Amaechi started well but lost it along the way – Tonye Princewill

tonye princewillGovernorship hopeful in Rivers State on the platform of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Tonye Princewill, in this interview, speaks on his ambition, politics in the state, Governor Rotimi Amaechi and the 2015 general elections, among other issues

What informed your decision to want to run for governorship position in Rivers State in 2015?

I know my capacity. I know what I stand for. I know where the state needs to go and I know my team and I can take it there. I also know my limitations and the fact that I cannot do it on my own. Whoever will win will need the youths, the women, the business community and the non-indigenes of the state. They would need a united PDP, woo APC (All Progressives Congress) members and very importantly, they would need the elders. Our generation cannot do this without the elders. They may have put us in this place but they know how to get us out of it. I want to give them a chance to smile once more. I have the energy and I have the passion. But we need their wisdom. People hovering around 50 and above don’t need to worry about being governor. The heavy lifting required and the workload is not for people who need regular check-up. Let the younger elders and the elder statesmen allow we the younger ones build the bridge and create a Rivers State we can all be proud of. Very few people can appeal to the various age groups, the different political actors, the poor, the wealthy, the indigenes and non-indigenes alike. I know I can. I found peace in Buguma when all others ran, I organised all opposition political parties into one and managed them, and I have kept my political family since 2006. I have been a cheerful giver to all shades of the state and I almost succeeded in bringing the former vice president and the president together. I know how to get things done and I have done all these things using my own resources without a political appointment to my name. Can you imagine what I would do if I was a governor?

 If given the chance, what novel things do you think you can do in the state that the past governments have not done?

(Incumbent Governor Rotimi) Amaechi tried in his own way. I believe he started well. He made an impact but lost it along the way. He allowed himself to get distracted. As for me, I will listen a lot more than he did and I will pick my fights a lot better than he has. In fact, I will take slaps and beatings, abuse and reprimands all on behalf of Rivers State. I do not see myself as too wise or too knowledgeable not to take advice from my elders, a superior authority or my peers. I believe that age is no restriction on knowledge but wisdom comes with time. I will open my doors even wider than he has done and create more opportunity for ideas to shine. I will do a lot more to create job opportunities for our children through a more improved business climate, a better prepared workforce, a more secured environment and a further decentralised Rivers State. Finally, I will choose my friends better and remember always that the priority is Rivers State. That is one of the reasons why I will be selling the Rivers State private jet immediately I assume office.

Do you feel intimidated by the presence in the governorship race of Minister of State for Education, Nyesom Wike?

Not at all! In 2007, with all the naivety and innocence of a first time politician, I faced a more fearful character in Sargeant Awuse. He had the entire party structure, yet I defeated him in the primaries. We are all human. We are all in PDP. The Hon Minister of State has not decided to run, so we are not yet in a race. He is my party leader and if he decides to run as opposed to lead us, we will cross that bridge when we get there. Politics is not for cowards. High risk, high reward. I want to be David not Goliath. If it is my destiny, I will emerge. If it is not, I will go back to life before politics. For me it is governor or nothing.

APC appears to hold the ace in Rivers, especially with the solid political structure of Governor Rotimi Amaechi. Don’t you think it will be an uphill task for PDP to retain the state in 2015?

I am not sure where you got that impression from. That is not the view I and many people in the state have. Granted the state government is now in the hands of APC and granted most people who understand the benefits that flow from this are tempted to stay close. But loyalty based on benefits has its limits and should not translate to transitional elections. They know how the governor behaved when he didn’t need them. They know he is on his way out and they know PDP is going to produce the next president. What you see now is not what you will get later and what you will get later is not APC. Rivers State is PDP’s to lose and the leaders are way too smart to make that mistake. So no, I don’t think it is an uphill task at all. It is a task and the PDP team and the people are up to it. APC will not see anything to celebrate in Rivers come 2015.