by Our Reporter
By Prince Tonye T.J.T Princewill
Politics like life is always in a state of constant evolution. The way
that things were, back in 1999, changed in 2007. Governor Odili and
Omehia found this out the hard way. Since then, things did not stop
changing and it’s now a lot clearer to many, that power of incumbency
alone, is not enough to guarantee outcomes. Nothing is guaranteed.
Nothing. Not even second terms. More and more people are beginning to
have a say. Odili did not choose his successor, Amaechi suffered a
similar fate, let us see what happens to Wike.

I’ve been known to speak my mind in the past. Today is no exception.
I’m doing so today, not to offend, but to reveal a foundation and
maybe even a possible solution. Today I just want to talk about the
opposition in the opposition and by that I mean the current politics of
APC in the Treasure base of our nation, my own dear Rivers state. Let me
start by saying that my own position on recent events is already on
record. Though I stand with Amaechi, on two distinct occasions since Hon
Igo Aguma’s open letter to the APC National Chairman, I have stated
that even though I do not agree with some of what he said, nor his
approach, my default position is still peace, not to attack Igo and
defend my leader. There are many others who can do that. That’s easy.
The position for peace is the one that is very hard. Wayne Dyer once
said, “Peace is the result of retraining your mind to process life as
it is, rather than as you think it should be.” Talking Peace with
people you don’t agree with is not easy, but that is what peace talks
are designed for. They require big doses of patience, temperament,
maturity, forgiveness, love and plenty selflessness. Not a long list of
qualifications many have time for anymore. But Igo and Emma are my
friends, and Amaechi is my brother and our Leader. We have to find a

The Bible in Matthew 5:9 said “Blessed are the peacemakers for they
shall be called the children of God.” In the Bible, this is the last
of the 7 beatitudes Jesus handed down to us that define the character of
a Christian. It is also the hardest. I am reminded by something Thomas
Watson said. He said “Satan kindles the fire of contention in the
hearts of men and stands back and warms himself in the heat.”

My exact words in response to Igo Aguma’s letter were: “Granted not
all of what he said will go down well with many of us, but he spoke some
hard truths and the minds of many silent others. As leaders we must
learn to listen. Roy T Bennet once said that just as you should not let
compliments get to your head, don’t let criticism get to your

I then went on to say that “I don’t want another disagreement to
lead into a crisis and so on my part I will work for unity and a new
style of conflict resolution. We are where we are today, as a party and
as a state because of choices that we made yesterday. We can’t keep
doing the same thing and expecting different results.”

So there you have it. My objective is a different result from 2015 &
2019. Not a peace built on any terms. That would be way too easy,
unrealistic and completely unsustainable. The peace I am referring to is
a lot more sustainable. I want to see if we can co-exist. Make no
mistake, I see no short term reconciliation here. The mistrust is deep
seated and well founded. On all sides. Hence I must say it upfront, such
a peace will be very hard to achieve. Many of the leading actors are
pretty stubborn.  They either don’t mind seeing APC lose in Rivers
state again for a third time or they believe 2015 and 2019 cannot be
repeated in 2023. I for one am not familiar with what it is that they
are drinking. In the case of those who are the optimists, I also want
some. A close look at Psalm 55 reveals a deep insight into what we are
all going through. I implore us all to read it.

Many well meaning people frown at peace as an option. That is because to
some, they are tired of betrayal. A war is now their way forward. While
for some, peace means giving up something impossible. There are many
benefits in war. There are many reasons why good people make wrong
choices. It’s important not to generalize or to be too quick to be
judgmental. On all sides. Let me start by explaining why these options
are not necessarily the way forward and why we absolutely need peace.
This advisory is for all of us.

There are 3 main reasons:

1. We have powerful enemies outside of the state and inside the state.
Not everyone can love you, but why make it automatic? Stretch out your
hand for friendship whenever you can, at least on your own terms. One,
you lose nothing. Two, any image of you as the unfriendly type,
unwilling to embrace peace, evaporates. This is politics. Perception
matters. I learnt that from Atiku.

2. Your powerful enemies inside the state will join forces with your
powerful enemies outside the state. Such a collaboration is not what you
want to encourage. I admit it has already started, but you should be
reducing their numbers and the impact, not underestimating it or even
adding to it. Peace plans include such strategies. Never take any thing
or any one for granted. I learnt that from Tinubu.

3. Today’s politics is edging towards consensus building and less of
the carry go. The vocal minority are more protected in this government
than ever before. If the electoral act is amended, expect many more
exhibitions of democracy and more examples of unbelievable compromise.
In other words do not underestimate anybody. In 2015 and 2019, APC in
Rivers state did. Two different powers at the centre yet, same result.
We not only underestimated our opponents in other parties, we
underestimated our opponents inside our party. Especially at the
National level. I learnt that from INEC.

The price of war is higher for us. We pay more in so many ways on many
different fronts relative to our political opponents. Even if you
compare us with Wike. We don’t need to. Even before 2007 it’s been
one war or the other, all at the national level. With local players
doing their bidding. Conscious or not.

Their aim is to show we’re disunited and we have been helping  them
out by proving it. On the TV, with our back and forth abuses, on the
radio, in newspapers, on social media and in beer parlors. Not just here
in Rivers state, but across the region, nation and everywhere. The state
of Rivers is now synonymous with conflict. Who is this truly helping?
Who is it empowering? Certainly not us. Our supporters are in penury. If
10% of the money we spend on war was invested in our supporters, we
would all be in a better place today. That I learnt that from the media.
In all its forms.

Let me address a few myths:

1. They are sponsored. Don’t have the facts, so I cannot speak to it
with authority either way. But if they are, prove it and discredit them
with a neutral audience, if necessary. Otherwise consider that they may
have their own agenda and are looking for a sponsor. By making them an
issue, you increase their value. Many a good thing is achieved without
noise while children are sleeping. In the end, we can agree to disagree.
Liverpool and Everton football teams can’t stand each other but they
live in the same city and conduct themselves in public as professionals
on the field. Politics too is a game. Of interests. It is possible to
have opposition in your space and still co-exist. If you beat them fair
and square at a congress or an election, life will not need to come to
an end. Why can’t we focus on that? Especially if you are a Liverpool.

2. They are irrelevant. Really? Is that not what put us where we are
today? I have no doubt in my mind that Amaechi is the most popular
politician in Rivers state as I speak. Anyone with a different opinion
is welcome to visit a psychiatrist if he or she pleases. So why has his
personal choice not won the elections in 2015 and 2019? Is it because he
himself did not run? No. After all we made it about him. Less so in 2019
yes, but still. The answer my friends was it’s because we
underestimated the opposition, especially within us and the key
relevance of our institutions. Everybody knows someone and indirectly,
information is power. I learnt very early on in my political life that
it’s not always about numbers. It’s about relationships. Ask Hilary
Clinton. She had 3 million more votes than Donald Trump. But who ended
up as President? She underestimated him. Never make that mistake. That I
learnt from my father. He told me not to believe in my breakfast until
I’ve eaten it.

3. The other one is “Your people are with you.” Maybe. But this
constant war war war is simply designed to shake foundations. China
avoids wars while they build strength. Not because they are scared, but
because they are smart. If one can avoid a war, let’s do so. Wars will
come eventually. At least in politics it’s a minimum of once every
four years. That’s more than enough. If you end up spending more and
more on wars and yet more wars, how do you lift your people out of
poverty at the same time? You can’t. Therefore you will struggle and
by that, you will struggle to keep them. The APC in Rivers state has no
elected official in a position to cater for the grassroots. Appointees
are underwhelming. Yet the vast majority of our supporters stick with
us. Let’s not take this for granted. Perhaps they know that a Minister
is not like a Governor. Perhaps they have learnt to fend for themselves
or perhaps they just have faith. Maybe all of the above. For us to take
Rivers politics to the next level, we have to measure our progress by
how many more we can add to our fold and not how many we can keep from
leaving. I learnt that from Amaechi.

My sense of observation is even more keen now that I’m recovering and
seeing things from a distance. I’m convinced that the biggest
challenge we have is internal. There’s an old African proverb that
says, if there is no enemy within, the enemy outside can do us no harm.
Many of us appreciate this, but few of us take the time to really think
about what it actually means. If we did, we will not be surprised to
know that you are the greatest enemy of you. Once we begin to see sense
in that, we start to open our mind to other people’s varied
contributions because we recognize that new ideas contain new solutions.
This is what we need to do more of. God did not give us two ears and one
mouth for nothing. He expected us to listen more than we speak. I still
remember Obama in 08, in his first election victory speech to Americans,
saying he will “listen more, especially when we  disagree”. I was
there on that cold night in Chicago to hear him say the words. Are we
here, not also sophisticated enough? Obama taught us a lot of things.
Politics is one of them.

I see brothers and sisters on the same side of a divide even now,
attacking each other because of different views on how a similar problem
should be approached, only to forget about the problem and commence to
labelling each other as to who is more loyal. To what end? It doesn’t
make any sense!! Unless you give different views an opportunity to be
heard, you will only hear the view of yes men and women. How does that
help us? Healthy debate is the birth place of good ideology. That I
learnt from both Amaechi and Alaibe. Igo and Emma spoke the minds of
even people who are abusing them today. I know this because I speak to
all. They won’t go public, because they see how Igo and Emma are
treated. While the treatment is expected by virtue of the way Igo and
Emma chose to go public, we miss an opportunity to learn very valuable
lessons if we simplify that event.

Conclusion: Somebody in Abuja, preferably the Senate President, should
call a meeting of the key players, to iron out a way forward, devoid of
legal hindrances and anti party activities. The work before a meeting is
called, should be just as thorough, as the work required after it. This
is politics, so conflict is second nature, as is suspicion. No need to
surprise anyone. Consult before making the first calls please. Rivers
state APC has only one Leader. Nobody here denies it. Let’s accord him
that respect as he has earned it, while respecting others too. In my
opening statement I said take no one for granted.

While we wait for Abuja to do the needful, let us all in our own way,
apply ourselves to a new approach where finally the true enemy of our
progress is tackled. I joined APC to help them win because I believe in
the men at the top that run their affairs and I believe that compared to
the PDP, they are the only other option out there, there is no choice.
While we succeeded nationally, here in Rivers state, we did not. We must
all learn from history or else we again will be doomed to repeat it. Our
opponents have sympathizers. Why? Let us do a self assessment and make
changes were possible. Engage new leaders, engineer more grassroots
activity, invest more in young people, position new field generals,
reward hard workers and recruit new members. This might save us a lot in
war funding, media expenditure and legal bills. If we’ve considered
the above and still can’t make progress, then we can go to war. In
such circumstances, I will be one of the ones in the front. Some of the
people making the most noise now could not deliver their LGAs in the
last election and have little or no electoral value in the next one.
Let’s be careful in choosing not only our fights but also our

Thank you and let us pray that this is indeed a Happy New Year.

To be continued ….

Prince Tonye T.J.T Princewill

APC, Rivers state

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