By Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze
Listen to article

15th August, 2010 remains indelible in the minds of officials and members of Princewill's Political Associates (PPA) a political pressure group headquartered in Rivers State with membership across the South - South Region propagating the ideals and principles of Prince Tonye Princewill the indefatigable Prince of Niger of Delta Politics and former Leader of the defunct Action Congress Rivers State, now a stakeholder in the Rivers State PDP and a member of the Rivers State Economic Advisory Committee. They adopted Atiku Abubakar formally as their candidate for the 2011 Presidential Race not because of where he comes from but because of what he represents. The body who spoke though its Secretary General, Barr Osima Ginah at a late night meeting in Transcorp Hilton while thanking him for the role he has played in Nigeria so far used the opportunity to reiterate the neglect and poverty raging and impoverishing the people of the region and immediately thereafter presented six major demands on the presidency of Atiku Abubakar for and on behalf of the South- South region. They were as follows:

1. Atiku Abubakar on assumption of office come 29th May, 2011 should within one month issue a white paper on the recommendations and findings of the Ledum Mitee led Niger Delta Technical Committee Report and take reasonable steps in implementing it as the future of Niger Delta lays on the implementation of that road map towards justifying the wrongs and wickedness we have suffered in the hands of past administrations in the country.

2. Considering that the late Yar'Adua picked our brother His Excellency Dr Goodluck Jonathan as his running mate for the 2007 polls, Atiku Abubakar should also pick his running mate from the South-South region.

3. In view of the respect to the zoning principle enshrined in the constitution of PDP, Atiku Abubakar's presidency should elapse in the year 2015 and power rotate back to the South South.

4. Atiku Abubakar must ensure that he assists and encourages an amicable hand-over of the presidency to the South-South.

5. He should do all in his powers to ensure that all the six States in South-South establish a functional Oil Development Commission to ensure that the communities where oil is derived from see development in their areas.

6. The Presidency of Atiku Abubakar must ensure the rapid development of the coastal cities in the Niger Delta and promote the creation of additional States from the region.

Other Speakers at the epoch making event that took place in the Transcorp Hilton were Dr. Mrs. Edith Wele the Women Leader, Mr. Okis Bob-Manuel, Mr. Norisia Pepple, Rev. Dr. Ugo Amaechi, Alh. Ibrahim Mato, Hon Collins Amesi and Bishop Boma Lawson. They acknowledged he was the second largest employer of labour behind the state government in Adamawa, the founder of the best University in Nigeria where no single graduate coming from it is unemployed and a man who has sacrificed his own ambition even when PDP governors lined up in 2003 to ask him to run against Obasanjo. In their various submissions they reiterated the views earlier expressed by Barrister Osima Ginah and highlighted the need for the next administration to take a serious look at poverty and devise means to close the gap between rich and poor. This they concluded could only be achieved by creating the atmosphere for private sector investment to encourage small to medium scale enterprise growth and subsequently create employment in every household. Rev Dr. Ugo demanded an end to religious conflict and enquired as to what Atiku himself would do in this regard considering the failure of previous administrations. Before the former Vice President responded Timi Frank the reappointed youth Director of the Atiku campaign reassured the PPA membership that Atiku was a man of his word and that everything he said he would do he will do. He thanked them for their support and the visible impact they had made not just at the declaration but out there on the field. His words, “What you are doing is what our elders from the South South need to be doing. For Turaki after such a hectic few days to leave his house where hundreds of people were gathered to see him and come to see you here with the Prince is an indication of how important you and our region is to him. As the days and weeks unfold you will see that this is a man who is ready for the challenge and committed to the struggle. Katsina has produced two heads of government in Yar Adua and Buhari, Niger has produced two in Abdulsalam and Babangida not to talk of Ogun state. Neither of these places has anything to show for it. We have seen in them that it is not where you are from but who you are. Atiku has demonstrated a capacity to build from scratch, a capacity to encourage investment and a capacity to withstand heat. Atiku has demonstrated that he is a man. With his willingness to allow the youths grow, the Niger Delta develop and fairness to prevail, what more can we ask for? Support him and record what he says to you tonight. He is a man of his word.

1. He stated that the road map to the emancipation and development of Niger Delta in solidly enshrined in his 2007 policy statement because he assembled and personally commissioned technocrats and experts from the area whose works and recommendations tallies with the position of the Niger Delta Technical Committee Report. He therefore committed to issuing a white paper on that great report within immediately on assumption of office as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

2. On the issue of running for only one term in office. He reminded members of PPA that it was at the 1994/5 Constitutional Conference moderated by the late General Shehu Yar'Adua were the Southern delegates brought the principle of zoning/rotation of power between the South and the North was first mentioned and it was accepted by all so to me, 'the principle of zoning or rotation of power is sacrosanct and inevitable and abiding on me. I will relinquish power to the South on 29th May, 2015 to encourage the unity and progress of Nigeria.

3. On further funding of Niger Delta developments, and development of coastal cities, it may interest us to note that the idea of establishing of Ministry of Niger Delta was my idea but I am sad that the spirit has been lost in the implementation. By the time I assume office however you can be rest assured that the functions and expectations of that Ministry will be achieved. One other thing that was achieved during the 1994/5 Constitutional Conference was the increase in the derivation principle. From my checks with CBN, what the Niger Delta States have collected in the past ten years exceeds what the entire country has collected for the past 40 years. What I intend doing is to ensure respect to fiscal responsibility through which funds made available to States are judiciously used for the development of the States.”.

4. On the creation of Oil Producing Commissions, to me that is a good idea but I will prefer to set-up an Ombudsman which will be more effective and better to monitor so as to ensure that the revenues derived from oil are used to develop the communities that produce the oil. This will require amendments, but I will send a bill to the National Assembley on this as the best option that will enhance development of the region. States can not be told what to do only encouraged.

5. On the creation of additional States, this again is the function of the National Assembly but we can be assured that I will assist in any way possible to ensure the interests of South-South are well respected. Do remember though that in the United Arab Emirates development is not centralised, Dubai is only one Emirate with only a fraction of the oil. The centre allows the environment for development and promotes strategy that encourages harmony amongst the emirates. We can learn from this. I can see what the creation of Bayelsa has done for their development so we can all learn from this too.

6. On the appointment of my Vice. I am happy that I have been adopted as your South-South Candidate so I am a son of the region but be rest assured that after due consultation with the various interests in Nigeria the best for our people in the region will be implemented. I have lived most of my life in the region and my businesses run by the Niger Delta people within the region are there for all to see. The region shall be well protected during my administration.

7. On religious conflict the truth is that we must stop it wherever it exists. One way to do so is to demonstrate that there are consequences for such actions. That does not appear to be the case at present. That will change. However I must say that many times what appears to be religious conflict is more social in nature and can be linked directly to the poverty we talked about earlier. This can only be achieved by addressing the social issues and this is what I will seek to do. Having a desire to improve the lives of the poor in itself does not make it happen. Leaders need the capacity to do so. I believe I am your man. Just as I have contributed to making people politically, I have also done so commercially and educationally. I can make Nigeria a better place, I just pray that I am given a chance to.

Mr. Collins Amesi in closing thanked Alh. Atiku Abubakar for appointing Chris Mamman from the region as his Director General of the Atiku Campaign Organisation and Mr. Timi Frank as the National Youth Leader of the Campaign. He thanked him for being bold in his bid to be President by coming out as he has done with his very clear vision whilst assuring him that they will carry his message back to our people to ensure that he succeeds. We have not seen anyone apart from you at this very late hour come out to declare a wish to rule this great country. A last minute blueprint will not save us. Neither will a reluctant leader. Neither Shagari nor Obasanjo nor Yar Adua nor Goodluck himself wanted to be President. Is it any wonder why we are where we are? We pray you are given the opportunity to lead and demonstrate the potentials of this great country. PPA is with you and so are progressive Nigerians.

The meeting ended with a closing prayer by Okis Bob-Manuel former secretary of the Action Congress, Rivers state.

Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze,
Media Consultant to
Prince Tonye Princewill