Interviews

Why I Left AC In 2010 – Princewill

To drive home the plight of my people, let us imagine an area like
Onlega that is the highest oil producing area in the country without any visible development to show for what all the resources being exploited from this area that shows you how the towns in the riverine areas where I came from are treated.
You are the Consultant to the Government of Rivers State on PPP and a member of the Rivers State Advisory Economic Committee, sir, why are the PPP programs not working in Rivers State and were you adequately consulted in implementing the Monorail and other such unprofitable projects in the State?
Yes, I am a Consultant to the Rivers State Government on PublicPrivate Partnership (PPP) and I have in that capacity attracted over N50B investments to the State and was a member of the Advisory Economic Team but have stopped attending most of their meetings recently as the idea behind setting up such a Committee are no longer attainable as those surrounding the Governor have usurped most of our activities and they would not have been any need attending a meeting just to answer present while most of the recommendations are not implemented.
My stand on the Monorail no matter the challenges and criticisms is that the project was well conceived as it was to be a PPP driven project initiated by a onetime Governor of the State but along the line after the Government had invested a lot of money in it and sadly the private partners could not meet up with their own side of the bargain and in order not to lose out totally the government resolved to go it alone. Instead of passing judgement now let us wait until the Governor leaves office before we can pass any judgement on this crucial project. But to describe it as unprofitable is not a fair assessment as it will be a legacy that Amaechi will for long be remembered for. Other PPP driven projects working in the State include the Silver Bird Cinema and the Call Centre etc.
Sir, would you have done some of these PPP projects a bit differently from what the present administration are doing if you were elected the Governor in 2007?
Of course yes, there are certain areas I would have adopted adifferent approach but as Sir Celestine Omehia once told me when we met some time ago, “TP, bear in mind that if this administration succeeds it will rub on you and if it fails, you should be ready to bear your cross because you cannot exonerate yourself from most of the ills or otherwise of the administration” and I agree totally with Sir Omehia and that is why I am doing my best to guide and assist the Governor to succeed if those around him will permit it.
Is the Rivers State Government doing enough to create employment among our uncountable graduates roaming the streets jobless?
The problem of governance both in Rivers State and the country at large is the inability of the various governments in the country to understand the language of business until that is done; the ability of government to create jobs for our teeming youths will be sceptical and slim. I don’t believe and support the stand that government should be disturbing itself to employ people, to me the government should create the enabling environment for the private sector to thrive to create jobs for our people, the government should thereafter ensure that these private driven initiatives employ our people instead of engaging others from outside the country. I learnt that the government is about
employing over ten thousand Teachers to teach in most of our schools, this is commendable but the fact remains that we need to do more to save our youths from falling into criminalities.
Recently the residents of Abonemna wharf were sacked and their houses demolished, is this right if we are actually praticising democracy of government by the people and for the people?
I don’t support people to be treated as if they are not sons and daughters of the State. The essence of governance is the people so any policy and project of the government that does not bring happiness and joy to the governed cannot be said to be people driven.
Though I have been outside the State for some time and I have not been properly briefed on what actually transpired to warrant the demolition of the Abonnemna wharf that housed the down trodden and less privileged ones. But if the little I heard that instead of the commercial rate under which Njemanze wharf was demolished a devalued rate was used in the case of Abonnema wharf then it is sad and unfortunate. I wish to counsel that next time the government should handle such an issue with a human face and consult extensively to carry the people along.
On the other hand, the government may have good intentions to arrest insecurity in the area but we cannot because of the acts of few miscreants punish the majority from the area in the manner the community was sacked without much consultation.
Sir, the new National Security Adviser, Dasuki recently told
Nigerians that he has the gsm numbers of the leaders of Boko Haram and will soon engage them in discussion to find a way of this imbroglio of insecurity in the country. What is your take on this?
Many approaches have been adopted to arrest this perennial insecurity challenge which is threatening to disintegrate this country, so whatever the new NSA may decide to use to arrest the menace of the Boko Haram is acceptable to me, though telling us on the pages of newspaper of whatever strategy they are adopting does not make any meaning to us, what matters is result and action even as I wish him the best of luck.
Some people have advanced the logic that the scary security situation in the country was as a result of loss of power by a certain zone; they are also of the opinion that if power returns to that section of the country, we are likely to witness a reduction, or total stoppage in the spate of bombings. What’s your take on this?
I have to be honest with you, there is merit in these statements you have made, but I will like us to dig a little deeper. Why do I say that? It is human nature to want to simplify, but I want us to desist from taking that path. I want us to look at the problems and be a little bit more detailed.
I think the issue of bombings and so on seem to be multi-faceted, I believe that there is political element to it; I believe there is areligious element to it. I also believe that there is ethnic element to it, but I don’t want to rule out the fact that there is a global
element to it.
Now, if I look at each of these elements, independently, and exclude the others, I simplify it. In fact, just put it down to politics, just put it down to religion, just put it down to people having a grouse based on ethnic divide, I forget that there are other issues associated with it.
I will give you a typical example. In the United Kingdom, we had
bombings under the banner or guise of Irish Republican Army. It had a political dimension; what people saw as the political wing of the IRA, Sinn Fein, was denied what you can call political right. Was that the cause of the bombings? May be, but again, you simplify it.
There was a religious component to it as well, the Catholic versus the Protestants. But is that the cause of the bombings? Again, you simplify it. There was an ethnic problem of the Irish versus the English. Is that the cause of the problem? Again, yes, but yousimplify it. So, we must refrain from the temptation to box our problem. It is human nature. Oh, he is doing it, because he is an Ibo man; oh, he is like this, because he is a Yoruba man, or people from Niger Delta, they are all militants.
We always, by human nature, simplify and I want us to avoid that. The reason I want us to avoid that is, because the leadership has such problem and, if you are saddled with the responsibility of solving a problem, it is important that you understand the problem. It is only when you truly understand the problem that you can resolve it and that’s why I said that the solution to Boko Haram isn’t bravado, it is intelligence.
You need to gather intelligence; it isn’t ‘we are going to crush’. I
remember somebody, somewhere, issued a statement that Boko Haram will be crushed by June. It isn’t about crushing Boko Haram; as much as a menace as they are, it isn’t about crushing Boko Haram, just as it wasn’t about crushing the IRA. There are ways and means and I believe, strongly that these ways and these means need to be looked into.
So what needs to be done?
I believe there is a holistic problem that our security agencies, our
government and our leaders need to begin to address.
Now, you asked a second question: is it not likely, therefore, that if Jonathan doesn’t acquire the office of the presidency in 2015 and the North, for instance, does, that isn’t there a likelihood that we would see the return to normalcy? Well, I cannot predict, but I do know that, if we want to avoid it, we can.
There is a common phrase that, if you want to keep getting what you are getting, keep doing what you are doing. And so, if we want to keep getting this titfor-tat ethno-religious violence, then we should recognize that where we have come from has produced the current circumstance.
Why must you continue advocating for National Conference?
We need to sit down and ask ourselves, some basic fundamental
questions, some core truths. I believe that this sovereign national conference discussion is one that we need to have. I don’t know if the word, sovereign, applies, because I don’t expect anybody to give up its sovereignty, but there is a need for a national discourse, where we can sit down and talk about our ideals: where are we going? What do we want to achieve as a country? Where do we stand on the issue of zoning or no zoning?
Aren’t we advanced enough to start to worry about what somebody’s merits are, as opposed to where the person comes from? Where does the person want to take off? I think that what we should do, but to cut the long story short, your question about what would happen, in a couple of years if power rotates, is a question that many people are asking. I think that the only answer to that question will come from the leaders sitting round the table and having a discussion.
If that doesn’t happen, I am afraid that we will continue to rely on
trial and errors, reluctant presidents, people who didn’t want to lead but are being forced to lead, for whatever reason or the other.
We wouldn’t have a proactive, well thought out Nigeria, but instead we will have a reactive Nigeria that reacts to circumstances and give reactions like we saw in Kaduna, spontaneously and negatively.
You are in support of sovereign national conference; should there be no-go areas?
No, I am not saying there should be no-go areas, but, unfortunately, in the past three months, I have been hearing my northern brothers say, if we should separate, let us separate. I have heard a lot of my northern brothers echo that sentiment and I believe strongly that unless we can provide all these sentiments good reason to do otherwise, this sentiment will continue and maybe even strengthened. I believe, with my experience, that people who are next door to you aren’t necessarily people who love you. So, if you have disagreement with people who live across, that doesn’t mean that we should separate.
I believe that the country as Nigeria can work, but I believe thatpeople need to sit around the table and have a discussion. So, if you have a referendum in Nigeria, I believe that the majority will opt for one Nigeria that is based on equity, fairness and justice; one Nigeria where the leadership is transparent and accountable. If we can provide that kind of a Nigeria, then we will stay as Nigerians and continue to thrive as Nigerians. So, I don’t think there should be no-go areas; I believe what we should be discussing is how we come together and how to move forward as a nation. Our generation cannot promote that discussion, the people who have put us in this mess need to get us outof it and I think it is their responsibility.

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