By Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze,

Prince Tonye Princewill the Leader of Organised Opposition in Rivers State added another feather to his cap in just 3 short days by achieving the impossible task of brokering peace between Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, Governor of Rivers State and Alhaji Mujahid Dokubo-Asari. Bringing these two great sons of Rivers State under one roof had been elusive for a while due to a mixture of intransigence and nonchalance. Even as recently as the Prince's 40th birthday the attempt failed denying him a massive birthday gift. Unperturbed the Prince persisted culminating in a feat that needs to be thoroughly celebrated considering that hitherto these two giants in their own rights have been on non-speaking terms. When you combine this with the recent adoption of an approach towards constructive opposition by an amazing 43 political parties and the acceptance of Tonye Princewill as their overall leader, it is clear that not only is a week a long time in politics, a few days isn't that short either.

The Prince who personally drove Asari to visit with the Governor at his private residence in Port Harcourt (the first time since it was built) was warmly received by the Governor. After normal pleasantries the trio retired to the Governor's inner room where various issues bordering on their past and the need to move the State forward were exhaustively discussed. Princewill reminded them both that he was the one most impacted by their impasse and wanted them to benefit from the wisdom they were both independently giving him. He reminded Asari that he was one of those key to his withdrawing his petition against the PDP to support Amaechi. He also reminded Amaechi how despite his reservations, Asari had invoked his respect on many an occasion. He therefore concluded that where there was so much common ground, the search for harmony between them could no longer remain elusive.

Asari who confirmed his initial support had faded pointed out that this had been due to his perceived lack of appreciation to the then AC gesture, the lopsidedness with respect to development for people in the riverine areas and Amaechi's definition of all involved in the struggle as criminals regardless of whose ox was gored. He further reiterated that as his initial disposition showed he had no problem with Amaechi even though his dissatisfaction with the Supreme Court had been on record. This quite frankly was not dissimilar to his dissatisfaction on the elections. Therefore it didn't take much persuasion by his cousin, Prince Tonye Princewill to honour the invitation to dialogue with Amaechi. He further revealed that he had advised Soberekon to do likewise at the time in the interest of peace, not to deny him his right to pursue justice but to rise above litigious distractions in the interest of the state. Currently no higher institution existed in the riverine area and hence no appreciable development existed either. His disappointment therefore was that a government we supported was now a government not supporting us.

Responding the Governor expressed his joy at the meeting and commended Prince Tonye Princewill for the laudable initiative proving yet again Princewill's continued dedicated efforts to achieve definitive peace in the state. He reminded them both that he had stated on many an occasion that the case for agitation though clear-cut, had been jaundiced by the process of systematically decimating the state and the wider region. This he said informed his decision on zero tolerance for subversive acts and the tag of criminals for all perpetrators. He further offered Asari a personal tour of the state to witness firsthand the ongoing projects spread across the 23 local government areas with the objective of disproving all notions of marginalization of any part of the state. Rivers State he posited was a work in progress and whilst welcoming criticism the governor urged for “more action and less talk”. He said further that everything he was doing in the upland areas he was doing in the riverine areas except of course roads which due to a shortage of land were not at this time possible. For that reason he said he was embarking on massive land reclamation to bridge the gap. In the meantime however, the huge reform in the education and health sectors had actively reached all parts of the state and deserved commendation. The Governor however welcomed the criticism but reiterated the need for him to act more than talk. The evidence of the works done so far are better seen than stated.

An elated Prince Tonye Princewill who only a few days prior had unanimously been adopted as the Leader of the opposition comprising of 44 political parties (including AC) described the reconciliation of these two gladiators as a watershed in the State's history. Apart from the security implication of jointly promoting peace in the State, the enemies of Rivers State will be further kept at bay. I must confess I feel so bad whenever my cousin Asari attacks the Governor on the pages of newspapers because it was Asari himself who advised me to withdraw my case against Amaechi and gave me the initial support to work with him. Two of them working together will surely bring more unity and development to the state. They both have a genuine love for it and the wider region and they are not many like them.

It was from this great meeting that Asari and Tonye went to Tonye's house in Port Harcourt where Tonye received “The Leadership and Human Development award by the National Association of Ijaw Female Students (NAIFS) and also where Asari made the famous statement “I have gone to court to challenge the amnesty list released by the Federal Government. I do not require amnesty because I am not a militant nor am I a criminal.” Besides he said, the government had no right to grant it to persons who had not repented of their crimes. In his acceptance speech. Earlier, Ms Florence Kalio the National President of National Association of Ijaw Female Students in her address while presenting the award to Prince Tonye Princewill posited, “We are here today to honour the Prince of Niger Delta Politics for his indefatigable resilience, inestimable role and nonviolent exertions towards achieving sustainable peace and development in the Niger Delta region. Your pedigree as always, reiterates your unrelenting sincere and genuine commitment to the long neglected and marginalised people of the Niger Delta region. Our Prince we are proud of you, more so on your resignation as the Chairman of the Presidential Vision 2020 Sub-Committee on Niger Delta having perceived slide of jingoism on the part of the Federal Government. Though of Royal blood, you have chosen to see events unfold with the eyes of a leader and not as a ruler. Your actions have proven you to be indeed not just the Prince of Kalabari Kingdom but also the Prince of Niger Delta”. Princewill commended the group for its gesture saying that it was the first award he was accepting despite prior pressure from several groups wanting to honour him because of their efforts and their unique track record. He later donated a bus to the Group and promised to mentor them going forward.

Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze,
Rivers State Action Congress, Publicity Secretary