Ex-Rivers State governorship aspirant and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Prince Tonye Princewill has said that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) may return to power in 2023 if the APC is unable to resolve its internal crisis.
Princewill, in a chat with newsmen in Lagos, said if the APC is unable to resolve its internal crisis before the 2023 elections, it will be possible for the former ruling party to take over the leadership of the country. The former guber aspirant anchored his position on the short memories of Nigerians, who may have forgotten what the PDP did to them in its eight years in power.
He said, “It’s not impossible. PDP is weak and also prone to a customized implosion of its own, but nobody should ever be underestimated. Nigerians have very short memories. Some have forgotten what PDP represents and cut off their nose to spite their face. I’ve seen men do very strange things, only to regret it later.
“Besides, powerful men being out of power for eight years can do powerful things like swallowing their own vomit to get back in. For many, politicians, politics and power is all they know. They can do anything to remain relevant.
“The other factor to consider is 2023 may not be about party. It may be about the candidate. If PDP brings a popular candidate, he or she can give the party a new image. The message to us in APC is ‘do not take Nigerians for granted’. And I am so sure, we will not,’’ he said.
Speaking on political parties’ internal crises, the prince of the Kalabari kingdom opined that Nigeria’s biggest challenge is internal party democracy. He argued that even though corruption insecurity, unemployment is second on the list of Nigeria’s problems, the nation’s biggest problem is internal party democracy.
According to Princewill, ‘’How we as party members chose our leaders. If we can get that right, the leaders we have will be true representatives of the wishes of the people and then the scourges of youth unemployment, corruption and insecurity that the masses are facing will give way to the development that has been so elusive to our beloved nation.’’
He traced the problems in political parties to the lack of internal party democracy. He, however, recommended reconciliation as a critical aspect of moving forward, as according to him, ‘’It is not what happens to you, but how it is addressed. Show respect, listen to opposing views and find a way to put them behind you and you will see the results.
Princewill recalled APC reconciliation in 2014, stating that it showed Nigeria how ‘’reconciliation and collective interests produced a consensus that overthrew an incumbent government. Men decided to bury personal interests to converge around a single ideal that kicked PDP out of power. In the pursuit of retaining power, APC has to do the same otherwise it will have a taste of its own medicine. A word is enough for the wise.’’
Speaking on zoning, the APC chieftain said zoning has no place in mature democracy but that in a “fledgling one like ours, with a pluralistic foundation and a history of ethnic, cultural and religious tensions, only a politician blinded by overreaching ambitions, can ignore it. Since the world is full of selfish politicians, there are many legal loopholes available to deny zoning. But that which is unjust and morally bankrupt eventually falls.”
On 2023 presidential aspirants, Princewill said, even though Tinubu is entitled to run, his candidate remains Rt Hon Rotimi Amaechi ‘’and I say so, not just because he is from my state because that is not enough. I say so because his track record, his commitment, his energy, his ability to get things done, his age and his ability to reach a consensus over the years, stands him in good stead.
“As our speaker, he was the Chair of Speakers, as Governor, he was the Chair of Governors, as Minister, he is the best performing Minister, by far. So as President, I know the trend will continue. Nigeria is far too important to leave tomorrow to chance.”
On Goodluck Jonathan’s alleged move to the APC for the same ambition, he said, “Some of us in Rivers State who fell victim to the imposition of Wike on us in 2015, remember the role of our former President and his wife in the marginalization of their fellow Ijaw’s interest for the Governor of Rivers State.
“Like we later suffered in the 2019 election too, a desire to settle personal scores with Amaechi also contributed to making us lose that election too.
“We are still suffering the consequences today. But it’s politics, it isn’t personal. Let’s leave speculation, my father taught me not to believe in my breakfast until I’ve eaten it. If the former President comes to join us, we will give him a special welcome,” he said.