Tonye Princewill

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Tonye Princewill
Tonye Princewill.jpg
Princewill at a private screening of '76 in 2016
Born (1969-01-04) 4 January 1969 (age 50)
ResidenceAbuja, Nigeria
OccupationBusinessman, politician, petroleum engineer, film producer
Political partyLabour Party Nigeria (LP) All Progressives Congress (current)
People's Democratic Party (former)

Tonye Princewill (born 4 January 1969) is a Nigerian businessman, politician and philanthropist who was the 2015 Labour Party and 2007 Action Congress nominee for Governor of Rivers State. He is the son of King T.J.T. Princewill and is a Prince of the Kalabari Kingdom of Rivers State, Nigeria.

Princewill was the Chief Technology Officer of Panasonic in the United Kingdom (UK) and served at the Global Asset Management desk of Citibank. His business interests are in both upstream and downstream oil and gas, information technology, environmental waste management, aviation services and film production.

Early life and education[edit]

Prince Tonye Princewill was born in the UK to the family of King (Prof) T.J.T. Princewill, the Amanyanabo of Kalabari Kingdom of the Amachree Dynasty of Rivers State. His father was a Professor of Medical Microbiology before he became a monarch.

Tonye Princewill started his early education in the United Kingdom, before returning with his parents to Nigeria. In Nigeria, he was enrolled at Hillcrest High School in Jos from 1976–1980. He then attended Federal Government College (Port Harcourt) where he obtained his West African Senior Certificate/ General Certificate of Education O'Level in 1985. He took his BSc in Petroleum engineering at the University of Port Harcourt. He did a master's degree in Mineral Resources Engineering at the Imperial College London.


Oil and gas[edit]

Tonye Princewill started off his career with Royal Dutch Shell as a Reservoir and Well-site Petroleum Engineer. He also worked briefly with the UK's Oil and Gas Regulatory Agency, the Department of Trade and Industry. He later moved into private business and established the Riverdrill Group of Companies (Nigeria) where he is chairman.


Prince Tonye Princewill is a film producer. He premiered the film Kajola, a film which explored the implications of the continuous neglect of the poor as well as the widening gulf between the rich and poor and the ensuing catastrophic outcomes stemming from such neglect.[1] Tonye Princewill also sponsored the premiere of the film Nnenda which was geared towards creating awareness for the less-privileged in society.[2] He has also premiered other movies such as The Figurine and Valour, a movie that deals with the Niger Delta and Boko Haram issues[3]

Currently, he is one of the executive producers of the first movie in Nigeria on celluloid camera titled '76 (film) hinged and anchored on the coup of 1976 in Nigeria aimed at preserving a remarkable part of Nigeria's history for the incoming generation.[4][5]


Princewill's political career started when he was nominated as the gubernatorial candidate of the Action Congress for the governorship of Rivers State in 2007.[6] He was supported by the then former Vice-President of Nigeria and the AC Presidential candidate in 2007 elections, Atiku Abubakar and former Governor of Lagos and National Leader of ACN, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. Tonye Princewill's campaign attracted significant grassroots support. He lost the election under contested circumstances to the People's Democratic Party's candidate, Celestine Omehia.

Prince Tonye Princewill and Former Britain's Prime Minister, Tony Blair

Tonye Princewill launched a legal challenge against the newly elected governor shortly after the election results were released. He offered evidence to prove to the electoral tribunal that the election was rigged. In a newspaper interview, he alleged that Celestine Omehia offered him a Naira 1.5 billion (approximately USD 10 million) bribe to withdraw the case before the tribunal, which he rejected.[7]

Following a Supreme Court decision to replace Celestine Omehia with another People's Democratic Party candidate Rotimi Amaechi, he withdrew his case at the tribunal following a local party decision of the Action Congress in Rivers State, a move which drew criticism from his supporters.[8] Tonye Princewill said in a report that "we took the decision at the time that the enemy of your enemy is your friend," noting that he was in battle with Celestine Omehia and his 'godfather', Dr. Peter Odili, the former governor of Rivers State, when Rotimi Amaechi was installed by the court."[9]

Tonye Princewill later led members of the opposition parties in Rivers State under the banner of the Forum of Organized Opposition Political Parties to form a unity government with Amechi's administration.[10] Tonye Princewill's support of the Amaechi's government received mixed reviews. Some viewed it with scepticism, while others saw it as necessary for the development and stability of Rivers State. His announcement in 2010 that he was returning to the People's Democratic Party was controversial and weakened opposition in the state.[11]

In 2013, he joined the management committee of People's Democratic Movement (PDM), the founding movement behind the People's Democratic Party, where his serves as the Director of Organisation.[12]

Statement on Political Plans

In first months of 2014, after several months of speculation on his political future, Tonye Princewill indicated his interest to succeed Rotimi Amaechi, the current governor of Rivers State.[13] Then in April 2014, he announced the formation of an Exploratory Committee to explore the viability of his candidacy of running for governor of Rivers State. Tonye Princewill was a governorship aspirant candidate for the People's Democratic Party, but in November 2014 announced that he had been disqualified on the instruction of Nyesom Wike, former minister of State for Education and fellow Governorship aspirant on the grounds of "not being a PDP member".[14]

In January 2015, he became the Rivers State governorship candidate of the Labour Party on a single-issue manifesto; job-creation.[15]

Public affairs and engagement[edit]

Tonye with victims of flooding

Tonye Princewill writes about confronting corruption, infrastructure development, behaviour change, security, health, academic advancement and ethnic harmony in his weekly column in the Vanguard newspaper[16] As a leading advocate of youth empowerment in Nigeria, he has expressed concern about the use of youth in Nigeria, particularly during elections, for violence and thuggery.[17]

Following the heavy floods that ravaged parts of Nigeria in 2012,[18] he organised relief activities for Niger Delta communities through the Princewill Trust.[19]

He has launched several initiatives to support Nigerian youth, rural women, orphans and widows.[20] In June 2012, Tonye Princewill sponsored Nigerian youth delegations on tours to Dubai and Ghana to learn about entrepreneurship, governance, leadership and self-development.[21] In January 2013, in celebration of his 44th birthday, Tonye Princewill released a documentary titled "Man. Mentor. Maverick" in which he speaks about his vision of equal opportunities for all.[22]

Tonye Princewill is an advocate for open government and effective public service delivery using modern technology.[23] This earned him the nickname, the "Digital Politician."[24]

Tonye Princewill sponsored several baseline studies in 2013, covering the state of education, environment, and health in Rivers State. In education, research showed that a large number of Model Secondary and Primary Schools were not finished and had been abandoned.[25] 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.[26] 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. Challenges associated to HIV/AIDS, the lack of qualified health professionals, and unfinished health projects, are 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.[27]

Personal life[edit]

Tonye Princewill is married to Rosemary, and has a daughter and twin boys.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "Kajola The Most Expensive Film Ever Made In Nigeria Premiered At The Silver Bird Cinema Abuja On 3oth July, 2010 – Princewill Begs Government, Corporate Nigeria To Invest In Nollywood As A Panacea For Arresting The Malaise Of Unemployment". Modern Ghana.
  2. ^ "Nollywood A-List Stars Grace Red Carpet as Tonye Princewill Hosts Nneda in Lagos and Continues to Spread His Orphanage Awareness Campaign". Modern Ghana.
  3. ^ "44 Garlands for the Indefatigable T.J.T. Princewill @ 44". Akwa Ibom News Online.
  4. ^ "The Alluring Narrative of Tonye Princewill (Part2)". The New African Press.
  5. ^ "Why it took seven years to shoot Murtala Muhammed film, '76". The Sun News Online.
  6. ^ "Why I Contested 2007 Polls". The Tide News.
  7. ^ "Why I rejected N1.5bn bribe from Omehia – Tonye Princewill". National Mirror.
  8. ^ Jimitota Onoyume. "Governor Amaechi: Four years after Supreme court's verdict". Vanguard. Retrieved 28 October 2011.
  9. ^ Emmanuel Aziken-Political Editor. "Tonye Princewill: A prince, his will and his anger". Vanguard.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  10. ^ The Nigerian Voice. "Rivers Unity Government, Federal Government & NDDC MD — Ikenga Igbo". TNV. Retrieved 12 May 2009.
  11. ^ Akanimo Sampson. "Princewill Quits AC, Returns to PDP for 2011 Governorship". Allvoices.Com. Retrieved 13 May 2010.
  12. ^ Benjamin Kase. "Communique Issued at the Meeting of People's Democratic Movement". African Interest. Retrieved 10 February 2013.
  13. ^ Olaolu Olusina & Femi Durojaiye. "Princewill: Why I want to Succeed Amaechi". ThisDay Newspaper Nigeria. Retrieved 26 April 2013.
  14. ^ Info 92.3. "Prince Tonye Princewill on Nigeria Info 92.3 with Daniel Braide". You Tube. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  15. ^ Emmanuel Aziken and Charles Kumolu. "Nigeria: PDP - Panic or Power Play?". Vanguard Newspaper Nigeria. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
  16. ^ Tonye Princewill – Weekly Column. "Vanguard". Vanguard Newspaper, Nigeria.
  17. ^ David O. Moveh PhD. "State, Youth and Electoral Violence in Nigeria's Fourth Republic: The Imperative of a Nationally Coordinated Youth Empowerment Program". David Moveh. Retrieved 12 June 2010.
  18. ^ Jide Ajani. "RAGE OF NATURE: Flood ravages communities across Nigeria". Vanguard. Retrieved 7 October 2012.
  19. ^ Nwaorgu Faustinus. "Non-profit Organization, Princewill Trust, Delivers Aid items to Relief Camps in Rivers State". Retrieved 24 October 2012.
  20. ^ Destination Nigeria. "22-Year-Old Timi Julius Emerges Star Winner of N5m Record Deal of Rivmap Talent Hunts, Courtesy of Prince Tonye Princewill". New Africa Press. Retrieved 28 September 2012.
  21. ^ Eze C. "Prince Tonye Princewill: Insight Of Weeklong Act Of Philanthropy, Selfless Service To Humanity!". Champions for Nigeria.
  22. ^ Kingsley Adu. "Princewill Clears The Air Over Philanthropic Activities". Article NG. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
  23. ^ Henry Umoru, Abuja. "Nigeria is in dire need of national conference – Tonye Princewill". Vanguard Newspaper, Nigeria. Retrieved 7 January 2012.
  24. ^ TNV. "Prince Tonye Princewill Buries Gubernatorial Ambition While PPA Mobilizes for the 2nd Tenure of the Governor". The Nigerian Voice. Retrieved 7 January 2012.
  25. ^ Eze Chukwuemeka. "Amaechi: Five years of education revolution in Rivers". Business Day. Retrieved 21 November 2012.
  26. ^ The Business Dispatch. "Clark faults Governors appropriation of oil derivation fund". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 December 2012.
  27. ^ Tony John, Port Harcourt. "Amaechi budgets N490.32bn for 2013". Sun Newspaper. Retrieved 25 December 2012.

External links[edit]

  • [1] Tonye Princewill Official Website
  • [2] New Rivers State Website
  • [3] '76 The Movie