According to the book of Deuteronomy chapter 8 verse 18, ‘But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth…”, Prince Tonye Princewill the man who is has redefined the concept of philanthropy in Rivers State by his magnanimity in assisting the less privileged may have picked his famous statement articulated in some of his billboards in Port Harcourt, “You are blessed to bless others” from this passage of the Bible which has become the motivating force behind his drive to better the lots of the less privilege in our society. One can also state that the Prince of Niger Delta Politics is influenced by his art of giving by Proverbs 28:27 “He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack; but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse”.
Before I go into the main treatise, it is necessary to define what philanthropy means. According to Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia, Philanthropy etymologically means “love of humanity” in the sense of caring for, nourishing, improving and enhancing the quality of life or developmental potential for human beings. In modern practical terms, philanthropy specifically refers to the enacting of private initiatives for the public good, focusing on improving the lives of others collectively” Philanthropy simply describes the process of giving back to the less fortunate.
Concomitantly, Henry Ward Beecher had Princewill in mind when he stated, “In this world it is not what we take up, but what we give up, that makes us rich” The fact remains that Prince Tonye Princewill acts is in tandem with Dr. Beecher’s postulation as one wonders why a man who has not had any government appointment should take it upon himself to use his hard earned resources to impact on the lives of both the youths, women, churches, professionals and less privileged in Nigeria through one philanthropic activity or the other as has been characterized in his recent acts and actions.
From the foregoing, the aim of this piece is to critically examine the silent revolution this young man has ignited in Rivers State through his donation and training of our rural women in Rivers State by empowering them through skills acquisition scheme. According to him, Women to me are the bedrock of every family. Empower the woman and you have empowered the entire family. I am a believer in the saying don’t give me fish but teach me how to fish. By donating skills acquisition equipment to our rural women, I intend to train them in some special skills that will help them establish and launch themselves into catering for themselves and their families” the Prince enthused.
Having said that, Prince’s exhibition of his unwavering love and concern for the plight of our rural women in Rivers State started when he mobilized the women in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital on 12th March, 2012 during this year’s International Women Day and donated a whopping sum of N23M for the upliftment and alleviation of poverty level of Rivers State women through this scheme.
As according to him, “the welfare and future of our women is more important to me than playing politics with the little fund available to me to alleviate and cushion the sorry state of our rural women who in some cases are the bread winners in their various families. Though I can’t boast of being rich but with the little that God has blessed me with, I am ready to give back to the society with hope that other blessed and rich people will be motivated to assisting the governments to arrest the poverty level of our people and in doing that arrest the crime wave amongst our youths and in the populace”
The Prince of Niger Delta Politics apart from donating the skill Acquisition Tools, he also gave them a 14 seater air-conditioned bus to the State PPA Women Wing for their use. According to Dr Mrs. Edith Wele, the PPA Women Leader who received the bus and tools thanked the Prince on behalf of the women for his exemplary leadership anchored on touching the less privileged and assured him that the women of Rivers State will always stand by him in all his endeavours.
After equipping the PPA Secretariat situated at the ever busy Aba Road in Port Harcourt where the Women leaders from all the Local Government Areas in the State are trained in various skills, the Prince mobilised resources and tools to most of these local governments for actual take off of this innovative revolution aimed at empowering our women in Rivers State.
The first batch of the skill acquisition machineries that have arrived was duly distributed to the women in Asari-Toru, Tai, Obio-Akpor Local Government Areas with hope that the company commissioned to supply these equipment will supply to the remaining Local Government Areas before the end of October, 2012.
On 3rd day of October, 2012 the Prince Tonye Princewill visited Obio Akpor and Tai Local Government Areas under the auspices of Princewiil’s Trust to commission the Skills Acquisition Equipment he had procured and distributed to these Local Government Areas in Rivers State. These equipment will be used to train and empower rural women to enable them cater for their families and make them financially independent. The event was indeed electrifying as women, youths, chiefs gathered at the various centre in the Local Government Areas visited to catch a glimpse of this young man trying to redefine politics and philanthropy in Rivers State.
At Obio Akpor LGA, he paid a courtesy call on His Royal Highness, King Prof Raymond Woko the Paramount Ruler of Rumowha Community and was blessed before he left to join the crowd that came to welcome him at the PPA Secretariat, Obio Akpor where he commissioned the skill acquisition equipment for the training of the women in the area.
The sequence of events was repeated in Tai LGA where His Royal Majesty, King G.N.K. Gininwa OFR, Gbenemene Tua-Tua Tai, Chairman Supreme Council of Ogoni Traditional Rulers and Chairman of the Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers was on hand to receive him to his palace. Prince Tonye Princewill after briefing the King of his mission in his Kingdom thanked him for the great reception accorded him and his entourage and told the King that he truly is at home just as if he is in his father’s house. He told the King that as a result of his long relationship with the Tai people, apart from the Skills Acquisition Equipment he has donated to Tai women, he is also ready to provide a bus for the PPA in the area and offer scholarships to ten children of Tai to study in any university of their choice in Nigeria. The elated King prayed and blessed the Prince describing him as a blessing not only to Tai people but to the entire people of the State.
Hon Emmanuel Owhor the PPA Coordinator for Obio Akpor and Lady Peace Teeah the PPA. Coordinator for Tai Local Government Area described Prince Tonye Princewill as a leader of the common man and that they are ready to sacrifice whatever it will take to promote the Prince and his Trust fund to the people of their Local Government Area.
If his visits to Tai and Obio-Akpor LGAs were electrifying then his visit to his home Local Government, Asari Toru on 5th October, 2012 to commission their own skills acquisition training tools was exhilarating and thrilling as it debunked the popular saying that a prophet is not honoured in his home town as the whole Buguma city, the traditional and political capital of Asari Toru and Kalabari kingdom was shut and agog as one elderly women described it as home calling of the Prince of the Kalabari Kingdom!
After the commissioning event, the Prince took time to meet with cross sections of the community including the youths, women and other interest groups where the leadership thanked the Prince for his commitment and concern for the emancipation of his people from the shackles of poverty in Kalabari kingdom.
In line with his custom and tradition, he paid a courtesy call on His Royal Majesty, King Prof T. J. T. Princewill, CFR, the Amanyanabo of Kalabari Kingdom and the immediate past Chairman of the Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers, in the palace, with the members of the Kalabari Council of Chiefs present to assist the King to welcome the august visitor and their Son, Chiefs C.J.T. Princewill, Chief L.G. Princewill, Chief Yola Batubo, Chief Daa George, Chief Bekinabo Erekeosima, Chief LongJohn and Chief Norman Wokoma etc were the Chiefs present.
The Prince in his introductory remarks said, “My King, my father, my friend and my mentor, I am delighted to stand before the man that shaped me in all the positive things that I am doing. This is a man who if it is possible I will like him to still father me in the next world. I am here today to commission the Skills Acquisition training tools that will assist in empowering our rural women. Instead of giving the women fish, I want to train them on how to catch fish. I commend the King for the peace that pervades his domain and urge him not to derail in this aspect as without peace there can’t be any form of development. Now that I am at home, I have assured our PPA Leadership in the Local Government that I will digitalised their office by providing computers, one Hummer air-conditioned bus to ease out their transportation challenges and take other steps to reposition the Secretariat even as I have established a revolving loan scheme for the emancipation of the women in the Local Government Area”. The Prince concluded his remarks reminding his audience that it was the Buguma crisis of 2003 that challenged him to join politics seeing how insecure his people were and the inability of government to guarantee the safety of his people at that timeand believing that his actions will continue to bring joy to his people and the entire State in general.
HM King Prof T.J.T. Princewill CFR in his reaction thanked the Prince and his entourage for the visit and for the donations made to the women from the Kalabari Kingdom and encouraged him to continue to be the light of the Kalabari Kingdom to the outside world as he is proud of all his accomplishments in such a short time in the politics of our country. The King later on behalf of the Kingdom blessed the Prince and presented him with a gift.
Hon. Prince Dateme JP the extraordinary Secretary to the King, Deaconess Mrs. Jimba T.F. Harry, the Women Leader of Asari-Toru LGA and others that spoke poured encomiums on the Prince describing him as a shining star of the Kalabari Kingdom.
Other remarkable donations in varying shapes and forms, be it scholarships, exposure and promotion of our youths, succour to the orphans and orphanages in the country have been the main thrust of the amiable Prince in his quest to breathe life, smile and joy in the life of the down trodden in the society.
One Odimegwu Onwumere a Poet/Author and Founder, Poet Against Child Abuse (PACA) based in Port Harcourt in an article titled ‘Tonye Princewill: Using Serene Capital to Reduce Poverty’ state and I quote, “There are billionaires in Nigeria who do not know what to do with money again. They only continue to stockpile more money in different hard currencies as if they are preparing for a competition of a sort. They hardly participate in anything that could foster humanity and enliven the many dampened people whom penury has been written all over their body. From oil to politics to other endeavours these do-nothing with money are there. Against this influence, it is worthwhile to show gratitude to Prince Tonye Princewill who’s neither one of the Nigeria’s acclaimed money-bags, but has decided to lend a hand to humankind with the little he has.
One Shola Olatunde in an emotional article he titled “an open letter to my role model described the Prince as the Prince of Philanthropy. Olatunde recalled some of the great feats by the Prince in the art of philanthropy. According to him, “The Prince, it may interest you to know that there are handfuls or many fans of yours who have consistently followed, monitored and read the humanitarian works that you have been offering to women, youths (undergraduates and graduates), the media, the less privilege etc. which to some should have accorded you a place, by way of immortalizing you while still alive. This is yet to be done by God knows who”.
He went further to state that he is aware of the Prince’s donation of bus to the National Association of Ijaw Female Students, donation of computer equipment to media organization such as the Tide Newspapers, set of computers and undisclosed cash to the Rivers State Chapter of NUJ, sponsorship of Mr Valentine Ohu in Broadcast Journalism, Miss Crystabel Goddy in Acting, Mr Telema Senibo in 3D Graphics, Miss Mercy Akudo also in Acting and Mr Stanley Kotey in 3D Graphics to the Del-York Film Academy are no longer news but have already been archived for posterity. Besides these, the reading public are in the known of the various roles you played in creating awareness for the melancholic plight of the less privileged in our society. This can be seen in your sponsorship of NNENDA, a Nigerian home video that highlighted the plight of abandoned children and not too long ago, you overwhelmingly endeared yourself particularly to me when once again you identified in no mean measure with the sponsorship of “Melody Shelters Singing Talent Show” wherein the final events according to one Nwaorgu Faustinus saw Godswill Orphanage of Kogi State clinching the coveted trophy and the Championship Prize of N10M while the Runners-up, the Lifetime Orphanage of Rivers State got the Prize of N5M. Rachael Homes, Abuja came in third carting home the N3M prize. Five Hundred Thousand each was given to the other remaining five Homes as co-champions.
Your contribution in your father’s scholarship scheme is not only resounding but also unparalleled because it has given so many indigent youths rare privilege to pursue their educational careers in higher Institutions. I praise God for bringing forth your type of person into this world to use what nature has bestowed on you to bless others; Mr Olatunde concluded.
To over 189 Men of God comprising of Apostles, General Overseers, Bishops, Pastors that have decided to rally round the Prince to pray and support him spiritually in his philanthropic activities. During their recent visit to the Prince, they stated, “We have observed with happiness your exemplary efforts in affecting the lives of our youths, women, Journalists etc and we feel that we need to visit you and encourage you in all that God has put in your hand to use and change the face of politics in our country and Rivers State in particular. Most importantly, to urge you to consider one of your famous statements that politics is too important to be left to politicians and in that regard, to encourage you to play a major role in the political affairs of Nigeria come 2015 as the danger of sitting on the fence is dangerous and will no longer be tolerated if the danger ahead of us as a country because of inept leadership is taking into consideration”.
To Mr. Charles Pokulo the President of Princewill Support Group and Dr Carl Nosakhare O. Isibor the leader of South-South Summit Group;” with the type of the Prince’s politics of affecting and turning around the fortunes of our people which simply demonstrate that we still have a future in this country. “We have resolved to carry the gospel of Prince Tonye Princewill to all nooks and crannies of this country and that is why we are here to assure you that we are with you in your drive to show us the way politically”.
Mr. Ekenyerengozi Michael Chima the Publisher/Editor of Nigerians Report quoting the gospel of St. Mathew Chapter 5:14-16 profusely described the Prince as the Prince of Charity while Kingsley Kem Eben a Nigerian Social Critic based in London described the Prince thus, “not only that you are blessed to bless others, you are a blessing to humanity, Rivers state & Nigeria! You are the New Nigerian Leadership we believe In! Your Generosity is immeasurable, unquantifiable NAD God will surely bless you”.
The Prince of Kalabari land denied any political undertone behind all that he is doing though people are bound to read politics in whatever you are trying to do. ‘As an individual and as a young man and as a citizen of the state, what I am interested in doing is promoting the talents that we have not just finding them, I want to promote the talents. So the main work begins after discovering them and put them at par with the Duncan Mighty of this world. Hopefully, we now, can take them to the next level.
Conclusively, Prince Tonye Princewill has done so much to solve the problem of his people: a fact aptly captured by Mr. Dagogo Emmanuel, his Finance Manager, quoting the famous Miriam Beard, “The results of philanthropy are always beyond calculation” as we have committed over 550million in our charity activities since January, 2012 and the unrecorded humanitarian acts of the Prince may even surpass what is recorded. We hope before the end of this year organize a football completion that will involve some past football stars based in Port Harcourt, female and under 18 Soccer Tournaments in our drive to continue to give succor to our youths.
Let me conclude this treatise by quoting Dr. Pearl S. Buck, “The test of a civilization is in the way that it cares for its helpless members”.
Eze Chukwuemeka Eze is a Media Consultant based in Port Harcourt
Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, firstname.lastname@example.org, 08038199163.