Political Career

Governorship Candidate

Party: Action Congress
For the governorship position of Rivers State - 2007

Governorship Candidate

Party: Labour Party
For the governorship position of Rivers State - 2015

Director of Strategic Communication

Party: APC
For Tonye Cole during his Gubernatorial campaign in Rivers state - 2019
2007 - 2010

Action Congress

Prince Tonye Princewill’s political career took center stage when as a first time politician, he was nominated as the gubernatorial candidate of the Action Congress for the governorship of Rivers State in 2007. Tonye Princewill’s campaign attracted significant grassroots support with people admiring the courage of a fresh faced, bold challenge to the status quo. He lost the election under contested circumstances to the People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP) candidate, Celestine Omehia. Following a Supreme Court decision to replace Celestine Omehia however with another People’s Democratic Party candidate – Rotimi Amaechi, he opted for the option that the enemy of your enemy is your friend and withdrew his case at the tribunal following consultations with his Action Congress caucus in Rivers State. He later brought all the opposition parties under one roof and led the entire opposition in the state. Rotimi Amaechi’s first tenure till date is still regarded as one of the most successful civilian governments ever. This was partly due to the constructive opposition the Organised Opposition played in Rivers state. The role the Prince played in this is often overlooked but history will be kind.

2010 - 2014

People's Democratic Party

  • PDP Tonye Princewill Rivers State 2015
  • PDP Nomination Forms

By 2010, senior members of the Action Congress at the zonal and national levels kept pushing for the Prince to bring funding from Amaechi, requests which he declined to do on principle. It all came to a head when they threatened to take the party leadership from him and hand it over to Sergeant Awuse and Abiye Sekibo, his political rivals. It was approaching the end of the first tenure of Amaechi and as he had no intention of contesting the 2011 election, he and his supporters left the Action Congress and joined Amaechi in the PDP. The fact that his political mentor, Atiku Abubakar was also moving to the PDP didn’t hurt. Amaechi won the 2011 election by a landslide, while the Action Congress who by then had changed their name to the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) did even worse than they did, even in 2007 with their party Chairman defecting on the eve of the election and the party left in disarray.

  • Tonye Princewill and Atiku
  • Amaechi and Tonye Princewill

During the second tenure of the Amaechi administration, the opposition was a lot weaker and the voice of the Prince became less influential. Positions given to him were taken away and his support was less crucial to the day to day decisions taken in office. He disagreed with some of the decisions that were made, but more importantly, he and his new found friend disagreed on the politics. At the time, Amaechi was locked in a struggle with the then President Goodluck Jonathan and it was the Prince’s opinion that the struggle would not be beneficial to the state. He tried to broker peace and engaged in a lot of shuttle diplomacy between the Villa in Abuja and the Brick House in Port Harcourt. They also disagreed on the Prince’s political ambition. He had wanted to run for Governor, but Amaechi wanted him to run for Senator, a position Amaechi had canvassed for him in 2011. At the time, the then Chairman of the PDP had refused, opting instead for his younger brother Wilson Ake. Many would not know this, but it sealed a lot of fates by denying Wike a shot at his own senate bid because it would have meant three upland senators. Wike ended up being a Minister.

  • PDP
  • PDP

By 2013, he had been invited to join the management committee of the People’s Democratic Movement (PDM), the founding movement behind the People’s Democratic Party and his politics was on the center stage. At the state level, the tensions between the President and Amaechi had hit an all time low and by 2014, Amaechi had moved to the newly formed APC which was an amalgamation of the key opposition parties in the country including the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). The Prince did not join him, for two reasons. The first was he had advised against the rift for the sake of the state and secondly, the Prince wanted to run for the office of Governor and was disappointed that Amaechi would not support him in spite of the sacrifices he had made for Amaechi. Ahead of the 2015 elections, Tonye Princewill became a governorship aspirant for the People’s Democratic Party, but in November 2014, the party announced that he had been disqualified on the instruction of the then former Minister of State for Education and fellow Governorship aspirant Nyesom Wike, on the grounds of “not being a PDP member”. In line with the disqualification, Princewill parted ways with PDP and joined the Labour Party.

2015 - 2017

Labour Party

  • Labour Party
  • Labour Party

In January 2015, Prince Tonye Princewill beat the odds and the deadline and secured the ticket as the governorship candidate of the Labour Party in Rivers State. He ran on a manifesto with the primary focus on job-creation. The campaign was vigorous and feisty with the Governorship debates marking a major milestone in Rivers politics. The general consensus was that the Prince had stripped the other candidates bare and had exposed the inadequacies in the two major parties. Though his party lost the election, the Labour Party remained neutral in the bloodiest election ever conducted in Rivers state. Hundreds of lives were lost and in the end Wike became Governor of Rivers state without remorse. He was later reaffirmed by the Supreme Court who described the election as free and fair enough. The state had lost, but Amaechi and Wike had not. Amaechi became a Minister of Transport in an APC led federal government.

2017 - Till Date

All Progressives Congress

  • Tonye Princewill
  • tp-and-amaechi-inspecting-projects

In 2017, two years after watching Wike at work, Tonye Princewill opted to rejoin forces with Amaechi in the APC to challenge the PDP government. He opted however not to contest, but to work for the success of the party. Princewill, now an avid APC member and frontline chieftain, was appointed the Director of Strategic Communication for APC’s Tonye Cole during his 2019 Gubernatorial campaign in Rivers state. Unfortunately, the APC was expelled from contesting by the Supreme Court in the 2019 elections, thereby facilitating an unchallenged path to re-election for the PDP. The scandal of the series of judgments that led to this outcome is now a subject of local, national and international scrutiny. The courts had done it again. This time wished on, not only by PDP supporters, but by APC big shots who were threatened by a stubborn Amaechi, liked by the President, becoming too powerful and was one who could upset the apple cart in 2023.

Tonye Princewill is an advocate for open government and effective public service delivery using modern technology. This earned him the nickname, the “Digital Politician.” He has sponsored several baseline studies in 2013, covering the state of the education, environment, and health sectors in Rivers State. In education, research showed that a large number of Model Secondary and Primary Schools were not finished and had been abandoned. The management of oil spillages in Rivers State, a catalyst for youth restiveness, was seen as ineffective across local governments in the State. Survey respondents reported that funds which ought to have gone into cleaning and sanitisation of their communities were diverted by local officials. These findings also support press reports about corruption in government allocations to oil-producing areas. In the area of health, there is widespread disenchantment about the lack of improvement within the sector. Weak health service delivery in Rivers State is forcing many patients to seek medical attention at unregulated traditional medicine shops or to embark on self medication. Challenges associated with HIV/AIDS, the lack of qualified health professionals, and unfinished health project were also serious concerns among respondents. These findings substantiate reports in the press that raise questions about the efficacy of funds injected into the sector by the Rivers State administration.

Princewill is still active on the political scene and continues to advocate for a reform in governance. During a 2019 interview to celebrate his 50th birthday, he is stated, “My political career is intact. Good people are becoming more and more critical to move Nigeria forward. When Nigerians realise we cannot continue like this, they will look for people like us or younger versions to exhibit excellence and toughness combined. I do not have to be the one running for office, but either way I will be involved.” Princewill also continues to invest in his business interests, youth empowerment in Nigeria and is currently working on another upcoming Blockbuster centered around Boko Haram, with a release date TBD. When asked about the link between politics, entertainment and his other interests like philanthropy, he replied, “Image is everything. We are inspired by what we see, hear or feel. My purpose is to inspire and in the process, I don’t intend to leave anybody behind.

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