The governorship candidate of the Labour Party, LP, in Rivers State, Tonye Princewill, has accused Governor Rotimi Amaechi of selling the state’s assets to an indigenous oil company, Sahara Energy, and using the fund that accrued from the sale to finance the activities of the All Progressives Congress, APC.
PREMIUM TIMES recently reported how assets such as Olympia Hotel, Abonemma Wharf, Risonpalm and the power generating stations in the state were sold to Sahara Energy.
Mr. Princewill alleged that the over $800 million realized from the sale of the assets was never lodged into the coffers of the state government.
“Money changed hands but the accounts they entered were not necessarily Rivers state government’s officially operated accounts,” he said.
He also alleged that there is no evidence of competitive tendering, independent valuation or a transparency in the entire process, arguing that the “Rivers people cannot be sure they got a good deal”.
“In one instance approximately $400 million changed hands over an asset that could easily be worth twice that. Why the secrecy?” he said.
Mr. Princewill, who said he worked for the success of Mr. Amaechi during his election in 2007, also accused the governor of using threat and intimidation to force the sale of the assets to Sahara Energy after the company began to develop cold feet funding the politics of an opposition party.
“Incidentally the partners in the company (who were) uncomfortable with the obvious attempt to finance the politics of Amaechi hesitated to approve the transactions.
“But a prompt threat from the Rivers Government made them rethink. Can anyone say they did not know what the money would be used for?
“Amaechi is one of the chief financiers of the APC election and a close ally of Buhari,” he said.
He also accused the Rivers governor of using some of the proceeds of the sale to launch international propaganda for the 2015 election.
“Information reaching me is that international media organizations have already been paid in USD from these transactions to come and cover the 2015 elections in a Tahrir square strategy.
“The aim of the opposition is to gather crowds in a single location and beam pictures around the world creating the impression that the whole country is in chaos,” Mr. Princewill said.
Efforts to get the Rivers Information Commissioner, Ibim Semenitari, to react to the allegations were unsuccessful. She did not return calls and sms sent to her at the time of publishing.
Why I moved to Labour Party
PREMIUM TIMES’ exclusive chat with Mr. Princewill was preceded by a Press Conference, in which he told the media the reasons he recently left the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to the Labour Party, LP.
He said the PDP did not treat all the aspirants in Rivers State fairly in the process that produced former Minister of Education, Nyesom Wike, as the candidate of the party in the state.
He said rather than agonise like others, he chose to look for a platform that shares the same belief and aspirations like him to actualize his dream of running for governor.
“2015 has been on our mind since 2007, the time has come and we have tried as much as we could to play it fair, and reasonable, but the PDP felt that in their best interest they are going to impose a candidate on us.
“While other aspirants had not had the good fortune, wisdom, courage or opportunity to move parties, I have; and I have moved into a party that I can quite comfortably call home,” he said.
He said he strongly believes that he has the support of the people, because unlike most politicians from the state, he declined to take up positions in the Senate and the federal cabinet.
“I declined both Senate and Ministerial positions to remain with the people.
“I stayed out of government and kept my political structure intact,” he said. Mr. Princewill also stated that politicians are often forced to move from one party to another because most political parties in Nigeria lack ideology.
He, however, said the Labour Party is different because it stands for something, which he also believes in. “The Labour Party has an ideology and concept of what government should be doing which is similar to my own,” he said.
“I am someone who believes that business should be allowed to thrive, but the ordinary people must be carried along, jobs need to be created and people need job security. I also believe that we should be looking at jobs for all, not just creating contracts for a few and in that light, the Labour party and myself share quiet a lot.
“We believe in social housing, free education, free health care and also believe that business should be partners with employees instead of a master/ servant relationship,” he said.
Mr. Princewill said the Labour Party would be his last political party.
“It is safe to say that I am not going to be moving again, if Labour party disappoints my constituency, then I will be quitting politics completely. I am not going back to PDP under any circumstances.
“I intend to finish my political career in the Labour Party whether I win or lose the next election,” he said.
He added that with his movement to the party and his adoption as its candidate, eleven other political parties have joined forces to endorse him as their candidate in 2015
“A press conference will be held in the next few days to unveil that position.
For 2015 in Rivers State, it is going to be the PDP, APC, and the rest. We are the underdogs, but that is the kind of underdog I prefer to be,” he said.