Prince Tonye Prince – The Complete Interview 2022
- You are everywhere. You are in politics, entertainment and even in tourism. Many say you are heading to a place. Where exactly?
Thank you. Let’s see how it goes. Maybe I’m there already. I like where I am. I’m not one thing. Most people know me as a politician. But I have to remind them that you don’t run for Governor against the Odili machine in 2007 if you were not already doing something else and doing it well. People have tried to pigeonhole me first as an Alaibe boy, then as an Atiku boy, next as an Asiwaju boy and more recently as an Amaechi boy. They would be right and they would be wrong. Truth is I’m actually the Amanyanabo’s boy and for those who know the Kalabari Kingdom, the largest clan in Ijaw land, that makes me simply a son of the truth. All these political heavyweights that I’ve had the privilege of understudying, all know that I will tell them the truth as I see it at any time, on any day. That independence of thought came about, because none of them feed me. Even though each and every one of them have made contributions in my life and I am grateful to them for that and opening my eyes. One day maybe, I will be given the opportunity to do far more than I’m doing now, but till then, let me face what’s in front of me. That is my new movie 77; which is the sequel to 76, my many business opportunities I’d neglected because of politics, a Kingdom that needs me and of course, the 2023 elections that are a turning point for Nigeria. I may not be contesting, but politics is too important to be left to politicians. When I said that I meant it.
- Yes. You are the executive producer of 76. What inspired that storyline and why did you produce it?
Good question. Most people who know me for politics wonder about the connection, but to me it’s more than obvious.
Both our political leaders and our entertainment industry, project the image of Nigeria and that matters to me too much. If you are traveling the world, you will be bothered about the state of affairs in Nigeria and you will truly want to do something about it. Unless you don’t have a conscience.
Someone who sees our leaders see them as representing us. Someone who sees our movies or our music will see them as representing Nigeria. So if you feel you have a different story to tell it’s up to you to go ahead and tell it. I’ve never been a fan of simply complaining. It’s not a strategy. So this is what, I’m doing. Telling my own story. Showing my own version of events. I grew up in a time where people questioned where your money came from, where men had integrity and people were generally content with what they could afford.
76 and 77, the new movie we are doing, show you what that time represents and we felt it was very important to tell. Particularly with 76, we wanted a different angle to the regular narrative. We wanted to go behind the uniform and look into the home. Soldiers are first of all humans too. We wanted to take the audience to a place where they could relate. And talk to them through the eyes of a soldier’s wife. Movies with strong messages that tell you authentic stories and teach you valuable lessons; that’s what attracted me to 76 and when I saw the script for 77, I jumped in again straight away. The scriptwriter for 77 is a genius. Add that to Izu Ojukwu’s genius cast and crew and we have the tools to make history again. That’s all an executive producer can ask for.
- The Nigerian youths believe young people like you should not be associating with failed politicians but to work with them ( the youths) to rescue the country, any sense in that?
That’s where Nigerian youths get it wrong. There is a certain naivety I see in our youth that pains me. We the people hold the power, but our weakness is in our eagerness to box whoever disagrees with you. Politics isn’t like that. It’s about compromise. It’s about give and take. It’s about dialogue. Even with your opponents.
The youths alone can not save this country. Many of them have no idea how to tackle youth unemployment, the economy, ethnic mistrust and international foreign policy. But they are the ones most affected by them. The future is theirs and the youths have more to lose. That’s why the focus instead, should be on forming and growing a coalition of the old, the new, the young, the old and whoever they can get to rally around a set of ideals. That’s what is missing. The Leadership of youths saying what they want. What are their ideals? No unimpeachable student Union voices anymore which used to be a moral compass. No presence of youths in governments across the country. So limited to my experience. Our youths have been emasculated. Well, now is the time to fight for that voice. Stop perfecting the art of following and start to master the art of leading.
If you can’t get all the youths in one basket, get youths that are in the baskets of key political candidates and get them to meet and agree on what you all want for your future. Since it’s not the tail that wags the dog, and youths right now are seen as the tail, get the dog to begin to respect its tail. There is a strength in numbers and campaigns are the best time to get attention. All you need is candidates to listen to you, not the entire party.
Most Nigerians agree that we are not going in the right direction, where they disagree is who can take us there. My point is the solution is not in a person, it’s in a process. But I still hear many youths shouting about individuals. Just like it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a team to raise a country. Our answers lie in who amongst them can build a team.
- These days, people refer to you as Amaechi’s close ally. What has changed since you moved from the APC? Did it affect your relationship with him? Is he angry over your decision?
Nothing much has changed. The reason I left still exists. The Muslim Muslim ticket. But I never thought it would change. I knew it would not. The disregard for Northern Christians, other Christians and fair thinkers in that decision is total. APC has been disregarding it’s own supporters, so disregard is part of the DNA. What is different with me now though, is I’m happier, more at peace within myself and still very content with my decision.
As for Amaechi, he is still my friend and my brother. If you remember our friendship started in 2007 when I decided to support him from a different party. So he has been a beneficiary of my independence in the past. I’m sure he respects my right to exhibit that independence now, as he did then. That is not to say that he is happy with my choice. He remains in APC. Me, I have japa’d.
- Is Wike and Amaechi’s fight unresolvable? What role can people like you play to reconcile them?
It’s resolvable. They are two boxers who have been sparring without breaking a sweat or hurting each other. That means there is still love there. Also, they are two brothers. From Ikwerre. Very soon both will be out of office. Let’s see what happens when the cameras are turned off. Las Las they will chop breakfast together.
- You were once in Labour Party. and you are the type Nigerian youths yearn for. Are you considering going back, considering that youths are calling on people of great knowledge that can transform things?
Going back to Labour? No need. I have said for now, that I don’t need to be a member of a political party to play politics. I will only join a brand that I can vouch for and since I’m not contesting for any office, there is no rush to vouch for one. Let the National Assembly please look into independent candidates. The party structures are not good enough to be the only option.
- Amaechi is still silent. Has he discussed anything with you regarding his plan?
No comment. If you want to know what is on Amaechi’s mind, you are going to have to ask him yourself.
I’ve neither been appointed his spokesperson nor been given the authority to speak for him, but his remaining in APC, I think, speaks volumes.
- You have moved from the APC. And you have cult followers. Who will you and your supporters vote for in the presidential election?
When I appeared on television to explain my resignation, I did it a month after I actually resigned because I wanted the dust settle. I said then what I will say now. Tinubu is not even in my consideration for President. Even if he wins, and I hope he doesn’t, I will not be a part of that kind of a victory. It’s insulting to many and a poor foundation to build hopes upon. For me that leaves Atiku and Obi and my decision on either will be the product of thought. Let’s hear what they have to offer firsthand, who is serious about growing a winning coalition and then let’s see who they surround themselves with as leaders. That will go a long way to determining which of them, will get my vote. I don’t want to waste it.
- Wike is in disagreement with his party, the PDP. With the current crisis, do you think PDP can win Rivers Guber?
Oh yes. They can. If APC in Rivers do not put their act together, PDP might win. It’s not yet late, but there’s a lot to do and they are running out of time. PDP is not more popular, they are just a lot more liquid. Therefore they can buy judges, security men, INEC and voters. They can even buy APC members. Money is important. But hard work has no substitute. You need both to win.