The Benefits Of Princewill's Tranquillity
By Dr. Brian Wilfred
When Dr. Mrs. Edith Wele, the Rivers State women leader of the Rivers State Action Congress (AC) led other State Exco members of the Women Wing – both past and present – with some of the Local Government Coordinators of the Action Congress women, to pay a chronological good-manners-call on the leader of AC in Rivers State, Prince Tonye Princewill (who was also a member of the President Yar'Adua's Niger Delta Technical Committee), on 6th December, 2008 at his house in Port Harcourt, many people criticized the movement for just only reason best known to them. In that journey, Dr. Wele was quoted saying, Our Leader, it may interest you to note that the present leadership of the Women Wing of AC has initiated a weekly prayer and fasting meeting every Monday at the State Secretariat of the party involving over 500 women to pray for you, Governor Amaechi and the peace of the State and this has continued to unite us and bring more godly women in our midst. We wish to say congratulations and a big “th ank you” for your wisdom for accepting to run a Unity Government with our great Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi. We believe that you used the discretion and wisdom from God to make our party and the opposing political parties in Rivers State to come together to contribute to the unity, socio-economic development and emancipation of our people. What a great idea from a great mind! We are just proud of you and we know you still have more to do to move the State forward, the Lord is your strength in this regard.
Without any doubt, Prince Princewill has become a brand in the state. The withdrawal of his petition (filed against the PDP in the 2007 guber election in Rivers State which he also participated) immediately Rt. Hon Chibuike Amaechi won the case he filed against the PDP on October 25 2007, was the beginning of the peace in the state. But a lot of people don't know or understand this. If Princewill had been in the court against Amaechi, without doubt, a lot of other guber candidates in that election would follow suit, and the state would have been in a total mess.
On Sunday, December 28, 2008 when the JTF arrested Soboma Jackrich, alias Egbiripapa, leader of the People's Liberation Force, PLF, who is believed to have kidnapped the wife of Olu Lulu Briggs, a prominent politician in Rivers State in April, last year, by scores of soldiers, at the palace of Theophilus Princewill, Amanyanabo of Kalabari i n Buguma, Asari-Toru Local Government of Rivers State, where Jackrich had gone to the palace in company of Mujahid Dokubo-Asari, leader of the Niger Delta People's Volunteer Force, NDPVF, when the JTF trailed him following a tip-off, Prince Princewill said, “Though it isn't clear yet what transpired preceding the events of last Sunday, what is clear is that there was an ongoing attempt at peace by an assembly of security, government and community representatives at the local level. This was promoted and hosted at the council and the palace. What appears to have been sanctioned at the local level may not have been cleared at the state level but what is clear is that Egberipapa came to the palace to apologize to the king and the kingdom for his past deeds.”
In his article recently entitled, Amaechi and Princewill: Rebranding Rivers State to another Level, the Rivers AC Publicity Secretary, Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze said, Amaechi's administration inherited a volatile security situation in October 2007 due largely to an upsurge in crime that included cult activities, militancy, bank robberies, and piracy along waterways, gangland style abductions and hostage taking. The total breakdown in security structures at the time led to an enforced statewide curfew. The presence of heavily armed security forces coordinated by the Joint Task Force (JTF) Operation Flush Out patrolling the streets became common fixtures. Statistically proven figures put no fewer than 30,000 youth fatalities resulting from hostilities in the Niger Delta since 2003 and about 130 kidnap victims.
Media Reports on the state prior to Amaechi's administration, served to negate any likely hood of attracting prospective investment to the state thus threatening the development efforts of the administration as most multinational companies spanning the various industries operating in the state, were closing up shop because of militant activities. By early 2008, the State Government with Amaechi at the helms, handed over thirty-eight ready-for-action patrol vehicles fitted with communication gadgets to the state police command; with the promise that one hundred additional vehicles will be donated within the year to make their job easier.
A similar gesture has since been extended to the JTF and other security agencies in the state. The Amaechi administration also equipped the nine police commands in the region with brand new patrol vehicles and a host of sophisticated communication equipments. The RSG is committed to assisting the police in its fight against crime and achieving optimum law and order.
The State set-up the Rivers State Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), headed by the renowned jurist, Justice Kayode Eso; its terms of reference, included the unraveling of the immediate and remote causes of the situation of insecurity and social crisis in the state, which had left communities and individuals devastated and also suggesting preventive measures and solution. The Commission submitted its report and the white paper on its findings and recommendations 'gazetted' by the government are awaiting implementation. It also set up the Social Rehabilitation Committee (SRC), headed by one-time Director General of the State Security Service (SSS), Chief Albert Horsfall to engage hitherto cultists. Amaechi's stance on militancy and hard line approach on the effects of crime without being hard on the causes of crime has a worthy opponent in Prince Tonye Princewill who is openly vocal on his criticism of Amaechi in this regard.
Funny enough, the other Governors of the Niger Delta Region have vindicated Prince Tonye Princewill's stand on security in the State by adopting a more liberal approach through dialogue in dealing with the issue of militancy as recorded during the region's last Economic Summit held at Calabar. Today, peace has not only been restored to the state, nightlife, cinema halls and social life has become mainstream in the State.
Princewill determined to prove a point and make AC the party of the people of Rivers State and the party to beat in any other election in the future, and he has achieved that. Not minding the fact that he is the major Financier of all the major activities of AC in the State. Making of peace beyond the bou ndaries of the Niger Delta has become Princewill's second name. Recently, more Opposition Political Parties in Rivers State turned out en masse to support the Unity Government of Rt. Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, and Prince Tonye Princewill was chosen as the consensus leader of Rivers coalition of opposition parties. While addressing newsmen, in a press statement issued by additional 13 political parties in Port Harcourt following Prince Tonye Princewill's choice as the consensus leader of the opposition in the State, the gubernatorial candidate of Fresh Democratic Party (FDP) in the 2007 guber election in the State, Dr. M.B. Dagogo Jack said the decision to join the Unity Government was born out of the fact that Governor Chibuike Amaechi administration has shown its preparedness to move the State forward through the initiation of viable infrastructural development projects. Dagogo-Jack maintained that the current inclination of political re-embodiment and realignment in the State and due consultation with the opposition parties and most importantly, considering the future and development of the State have given rise to the choice to support the Unity Government. Dr. Dagogo-Jack, on behalf of the group implored all the remaining opposition political parties, interest groups and of course, members of the public to embrace this collaboration with Gov. Amaechi and Tonye Princewill as leaders with an open mind devoid of suspicion or hidden agenda to move Rivers State to the next level. Not only Dagogo-Jack, it could be recalled that, on the 8th of April 2009, a similar Press briefing was held in Port Harcourt, by another group of 18 political parties led by Chief Harry Alaye of the National Advance Party aligning with the present State government policies and programmes and adoption of Prince Tonye Princewill as the rallying point of the opposition in the State.
Dr. Brian Wilfred writes from Port Harcourt.