Princewill’s Choice in Jonathan: Retrospection on Zoning before 2011 Elections

Apart from being a crowned prince of the Amachree dynasty in the Kalabari Kingdom of Rivers State and also the ‘new face of Rivers politics’, as many people describe him as, Prince Tonye Princewill describes himself as a ‘bridge builder’.

He is truly ‘a bridge builder’, because he gums himself to any course he believes in and does not hide his face from such. One such course is his immeasurable followership and support of/for the former vice president, Atiku Abubarkar. His focus on Atiku before and during the April 2011 elections made Atiku and himself popular than they were, as the entire South-South, where Princewill comes from, was beefed up with the campaign for Atiku presidency, who is a Northerner, therefore oozing to all the nooks and crannies of the country and around the world. But as human or providence may have it, Atiku lost in that election, at the primary level.

This dude called Princewill who has barely spent four years in the country’s murky waters of politics, could be said, does not play politics of bitterness. This is because some people expected that as Atiku lost, Princewill was going to be ‘fighting’ President Goodluck Jonathan, who won Atiku in that election, but Princewill plays alongside politics with the spirit of sportsmanship, as Nigerians can see, and as many have attested.

Even though that Princewill is a diehard believer in Atiku, his focus has shifted to Jonathan, but not abandoning his master. He did not do this in negation of the absolutely policies and principles he loved in Atiku, but he is doing so inline with revolutionary reforms, which he has always exhibited, even in his home state – Rivers State.

Princewill definitely has transformational political dexterity for Nigeria, which has not been explored and exploited, and many Nigerian political demagogues parading themselves as ‘reformers’ lack that. Surrendering for Jonathan, Princewill has been likened it to a particular dream: As a party man, the next best thing to do is support Jonathan, who is viable.

He sees Jonathan, in the context of things, as the best, as the winner. But beyond that, Princewill was less than 100 per cent satisfied with what a Jonathan/Sambo ticket represented. For dual advantage, Princewill has had the candidate of his party (PDP) as the best option for the country, pre-general elections. It is expedient that his people and him joined forces to work towards a Jonathan/Sambo victory at the polls, when the party decided for the two men.

Even that Princewill saw and said without prejudice; the slight caveat was that the duo of Jonathan/Sambo, was to an extent, not where they should be. Princewill thought this was unfortunate, but believes that in politics, everybody must accept what comes his or her way. “What comes our way now is Jonathan/Sambo and we have no choice than to make it acceptable,” Princewill had said.

As a man who likes to be realistic, his Atiku has also supported Jonathan, so he thinks and believes that dichotomy, as a fact, everybody realizes that Atiku’s role has become so significant that he cannot speak for himself anymore, he has to speak for others. The controversy on the fact that Atiku supported Jonathan in the elections, Princewill will never be seen as playing politics of double-standard, since Atiku supported Jonathan, in lure of Mohammadu Buhari, who lost the presidential elections, as the two men come from the North.

Notwithstanding, Princewill remains significant in the 2011 general elections, because he fought for Atiku in the South-South, to erase the politics of reclusiveness many people wanted him to play along side the majority South-South supported Jonathan, who later won. Not even the presidency will blame Prncewill for fighting for Atiku, because when Atiku lost, he lent his support to the Jonathan/Sambo candidacy, as a party member, and especially, as a man who loves his country than any political party.

Princewill has always won: Making the North to believe that the South was not entirely in support of Jonathan/Sambo candidacy before the elections. He also supported Jonathan to win, when it was obvious that Atiku has lost the PDP presidential primaries. Against this backdrop, Princewill’s sportsmanship politics should be imbibed and emulated by all Nigerians in his position. Princewill reflects the position of many democrats, who are never forced to trade the ethnic politics. He saw zoning and the need to respect it as a very valid argument. “But for whatever reason the president has decided that he is not going to make such a commitment. In a democracy, he has a valid argument which obviously must be in the best interest of the country,” Princewill had said.

It is only few people who can say such truth in Nigeria as Princewill, a country where yesmen mislead their principals for the selfish interest of their office. Princewill attributes this habit to the kind of country we are in, because of the kind of pluralistic society that exists.

The need for zoning is undoubtedly a valid one, Princewill had said. And when he said this, a lot of people called for his head, but the issue of zoning has resurfaced in the area of Speakership and the Senate President positions today, over which area they should be allotted to.

However, Princewill only said the ‘truth’ about the zoning, but will never put his head, because he has authoritatively said in many occasions that he was not there when this agreement was reached; he was not even a member of PDP at the time. “But for all it’s worth, I think it is important for us to recognise that the inability to keep to agreements or the inability to predict zoning distribution may lead to an uncomfortable situation in the future and so it is imperative that these issues are cleared and not left ambiguous,” Princewill had warned.

For sycophants, who believed in the ‘power of incumbent’ they didn’t tell Jonathan the truth enough, on the issue of zoning, which was once regarded as an issue for the elders, but here we are today. It has resurfaced today. Princewill believed that the Nigerian youth had the good fortune of being somewhere behind the elders and expected them to take the lead, but it was unfortunate that a lot of elders could be deceiving.

We think, Jonathan needs Princewill, and vis-à-vis, for the growth of this nation. Princewill should not completely retreat to politics on Rivers State and strictly abandon national politics. He has been realistic, his opinion has been communicated to many since 2007, and they understand where he’s coming from. His, is a case of mutual respect. In the absence of the issue of zoning and tenure, being committed to by Jonathan, Jonathan should never zone anger and brickbat to any zone for not supporting his election.

Written by
Odimegwu Onwumere
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