The governorship candidate of the Action Congress (AC) in the April 14 elections in Rivers State, Prince Tonye Princewill has warned the immediate past governor of the state, Sir Celestine Omehia and his political godfather, Dr. Peter Odili against doing anything that would distract the new administration of Governor Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi.
He said their days were gone for good in the state, adding that the new governor was capable of taking the state to the next level. The AC candidate gave the warning at the weekend in Lagos while announcing the formal withdrawal of his petition at the Rivers State Elections Tribunal.
Princewill said the gesture was an endorsement of the Amaechi administration, which he described as one of the best things to happen to Rivers State. The AC stalwart who said he had no plans to quit his party for PDP disclosed that Omehia tried to bribe him to withdraw his election petition at an earlier stage but he bluntly turned it down.
He explained: “We believe very strongly that even though we were hesitant whether to continue or not, we are happy with ourselves because before now, when Omehia was there, he was trying to give us money to discontinue the petition but we did not give them attention. We stuck to our guns on the matter.”
Princewill also assured that he would not allow Omehia and Odili to stage a comeback. “We know that people like Odili and Omehia are there to pull him (Amaechi) down, but we are going to make sure that does not happen. So, it is an endorsement but one with a caveat,” he said.
He explained that his endorsement of Amaechi was to embolden him to step forward and do his best for the state.
Princewill pointed out that his decision to back Amaechi was not undertaken in a hurry. “We did not arrive at this decision overnight, we carried along all the stakeholders.”
I talked with the youths, women, elders and AC chairman in the LGs and the state executives. From time to time, I brought them all together but independently they all sat and looked at the matter and reached a decision. They wrote a letter of approval.”
He expressed the belief that if the Supreme did not nullify Omehia’s election he would have been defeated by him at the tribunal because he never really won the April 14 governorship fairly and squarely. He said “ First of all we fought and we fought gallantly. And I truly believe that Omehia would not have won the election if there was a free and fair election in Rivers State. He also argued that if the Supreme Court had ordered for another election in the state, Omehia would have been defeated.
He however expressed joy that Odili and his protégé, Omehia have been uprooted saying that gives us enough reason to “bury our personal ambition.” To him now that Odili’s vestiges have been removed, “continuing my petition against Amaechi would not have made a good sense. That would have sent a wrong message, especially in view of the fact that everybody is interested in doing something that would help move the state forward. We have somebody that we can work with. Also continuing with the petition would have been an opportunity for Omehia and his mentor (Odili) get into the stage through the back door.
Princewill reasoned that if Amaechi did not pass through the ordeal of fighting PDP, Odili and Omehia to retrieve his mandate, he (Amaechi) would have been a continuation of Odili. “But what he went through in the past nine months has given a rethink. I am inclined to believe that he is a changed person, that is why I am supporting him.”
Princewill stressed that the whole process of Omehia’s dethronement together with his godfather was a divine occurrence. “Let me just tell you that some of these things are not done by men’s power, God is behind it all, He is in control. When Amaechi started this battle, a lot of people thought that he didn’t have a chance. I will tell you that this is a victory for all of us, all of us can claim it.God managed to move Odili and Omehia out of Government House and it is that same God that would grant victory to Amaechi and all of us.
“You have to understand that people like me are not here for any personal gain or benefit. I am much more broke than I was before I started this election, I am even much more broke than I was when I withdrew this case from the tribunal. So it is not for any personal benefit, we are committed and I can assure you that Omehia and Odili’s power joined together is not more than my own.
“So if they want to come back to Government House through the back door, they will have to contend with me. I don’t even want to talk about Amaechi and other people which they will contend with. I can assure you that they will have to go to the moon and back 20 times but they will not succeed. Our commitment is total.”
The AC gubernatorial candidate said his withdrawal from the tribunal does not affect the petition of his party’s presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar at the presidential election tribunal in Abuja . “He is very right to continue his case against Yar’Adua’s election. When you look at it you will know that PDP has not rid itself of the Obasanjo influence. Now in the case of Rivers State, with the kind of experience, Amaechi went through, he has been freed from the Odili influence. So if I had discovered for one minute that Amaechi was being guided by the shadow of the past administration, I wouldn’t have withdrawn my case. Atiku must be feeling that Yar’Adua is being guided by Obasanjo, so that would make him to continue.”
Princewill hailed some steps taken by Amaechi since he was sworn as quite encouraging. They include the stoppage of the demolition of Port Harcourt Waterfront; the putting in place of the state Economic Advisory Council which consists of many anti-Odili individuals, the stoppage of the planned local government election and others. He said that unlike Amaechi, the first thing Omehia did when his government was sworn in was to give a N7 billion contract to build a shopping mall which he described as ridiculous. “You see shopping mall in Lagos , people put their money down, what government does is to give land and make the environment conducive. Funds for the mall are raised by private investors. And we don’t have such in Rivers State or Niger Delta masterplan.”
He further argued that Amaechi is a lot more cerebral than Omehia. “We have sat down and discussed a lot of issues and how they should be implemented. We have talked about that we should invest more on human capital, develop the human capital. He is very cerebral. We are exchanging ideas. It is a working project, let’s see how it goes.”
Princewill said he was said he was not interested in any appointment. “I contested for governorship, I don’t want to be minister, commissioner or any of those things.I accepted to be in the Economic Advisory Council because it is an honour. Twenty nine great minds have been selected to advice the governor on how to move. I feel honoured to be part of that team but I am not interested in political appointment.”