BUGUMA CITY: KALABARI COUNCIL OF CHIEFS COMMEMORATE 11 YEARS OF THE GOLDEN REIGN OF THE AMANYANABO OF KALABARI KING (PROF) TJT PRINCEWIL, JP, CFR, AMACHREE XI
23rd March, 2013 will remain evergreen in the minds of the Kalabari people as they rolled out the drums to celebrate the 11th year Anniversary of the reign of their King, the Amanyanabo of Kalabari Kingdom, HRM King (Prof) T.J.T Princewill, JP, CFR, (Amachree XI).
The celebration of this man of excellence started with a thanksgiving service at Our Saviour’s Church Cathedral, Buguma City and ended with a grand ceremony at the famous King Amachree Memorial Hall, Buguma City.
The officiating Minister Rt Reverend I. Akin Falana (JP ), Bishop of the Rivers Diocese of the Church described the 11th Anniversary of the 11th Amachree of Kalabari Kingdom as epical and historical noted that the King who is the 11th King of the Kalabari Kingdom is celebrating his 11thAnniversary in a church in Buguma founded about 100 years ago. He tasked the Monarch to ensure that he carried out the purpose he is on the throne. Reverend Falana reminded the King that people will take records of what he has done and as such, he should continue to do the things that would please the greater populace and God Almighty. According to him, "Any service you render as the King either religious or developmental, should be something good that people should refer to. We expect that it is purposeful and meaningful for the interest of the people”, he said.
At the famous King Amachree Memorial Hall, Buguma City, the King with the help of Dame Florence T.J.T. Princewill the Queen of the Kalabari Kingdom and some of his Senior Chiefs cut the 11th Anniversary Cake. The Kalabari Council of Chiefs through the Chairman of the Occasion, His Royal Highness, Chief O.C. Tom Big Harry JP, Odigbo VI, Omubo VIII decorated King Prof TJT Princewill and Queen Florence TJT Princewill with new designer insignia inscribed with their names and titles.
In the opening remarks, HRH Chief O.C. Tom Big Harry, JP, Odigbo VI, Omubo VIII, who chaired the event stated that “we all are gathered here not only to celebrate the Amachree XI, an icon, an embodiment of peace, a visionary, an unassuming leader whose humility is infectious and whose prowess and administrative acumen has brought direction, purposeful development to our kingdom and to motivate him to continue with his exemplary leadership and good deeds”.
A brief account of the celebrant presented by HRH Chief Harry shows that, His Majesty, King T.J.T Princewill, JP, CFR, is an academic Professor of great repute who was born on 4th January, 1930 to the royal family of the Kalabari at Buguma in Rivers State of Nigeria. He ascended the throne of his forebears as the Amanyanabo of Kalabari Kingdom on 23rd March, 2002 and was recognized as a First Class Traditional Ruler by the Rivers State Government the same year he was installed as the Amanyanabo of Kalabari in 2002.
He started his academic pursuit at the famous Baptist School, Buguma in 1934 at the tender age of 4yrs and was adjudged the youngest ever in that school. He graduated in 1946. After series of passage through various other schools, he ended up at University of Leeds, England from where he obtained his Ph.D. Degree in Microbiology in 1975. He has to his credit, over 30 publications published in scientific Journals from 1965 to 1988.
He served as Head of Department of Microbiology University of Port Harcourt from 1982-1984. Dean of Students Affairs of University of Port Harcourt from 1985-1986, Dean, School of Graduates Studies, University of Port Harcourt, 1987-1990; Dean, Faculty of Science, Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt from 1991-2000. During this time he also distinguished himself as a Lecturer and External Examiner to various Universities in Nigeria.
Further, as an internationally acclaimed scholar, he is a fellow of several academic bodies including, the Society for General Microbiology (UK), Society for Applied Bacteriology (UK), British Spore Group, Nigerian Society for Immunology, Nigerian Society for Animal Production and countless other societies both in Nigeria and other countries.
Locally he has also distinguished himself and has served in various capacities which include; member of Rivers State Advisory Council from 1999-2007. Member, Rivers State Peace and Reconciliation Committee from 2006 to 2007. Decorated as the Grass Root Royal Father of the year 2005 (GRRF).
The great King of the Kalabari Kingdom is the first Professor King in Rivers State and the first King from Rivers State to be decorated by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic, CFR. He is also the first Kalabari King to Chair the Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers and the First King of the Kalabari Kingdom to be appointed a Pro-Chancellor of a University. His policy of allowing sister towns and villages to present their chiefs to the Kalabari Council of Chiefs for installation without passing through any family in Buguma, Abonnema and Bakana (as was the case previously) is unprecedented. This has allowed all chiefs of all towns in Kalabari to attend Kalabari Se Kobiri without being installed Chiefs at the Kalabari Se level. This is also unprecedented He is the first Professor King of Kalabari Kingdom and indeed Rivers State. He is the first Kalabari King to institute a Scholarship Scheme for indigent Kalabari Students in Tertiary Institutions and the first King in Rivers State to institute a Scholarship Scheme for indigent students of Rivers origin in tertiary institution. The number of Chiefs installed in his reign is unprecedented.
A believer, proponent and custodian of the culture of our people, he has during his reign revived and organized our Owu-Aru-Sun festival which was held on 29th January, 2009 after the last one was held in 1991 and have a few days ago hosted the Alagba Masquerade festival the pride of our strength and power in the kingdom.
I think that the great Philosopher, Plato may have had King Princewill in mind when he posited one of his greatest quotes on leadership and politics, “There will be no end to the troubles of states, or of humanity itself, till philosophers become kings in this world, or till those we now call kings and rulers really and truly become philosophers, and political power and philosophy thus come into the same hands”. This silent revolutionist has lived out the above theses as he is truly one of the most outstanding Philosopher Kings in the present day Nigeria and has during his reign brought not only peace (that is panacea to any development) but has influenced several locations of government projects to the Kingdom like the sand filling reclamation expansion in Buguma, the Fishing Industry, Modern Secondary and Primary Schools amongst many others.
The fact remains that “There are Kings and there are Kings”. It is not sitting on the throne that matters, but being endowed with wisdom to lead; our King, like good kola nut, lasts long in the mouth of those that value it. To his credit, the great Diogenes foretold and stated even before the emergence of King (Prof) Princewill that “Wise kings generally have wise counselors; and he must be a wise man himself who is capable of distinguishing one”. The fact remains that some of us who are members of the Kalabari Kingdom Council of Chiefs feel humbled by his wisdom and infectious humility and we sincerely thank God for granting us such a leader at this time of our history.
As a great scholar, he has initiated a lot of seminars and lectures to bring enlightenment and chart a path of progress and greatness for our kingdom and we are very appreciative for all these efforts.
Prior to the installation of King (Prof) Princewill, insecurity was the hallmark of the kingdom. Kalabari Kingdom at this period 2002 -2007 of insecurity occasioned by the militancy when lives of our people and property were destroyed at random without respect to the sanctity of human life. In short this period was the years of 'darkness, backwardness and Annihilation' when militia groups kidnap, maim, struggle for territorial control but to the credit of this visionary and man of Peace, the Kingdom is totally at peace.
Governor, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi aptly captured the sorrow state of Kalabari Kingdom when he stated, “that by 70/80s the Kalabari Kingdom had produced the highest numbers of Lawyers and Medical Doctors in the State and instead of maintaining the trend there had been a reversal in recent years with majority of the youths in the area resorting to bunkering and militancy, which in themselves are acts that mitigate against any form of development in the area. Sadly, some of these youths harass Contractors who operate within the Kingdom. As much as I am very interested in the emancipation and development of the Kalabari Kingdom the fact remains that development cannot come to the area under situation of insecurity.
But to the glory of God, the security challenges in the Kalabari Kingdom are now in the past and I am happy to note that the King and his council have done their best to sustain peace in the Kingdom and in the words of Ariel Sharon, “I am 73 years old. I've seen everything. I've met the kings, the queens, the presidents; I've been around the world. I have one thing that I would like to do: to try to reach peace”. The present Kalbari Council of Chiefs with this great man has restored and will continue to embark on projects that promote peace amongst our people“
HRH Chief O.C. Odibo Tom Big Harry in his remarks congratulated and commended the Rivers State Government, Kalabari people and security organs in the State to have ignored some group of people who have continued to sow seed of discord among our people and plant false publications in the papers about the stool of our King whose 11 years of golden reign has made us a proud and progressive Kingdom. He further stated that, “for avoidance of doubt, let me reiterate that the stool of the Amanyanabo of Kalabri Kingdom is not in contention and shall never be in contention as God has blessed us with one. The efforts and plots of those trying to plunge us back into the period of darkness shall never succeed”.
HRH Chief Harry described the King in the words of Lao Tzu, “I have three precious things which I hold fast and prized. The first is gentleness; the second is frugality; the third is humility, which keeps me from putting myself before others. Be gentle and you can be bold; be frugal and you can be liberal; avoid putting yourself before others and you can become a leader among men”. King Prof TJT Princewill is truly a leader in whom we are all proud of.
One of the major highpoints of the event was the decoration and recognition of the feats of the following Kings towards the upliftment of the Kalabari Kingdom – HRH Alabo O.C. Odibo Tom Big Harry (JP) Odibo VI, Omubo VII, Chief Daobu E.S. Amachree (JP), Chairman Buguma/Kalabari Council of Chiefs; HRH Iboroma Pokubo Amanyanabo of Minama; HRH Iwari Bala, Amanyanabo of Krakrama. In their separate speeches, they acknowledged and thanked His Majesty King Prof TJT Princewill for providing an enabling environment that enabled them to contribute towards the development of their various communities.
The climax of the event was the formal vote of confidence on the king. HRH Chief Harry who moved the motion stated, “May I based on the great feats of King Prof TJT Princewill during his reign on behalf of the Kalabari Council of Chiefs and the entire communities of the Kalabari Kingdom pass a vote of confidence on our God-given King, HM King (Prof) Princewill, Amachree XI as we pray God to bestow on him more wisdom and good health to continue his good works in our Kingdom as our King. This was received with thunderous standing ovation by all members of the Council of Chiefs and mammoth crowd that attended the historical event.
The King later answered some questions posed to him by some of the Journalists present at the event. On the threat by Shell to reduce royalties accruing to the community, the visible angry King on this issue thundered, “we will resist any plan by oil giant, Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC to reduce royalties accruing to the area, due to rising incidents of crude oil theft in the Niger Delta or for any reason whatsoever”. Shell keeps mentioning that they were going to shut down their Trunk line for the last six years or so, They gave us some money which we used in providing projects. Now that they are coming to the second phase of that agreement, they call it Global Memorandum of Understanding (G-MoU). Now, instead of increasing the lots (they call it mandate) that is due to us (the Kalabari People), they want to reduce it by more than half, whereas in the last five years that they were operating, there was a promise to have 10 per cent increase annually. Instead of finding it necessary to review it upwards now that they are going to enter into a new agreement, they want to slash it down by more than a half. Of course, the Kalabaris will not agree. If what they are doing is to make us suffer for it, we ask them (Shell) to pack up their things (facilities) and go, because we will not beg them to come and do it. If they don’t do it, there are other companies that will come in to do it. For many years now in Ogoni area, Shell is not operating, yet Nigeria has not died.
If we stop Shell from operating in our territory, Nigeria will not die and that is our position. So, they say they are going to close down their operation, we say not only closing down, pack your things and go. That is what we have said to them (Shell)”.â€¨ King (Prof) Princewill however said that if youths in the area were found culpable over allegations of crude theft, the Kalabari Council of Chiefs would intervene, but noted that oil and the control of the resource was essentially the business of the government.â€¨â€¨On the constitutional role for Traditional Rulers in the country the King stated that, “Traditional Rulers have greater roles to play in ensuring development, security and actualization of government policies if given a role in the constitution.
The Monarch reminded all that in 1914,the traditional rulers in the coastal areas resisted the highly educated and well equipped European influences, but regretted that the present constitution did not recognize the roles of the traditional rulers.
According to him, we have made several attempts and meetings both in the state and at the national level concerning the roles of traditional rulers; we hope that it will be included. "We hope to have a constitutional role and powers not only at the local level, but also at the state and national”, he said.
On how he will like to be remembered, the Monarch stated that he would like to be remembered for the peace he has brought in the three local governments areas of Kalabari and his attempt to increasing the lots of the youths of the Kalabaris.
"I want my people to remember me for the attempts I have made for increasing the lifes of our youths by offering scholarships to Kalabari and other students of other local government area in Rivers State" he said.
He noted that education is the bedrock of any civilization, adding that if we are to make any progress, we must invest more in education.
The Monarch explained that his Scholarship scheme which is an annual event will continue to increase the list and numbers of recipient yearly to accommodate more students.
Eze Chukwuemeka Eze is a Media Consultant based in Port Harcourt