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PRINCE TONYE PRINCEWILL REITERATES PARADIGM SHIFT AS PANACEA FOR SUSTAINABLE DEMOCRACY IN NIGERIA – ‘WE NEED STRONG INSTITUTIONS, NOT STRONG MEN’

By Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze

Prince Tonye Princewill the Rivers State AC Leader has lent his voice to President Obama's call for a paradigm shift in the political structure of Africa from a need for strong men to that of strong and enduring institutions. The plain speaking leader made this known whilst addressing newsmen on a wide range of National issues at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport , Abuja on Monday, 27th July, 2009 upon his arrival from a working tour of UK and Ghana.

According to Princewill, this paradigm shift may very well be the education the Nigerian Political scene needs especially at this time, when so called strong men in the assumed democratic set-up called Nigeria have arrogated to themselves the powers of staying in their bedrooms to decide the fate of the Nation. The despicable act he opined has served to cause more harm, increase levels of uncertainty and confusion in the polity than has ever been recorded in the history of this country.

Commenting on his recent resignation from the Vision 2020 subcommittee on the Niger Delta, where he held sway as Chairman, he remarked thus, '.I feel vindicated by the actions of the recent weeks when I decided to resign the office of the Chairman of the 2020 Vision subcommittee on Niger Delta. Some misguided elements were laughing at the gesture but today I am not only vindicated but also proved that I had the foresight to highlight their lack of respect for the Niger Delta. From the bombings in Gbaramatu, to an inarticulate amnesty package the goose that lays the proverbial golden egg has been abused – this same goose provides the nation with its major Economic mainstay and is one of the main focal points of a lack lustre implementation of Mr President's seven point agenda.'

He admitted that his silence so far on the Petroleum Bill was informed by his decision to study in depth the issues therein from a panel whose membership he faulted. It had just one oil producing representative in the person of Donu Kogbara, a seasoned Ogoni journalist who it appears tendered her resignation in the course of deliberations thereby following my footsteps as well. We can still be honourable people without necessarily participating in government. The bill is in his opinion, '.A calculated ploy to dehumanise the Niger Delta Region, whereby in creating too many institutions, functions would be duplicated, resulting in waste'. He pointed out its failure to address community involvement in industry and governments intention to reduce the amount of derivation revenues accruing to oil producing communities and states since in what is submitted to the National Assembly nothing goes to either the community or states where this mineral is produced. “To me, this obnoxious and unfortunate”. He decried the proposed restructuring of the upstream sector that would ultimately have Private owned multinationals in JV agreements with the NNPC face the risk of becoming like moribund public enterprises; an act that can singularly pose high environmental risks when inexperienced managers drive a complex industry. Merit will be thrown overboard and quota will be used in staffing and promotions, which he fears may not benefit the Niger Delta indigenes. Fiscal and funding terms are likely to become more onerous, making industry unattractive to large commercial international players.

In this regard, he says he had “commissioned a Team of experts to advise me adequately on a position paper that is now thankfully ready for submission to the National Assembly in opposition to a bill that does not have the interest of our people at heart. In short I urge all Nigerians no matter the section to rise up and support the defeat of this bill aimed at the disintegration of Nigeria”.

Princewill further went on to commend the South-South Governors for gradually understanding the need to form a united front to oppose the obvious marginalisation of the region by the FG. He applauded them for their outright rejection of the FG's plan to relocate the Petroleum University from its current location in Effurun warri Delta State to Kaduna State.

Being the astute politician he is, Princewill could not resist throwing a jab at INEC for its ineptitude in the registration of additional political parties, in what he perceived as a deliberate ploy by the commission to perpetrate a PDP led government in the next election by weakening the opposition. On the number of political parties for Nigeria in his opinion, the Prince of Niger Delta politics stated thus “.For me, three parties is good company. With all due respect to my party, AC and other opposition political parties; if we don't put our house in order and fuse into a formidable united Force, then our dream of wresting power from PDP and saving Nigeria from the doldrums of the PDP style of Leadership will remain a pipe-dream”.

He stated that the current fusion of opposition parties in River State is noteworthy of emulation. He also called on the National Assembly to do everything humanly possible to give Nigerians a set of working Electoral Reforms that would support a three party system with independent candidates as a means of restoring sanity to the polity.

When quizzed about his activities in Ghana, Princewill who also serves as the leader of the Forum of Organised Opposition Political Parties in Rivers State and member of the Rivers State Economic Advisory Committee said his visit to Ghana was at the behest of the Rivers State Government, to study the waste Management initiatives of that country. He stated thus, “.I wept for my country when I saw the beautiful and neat scenery of Ghana and wondered why Nigeria is not working. I took time to meet with their top Directors, junior level workers and some of the executives of the Accra Municipal Assembly and left amazed. I went there to see how waste was managed, learnt that yes but ended up witnessing how they managed wealth. As a result I am currently developing a paper on waste management which will serve as a blueprint to sincere governments.”

Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze,
Rivers State Action Congress, Publicity Secretary