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AHEAD OF 2011 POLLS, RIVERS STATE AC LEADER PRINCE TONYE PRINCEWILL PRESENTS HIS STRATEGY AT A LAGOS RETREAT WITH THE LEADERSHIP OF THE PARTY AT LAGOS

By Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze

In pursuit of his goal to make Rivers State AC the party to beat come 2011 polls, the Leader of the party in the State, Prince Tonye Princewill denied the leadership of the party celebration of St Valentine ceremony (lovers day) with their families by organizing a three day retreat in Lagos on the 12th to 14th February 2010 to fall into this day meant for lovers to cement the bond between the Rivers State AC Leaders as one united and vibrant family. The retreat tagged “Rivers State AC and the future of Rivers State”, was held at the Conference Hall of Planet One Entertainment, Victoria Island, Lagos and had in attendance all members of the Caretaker Committee of the Party that include Mr. Suage Badey (Chairman), Mr. Okis Bobmanuel (Secretary), Dr. Mrs. Edith Wele (Women Leader), Mr. Norisia Pepple (Youth Leader), Vision Paul (Auditor), Chief Eze C Eze (Publicity Secretary) and Prince Larry Mbanefo (Organizing Secretary). Others at the retreat include the three major political appointees in the Rivers State Government from the party – Barr Osima Ginah of Ministry of Urban Development, Dr. Ibiamu Ikanya of Special Duties Ministry and Chief Williams Igweh, Special Adviser to the Governor on intra-party Affairs.

The Retreat organized by Agbaje Opeyemi led Resources & Trust Company Ltd, Lagos had the following as Guest Speakers – Dr Yemi Ogunbiyi, onetime MD of Daily Times and currently a Media Consultant to various State Governments in the country. His paper titled 'Media As a Watchdog of Democracy' highlighted the relevance of media in a democratic dispensation. Mr. Agbaje Opeyemi of Resources and Trust Ltd spoke on 'Good Governance and the impact of Public Private Partnership (PPP)” in which he highlighted the importance of partnering with local and foreign investors to develop a growing economy like Rivers State. Barrister Solabo West of Acas –Law Chambers enlightened participants on the Human Rights and Governance issues in Nigeria using the Nigerian Constitution as a guide. Barr Osima Ginah highlighted the Powers and problems of the Opposition in a Democratic Dispensation while Dr. Ibiamu Ikanya presented a paper titled 'Morality in Politics – How Possible?' Hon. Suage Badey briefed members on 'the Road So Far and the Future of Rivers AC in Rivers State'.

In his keynote address, titled 'My Vision and Mission in the Rivers State Politics', Prince Tonye Princewill threw light on his plans for the state if given the opportunity to govern. According to the Prince of Niger Delta Politics, “my vision is that of a Rivers state that promises to be a haven where basic infrastructures, such as electricity, health care delivery, improved transportation system (land and sea), housing, water, good road networks will be available to our people”.

Dr. Mrs. Edith Wele, Women Leader at the end of the three day retreat thanked the Leader for this new vision and assured him of the support of all the CTC members in this drive to reposition the party for greater heights.

A communiqué was issued at the end of the retreat.

COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE END OF RETREAT FOR RIVERS STATE AC LEADERSHIP HELD IN LAGOS ON THE 12TH -14TH FEBRUARY 2010

1. Re-engineering of the party structure to ginger old members and create an enabling environment for credible members that intend to join the party.

2. The Chairman and members of the party should focus on how to resurrect the party structure at the grass roots through bill boards, handbills, Seminars and mobilization of the entire State into joining the new revolution aimed at moving the State forward.

3. The CTC should embark upon Local Government Tour geared towards the revalidation of old members and issuance of membership cards to new members as soon as possible.

4. Empowering the Local Government Structure and setting up of Local Government Secretariats in all the Local Government Headquarters of the State.

5. Creating the opportunity for other opposition political parties that want to team up with AC to form the next Government in the State.

6. The Leadership recognized the success of the Unity Government at the centre but expressed its disappointment at its ineffectiveness at the local government level as none of its members were appropriately captured. In the words of one of the participants, “there is unity in diversity “

7. The CTC has resolved to work together and ensure that all other divergent oppositions or individuals are back to the party.

Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze
Rivers State AC Publicity Secretary.

THE GREAT PAPER PRESENTED BY THE RIVERS STATE AC LEADER

MY VISION OF A GREAT NEW RIVERS STATE – A PAPER PRESENTED BY PRINCE TONYE PRINCEWILL AT THE STRATEGIC RETREAT FOR�RIVERS STATE AC LEADERSHIP HELD IN LAGOS ON 12TH – 14TH FEBRUARY, 2010

A. MY VISION
I must state that it is a great opportunity for me to present what I feel is the way forward for our only dear State – Rivers State. In doing this, I will not like to be misunderstood – Rt. Hon. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi the incumbent Governor of Rivers State has done tremendously well that any of us who gets the opportunity to govern the State is only to build on what he has done. It is in this regard that I feel like highlighting what Rivers State holds under the administration of an AC Government.

To me, I picture a state with enormous opportunities that presents a veritable platform for anybody to become what he wants to. A state where every budding talent shall be given the opportunity to excel and aspire to greater heights, irrespective of ethnicity, religion or creed to which he may belong. A state where the numerous creeks, rivulets, swamp, forests shall throw forth their potentials and untapped reserves to be harnessed for the benefit of our people.

The Rivers state of my dream promises to be a place where basic infrastructures, such as electricity, health care delivery, improved transportation system (land and sea), housing, water, good road networks will be available to our people.

I dream of a state where the burden of poverty and lack shall be lifted off the peoples' back and reduced to the barest minimum. A state where the people would have a stake in their God-given resources.

I see a state where rural/urban drift shall be tackled with the right political will and where our Royal fathers shall be integrated and buoyed by relevant legislation to re-enact those values that have been lost to the desecration of our hallowed traditional value system.

I see a state where men and women of proven integrity are pulled together to manage the business of government for the benefit of our people. A government that will make transparency, accountability, frugality, responsiveness and due process in public expenditure the hallmark of governance.

I see a state where government takes responsibility for the bad just as well as the good, where failures at the federal level are managed by the state and the state takes full responsibility for delivery to grassroots. A state where there is peace, security and stability in spite of some constitutional limitations confronting her.

Finally I dream of a state where government shall truly prove its stewardship to the people, irrespective of ethnic, religious, political and social bias.

MY MISSION
“Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed” – Thomas Jefferson.

Having this at the back of our minds, the fundamental objective of any government is to work for the improvement of the well being of the people. Since its creation in 1967, Rivers state has had different administrations whose attempts at achieving this basic goal have been met, arguably with varying degrees of success.

When the present administration took over the reins of office on October 26, 2007 after eight years of mis-rule, looting and squandering of public funds, it was very obvious that at its inception, it had no well defined plans to guide its administration of the state. Nevertheless, it is important to note that the governor has good intentions for the people and a fair knowledge of governance and development, hence the need for us to work together in a bipartisan manner which has never been witnessed in the country, geared towards bringing development to the state.

Buoyed with a shared vision, it becomes imperative that I step forward to take up the challenge to translate into reality my Vision and Mission for the new Rivers state that my friend and brother, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, the incumbent Governor of Rivers state had started. I have therefore in all humility set out for us a comprehensive agenda for achieving this vision of a better state we can be proud of.

In pursuance of the above, which will form the core action and programs that will be carried out by my administration, here under are a broad policy objectives and strategies required in achieving our vision of a Rivers state on our minds.

(1) THE ECONOMY
The thrust of government's economic policies must include the following.

- �Restoration of fiscal discipline in the state by ensuring prudence in the management of the resources allocated to the state.

- �Undertake programmes to stimulate economic growth and improve the quality of life of our people, with a strong drive towards efficiency, productivity and self-reliance through private entrepreneurship.

- Increase internal revenue generation.
- Undertake programmes to stimulate wealth creation, employment generation and the reduction of poverty in the state.

- Create a secure atmosphere to engender and facilitate massive investment by government as well as the organized private sector, which will ultimately result in the empowerment of Rivers people in every aspect of commerce and industry.

- Develop a strong Public Private Sector Partnership (PPP) in the state for the overall benefit of the people of the state. Furthermore this concept of PPP should be backed up by enabling legislations that clearly defines the legal frame work and the levels of involvement of parties.

(2) EDUCATION
Education is a cardinal social investment and veritable tool for development in any society. What then are our objectives to develop this sector?

- �Improvement on the literacy level in the state.

- Sustenance of the complete overhaul of the state's educational system

- Improvement of the quality of education in all institutions of learning in the state

- Ensuring that the state educational system serves the need of the society by making the products of the system job creator and less of job seekers

- Make education affordable and attractive with an ample opportunity for more Rivers people to acquire science/ technology education.

- Reward and retain teachers by promoting new and innovative ways to increase teachers pay that are developed with teachers, not imposed on them.

(3) HEALTH
Health is wealth, so goes a popular saying. Moreover, since the wealth of the state is a reflection of the health status of the citizenry, as such, there should be a concerted effort to improve the health of the people, physically and mentally to enable them contribute to the productive needs of the state.

Government policy on health should therefore be driven by

- The need to prevent diseases, promote longevity, promote mental and physical wellbeing, personal hygiene and public sanitation.

- Focus on making healthcare easily available, accessible and affordable.

- A complete overhaul of the primary healthcare system in the state.

- Improving the skills of medical personnel through training and re-training to acquire modern skills and technology.

(4) AGRICULTURE
The foundation of any meaningful economic development hinges on the strength and success of our agriculture programmes. The availability and affordability of food furthers the existence of a healthy and productive population which indirectly promotes peace, development and security. The policy thrust of any responsible government therefore should be to:

- Make agriculture very attractive and profitable.

- Assist and encourage farmers/fishermen to engage in food processing of cassava, maize, yam, plantain, snail, fishery product, e.t.c, for export.

- Strive to attain self -sufficiency in food production.

- Create employment opportunities through massive investment in agriculture.

- Pursue the promotion of agriculture as a major source of raw materials and a significant foreign exchange earner.

- Re- introduce and modernize the farm settlement system to increase agricultural productivity, check rural-urban migration.

- Assist farmers have information and access to new techniques and technologies available to the agricultural industry.

- Provide agricultural support service to farmers, through the procurement of equipment and other farming tools and implements.

(5) HOUSING DEVELOPMENT
Given the current reality of increasing pressure on the housing needs of the state, arising from the rural - urban drift, coupled with the increase in commercial activities in Port Harcourt, the only city in the state, the provision of affordable housing for our people should be accorded top priority by government. Where as the government had embarked on some housing projects through the public private partnership scheme, a lot more still needs to be done.

Strategies to achieving Rivers people's desire for housing include:

- Adequate funding of the State Housing and Property Development Authority.

- Encouraging and partnering with the private sector to develop housing estates for sale to the public at affordable prices like the Rainbow Housing Estate (Scheme in which the State Government went into a PPP relationship with a first-generation Nigerian commercial bank).

- Encouragement of companies operating in the state to build and operate staff housing schemes.

- Computerization of the state land registry.
- �Assist indigenes of the state to process and secure mortgage financing loans from the Federal Mortgage Bank.

- Government support for research activities aimed at the development of quality and affordable local building materials which will in turn reduce the cost of construction of housing estates.

(6) TRANSPORTATION
The opening of the hinter lands of the state is very vital for sustainable economic growth and development. The objective of government should therefore be:

- The provision of comfortable, safe, affordable and efficient inter and intra city mass transport system in the state.

- The construction of good roads network linking the state capital and the various communities of the state.

- Purchase of ferry boats and construction of jetties to improve marine transportation.

- Encourage more private investors to play active roles in the transport sector.

- Provision of more transit buses and construction of motor parks of international standards to improve land transportation.

- Encourage/collaborate with more financial institutions operating in the state to provide support to Rivers people wishing to engage in the transportation business.

- Revival of intra city rail transportation system as a way of easing the transportation stress currently being experienced in the state.

(7) THE ENVIRONMENT
With the threat the environment face globally, government, corporate organizations and individuals in the state owe the society a duty to protect the environment. Therefore our policy as stakeholders on the issue of the environment should be to achieve a clean, safe and pollution-free society. This we can do by supporting the urban renewal, planning and development initiatives of the state government, as well as maintaining a clean, safe and healthy environment through effective waste management disposal and treatment. The government should also ensure that environmental regulations are strictly enforced.

(8) PUBLIC UTILITIES, WORKS AND INFRASTRUCTURE

Public utilities/infrastructure is very vital to every society. Fellow Rivers people, I don't know if the poor state of public utilities and infrastructures in the state borders you? As for me, it does.

I would therefore like to see the government increase work on improving the network of roads in the state especially in the state capital. The aim, it is my belief, should be to open up the state capital and reduce the traffic congestions currently being experienced on our roads.

Government should also reactivate and make functional the Port Harcourt city integrated water scheme in addition to constructing mini water works to serve contiguous communities. The recent cholera out break in Bille community could have been prevented if only there was a mini water works in the area.

The electrification of every community in the state in my opinion should be a priority in the government agenda of development. Government should assist the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) for the sake of the people of the state

(9) �� RIVERS STATE - Her destiny in our hands

The wind of change that has been blowing across the world and most recently, in far away United States of America (USA), where President Barack Hussein Obama, a black man, has successfully surmounted all man-made barriers to win the American presidency, and in neighbouring Ghana where skeptics were proved wrong with the election of an opposition candidate, Prof. Atta Mills as president.

We have deliberately shut our eyes to these cataclysmic happenings around us; we have refused to seize the moment even when undeniable opportunities presented themselves. Yet, daily in our markets, buses, taxis, parks, airplanes and all imaginable places, the discourse has centred largely around the rhetorical question of:

(10). WHICH WAY RIVERS STATE?
To aptly capture the current mood of the state, it is unquestionable that Rivers people have the STATE ON THEIR MINDS.

We have simply resigned our fate to divine intervention and it is not as if divine intervention is impossible. In fact, it is the unseen Hand in every success. However, the point at issue is that a complacent people would hardly recognize a divine design when it presents itself. That divine sign is here and NOW.

The truth is that we have waited for far too long and wasted precious time and can't afford to wait any longer. We therefore believe that the time for the much needed change in our polity is NOW, neither tomorrow nor next.

We are concerned Riverians who believe that the fate of our state lies squarely on our initiative to bring about the much needed change to our current retrogressive situation. But we realise that we can not do it alone; in fact, it can not be achieved alone. It is for this reason that we are inviting all sons and daughters of the state, home and abroad, irrespective of religion, ethnicity, age, status and vocation to come together under the banner of NEW RIVERS STATE to push this new agenda of change in our state.

Our past has been replete with failed promises and unrealised dreams, but must we continue to dwell on the past rather than hope for a brighter future? The answer is NO. We have therefore resolved to march ahead in optimism and the belief that we are a people joined by a common destiny. In our complacent position the lesson of history is lost on us, for there is no state, either developing or developed, that has ever moved beyond her dreams if the people remained complacent and did nothing.

Every people in the world today have their defining moments but none has had these moments delivered on a platter of gold - they are fought for. Therefore we must be insistent on redefining our present circumstance through affirmative action. �

Today, what we ask of you is to jettison the artificial barriers that tend to separate us and together we would relive the dreams of our forefathers. We must blame ourselves if we fail to heed this call and act NOW for the hour is at hand. Acting NOW would ultimately guarantee our future and that of our future generations. At this point in time, our generation must stand for something else we risk being labelled lame ducks.

History is replete with examples of how few people braved the odds to chart a new course of history. These change agents defied established conventions and took bold decisions that ultimately altered the destiny of their societies forever. In this hour as we make this call, we ask that you join us to lead this cause that would definitely redefine our state's destiny forever. We have no financial muscle to engage in this patriotic cause but are fired by a great sense of responsibility, firm conviction and unflinching faith and the love for our state to begin this journey of selfless sacrifice for rebirth.

Let it be known that this effort is brought about by an unwavering passion for a New Rivers state. Our state risk recession, the ominous signs are there and the challenge before us is to stem this slide. We must rouse from our wavering and come together as change agents for the sake of our children.

Remember we are Rivers people with an undying and adventurous spirit. Today, let us all pledge to give utterance to the soul of our state which has long been suppressed. Let us strive to end, permanently, an era of poverty, ignorance and inequality of opportunities in our land.

Because we believe all men are equal in the eyes of the Lord, we desire to build a commonwealth of Riverians united by the inequities that separate us. We had high hopes upon creation but we have watched as our successive leaders departed from these noble ideals of justice, freedom and equity to the path of infamy. But we can not heap the blame on them alone; we are also to blame. We are accomplice and guilty of the same offences for which we accuse our leaders. We are architects of our misfortune because of our complacency. We refused to speak out and allowed our state to slide almost irredeemably.

The creation of neither Rivers state nor her people is not a mistake. It was a divine design which purpose has remained largely unfulfilled. And so we ask for nothing extraordinary from you but your committed and devoted support to swell the fold so that, together, we redefine our common destiny.

We should resolve that never again would we allow any individual or group to usurp our fundamental rights by imposing a candidate of his choice against our popular will during any future elections from the councils' up to the governorship.

As we begin this march to freedom, justice and equity today, let us resolve to stand together, indivisible and firm and rise above sentiments and parochial interests that had been our bane and undermined our collective progress in the past. Together we would win this battle if we don't delay in heeding this call and riding the current that has presented itself in this New Day.

This is neither a call to arms for an insurrection or a revolution nor bows and arrows for war. On the contrary, it is call for peaceful and ingenuous political and economic activism where the human spirit has repeatedly proven that it can flourish. All we require of you is to heed this call and join the movement that aspires to change Rivers state forever. We are convinced today that the march to make our state great has just begun and we are assured that together and with God on our side, it is truly a New Day.

Once again thanks for being part of this new vision to take our only State to the next level. As we conclude this retreat, I am convinced that the leadership of AC in Rivers State will be reengineered and galvanized into becoming a tool to achieve these lofty ideas for our people.

Thanks and may God Almighty Bless our beloved State and country.

Prince Tonye Princewill
Leader, Rivers State AC
13-02-10