary who has been a rock and a foundation in taking care of my twin boys Teetee and Teepee in deplorable and unimaginable conditions. With resources a mere shadow of what they used to be she understood the mission, endorsed it wholeheartedly and participated up front in the pains it brought not knowing from day to day if she would ever see her husband again or whether those pains would have any gains.
Alongside her were many others who never wavered in their commitment and support. At this point I want to reserve a special mention for the media. You have given me a voice and without that voice we would have been nothing, gone nowhere and impacted on no-one. A special thank you must be reserved to the Rhythm FM team and the staff of the HARD TRUTH for kick starting this dream and introducing me to many of you.
Without all of you we wouldn’t be here. You have demonstrated to people with an honest disposition and an honest mission that anyone can through the media wage a war against tyranny. Such is the material democracy is made of and I urge you all to look out for other Princewills we can all support. Money is not everything. Relationships are. With our friendship as an investment, we can live a quality of life others can only dream of. I intend on setting that example and proving this theory.
Let me use this opportunity to also thank my supervisors, Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze my media Chief a man who defines the word commitment, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu my very own Professor of politics, Chief Tom Ikimi my umberella and defender and of course the leader himself and the true defender of democracy Atiku Abubakar who watched me take my first steps and trusted me not to fall. The man, whom ensured that Obasanjo retired on time and the disaster of the third term, did not see the light of day for a price we all now see. These four persons dared to believe in me. That was all I needed to get a fighting chance.
Many don’t realize that this was my first attempt at politics. Less than a year ago I knew none of these people and many in the media knew me only as a business man who as the son of the Amanyanabo dabbled in community issues. Many do not realize that as a result of the Buguma crises and the resultant consequences, I came to the conclusion that the Rivers State government was not sincere and certainly not capable in its dealings with the people. I by extension concluded therefore that the only way out was to change the system by removing it from the hands of the insincere and putting it in the hands of the sincere. My decision to run was guided by the inability to find anyone within the political class I could rely on. This was a clear case of do it yourself so I did.
Many people thought I was joking or maybe even looking for political relevance. They saw me in the same political mould as politicians gone by and concluded that I had to have been sponsored. I never blamed them. They knew nothing about me. That I was the son of a King, with an upbringing to match, that I was an Imperial College graduate with experience in companies worldwide like Citibank Global Asset Management, Intel Online, Sony, Panasonic, Kuwait Petroleum the London Stock Exchange, e.t.c. That I was living comfortably without any government support and irrespective of which government was in power. That I own companies in the upstream and downstream oil and gas, information technology and aviation sectors and that some of these companies are doing business transactions in the region of over 500 million USD a year. I say I don’t blame them because I have always been underestimated. That is what my political foes continued to do, so it is nothing new.
Now that the Supreme Court judgment has come and gone we have all had to come to terms with it. Its clarity and decisiveness was I believe a strong message to those in the PDP that had sought to act like they were the law. Amaechi got his compensation and we were denied the opportunity to finally test our popularity with the electorate but I am not bitter. His victory is not for him alone. I will claim it too. It is way too significant for that. At first I was caught up in the euphoria of Omehia’s exit to realize that Amaechi’s entry was even more significant. After all it was we who had told Omehia not to change the curtains in government house as he would not be there long and that if they think they had done carry go they would carry it and come back. Not until I met Amaechi and had a conversation with him on the plane on his way to swearing in did I realize that Rivers State would move beyond hating Odili to loving itself once again.
Many people think Amaechi and myself are old time buddies even though we have never had a proper conversation until the day of his swearing in, some say he sponsored me even though I came to realize that he was struggling just like me to fund his own legal bills. I remember seeing him as an accomplice to the previous eight years of Odili and having little respect for his candidacy when it was first announced. That was what informed my statement the day after the PDP primaries when I said that Rivers State would have a clear choice between Continuity and Change. Continuity represented by Amaechi and Change symbolized by me. I think what Amaechi went through in the past nine months has changed him and so even though I meant what I said then I believe it no longer applies now.
Fighting for the sake of fighting is not me. I am more at home in the board room than in a political party meeting. When a Prince like me comes out to fight something is really wrong. Something was really wrong in Rivers State so I came out. For now we are comfortable with Amaechi’s first steps and will want to keep him on the right track so as to avoid another fight again. We however remain vigilant and contributory. His failure would be the failure of a generation and ours to bear. I see the hand of God in this and so I bow to superior wisdom and have asked my lawyers to withdraw with immediate effect my petition at the election petitions tribunal. Prior to this action I received not only consent from Atiku and Tinubu, but from my state Exco, my women’s wing youth wing, Chairman’s forum and my beloved elders of the party. This I believe is unprecedented in recent political history and a sign of things to come.
Let me reiterate that in reaching this decision I have taken the interest of Rivers State as my guide. My interest and ambitions are secondary and no financial agreement has been received from Amaechi before reaching it. I have no doubt that we will reach an agreement of some sort in the near future but even if I am wrong I will have no regrets that this was the right thing to do. Many financial inducements have been pushed in my direction to encourage me to continue with the tribunal matter from sources one could only imagine. If I was interested in my own pocket, I would have been tempted as others have to walk this path. It never crossed my mind for one minute. As I said in my last interview I can serve as Governor or as Tonye Princewill but either way I will serve on the right side of those who have been wronged.
I want to end this by dismissing any insinuations that I am planning to leave my party. I remain a loyal member of the Action Congress and its leader here in Rivers State. As the true defender of democracy and the only party to institute substantive legal proceedings against the illegal Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission, I feel a lot more comfortable leading the opposition. For now we will encourage Amaechi to lead government and if possible we will play a role in the affairs of state. I not wanting any political appointment find it necessary to retreat to the background and allow my party faithful to play a more active role in the day to day affairs of the state. I will in the next few days grant more exclusive interviews explaining my vision for the state and what lessons we can learn from the recent past. I want to thank you all for coming and wish you a safe journey back. God bless us all, God bless Rivers State and God bless Nigeria.
Prince Engr Tonye T.J.T. Princewill
Action Congress Gubernatorial Candidate
Rivers State, 2007