Chieftain of the All Progressives Congress and erstwhile National Publicity Secretary of the defunct New Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP) and most importantly, an authority in the history and culture of the Kalabari Kingdom and her people, Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, has joined family, friends, associates, the Kalabaris and the entire Ijaw nation to cling glasses in commemoration of the birth of a composite gentleman; personification of courage and philanthropy, an astute politician, an Enigma and the Scion of the Kalabari Kingdom, Prince T.J.T Princewill, as he adds another year to his age.
In a statement made available to media houses, Chief Eze described Prince Tonye Princewill as a special breed and rare gift to humanity, whose sense of selfless service has unarguably transformed the lives of countless people within and outside Rivers State.
Born on January 4, 1969, Prince Tonye T.J.T Princewill, better addressed as the ‘Prince of Niger Delta Politics’ is one of the great politicians who have distinguished himself in the politics of the State and the country at large. A Nigerian investor, film producer and philanthropist par excellence, Princewill was the 2015 Labour Party and 2007 Action Congress nominee for the Governorship of Rivers State and currently a strong voice in the politics of Nigeria and most importantly an ally of former Rivers Governor and Nigeria’s former Transportation Minister, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi.
One time political associate of then former Vice-President of Nigeria, Alh. Atiku Abubakar and the former Governor of Lagos State and APC Presidential Torch-Bearer, Senator Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Tonye Princewill has remained an inspiration to the younger generation especially those aspiring for greatness and yearning for a better and more prosperous, united Nigeria.
The detailed and well articulated treatise amongst others, captured Princewill as a grass-root politician who made history when in 2007, he resolved to join forces with Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi in 2007 to form the most successful unity Government ever in Nigeria.
According to his account of the alliance, ‘the Peoples Prince said, “We took the decision at the time that the enemy of your enemy is your friend,” indicating his opponents were Celestine Omehia and his ‘godfather’, Dr. Peter Odili, the former Governor of Rivers State when Rotimi Amaechi was installed Governor by the court. He claimed that the decision to withdraw his case was made even easier because the same people who offered to give him 1.5 billion to withdraw his case, came back to offer him 1.5 billion and evidence of how they rigged the election against him to keep his case in court with the motive to remove Rt. Hon. Dr. Amaechi.
Tonye Princewill later led members of the opposition parties in Rivers State under the banner of the Forum of Organized Opposition Political Parties to form a unity government with the Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi’s administration.
The party chieftain said notwithstanding the tone of opposing voices, Tonye Princewill stands undisputed as a decimal in the politics of Rivers State and the Niger Delta region in general.
Princewill, an avid member of the All Progressives Congress but resigned recently from the party in protest against the Muslim-Muslim ticket of the party. He was appointed the Director of Strategic Communication for APC’s Tonye Cole, to execute the 2019 Gubernatorial campaign in Rivers state and bring victory to the people, but for the acts of Abe and his small circle of saboteurs, he would have succeeded to install an APC Administration in Rivers State.
Chief Eze emphasized that at 54, Prince Tonye Princewill has achieved great feats and attained very enviable heights which many dread to even attempt. From successfully running Riverdrill, his oil and gas conglomerate and other business interests with hundreds of Nigerians meaningfully engaged, to being the youngest gubernatorial candidate in Rivers state elections of 2007, where he was candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria, the Prince was also Labour Party Governorship candidate in 2015.
The birth of Prince Tonye Princewill, the son and scion to the famous King (Prof) Theophilus Jacob Tom Princewill (CFR), Amachree XI, the Amayanabo of Kalabari Kingdom, coincides with that of his father who turns 92 today.
This unique coincidence in the birth of father and son is very significant and distinguishes the household of Prof. TJT Princewill from other families on the planet.
Having followed this young man for over a decade, Chief Eze maintained that a comprehensive account of the politics of Rivers State will be grossly defective without the mention of this enigma; a technocrat of the highest order, an accomplished businessman, a consummate politician and a philanthropist per excellence, whose impact in the political engineering of the State cannot be overemphasised. He stands out as a professional engineer and a business magnate, who did not take politics as a profession for lack of means of livelihood but as a means to attract democratic dividends to the people.
Eze further highlighted that Prince Tonye Princewill was a senior technical project manager and business analyst of the highest caliber. A strategic thinker with excellent problem-solving ability, he is highly adaptable and well experienced across diverse environments. From global, multi party, multi million pound projects to hands-on, low budget challenges, he has a proven track record of getting the job done. He is an excellent communicator, effective at all levels and confident in resolving business, technical and political issues. The motivation, enthusiasm, technical expertise and team building skills Tonye brings to his projects have been pivotal to their successes.
A post-graduate of Imperial College London, Princewill is a certified PRINCE II practitioner with a sound working knowledge of both ITIL and Change Management and has until quite recently, been a regular presenter on project management issues. In addition to his Information technology and Oil and Gas interests, he has a business empire that spans across the aviation industry to the haulage of petroleum products for NNPC (Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation) and OANDO. His company is involved in strategic placement of resources with the targeted placement of investment from outside and within Rivers State.
The Prince who will clock 54 on January 4, 2023, is credited for exhibiting wisdom beyond his years when in 2007, he withdrew unconditionally, his tribunal case against the PDP in Rivers state for what he called strategic reasons. The AC/PDP partnership practiced in the state is a study in selflessness and political engineering in Nigeria.
Princewill is a professional who deliberately entered into politics as a result of his concerns for his people and personal attempts to help them. He decided to bring his acumen and dynamism to bear on his effort to serve his people as Governor in the 2007 and 2015 elections. Even as a private businessman, he has been a people-centered person, who prefers to sacrifice to make others happy. Tonye sees equality in all men.
My Entry into the Politics of Rivers State and My Encounter with This Enigma:
In 2007, I was among the Action Congress Presidential Campaign Team that visited Port Harcourt to campaign for the gubernatorial election of Prince Tonye Princewill of Action Congress at Isaac Boro Park, Port Harcourt.
It was after the outing that the Presidential Campaign Committee then was formally dissolved and members were asked to move to their states to campaign further.
Immediately the Action Congress Presidential Campaign Committee was disbanded, the then National Secretary of Turaki Vanguard and member of the Presidential Campaign Organisation, Hon. Lanre Fayemi, visited Port Harcourt to monitor how the Campaign Team of Prince Tonye Princewill was being managed. After a few days, Fayemi confided in the Prince that with what his team was doing, the party had no chance of defeating the PDP in Rivers State. He suggested a re-jigging that should introduce a true political mobiliser to change the fortunes of the party in the state and quickly recommended my humble self. He told the Prince that Eze was the only Nigerian that would step into Port Harcourt and turn the heat on the PDP..
The next day, Prince Tonye Princewill flew into Abuja to meet with Atiku on the issue of releasing “one Chief Eze” to him. Atiku laughed and asked if he had handled fire before because according to him, the man he was requesting for was a moving fire. Princewill assured and reassured him that he would do his best. After this, Atiku sent for me and asked me to move to Port Harcourt. That was how I entered into the politics of Rivers State in 2007.
I sent my then Personal Assistant, Mr. Paschal Njoku, a reputed and respected journalist, to move ahead of me to Port Harcourt and after some days, I joined the Campaign Team.
The major town we went to was Buguma, the Headquarters of Asari-Toru Local Government Area and the Kalabari Kingdom. After the campaign came a report that militants had blocked the road and we could not move outside the town. Later on, after communicating with the Prince, we were given a passage through which to maneuver. When we got to Port Harcourt, I put on the television only to see in the news that 10 lives were wasted on the same road we passed through.
The next day my PA informed me he was resigning his duties. He argued that being the only son of his mother, staying in Rivers was too risky a venture. I appreciated his services to me over the years but discharged him.
What I achieved while working with Tonye need not be overemphasized. I told the then Governor of Rivers State, Sir Celestine Omehia, that he needed not change the curtains in the Government House as he had just a few months to stay. At that period, I was the only Nigerian media chief that issued five press statements daily on various issues. And true to my wise counsel to Sir Celestine Omehia within the next few months he was replaced with the authentic Governor of the State, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi
I changed the name of Prince Tonye Princewill as the Prince of Kalabari Kingdom to Prince of Niger Delta Politics. In less than two weeks I wrote the book, Prince Tonye Princewill, the Golden Prince of Niger Delta. Everybody wanted to know who this Chief Eze was. I moved out to the streets at times in mere flip-flop and nobody could point at me and say ‘This is Chief Eze’, with overgrown bears adorning my face. Senator Magnus Abe then the Secretary of Rivers State Government was on his knees pleading with Tonye Princewil to see and be introduced to this Chief Eze and he got the opportunity after the 40th birthday celebration of the Prince
After a few days in Port Harcourt, I took ill and left for University College Hospital, Ibadan, for a major surgery. A day after my surgery, Prince Tonye Princewill called me to inquire about the surgery and told me that Amaechi will be hosting our team in Government House later that evening.
I told him that the plaster, bandage and other materials used for the surgery were still very fresh and it would be risky to travel under that condition. He insisted that there was no way they would visit Gov. Amaechi when I was not around. So, I left Ibadan to Lagos straight to the Government House to join them.
Later, we were escorted to the Main Chamber of the Brick House and a few minutes after, Amaechi arrived. I was asked to anchor the meeting. I started by introducing most of our key members among whom were the leader of our team, Prince Tonye Princewill, his Deputy, Chief Williams Igwe, Barr. Osima Ginah, Alabo Diamond Tobin-West, the ‘Moving Train’, Hon. Suage Badey and others.
When I concluded the introduction, His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, asked but who are you? “Sir, I am Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze!”, I replied. Amaechi jumped from his seat and yelled repeatedly, “GOC! GOC!! GOC!!! General Officer Commanding” Everyone at the meeting was left in awe. It was an irony of the real GOC calling his subordinate the GOC.
I told him, “Your Excellency, your brother Tonye is a terrible fellow for forcing me out from the hospital after major surgery to attend this meeting.” It was during this meeting that the marriage between PDP and the opposition political parties in Rivers State was formally solemnized.
We were given two slots in the Rivers State Executive Council where Barr. Osima Ginah became the shining star as the Commissioner for Urban Development and Chief Engr. Davies Ikanya Ibiamu as The Commissioner for Special Duties. Chief Igwe Williams was given the post of Special Adviser on Political Matters while the State Chairman of the party, Hon. Suage Badey, was made a member of the Rivers State University of Science and Technology Governing Council.
Midway into his first term, Amaechi embarked on a major cabinet reshuffle. We visited him again to review our relationship with his government. Then, Dr. Ibiamu was not reappointed and it was very clear that the system had resolved to do away with him. In the course of the meeting, the Governor responded to almost all the issues we tabled before him but tactically skipped that of Ibiamu’s reappointment. He was about to leave the Chamber when all of a sudden I was prompted to passionately exclaim, “Your Excellency, Sir, you have not addressed the issue of the reappointment of Dr. Ibiamu”. The governor then responded that if we wanted Ibiamu to be reappointed, he would do so and we all chorused yes, yes, and that was how Dr. Ibiamu was reappointed, and I am still suffering that boldness in some quarters. My offence was what propelled the audacity in me to challenge what had already been concluded.
This is how I was introduced to the politics of Rivers State so the fact remains that whatever that I may have achieved in the politics of this great state should be attributed only to this enigma of our time, Prince Tonye Princewil and his beloved brother, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi. To these two with God and Atiku Abubakar I owe all my feats in Rivers State
Prince Tonye Princewill and His Type of Politics
According to the Prince, “My political career is intact. Good people are becoming more and more critical to move Nigeria forward. When Nigerians realize we cannot continue like this, they will look for people like us or younger versions to exhibit excellence and toughness combined. I do not have to be the one running for office, but either way I will be involved.
The dream was never to rule, it was to lead and lead by example. I do that every day in whatever capacity I find myself. It is not easy to engage with all kinds of politicians and come out clean. I believe I have done that. It is not easy to come from nowhere and make a name in state and national politics, I believe I have done that. It is not easy to join the Nollywood family and make an impact, I believe we have done that and it is not easy to develop the business contacts we did without politics, yet again we have also done that. If politics has not allowed me show my capacity today, one day I will in whatever capacity. Maybe I am bigger than just Rivers state or politics. Maybe my dream is to be a statesman. The country is short of them.”
Fortunately I am not prepared to kill, maim or sacrifice human life to achieve political goals. So my ambition and my dreams are measured by the price I am prepared to pay for them. The dark actors in Rivers state know that if I decide to go down the path of violence, neither of them would rest easy. They know I am not the one who would be afraid. But like the story of the two women and King Solomon, I am not prepared to kill my people in order to lead them. There has to be a line.
Our leaders have let us down. History and God will not be too kind to us. Your only redemption is to show your track record. Corruption needs to be addressed head on but we must be able to talk and walk at the same time. Fiscal discipline, creating the environment for growth, security in the Niger Delta especially and the promotion of a positive identity are crucial if we want to crack the No 1 problem in Nigeria – JOBS.”
The liberal democrat has been involved in a lot of advocacy for his people. A few that may be mentioned here are as follows:
– He was at Enugu personally to liaise and collaborate with the Ohaneze Ndi Igbo leadership to enable them to submit suggestions on how to resolve the Niger Delta issue in 2009.
– Believes in internal democracy and that political parties in Nigeria must be ideology driven and has in that regard appealed to His Excellency Alh. Bamanga Tukur, the then PDP National Chairman to make the party an ideological based political party.
– Did the impossible totally unlike any politician in Nigeria by his dramatic resignation from the Vision 2020 Committee of which he was a principal member, to protest a military assault on Gbaramatu, in Delta State. Such principled politics has made Prince Tonye Princewill a brand name in the Niger Delta struggle and earned him legions of awards–attesting to his emergence as an important leader.
– He is the Founder and Leader of Princewill Political Associates (PPA), a political pressure group spearheading emancipation and uplifting the welfare of the people of Rivers State.
Further Attestation to His Type of Politics
Prince Tonye Princewill politics is based on his often quoted phrase – “you are blessed to bless others”. He is also motivated by the Bible which states in Proverbs 28:27 that “He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack; but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse” in his drive to better the lots of the less privileged in our society. A few of his philanthropic exploits are as follows:
– On 26th July, 2008, he sponsored 20 youths from Niger Delta and four members of Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN) to watch live the Manchester United and Portsmouth Football Clubs all English Clubs during they visit to Nigeria at Abuja
– He started the year of 2012 when he visited and donated 25 million to the Port Harcourt Polo club, 26 million towards Microfinance for rural women, several million towards setting up a 3D studio for film academy scholars
– By June, 2012, he sponsored ten bright Nigerians under the aegis of Change Nigeria Group (CNG) on a tour of Dubai and South Africa where they met with members of the UAE royal family, institutional investors and leaders from far and wide so that they could discover for themselves the secrets of their success. .
– The Prince through the Princewill Trust Fund sponsors the yearly Amachree Scholarship Fund for indigent students from the 23 Local Govt Areas of Rivers State and for 2012 about 150 Rivers Indigenes in Higher Institutions in the country at the cost of N20M was concluded successfully.
– Donation of N25m to the Polo Club, meant for the construction of a standard pavilion in honour of his father.
– Donation of N23M Skill Acquisition Scheme to our LGAs and training of our rural women in Rivers State by empowering them through skill acquisition scheme as a believer in the saying “don’t give me fish but teach me on how to fish”.
– Scholarship to indigent students of Rivers State, a rare privilege to pursue their educational careers in higher Institutions.
– Donation of a bus to the National Association of Ijaw Female Students.
– Identified and donated N2.5million to the Rivers State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) during its State NUJ Fifth Delegates Conference of which he was the Conference Chairman.
– Donation of computer equipment to media organization such as the Tide Newspapers furnished and equipped the Cyber Cafe of the Federated Correspondents Chapel, Port Harcourt
– . On 2nd of May, 2012 he did the impossible by donating an equipped classical Media Centre to his then political party, PDP at Abuja for the use of Journalists. During one of the Women’s Day in Rivers State, the Prince instituted a 26 Million Naira Microfinance Fund for Rivers State Rural Women.
– An active and key player in creating awareness for the melancholic plight of the less privileged like the orphans by his sponsorship of NNENDA, a Nigerian home video that highlighted the plight of abandoned children and the sponsorship of “Melody Shelters Singing Talent Show” that cost him N120M wherein the final events saw Godswill Orphanage of Kogi State clinching the coveted trophy and the Championship Prize of N10M while the Runners-up, the Lifetime Orphanage of Rivers State got the Prize of N5M. Rachael Homes, Abuja came in third carting home the N3M prize. Five Hundred Thousand each was given to the other remaining five Homes as co-champions.
– Assisted his alma-mata, UNIPORT Alumni when he donated the sum of N5M to the Leadership of the then Engr. Sampson N. Adumu led Exco to aid them in their activities during the launching of the Association in Port Harcourt in July, 2012.
– Sponsored and organized football competitions with some past football stars based in Port Harcourt, female and U-18 Soccer Tournaments in his drive to continue to give succor to our youths.
– Once intervened and assisted people in Rivers and Bayelsa States that were affected by the damaging floods in the land.
– Has touched hundreds of the lives of the widows in Rivers State through his “New Life For the Widows in Rivers State”
Tonye Princewill and the Film Industry
The Niger Delta Prince made history when he premiered the first movie in Port Harcourt on September 12th, 2009 when “Nnenda”, a movie about the ills of orphanhood was staged at the famous Silver Bird Cinemas in Port Harcourt.
He followed up with the premiering of the International award winning “The Figurine” anchored by the famous Kunle Afolayan on 11th October, 2009 at the Silver Bird Cinemas, Port Harcourt. This movie was the second Nigerian movie to hit box office status after Stephanie Okereke’s ‘Through the glass’.
The Prince premiered Kajola, the most expensive film ever produced in Nigeria at the silver bird cinema Abuja on 30th July, 2010, with a whooping production cost of One Hundred and thirty Million Naira (N130M). The plot of the movie is set in Nigeria , which is expected to appeal to Nigerians in the sense that it explores the implications of the continuous neglect of the poor and the widening gap between the rich and the less privileged and stemming the catastrophic outcomes arising from such continuous neglect.
He sponsored the production of the first movie in Nigeria on celluloid Camera titled “76” hinged on the coup of 1976 in Nigeria aimed at recreating history for the incoming generation and preserving a remarkable part of the history of our nation. The post production is ongoing in Germany. The second is Valor, a movie that deals with the Niger Delta and Boko Haram issues and is also in post production.
At the Toronto International film festival in 2016, Tonye and crew stood out as the movie ’76’ which he proudly produced was singled out for honor.
In his next movie about Boko Haram, the Prince of the less privileged stated, “we will go to Sambissa. We are also doing a documentary as we speak which is bound to open doors Nigeria has kept closed for over 40 years. But in everything we do, we do it with wisdom and care. The unity of Nigeria is paramount. I see our differences as worthy of celebration and not a cause for conflict. Fear should not rule us, love needs to start winning. I am glad to be in the midst of an industry that can make and is making a difference.”
The RIVMAP which is the brainchild of Prince Tonye Princewill to serve as a platform for the emancipation of our youths from poverty and hopelessness by discovering, nurturing and grooming talent in the arts to stardom had during its inaugural outing that cost him the sum of N20M had Mr. Timi Julius carting away the N5M Record Deal in Music with the Dancing group of the Thrillers winning the N2M Prize in the Dancing Group and Mr. Jacob John a Welder/Fabricator based in Port Harcourt from Akwa Ibom winning the N1M meant for the Comedy group.
Sponsored Mr. Valentine Ohu in Broadcast Journalism, Miss Crystabel Goddy in Acting, Mr Telema Senibo in 3D Graphics, Miss Mercy Akudo also in Acting and Mr Stanley Kotey in 3D Graphics to the Del-York Film Academy.
Donation of a multi-million Naira equipped studio to some youths he sponsored to the Del-York Film Academy.
His monthly Award of One Hundred Thousand Naira (N100,000) to the less privileged Traders/Artisans is one of the very many ways the Prince supports the enterprising youths to grow in business.
Speaking on the propelling force behind his innovative and youth oriented program which sponsors youths in all expense paid trip to Dubai & Ghana, Princewill has this to say, “Let’s look at Ghana and then Dubai. I took over 30 youths to Ghana and then picked the best and sponsored them to Dubai. For Ghana, I visited Accra and noticed its cleanliness. I met a lot of people there and asked them if I could bring some Nigerians there to understudy their waste management system and local government administration and they agreed. Remember I earlier said we all need to grow together. Others can then continue the legacy. I also noticed the smooth transfer of power between the opposition and the incumbent. I wanted to share the experience with others to pass on such good practices.
The end goal was to expose them to best practices. Seeing is believing. I then took the best 10 from the 30 to Dubai where they met all the key people. They met the masters who exposed them to the knowledge of how the UAE was developed. For me, Nigeria, Rivers state, Africa, those who develop it are not spirits; there is nothing mystical about visible development.
There are lazy and smart people everywhere. The problem is how to engage more smart people and give them more roles and responsibilities. My hope in the program was that I gave the group the opportunity. I do many other interventions here and there with a desire to give back and help build a better society. I have many projects I use to help. But I also go farther into mentoring, building and supporting them.”
On his mission, Chief Eze quoted the Prince as stating thus, “I have seen wealth, but I have not found it interesting accumulating it. What is of interest to me now is how to touch those lives that are not yet privileged to have the basic things they need for survival. I want justice to be done to all and to be able to speak for the voiceless majority who do not have access to the corridors of power. Those are the people I feel most concerned for, and as I said earlier, my desire to make their voices heard by those who lead, made me to join politics”.
On His vision: “Rivers state should be one big development unit. I don’t think that what we have now in the state is enough. Certain parts of the state are not yet feeling the impact of government and amenities are not evenly spread. While some areas are begging for the state government attention, others are having more than their fair share of the state’s resources. This lopsidedness in the distribution of social amenities needs to be checked so that every part of the state would be adequately taken care of”. It becomes obvious that Franklin .D. Roosevelt, a former president of the United States of America, an orator and philosopher of great acclaim, had the likes of the Princewills 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, TP as he is called by admirers, believes that a leader should be a public servant, who strives relentlessly 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”.
To many Rivers State people, he is the Prince of the less privileged while to his political associates he is the Prince of the Niger Delta Politics and to most of his friends from the other parts of the country, he is the latest Bridge Builder while to you the reader he is a consummate politician!
Finally, the party Chief opined thus “I must confess that in my interaction with human beings within my sixty five years of sojourn on earth, I have come across very few strong-willed personalities comparable to Tonye Princewill. But of them all, none can be described as unassuming but very dogged in the pursuit of any course he believes to a fault. An accomplished academic, an orator and a patriot, a charismatic 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 a united, stronger and viable Rivers State.
This special gift to the people of Rivers State and Nigeria is the only child of his father, HM King Prof. T. J. T. Princewill, Amachree XI the famous Amanayanabo of Kalabari kingdom, a renowned Scholar and first class Royal father in Rivers State.
On behalf of his associates, friends and family, Eze wishes Prince Tonye Princewill, a happy progressive birthday and presents to this man of honour who has proven beyond any iota of doubt that it is better to serve than to be served, 54 precious garlands, on the auspicious occasion of his 54th birth anniversary. He prayed to God to bless and multiply him in all spheres and beyond human imagination.