By Prince Tonye Princewill
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Prince Tonye Princewill former Rivers State AC Leader on arrival from a short trip from his London base addressed the press on a wide range of issues of national importance at the Airport. On the issue of Atiku's 15th August 2010 declaration for the 2011 Presidential Election the Prince of Niger Delta Politics who treads on paths even lions dread to pass stated, “The idea of the declaration is to me a fantastic move and a welcome development. Too many reluctant leaders have ruled this country and so it is refreshing when we get people with a manifesto and a plan to come to the table. Atiku of course stood by me publicly when other senior politicians in AC did not on our alliance with PDP in Rivers State. I, indeed Amaechi and all of Rivers state owe him a large debt of gratitude because he provided the platform for a partnership that has produced political stability unlike any in the country alongside development you can feel. I of course will be supporting him in whatever way I can especially if he has an agenda for the Niger Delta that gives my children a brighter tomorrow. Unlike many of the old analogue politicians, I am more interested in what you want to do as opposed to where you come from. Having said that nobody from the South - South with any weight has come out to declare their interest, so my team and I will work with who we have. Atiku is a master politician and I am so glad he went to secure Goodluck's blessing before declaring his intention. That means so much to me. Running Nigeria is not for the faint hearted and preparing a campaign needs to be well planned. If anyone is serious about ruling Nigeria now is the time to say so. Nigerians will no longer be convinced by a hurriedly put together “7 point agenda” with no basis in reality. Such amateurish attempts should be treated with the disdain they deserve. I have not been involved in the Atiku roadmap as much as I would have liked, but I am eager to hear what he has to say about my three priority areas. This time we must have live debates.”

On the controversial issue of zoning, the Prince enthused, “Zoning is a PDP thing and from what we gather certain people sat down round a table and reached the conclusion that it was a necessary calculation. If so then why doesn't the leadership of the party do so again instead of subjecting the whole country to an exercise of voyeurism. People should not be scared of taking decisions. We need bold leadership. By now they all should have exhausted the arguments in their minds and rationalized the next steps. So why not take them? I look forward to a day when people will be judged by their content of their character and not where they come from. That day could be now if the leadership of PDP decides to throw it open to the best man without much delay by appealing to the zoning proponents. But the argument will have to be won and diplomacy will need to be employed. I frown at the strong taking advantage of the weak and as a victim of this dynamic here in the Niger Delta, I am uncomfortable with bullies. When you are strong you don't have to show it. If Nigeria was truly ready for opposition politics and the opposition had prepared itself, this discussion on zoning would be relegated to the PDP secretariat in Abuja. Unfortunately even the opposition believes that PDP will produce the next President as do the people. That is why it has become a national discourse”.

On the ability of Prof Jega to conduct a credible election come 2011, The Prince stated that he believes in his ability to make a good attempt at it but unfortunately it was not down to him alone to save Nigeria. “I had the pleasure of working with him in the Niger Delta Subcommittee of the Vision20/20 team where I was Chairman before I resigned in protest to the Gbaramatu bombings. He is a gem to work with and a man of extremely sound mind but he needs our help. Help from the Presidency, help from his INEC team, help from the Security agencies, from the press and from politicians, not to talk of help from the average Nigerian. Each of these groups will still need their subsets to play a role”

On the presidency of President Jonathan, Prince Tonye Princewill expressed happiness that Dr Goodluck Jonthan has been able to restore the role of captain of the ship. “When he took over Nigeria was a floating rudderless vessel without direction. Unfortunately we have no time to admire the view. He needs to get on and start delivering results and fast. Nigerians are not very grateful people. His honeymoon for me is now officially over. The priority areas remain the Niger Delta, Power and Electoral Reform with Security already a given. I have been expecting a white paper on the Niger Delta Technical Committee report from him for a while now. I have been expecting a more comprehensive amnesty package wrapped under a Niger Delta roadmap but I have not seen anything. When Yar'Adua refused to address it, we said if he doesn't, the next man will. I don't want to have to say that about this Mr. President. Because make no mistake our demands in that report will be addressed. My brother Timi Alaibe is the best man for the job of reforming ex-militants and the stress he is going through is no doubt worth it but the Niger Delta Technical Committee report asks for more than what he is doing. Not addressing that while actively rehashing the old amnesty plan reminds me of the Yar'Adua years. I am struggling to find an excuse. Time is running out”. As for 2011 and Goodluck His advice to the President is "To seek as many friends as possible even where there are perceived enemies. Think Nigeria first and remember that in the end all politics is local."

The Prince concluded by describing his resignation from the defunct AC as a period of rest having now given attention to his family and businesses “I did not realize how much energy it took away from me and how draining it was but now I can see what I was going through. The moment for me is like a holiday, a much needed break. One will always have a soft spot for the opposition but alas my focus no longer resides there. I wish them well and pray they find the need, desire and grace to collaborate and fashion out a common ideology. That is what this country needs”.

Full text of the interview is displayed below.
Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze,
Media Consultant to
Prince Tonye Princewill