Explosive Interview With Kadaria Ahmed: Amaechi, APC Far Worse Than Jonathan—Princewill
My guest was born to a Kalabari monarch and also professor of Medical Micro Biology in the United Kingdom some 44 plus years ago. He studied Petroleum Engineering at the University of Port Harcourt, and later bagged a masters degree in Mineral Resources Engineering, at Imperial College, London. He has worked at Shell, the UK's Department of Trade and Industry, Panasonic and Citibank; before venturing into private business by setting up the Riverdrill Group of Companies. My guest came to national political limelight, when in 2007 he contested for the Rivers State gubernatorial seat under the banner of the defunct Action Congress.
He lost to the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party candidate, Celestine Omehia. He contested the result of the election, but according to him withdrew his petition as a gesture of goodwill, after Omehia was stripped of the office, following the successful challenge on the legitimacy of his candidacy by another PDP candidate, the current governor of Rivers State, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi. This action appeared to have cemented a good relationship between my guest and the governor. My guest subsequently joined the ruling party, the PDP. Many therefore were very surprised when he refused to leave the PDP for the opposition All Progressives Congress, the APC, when Gov. Amaechi defected. It is believed that my guest is planning to persuade the PDP to give him the ticket to run for the governorship seat in Rivers State in 2015. On Straight Talk today, I am very pleased to have with me, Prince Tonye Princewill
Hello Sir. Welcome to Straight Talk.
Tonye: Thank you for having me.
Q: Your state is always in the news these days. Many believe largely because of the trouble between the state and the federal governments. The most recent controversy that has flared up is over the appointment of what the Nigerian Judicial Council has called an administrative CJ for Rivers State. Daisy Okocha, we have seen demonstrators on the streets of Rivers State protesting his appointment; and many are of the view that again, this is a part of the trouble that Rivers is facing because it is fighting the federal government. What in your opinion is going on?
Tonye: Well, thank you. For me, it's rather unfortunate. There is no doubt that in the current context, you have a scenario where the governor is saying that it should be one person and the NJC is saying that it should be another. And both sides are quite confident that they are on the right side of the law. What saddens me more than anything else is the fact that Amaechi himself was a major beneficiary of the judicial system. But what baffles me more than anything else is that the relationship has gone completely sour. I would never have thought for one minute at the beginning of his tenure we would find a scenario where our governor would be in conflict with the NJC. What I am looking for really is that when both parties are talking about who is right or who is wrong, what really should be foremost in everyone's mind right now is not about who is right or who is wrong, but the people of Rivers State. They are the ones who are suffering. I guess the best way to describe it is they are pedestrians in a fight between two elephants. That is most unfortunate.
Q: The general belief though is that one of the reasons why there is an attempt to impose, if you like, the chief justice of the state is because the federal government wants a justice that is friendly.
You are coming up to elections; there are things that are likely to happen that may require the intervention of the judiciary, and both parties are looking to ensure that whoever is in that place is someone friendly to them.
Tonye: Well, I wouldn't want to comment on speculation. I can't speak for either side. But what I do want both sides to reflect on is what matters most, and what matters most is the people of the state.
Q: You are very good at sitting on the fence and just sort of dancing around issues.
Tonye: No, for me, I think the biggest challenge we have here now is not so much as taking sides.
Q: Isn't there right or wrong, and shouldn't people say well, listen, this is wrong, this right. In this particular case, traditionally, what has happened is that the judicial council nominates, they send to the governor, he approves or he says to them look, this nomination doesn't work and you send another name. But for some reason, that tradition has been turned on its head and you sitting here as a respected person from Rivers State not prepared to say whether this is right or this wrong.
Tonye: As far as I am concerned, it's all down to opinions. Just as you have quite rightly and very articulately put the position forward that favours the governor, the NJC has put forward a very articulate position that favours themselves.
Q: What did they say? I haven't heard that position.
Tonye: Ok, what they have said is quite clear that they have the right to decide on who should be the nominee. That the final decision is theirs to make.
Q: Does it matter that the person who has been appointed has a brother sitting on the NJC, the fact that there is a potential conflict of interests?
Tonye: Well, I don't know. I don't know why you would say that. For me, the NJC is supposed to be seen as a body that is above those kind of suspicions. And what I think we should do at this stage is rather than jumping to collude with either side, I notice you say NJC on one side and you say the Rivers State government on the other part, and suddenly you also talked about the federal government which should be a third party. I don't want us to engage in allegations. You just said that I am a respectable leader. I don't think engaging in allegations is healthy.
What I think all sides should do, and by all sides I mean that there is a federal government, there are the people of the state and there is the Rivers State government. What we really should be doing now is thinking about what is in the interest of the people. If the NJC has taken a position that is completely in conflict with what the Rivers State government has done, then the only way that this can be resolved is in the courts of law. And until that interpretation comes through, we are going to remain in this kind of a crisis. It is unfortunate, but what I want to remind both sides, especially Rivers State government that demonstrations in the state will not resolve this matter. This matter can be resolved either in court or in-house between parties.
Q: Again, many people believe that these issues that keep dogging Rivers State and its people are as a direct result of the fallout of the trouble between the state government and the federal government. You describe as a mistake, the decision by Governor Rotimi Amaechi to defect from the PDP and go to the opposition APC. Why is that?
Tonye: For a host of reasons, you have to remember my little history. I am coming from the Action Congress which eventually metamorphosed into the ACN and into what we see today as the APC. I understand their motivations too well. I also understand the motivations of Amaechi himself having worked closely with him.
Q: What are their motivations and what are Amaechi's motivations?
Tonye: Well, for me, the quest to seize power in 2015 is very useful motivation. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But I will love to see them doing it the right way and for the right reasons. I think as far as APC is concerned, it is power at all costs. It's power for the sake of power and it's power without any direction of how it is going to be utilised. If given the choice between APC and PDP, I will be choosing PDP any day.
Q: People from the APC sit down and use these same words to describe PDP.
Tonye: Of course. But I will tell you why it is different in this case. The difference is simply that political parties don't have ideology in Nigeria. The same applies to the PDP and APC. It is so unfortunate. If you are in power, the only thing you want to see is what is the difference between the two parties.
Q: What is the difference?
Tonye: The difference between PDP and APC is Jonathan. If you are looking at ideology, if you are looking at what one person or party believes in, everything is imbibed in the leadership. In other words, Jonathan's ideologies, Jonathan's policies are what will pervade within PDP. If he is not there tomorrow, it will be the policies and ideologies of whoever takes over.
So for me, I have very clear indication of what I am getting from the Jonathan presidency, I have very clear indication of what I am getting from the PDP. But with the APC, I don't have that clear indication.
Q: Isn't that the part of the reason for that vagueness, the fact that they haven't still declared who their presidential candidate is going to be, and therefore when they do, you may have clarity regarding what that person stands for.
Tonye: What you've just said now is highlighting the problem, and party's definition will have to wait until it chooses a presidential candidate.
Q: But it is the same with the party you are supporting. The reason they are already defined is that they have someone in place, who, according to you influences everything to do with the party.
Tonye: You have just hit the nail on the head. The PDP is defined, I know what I am dealing with. I will not move from the known to the unknown. I would have thought that the APC would have been wise and smart enough not to repeat the same mistakes and actually define themselves irrespective of a candidate.
Q: They do have a manifesto which I know they have publicised and I think is about to be formalised in a few weeks. And that manifesto sets out very succinctly their programmes which include job creation, but you are saying you are not convinced and you think Mr Amaechi made a mistake.
Tonye: What I am saying in effect is that as we speak now, you may be optimistic about the future but I am an optimist with an umbrella. I believe very strongly that a party needs to define itself. If you are forming a political party, the ideology, its ability to impact on the populace should be defined. It hasn't done so.
I spend enough time with both Amaechi and the President looking at the issues between them and I am convinced beyond reasonable doubt that the options Amaechi chose should not have been the options he would have taken. There are several other options that could have been exhausted. Plus, as a state, Rivers State, if you ask, in my opinion, the majority of the populace. If you ask my opinion, the majority of the populace believes that supporting Goodluck Jonathan should be our major matter. So I would have thought that the governor will reflect on the wishes of the citizens as opposed to taking the road he has taken.
Q: You are very clear therefore in your support of the president and believe he should run for a second term in office. Is that correct?
Tonye: I do. I believe he should run and I hope that is the decision he takes. I described him as the first democratically elected president because I saw the huge numbers of people that came out to support him. I must confess that my expectation was not high, but you aim this high and he performs a little bit higher, you are impressed.
Q: Give me the reasons, in your view, why President Jonathan deserves a second term, if he decides to run.
Tonye: I've always felt deep in my heart that 2015 is not about change; 2015 is about preparation for change. I believe very strongly that the real change for Nigeria will be happening in 2019; and what I will be looking for is a president that would usher in that change. I think the youth of Nigeria have been led astray. I think the generation prior has let them down.
And I believe very strongly that if you look across the political divide, the crop of politicians you see are not the crop of politicians that would lead us into prosperity. What I think we should expect from our leaders, is that they would give us a chance to lead. So I'm looking at a crop of leaders that would be coming up from now, leading up to 2019 who can actually move Nigeria forward. Now if Jonathan goes in in 2015, he has just one term. If anybody else, from the APC for instance comes in, he has a very strong possibility of going two terms. I can't wait for the prosperity and the future of Nigeria that long. I want to see it happening in 2019.
Q: But you can elect that person, who could begin to usher that prosperity from 2015. Why do we have to wait till 2019?
Tonye: The difference between politicians and activist or idealists is that they actually think things just drop down from the sky. A political process is what will allow such a person emerge. I don't see that person emerging from the APC's framework; I don't see the person emerging from the PDP framework.
Q: So the only reason you've articulated to me, why the president should get a second term, if he decides to run, is because he will only do one term?
Tonye: That's one of the reasons, which I think is very important.
Q: What are the other reasons?
Tonye: There are many other reasons. I've looked at the president and his performance, like I said; my expectations were not that high.
Q: What has he achieved in your opinion that makes him eligible?
Tonye: I think if I start speaking I probably would not end, but let me start by saying very quickly; he has surpassed Obasanjo and Yaradua, in pretty much every facet.
Tonye: So many things. I can talk to you about something as simple and basic as Foreign Direct Investment. I could talk about railway infrastructure; I could talk about airport infrastructure. I could talk about ...
Q: Can we talk about security too?
Tonye: We can talk about security as well. Unfortunately for many people, they don't have much to compare against. I have a lot to compare against. I was in the Niger Delta. I saw insecurity. I saw federal forces going after known militants, known criminals, and not being able to catch them. I'm not talking about unknown like Boko Haram, I'm talking about known and not being able to catch them. We talk about the incompetence of the security forces, we talk about the ineffectiveness of the security agencies; I am baffled, because I have seen it firsthand. I have seen communities suffering, I have seen communities dying, and I have seen communities leveled by federal forces. So when we talk about insecurity; of course, when you're talking about 276 plus girls missing, it is horrible, there is no explanation that can be used to justify it. But I want to get people to thing just a little bit deeper as to what insecurity really means, how long it's been with us, and how ineffective security agencies have been, over the years. It didn't just start today. Unfortunately the president is the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, and the buck must stop with him.
Q: It sounds like your making excuses for him.
Tonye: No, I'm not making excuses for him at all. But what I want people to do is to take a minute to reflect. Because sometimes in the euphoria of what's going on, I don't get the impression that people are.
Q: I don't think people are euphoric, because people are actually not happy that this is happening. It's actually seen as quite a tragedy. And the critics of the president, apart from pointing fingers into the fact that he seems to be unable to secure this country, at least relative security that Nigerians are use to. He is also seeming to be a very divisive president. He is the president that under whose watch, all of the things that have been bubbling under; ethnicity, religious troubles, seem to have come to the fall. And rightfully or wrongly, because he is the president, a lot of people are blaming him for it.
Tonye: I could interject in so many ways in what you've just said, but you kind of remind me of the woman who was raped and is accused of being raped for what she's wearing. I don't think there is any excuse for the ethnicity and the religious divisiveness that is on display right now. I think we can if we want, point the finger at Jonathan, but we would be shying away from the fact that it's actually us as a country that needs to be looking within, and examine ourselves. It's most unfortunate; I didn't support Jonathan in 2011 primaries, I supported Atiku. But what we need to do is when the buck has been passed to someone; give him an opportunity to perform. I think that Jonathan in spite of the issues, in spite of the divisions, and in spite of the divisiveness that is on show, has done, I think, tremendously well. What really baffles me amongst everything else is that in 2011 people came out, we voted for him. At times like this when most countries join hands and say, 'we have a problem here', the problem is Boko Haram, it's not Jonathan. It preceded him, and more than likely, if we carry on at this rate, it will be there after he's long gone. At times like this, what you expect the country, politicians especially to do you said that no one is euphoric, that's not true, there are people that are quite happy about what's going on. They're quite enjoying the fact that the president looks bad in the international stage.
And it baffles me that true lovers of Nigeria, true lovers of the country, are actually quite comfortable at watching Jonathan fail. What they fail to realize is that Jonathan's failure is the failure of Nigeria. And what Nigerians need to ask themselves is, have they truly in their heart of hearts, done their little best to help the president? And if they have, then fine, but I think that many of us would be looking back to say we've not done our bit to help the president. In spite of your disagreements with the president, in spite of your issues with what you think, he should and should not have done, as regards security, as regards Chibok and Boko Haram; we need to remember that the real enemy is Boko Haram, not the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Q: Now two things you raised; you pointed to the fact that he won an election in 2011 and overwhelmingly too. So the majority of Nigerians actually wished him well. They elected him and actually wanted him to do well. It doesn't make sense that a few years down the line, for no reason, the same people who elected him and wanted him to do well, would suddenly begin to turn on him if he has not done thing that perhaps they consider either un presidential or they consider to have let them down. Because I know people who voted for him and who are now saying, did we make a mistake? Some of them have answered the question themselves and others are still thinking about it. Is there anything the president could have done better to ensure that he had more of a momentum of those who voted for him, supporting him through these difficult times?
Tonye: Of course, I'm glad that you've captured the fact that there are different shades of opinion. There are people who are not happy with him and will clearly not vote for him, there are people who are thinking about it, and there are people like myself who having looked at it are still thinking that this is a man that we can work with. This is a man we can support. This is a man that we can help. So what I am trying to do is to get you to understand that what the Jonathan presidency needs right now is for people to proffer solutions, offer help. He could have responded sooner, absolutely, there is no doubt about it; he could have been a lot more sensitive in the way he handled it, absolutely;
Q: He could have not pointed fingers at opposition and politicized it by saying they are the ones behind Boko Haram?
Tonye: The actions of the President and the Presidency will all go back to the president; the actions of the party would go back to the president. For me we can sit down here and analyze all day long, but the question we have to be asking ourselves is, are we in a better position as a country today than we were yesterday? Have we learnt any lessons? I believe the answer to that is yes.
Q: But more importantly, has the president learnt any lessons? Because even those who wish him well, sit back and I've spoken to some of them and I can sense a bit of frustration; sometimes they are saying they understand the initial problems, but now that the problem is clear, now that we know what we are dealing with, we don't see that obvious change in attitude of the mindset, we're still politicizing this very sensitive, very traumatic issue. We are pointing fingers and in the mean time, people are still getting killed. And people are getting a little bit frustrated by it all.
Tonye: I am frustrated as well, but we've got to ask ourselves; what is the alternative? The glass is either half empty or half full. It depends on how you want to look at it. There are lots of successes that have been achieved by the security agencies.
Q: Only if you're sitting in Abuja; not if you're sitting in Borno state or Yobe or Adamawa.
Tonye: Even in Borno state there a lot of successes that have been achieved. Like I said it depends on how you want to look at it. If you want to focus on the negative, then of course you'll be seeing it as completely negative, but there have been positives and what we want are more significant positives. We want no negatives. If we could avoid any negative stories, of course we'll love to see that. But I want us to say that in this scenario, like any country that I know, my experience, from the UK and the IRA conflict, we know that, in times like this, what you're looking for is for all hands to come together to look for a collective way forward.
Q: And leadership?
Tonye: And leadership. I don't think we are having a problem with leadership.
Q: I think that there are many people that will disagree with you on that score
Tonye: I am entitled to my own opinion and they are entitled to theirs. I do not think for one minute that we have a problem with leadership. There's no doubt that the president could do better, and I'm sure that he's working to do better. But if I was given the choice as to who should lead this country at this point in time, let's not forget we're talking about one Nigeria; the president would be my man any day.
Q: So if for whatever reason APC throws up an Amaechi as presidential candidate for the election, you are still hundred percent sure that if president Jonathan is contesting, he will get your vote?
Tonye: Absolutely, I mean I have studied these people quite well. I have worked with them at close range. It is not about the media, it is not about how they sell themselves in the media or how the media puts a spin on them. Jonathan is not dictatorial, it is a quality I think we need.
Q: The people of Ekiti will disagree, the people of Kano will disagree. Just in the last few days the use of state security to intimidate voters in Ekiti, the buck has to stop with him, doesn't it?
Tonye: I'm afraid perception is not the same as reality.
Q: When you have national police harassing a sitting governor on a campaign rally because he is running for second term in office(uniformed policemen) who should take responsibility for that?
Tonye: Kadaria, Kadaria, They do. I think if we are going to be responsible leaders, when I talk about responsible leaders I'm not just talking about politics, I am talking about across all spheres, whether it be business or it be media. We need to look beyond moments and make assessments over time. I will say this and I will say it without going into too much detail because I don't want to come here to bring anyone down.
Basically, the idea is to move the country forward. But if we are talking about dictatorial tendencies, if we are talking about people who have used political office and state apparatus to impose their will on people, we will be looking at a long list of people including names that have just been mentioned and Jonathan will not be at the top of that list. Now, unfortunately for us, one incident is one incident too many, but I always want people to think and reflect.
If you take away A and you bring B, you want to be making progress. I complained about Obasanjo and complained bitterly. He levelled Odi, over 5000 people killed, razed to the ground. We didn't see any of that from Jonathan. We saw it from Yar'Adua, Yar'Adua also levelled another community. He levelled Gbaramatu, an incident which made me resign from my position as the chairman of the Niger Delta sub-committee on vision 20-20.
People can point a finger at the presidency; I am not saying they shouldn't, but the alternative is far worse.
Q: There are those who believe that people close to him are behind some of the incidents of Boko Haram.
Tonye: That's ridiculous. Let me land on this by saying that what we should do is condemn all of these instances when they come, but I will still come down to the position where if asked amongst the array of politicians including Amaechi for president, he wouldn't get my vote because I know that as an individual he will do a significantly worse job than Jonathan has done.
Q: What about your former mentor and political friend Alhaji Atiku Abubakar? If he goes up against President Goodluck Jonathan, if he gets the APC ticket, who would you vote for?
Tonye: Well to be honest with you, Atiku will represent what I think will be a greater challenge, not Amaechi. Atiku will present a greater challenge to the Jonathan presidency than Amaechi ever would and I have looked at the array of politicians on the other side and I say the same thing that Atiku would be probably heads and shoulders above the rest of them.
But A, I don't think I will be in the position to make that choice because I don't think that APC will give him the ticket because of the kind of people they are and where they are going. But importantly, I think at a time like this where we need collaboration between the north and the south especially, I think that it would be the worst time for a person from the north to come and take the seat from a person from the south.
I think what Atiku should have been doing (this is my advice to him which obviously he didn't take) is stretching a hand across the Niger to say let me help my brother, let him finish his second term if he chooses to run. The north not showing support for the south and the south not showing support to the north is the catalyst for both the religious and ethnic divides that we see today.
We need to see more people from the north stretching their hand across to people from the south and the president from the south needs to get more love from the north and of course vice versa, it will be reciprocated in due course.
Q: Are you still in touch with former vice president Atiku Abubakar? Do you still talk regularly?
Tonye: Not regularly, not definitely as regular as I would like but yeah, he has taken a path, he is an adult, he is an experienced politician and in spite of advice that came from the likes of myself for him to support the president as much as he could, and to be fair to him, he tried and I give him credit for making the attempt but I would have loved him to have tried a little bit harder. But he has chosen to go the path he has gone down. We are in an election season and I don't want to interfere with their day to day activities. I am going about my business and I will let him go about his.
Q: So can I ask you if you will definitely be seeking the PDP ticket to run for election in Rivers State as governor next year?
Tonye: Look, you used the word definitely, and I am a little cautious about absolutes. It is very likely. Currently, I have an exploratory committee working on that. They are going to be advising on the viability of my candidacy. When they do so, I will let Rivers people know as well as the Nigerian public what my final decision would be. But it's beyond just my ambition. What I am interested in really is what is the ambition of Rivers people. What kind of Rivers State do they want? Do they want a Rivers State that is factional, driven by party political rancour or are they looking for a Rivers State where people are looking to bring people together and move the state forward?
Q: Is that the Rivers that you want to lead?
Tonye: Absolutely. I think that what will happen in 2015 would probably be a shift from the norm and people will not be looking at parties.
They will be looking at candidates, and they will be looking at where the person is going as opposed to where the person is coming from. So that's the Rivers State I want. I think it is the right time. In 2007, it was probably a test run. A lot of lessons have been learnt from 2007.
Q: Maybe a bit too young, a bit too naive politically.
Tonye: No. I wouldn't say that. I think I was clear on where I wanted to go. I was very clear about the challenges. We had financial limits. We couldn't raise enough money. Very few would bet on a greenhorn.
Q: Have you got a fat campaign purse now? Is that what it is?
Tonye: Well, I wouldn't call it fat, but I would say that it is potentially medium size. And so to that extent, if I could be given a ticket to run, I would want to do something significant.
Q: You talked about viability in getting people to find out whether your candidacy is something that is viable. Many say basically, they believe that you have shot yourself in the foot by not following Governor Rotimi Amaechi of the APC where you would have more or less been guaranteed a ticket and point to the closeness between Mr Wike and President Jonathan as almost certain guarantee that he will get the PDP ticket. What are your thoughts on this?
Tonye: I listened to what you just said and you talked about the APC ticket as guaranteed and the Wike ticket for PDP as almost guaranteed and it's quite interesting the way you put it.
Q: It is what people are saying that I am telling you.
Tonye: Who are people? People say a lot of things, and unfortunately, we can't define them. To me, my view on this is very clear.
If I do decide to go for the PDP ticket, I am pretty confident I will get it. It's based on a lot of things, some of which we can't speak about here.
I feel much more comfortable not just about getting the ticket but getting a ticket I believe in. I think it's possible to run for office without bringing Jonathan down. I won't be comfortable. I think Jonathan deserves a second chance. I think he deserves a second term, and I would love to run under a platform that allows that as opposed to a platform that doesn't. In fact, I think the ambition of the president is a lot more important than mine. So if going to PDP means losing the ticket, I'd much rather do that. I am a conviction politician. I don't go just because of what is in my interest. If it wasn't that, then I would not be withdrawing my case from the tribunal in support of Amaechi. I believe that it's not all about your personal ambition, it should be about conviction, and for someone who didn't believe in Jonathan as much as many others did to stand or sit here and say I am prepared to stand by him through thick and thin is simply because of the conviction. That is what drives me.
Q: I don't know you much but the little that I have seen and heard of you since I started pursuing you for this interview seems to indicate a clear intention to run for political office because you seem quite prepared even as we talk here, you have got your own media team who are taking pictures, and I am sure it's all to do with documenting everything that you do. You have got foundations that are doing some very good work in Rivers State.
It seems to be geared towards guiding you towards some sort of political office, and yet you sit and say well, actually, maybe not because the president is more important than I am.
Tonye: Well, it is, he is and I think that my love for people goes beyond Rivers State. Sure, we are going to talk about the charities because lots of them are touching people in other parts of the country. An orphanage from Kogi state recently went home with N10 million naira. It's touching as many people as possible, it's not just about Rivers state, so I am keen to see Nigeria move forward and I wouldn't want to see Rivers state move forward and Nigeria move backward.
Q: Articulate your vision for Rivers state.
Tonye: My vision for Rivers state is for a place where people have opportunity galore, where jobs are created, visitors feel at home and citizens feel safe and secure, where mediocrity does not reign, and where effort is rewarded, a just society, fair society. There are a couple of phrases people know me by in Port Harcourt, one of them is 'politics is too important to be left in the hands of politicians'. Politics in Nigeria in my opinion is the easiest career that you can get involved in. You don't have to be super intelligent, you don't have to wake up early in the morning and you don't have to do much reading.
Q: But you have been quoted as saying you don't have much respect on the way politicians in Nigeria practise politics.
Tonye: Is that a surprise?
Q: How I wish you would explain what you mean. I am asking the questions.
Tonye: Absolutely not. I don't. We are in a country wher we are a result (a sum total) of our politics. Our politics got us to this place, we could do a lot better.
I am quietly confident that with Jonathan at the helm, we can get more credible people to line up behind him.
I wish we would get much more credible people in his cabinet, in his team but you only work with what you have. We need more persons who are smart and forward thinking. But if many of them are busy throwing stones obviously that is not a pre-requisite for being involved in his team.
Q: Maybe he needs to reach out.
Tonye: I think he does. But like I said, it needs to be both sides. Someone like Atiku, with the experience and the wealth of knowledge that he has, I would have loved it if he was one of those people helping the president at the moment, but that's not the case. So we can only deal with what we have. We can only work with what we have. And my hope is that we move the country forward and attract more people to help the president succeed.
Q: When will we know whether you are running for office next year or not? What is the sort of cut off point?
Tonye: It will be very soon. I have already received a midterm report from the exploratory committee because I am anxious as well to hear from them and it's sounding so far quite positive.
Q: I understand you do quite a lot of charity work using a foundation and some other organisations. Talk to me a little bit about the charity work that you do. What exactly does it entail?
Tonye: When I came back to Nigeria from the UK, there was a huge difference between what it was in 1991 when I left and 2001 when I decided to make my way back, and I couldn't cope with the difference. It was annoying. I would help people here and there, it was quite ad-hoc and I thought I could make it a little more institutionalised/organised, do something that is sustainable and beyond just sentimental reaching out to the person closest to you. There must have been people out there who didn't have access to me who needed help.
Q: How many scholarships do you give out annually?
Tonye: It's about a hundred.
Q: What level of education?
Tonye: University education. And so we have reached all sorts of people. Some are abroad studying, most of them are in Nigeria.
Q: And these scholarships like you said, you started with the immediate kingdom that your father rules. Has it now stretched beyond that or the scholarships are still for that particular area?
Tonye? No no no, it's now across the whole state, all the 23 local government areas of the state have been doing it for several years now and I'm hoping that we can go to national and international organizations to say hey, this is what we've done, we've been through stress, help us as well.
Q: Thank you for talking to us.
Tonye: Was my pleasure as well.