Prince Tonye TJT Princewill an accomplished academician, an orator, a seasoned, reputed and patriotic Politician, an outstanding philanthropist, a voice for the voiceless, a study in humility, a great manager of human resources, a fearless warrior and unassuming humanist, foresighted and a believer in the unity, strong and viable Rivers State clocked 39 on 4th January, 2008. This special gift to the people of Rivers State and Nigeria shares the same birthday with his father is the only child of the Amanayanabo of Kalabari kingdom, Amachree the XI the famous HM King Prof. T. J. T. Princewill a renowned Scholar and first class Royal father in Rivers State,. The Prince is married to Rosemary who hails from Uromi in Edo State. They are the proud parents of twin boys, Teetee (Tamunotonye) and Teepee (Tamunopreye). The boys are both seven years of age.
He began his formal education in Nigeria at the famous Hillcrest High School Jos from 1976 to 1980. His post primary education saw the young prince at the prestigious Federal Government College, Port Harcourt (1980-1985) where he won a lot of laurels including award as the best English student in the school. With an outstanding performance at the West African School Certificate Examination and the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board exams, the young Tonye enrolled at the University of Port Harcourt the same year he left secondary school, naturally equipped to study and bag a Bachelor’s degree in Petroleum Engineering (1985-1990). By 1991, after his youth service, Prince Tonye Princewill had left the shores of Nigeria in search of the Golden Fleece and eventually feathered his cap at the Imperial College, London with an M.SC in Postgraduate studies in Mineral Resources Engineering and a Diploma of Imperial College (DIC).
This young man’s entry into the politics of Rivers State took every body by storm and by the time the people could settle down to know what he was up to he had already demolished the caterpillar and established Politician like Sgt. Awuse and became the undisputed flag bearer of one of the major political parties in Nigeria- the Action Congress a party founded by great democrats to challenge the undemocratic tendencies of the ruling political party in Nigeria the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Being an enigma of sorts, his entrance into politics came with a lot of insinuations – some say that he is sponsored by the Odili political dynasty and of late that Governor Rotimi Amaechi planted him into AC while Governor Rotimi Amaechi recently confessed that he was struggling to feed himself talk less of sponsoring any body into politics though that is by the way. No body gave him a chance considering the enormous, intimidating and overwhelming powers of the retrogressive clique in charge of the State at the time by the time he came on the scene and as a true Trojan with a vision he preferred it that way and continued his campaign riddled with issues and his famous statement placed on his bill boards at the strategic locations in Rivers State ‘With 1 trillion Naira in 8 years – what has Odili achieved for Rivers State? – Nothing!’ He not only surprised himself, critics, opponents, established politicians in the State, admirers and the leadership of AC both at the State and National levels that today he has become not only the Prince of Niger Delta Politics but the ‘bride’ of Niger Delta politics, if I may use the famous words of the great Zik of Africa as he has become a hot cake desired by both his opponents and those that have underestimated him in the first place. The AC he single handedly
funded, nurtured, watered, and built is the only viable political platform in Rivers State being sought-after by the great names in politics of yesterdays in the State in order to be relevant today – What a feat in such a short time by this great and visionary Leader of our time!
This one man riot squad of a person most of the time instills fear and admiration in the minds of his followers with the manner and speed he conducts the affairs of the party that today he is more a terror to the old order politicians – he shouts when the need to shout arises and when it becomes imperative to offer positive criticisms or suggestions on how to move the State forward, he does it with passion and at the risk to his life like when PDP sent one Col. Jumbo to wipe him and his key campaign officers from the surface of the earth. He went to court when it became necessary as exemplified in his petition to the Election Tribunal to challenge the charade that was called an election in Rivers State and the illegal constitution of the dissolved Rivers State Independent Electoral ommission headed by Dr. David O. Ogbonnaya and when it was time to be a statesman he did to the chagrin of the enemies of Rivers State by withdrawing his Petition at the Election Tribunal without any cost to avoid further tension in the State. Today by the design of the Almighty God he single-handedly made AC a principal partner in the governance of Rivers State based on the ruling of the Supreme Court reinstating Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi as the rightful Governor of Rivers State and ousting the clique that has held Rivers State people hostage these past eight years.
At the age of 39, Tonye Princewill became the youngest out of the 28 wise men saddled with the responsibility of fashioning out the economic policy of the new Rivers State headed by no mean person than the fearless and avowed principal of good governance, Prof Nimi Briggs. To demonstrate that he did not join Amaechi for lack of what else to do; He enumerated his blueprint on how he intends to assist the Amaechi administration to move the State forward – “I will be centrally concerned with promoting and engaging on peace, stability and unity initiatives and putting much energies in addressing key issues of human capital development in the State. To achieve this I intend to assist the administration in executing and providing people orientated projects and basic amenities to alleviate the suffering of the down trodden masses of the people of Rivers State; employing and empowering the youths and erasing all forms of youths restiveness and militancy in the State and removing the attention of the Government from projects that can be better handled by the private sector”. To demonstrate his seriousness in achieving the goals he set for himself on behalf of the State he brought the Silver Bird Group, a private entertainment outfit in Nigeria to partner with the Rivers State Government that resulted in the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the construction of a Multi-Purpose Entertainment Park in Port Harcourt
worth about N20 billion on 4th December, 2007 This project is expected to transform the area around the SIsaac Boro Park and the Cultural Centre to a world class Multi-Purpose Entertainment Park and the State to a true modern Garden city. The project will have a
shopping mall, Conference Centre, a 5-star hotel, an amusement park and a large parking space for 1,000 cars and also promote tourism in the State. This project apart from creating the first modern tourism centre in the State is estimated to create over one
thousand jobs for our youths when completed. The over 20 Billion Naira private initiative is to be executed with 85% labour and material contents provided by the people of the State which will go a long way to provide bread on the tables of many Rivers State
families. Currently while many are enjoying the Christmas break with their families, TP as he is fondly called by his associates and admires is on tour of European Countries imploring and luring established Investors to Rivers State and by the time he is
through, the Rivers State of the dream of the founders will be realized!
Franklin D Roosevelt might have the likes of Tonye Princewill, the sensational AC Leader in Rivers State in mind when he wrote: “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those
who have little.” Holding tenaciously to this eternal verity, Princewill who turns 39 by 4th January, 2008 believes that a leader should be a public servant who strives unrelentingly to put smiles on the faces of his followers without placing undue emphasis on their
social status or dashing the hopes of the poor masses, has perfected plans to take Rivers State to the promise land.
The Prince of Niger Delta politics on 5th November, 2007 added another feather to his overcrowded cap when he paid a historical visit to the father of modern democracy in Nigeria and The former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar at his country home Ganye in Adamawa State to brief him in his own words ‘ the recent Supreme Court judgment that ousted Governor Celestine Omehia’s administration from office and the reinstatement of Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi as the new Governor of Rivers State vis-a-vis the role of
Action Congress in the new dispensation in the State’. The great achieving Prince of Niger Delta Politics who was accompanied to the visit by the Leadership of Action Congress of
both Admawa State and Rivers State. Princewill described those that accompanied him as ‘fighters of repute, people of character and individuals who do not know the meaning of the word intimidation. If not for the grace of the Almighty each and every one of them before you here today would be no more as they have each looked death in the eye on at least one occasion in the very recent past for the sake of our cause, our children and the defense of our democracy. Standing up to the evil of PDP in Rivers state represented by Sir Dr Peter Odili deserves an award.
The National Leader of AC, Alh Atiku Abubakar in his remarks urged younger politicians such as Princewill to remain consistent and be prepared to face challenges as no success was possible without hard work and perseverance. He commended Princewill for his
courage and endurance in the face of injustices that characterized the last election in his state which he was sure that AC won
Posterity has labeled TP as one of those serious minded politicians with an uncommon perception of equity, transparent honesty, justice, proven integrity, good conscience, emulative behavioural traits and spirit of fair play; resolute stand against corruption and insistence on due process, having respect for the rule of law, belief in institutionalizing democratic values and processes, seeing the entire nook and cranny of Rivers State as
his constituency as well as ensuring a crime free state etc have endeared him to many hearts across the country and this explains the reason he is enjoying tremendous public support as a political Leader in Rivers State.
As one with leadership acumen, Princewill never subscribes to leadership stratum as an end, rather he views it to be a means to an end; the end being the socio-economic and political emancipation of the entire people of Rivers State, and not restricting
infrastructural development to Port-Harcourt city alone as currently is the case in the State.
Apart from his educational background and political clout that has paved the way for him to understand the intricacies of managing human resources, his foresightedness, pragmatic disposition to issues that border on positive human and physical development, doggedness of character etc have equally aided him in carving an enviable persona for himself as a choice manager of human material resources in Rivers State today. According to him ‘I didn’t come to politics to achieve; I came to take a stand and make my point’. TP, I believe you like wise every other open-minded Nigerians. As you turn 39 years and ready to make the difference in the lives of Rivers State may God grant you the required wisdom to actualize your dream for your people.
Eze Chukwuemeka Eze
Is a Port Harcourt based Media Consultant to Tonye Princwill.