Rivers State born Kingsley Wenenda Wali popularly known as ”Godfather” or “Kman” has added another pseudo name “Caliph” to his names. He is a Politician with a difference and a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC). This clean and detailed gentleman is so passionate about Rivers State, he talks about the ills, reasons at any given opportunity and suggests the way forward.
This lover of white attires believes he missed his calling of becoming a journalist . He actually published Campus Watch while in the university. Kingsley Wali believes people should be allowed to decide who they want to relate with in politics.
The law graduate of University of Science & Technology, Port Harcourt, cleared the air about APC internal crisis, the choice of Tonye Cole and way forward. An Amaechi loyalist who does not believe in politics of bitterness, is the convener and founder of the Unity House Foundation (UHF) & Facebook City People Awards. City People Business Development Manager. BUNMI DUROJAIYE had this very exclusive interview with this blunt and down to earth Kingsley Wenenda Wali in Port Harcourt.
May we run through your background
I attended St. Paul’s Primary school, Port Harcourt, Federal Government College, Ilorin and University of Science and Technology, UST, Port Harcourt.
Tell us about Rivers State politics and the party you belong
I am affiliated to the All Progressives Congress (APC). Politics in Rivers State is the same like any other, but with a little bit of not too pleasant engagement. Let me put it that way.
Talk about the division in APC:
Like I always tell people, a political party is not a gathering of saints. A political party is an affiliation of people who have interests, different motives, different methods of how they feel and how they want to go about solving their problems and it is normal to have this in any political setting but the difference between A and B at times, is that people do not disagree in a civil way, then they get personal and that is the bit that riles me. I think people should always bow to superior logic, not get so personal that you end up not listening to what the other person is saying. It is a most difficult thing, when you engage a person that is not listening to you.
They just hear or prepare their ears to what is distinct and argue to win arguments but I think a politician should learn more to listen, like you think before you speak. You think & process before you respond.
Don’t just respond based on who you think I am, or based on the fact that you just don’t like my face; your response to whatever I say will be determined by how you characterized me. Don’t answer my questions, don’t respond to whatever I say based on how you profile me. I hear people say, ”listen to the message and don’t bother too much about the messenger”.
What I think people call disagreement, to a large extent is normal in politics but what is not normal, is when people decide not to be civil in their conversation that they have in politics.
2023 is just around the corner and APC does not have a structure in Rivers State. What is your take?
I think it is because we put too much of politics in everything we do, that is why it looks like it is a big deal. It is not a big deal that there is no structure in APC as we speak.
What I have problem with is that there is too much politics in our lives. We are about the only people that play politics from about Oct 1st till May 29 and all the 4 years they are in office; so, it affects governance. It is so bad that people have come to accept it as a normal thing.
To talk about politics, I feel embarrassed when you tune to an average station in Port Harcourt and it’s Amaechi did this, Wike did that. APC did that, PDP did that. You ask yourselve, when do people sit down to actually articulate ways or means of dealing with the so-called dividends of democracy? If you like call it delivery of good governance, how do we deliver on the mandate of the people, when all the time, all they do is politicking, thinking, plotting on how to undo the other person and not how to do for the people.
This is what makes people feel it is dangerous that we don’t have a political structure in APC as we speak. The court has ruled and that is the situation we find ourselves.
Not having a structure so to speak, should not be the end of APC , what has happened should be a clarion call for us to sit down and ask ourselves, what is the right thing to do? There is the right way and the wrong way. We are to take that right way, so that the people will be happy with us .
We have become so politicized that even when we start to engage govt on developmental issues, we politicize it & not querying how it will trickle down to the people. I was saddened by the fact that the Governor of Rivers State decided to decongest traffic in Port Harcourt by building overhead bridges, instead of being commended for that, people were looking at it from a tribal point of view, “oh! he is building flyovers in Port Harcourt alone.” Where should he go and build flyover? where? Inside Etche or inside Abonnemma or Bonny, inside water?
What I expected was for them to demand from the government a commitment on when the Trans-Kalabari roads will be completed. How do people go to Bonny? How do we link up to the riverine communities, a bit of dredging & culverts. Let the people not see it like we must all drive by road. You and I know that in Lagos, you can go from Marina to Apapa in less than 20 minutes without going by road. Why would someone going to Abonnema go through traffic for 2 or 3 hours, when he can go from a well developed Abonnema Wharf?
Three names come to mind in the APC issues, yourself, Igo Aguma and Lasbry Amadi, what is the problem?
It’s their call, anybody can say anything. Igo is like a younger brother to me. Lasbry and I were school mates from primary school. They have the right to hold an opinion or disagree with the leadership of the Party in the State but like l said to Igo “you don’t have any right to insult anybody in expressing your disagreements”. What I quarrel with is the language not the idea, because what do I know about your experience that prompted your decision to disagree with people. I don’t know Jack about it, unless you take me into confidence and tell me about it. This person did this or that person did that. l allow you your freedom on whatever Influenced your decision. l am not cut out for that crab of insulting or fighting people because they decided to disagree with me. My own is that, at the end of the day we see who is right and who is wrong.
What is the way forward for APC?
Democracy! When people become democratic, then they will begin to see that democracy is about numbers. Democracy actually is about the people. Now, if you are worried about good governance and the people; I don’t think it will get to the point that you get so personal to insult somebody’s wife, husband or family. I don’t see how that will lead to good governance. What you see is the none democratization of democracy. We do all sorts of rubbish in the name of democracy. People disagree strongly, our democracy is modeled according to the American model, right? But every day you hear Bernie Sanders swear and curse. Trump is not from the outside world, we heard Hillary say the other day that people should not listen to Bernie Sanders, that he cannot deliver on the moon he is promising.
It’s all part of the game. Margret Thatcher was addressed as a witch right there in the Parliament, nobody made an issue of who or what Tony Benn worships, or where he is from. They only addressed the person who did it and not where he comes from or the tendency. I don’t think I should worry about Igo’s issues with Rotimi Amaechi. They world knew their relationship before now and will ask questions about when Igo made his discoveries. That’s it for me.
Will there be reconciliation?
I see people are disagreeing on ways and means and the solution is to be democratic. What do l mean by that – let’s have a free open and transparent Congress, stopping the Congress from holding is not the solution. What people call reconciliation office sharing & I don’t agree with that. It’s ok for people to fix their personal relationships & not mix it with political disagreements.
All the tendencies in APC feel they are popular and have the numbers behind them. then let’s go to congress. It now becomes the responsibility of the National Working Committee to ensure that the congress holds. When the congress holds, it must be seen as free, fair and transparent, that way we can genuinely have people who can take people along. We are talking about a political party and not a business enterprise. If you cannot sit down and organize yourselves, what moral right do you have to tell people to vote for you or the government you are presenting as an alternative?
Whether we like it or not, people are watching, listening and hearing. If you cannot discuss like adults, who will trust you with the business of government and governance. That is the danger of all these.
l think APC Rivers State is the biggest financier of the Media especially the Electronic Media. When a T.V person needs attention or money, just go and interview an APC member in Rivers State and abuse Rotimi Amaechi, then the Minister’s people will reply and this goes on for the next 2 weeks. Nobody will say ignore. lt is always an opportunity to collect money from a politician by saying “let me go and finish him. Finish who?”
l have not heard that because Trump was insulted by Bernie Sanders, one defender will go to the Press for a week to reply. I think we should touch the brakes when it comes to how we react to other people’s decisions.
The danger about where we are, is that the Governor of Rivers State is having a ball. Instead of discussing what the government is doing and providing alternatives, we are discussing the crisis in APC. APC is not the government for God’s sake. APC is in the opposition, we ought to be keeping the Governor on his toes. When the Governor gets bored that nobody is talking about how things are going, he does stuff by either telling us “Ntoor” or querying the Uthman Dan Fodio cap we are wearing . l am not saying they should attack the Governor, but when the opposition is not vibrant, the government will just relax. It creates some balance in governance, when the opposition is up to her responsibility. The government I power will say “abeg these people have come with their noise allow them “so there is a sort of balance both in compensations, communication and governance because you are worried about how these groups will react. For instance, look at what APC did to Jonathan, especially when Alhaji Lai Muhammed was all over the place firing on all cylinders.
In developing countries like ours, if nobody is asking questions, the people in power become dictatorial. Starting from your father in the house.
Entrepreneurs like to be queried. That is why l say for us to get it right, the western type of democracy won’t work here. We don’t like to follow rules, we like to say “does he know me?” or “do you know me?” that is the kind of conversation we hold in this country and this plays out in our politics. Also, in a typical African setting, a King does not vacate his throne until he dies and a Nigerian Governor, Chairman of Local Government or President equates himself with a King.
It’s like – why should he leave office when he is not dead? Look at Buhari, l won’t be surprised when people start clamoring for him to continue….”like if you don’t continue, Nigeria will end.” Then he will say “l think l love this country l want it to work”. And before you know it the man begins to fantasize about the idea of remaining in office.
How about Tonye Cole? People thought it was Amaechi ‘s idea:
It is just a function of laziness and ignorance with a bit of bitterness and hatred. People are unable to come to terms with the fact that hard work & commitment can get you results. The reality is that the whole idea of Tonye Cole came up from a regular breakfast meeting I use to have with my friends. My young friends & I normally have breakfast every Saturday morning and we were talking about politicians and their behavior and we felt it was time we did something about it. That was how we formalized what became known as Rivers Unity House.
l remember vividly that Prince Nsirim said “Godfather can’t you identify someone, we have what it takes to market anybody. He spoke with so much passion and confidence. He talked about politicians not agreeing.
Eventually, the next Saturday, Tonye’s name popped up as we were talking and the reason why Tonye’s name popped up was because, we have had so many politicians and we needed somebody, some businessman, someone who has value for money and money management.
There was never a “go and search” for someone. It was just a suggestion, “what about somebody like Tonye Cole” and we stuck with the idea and started propagating Tonye on Social Media. There was George Azunda, who had a permanent job for himself. Anything about Tonye Cole became the topic & we shared. l noticed in the process, that most of our young guys are quite smart. What they lacked is somebody to encourage them. Like we are with this person and he is not going to betray us.
George was living on the internet with anything Cole. It got to a point where it became a “let him come out and say Yes or No situation”. The strategy was to bombard him with stories about himself. There was no single day without him in the news.
Tonye Cole was in the business of mentoring, skill acquisition etc, so we had enough materials on him on the Internet and someone was like “Oga go vex o and l replied that Rotimi is my friend, if he is not comfortable or thinks I am a danger to the process he will call me to order and until he does that l will continue with what am doing. It took like 2 weeks before Tonye agreed to see me and the reception was not what l expected.
He came down to meet me at the conference room close to his gate house. When he asked “Kman, what’s up”
l started rumbling, mumbling and grumbling. Something that was not supposed to be a problem, when l told him, he said, if l knew that was why I came, he wouldn’t have allowed me in. He asked “Why do you want me to get involved in this dog eat dog kind of Rivers Politics. l feel embarrassed about the happenings in the state.” I told him why l came, he said OK, l will get back to you.
l reached for my bag and brought out a copy of the document we had prepared about Rivers Politics. He flipped through and asked me “Kman, what do you do for a living? “l told him I am a businessman.”
He said “And you have time for all this?”
l told him it was my team’s work and he said Okay, but l didn’t get a follow up from him. l kept on harassing him because my guys wanted him to say either Yes or No. l told them not to worry that he needed to think through it and not just jump in and I didn’t think his immediate family will be too excited about this.
Some how, l arranged an accidental meeting with his wife and we talked at length and understood where she was coming from. And to be fair to her, she can sit back today and say l said it.That l knew this thing was not good business for Tonye. She was talking like a strategist, l was talking more like a politician.
She didn’t think the environment was right for Tonye to get involved in it but l told her we needed to fix the broken state and the way out is to bring someone who is a change expert to fix it and that discussion was in Dubai, that was the only reason I went to Dubai. However, she saw some sense in what I was saying and she could relate with.
Things now evolved in some ways we didn’t imagine it. Tonye Cole became an item everybody that matters either in the party or elsewhere was talking about him without the man even saying a word.
Along the line his name resonated with the right kind of people and Tonye was pronounced as the preferred man for the party. Although some said he was not a politician. But we were tired with politicians.We wanted somebody who is not a politician and can work and manage money and resources, not just anybody.
He took time before deciding to run and he said “see what you dragged me into. l am going to give it my best shot!” and l think he did. What he did in the course of the campaign, l do think in the history of Rivers State politics, nobody has campaigned as hard as Tonye did.
He was going from Ward to Ward, he went to more than two-third of the Wards in Rivers State and addressed their issues and promised somethings and unlike a conventional politician, despite the fact that he was disqualified, he went back to honor his words by fulfilling his promises.
I sit back and think we did a great job. People just refuse to accept the fact and they say “na Amaechi send am“. What l can tell you for free is that l never sat down with CRA anyday to discuss Tonye Cole. Maybe it is possible that he had it at the back of his mind because he knew Cole’s capacity and if he had such a plan, we gave him the opportunity of doing it with somebody who has become visible already. No politician in Rivers State as at the time Tonye was pronounced will say he didn’t know him.
Why are you called either Godfather, Caliph or Kman?:
Just a name. l can answer anything. People answer Longjohn. I have a guy who plays for my club, what is his name -DrinkWater. l have about 27 godchildren, the oldest is doing her Ph.D in the UK, maybe that is why they call me Godfather. Caliph, that’s just me.
l tell people, maybe l missed my calling really. I think l was supposed to be a Journalist because right from secondary school, l was always involved in one kind of journalism or the other.
In the University l published what l can rightly say was the most read campus magazine -Campus Watch. It was sold on 5 Campuses in the Country. I loved pseudo names but not for any mischievous reasons. Trust me because there is no person on the surface of the earth that l cannot face to say how l feel about such a person.
Why do you wear only white? Are you in any cult?
I have reached a level in my life that I can’t join a cult. The cult will join me. For me, white fabric is cheap and it connects to my secondary school, It was a mixed school, you had to make sure your white on white were clean, nobody will describe you like a dirty person.
You got to chase now, it took 1 or 2 years to chase a girl and you won’t want to lose her because your White is dirty and we had to do inspections on Saturday. Again you develop a culture of not wearing the same cloth twice.
Anything about white, you got to wear it once, if you wear it the next day it will be noticed, what it does for you is that you don’t have the risk of body odour arising from what you are wearing. People wear cloth and because they didn’t break a sweat & in their mind they feel that small sweat won’t matter, but it will lead to body odour. For instance, I am supposed to go out and l changed my mind and remove my cloth, l can’t wear that same cloth again.
Anything white, flies with me and with 30, 40, 50 or 70 thousand Naira am out with my White jumper. It is not even enough to buy a quality shirt not to talk about Jean trousers and belts. It saves me the problem of expensive designers, Gucci, AJ Shirts, Givenchy and all of those things.
I don’t wear shoes too, so before you look at an average person of my age he walks the streets dressed in about 1 million and am walking the streets with 50000 Naira (laughing) at the end of the day, it creates a balance for me and keeps me tidy. l never feel overdressed for any occasion or event. l can attend any function even if President Buhari will be the person at the door.
How well can you describe the Port Harcourt you grew up in?
The Port Harcourt l grew up in was family based. A Port Harcourt where our social life was not dictated by prostitution or thuggery. Our social life was more of Port Harcourt Club – not to pick up women but Port Harcourt Club of tennis, golf, swimming, movies at Presidential Hotel hall. People visited other families but now you hardly see families visiting anybody because the children hardly go out.
l grew up in a town where l could walk from my house in D/Line to Town and nobody cares. My parents had to just bother that l get home before 7pm & not the case if today, where by 2 pm you start looking for where your son is because l was not seen for 10 minutes and everyone is fidgeting, that was the Port Harcourt l grew up in.
The Port Harcourt you have now is influenced by the economic recession, suffocated by immigrants that came with their own wrong values that have torpedoed our values here and whether you like it or not since the recession two things have happened. People now go into very easy ways of making money. Actually, people find ways of letting the heat out. This tells us there is a recession so people drink and when they drink, they look for women and the women are there. If you agree with me and you do a headcount, you will find out that 80% of women in joints are not from Rivers State am not saying we are Angels or Saints.
We still have some respect for family values but at the rate we are going, if you talk about violence recently it is dominated by Rivers people. In 1999, all characters came out of their communities into Port Harcourt for the first time for the Assembly swearing-in ceremony, so their values were not our values.
When l hear people talk about Rivers people or Port Harcourt people it pains me, l grew up here and l tell people who care to listen during the Facebook Award Night on Saturday that my generation destroyed what was handed over to us, where people disagree and were still friends.
My generation came with “if you are not with me, you are against me”. Even with those who are not in politics that is the tragedy. Those who are not in politics are worse, they are more wicked in their ways, they hate other people’s achievements.
The problem in the parties is caused by those who claim they are not politicians, those who acquired visibility in 1999, they have this thing about “this Bunmi, who does she think she is?”.
Maybe if you are fortunate, your father had a car or cars, it becomes something you are hated for, that you lived a good life while growing up or went to a good school and they went to different types of commercial schools and come into Port Harcourt now. It’s like vengeance and it is that anger that is making them have the mind to destroy this town, that is basically what is happening among people of my generation. In the past, we had governors who were experience people some were civil servants, some came out of Shell and some from private businesses.
The Cabinet had matured people not when a governor comes and just wants to be in charge, he brings in all sorts of people and the only thing that makes them happy is that they have power, are in a position to oppress people. This town or state was a lovely place until vagabonds and vagrants from different places with their wrong values came and destroyed the town.
My worry is that where we are now the younger generation are seeing this way as the ideal way of doing things. You see people not doing anything and a car passes and you will hear ”before this year ends, l go get that car”, how?
The only work they have is to kill, kidnap or rob somebody. We are overwhelmed, it is this idle or lazy talk of cultism. What’s that? What is cultism? You are trying to glamorize criminality. People are armed robbers, kidnappers, and prostitutes and you are calling them Cultists. What’s that?
Do they know the meaning of Cult? We have become illiterates and ignorant, people have refused to ask questions, you sit down in your home, your daughter comes home with iPhone 11 and you don’t bother to know where she got it from.
She tells you “Mummy am going out, she leaves the house for 2 or 3 days? Port Harcourt that is influenced by economic recession. Unfortunately, because we don’t ask the right questions, it is going to get worse!
We are active on Facebook, you see the type of English people write there and their reasoning? People talk like thugs, because they are actually thugs. Those that are intellectual thugs ,who want to intimidate or harass you, malign you just because you are holding an opinion different from yours.
The APC is not a problem, our problem is the hopelessness of those who are supposed to be the middle class or elite but are cowards and cannot question the politicians. The day of Uthman Danfodio thing can only happen in a state that do not ask questions. Today is Wike. it can be another person tomorrow.
Elite that won’t tell the governor “you are wrong”, when he is wrong and commend him when he is doing the right thing. That is how people grow, the person will want to do more because he knows the criticism is not biased. Nobody can talk to the Governor. It is only in this state, a Governor will tell Traditional Rulers to stand up and they will obey.
The most disappointing segment is those they call churches. Nobody can do wrong if you are a deacon or you are bringing money to the church. Our pastors here have become PDP or APC members, they are worse than the politicians. And I mean all the churches & no exception. Pastors now make political statements from the pulpits, reckless statements not minding that some members are there.
You can’t go to Church on Sunday and you hear pastors make strong moral statements. Haven’t we lost it? Everywhere no more civil servants, no traditional rulers, the churches are more disappointing than even the traditional institutions. All they want is someone to give them money, tithe.
Have you heard them talk about salvation any longer? All they think about is miracles and how to make money. Any society that has lost its soul cannot get right . The biggest asset in the fight for a better society & ordinarily the biggest moral vessel, is the church at least in the Christendom. A Bishop or a Pastor should not be scared of preaching the truth,” the fundamental pillar of Christianity is love and peace.
Therefore any other thing they talk about Christ should involve this. lf you are not humble & living a rock star lifestyle, then you are not a Christian. If you lie from the pulpit about miracles, tithing, you are not a Christian because Jesus Christ never lied, he spoke the truth even at death. l don’t know how many pastors that the police will want to arrest that will not lie to be free.
Jesus Christ had the opportunity to lie before he was crucified, don’t think he wasn’t worried that he was going to die but he felt that if what l stand for will glorify God, so be it. But these characters now go about with 15 patrol vans. Warehouses are shutting down to become churches. GRA is supposed to be a residential and serene place.
Churches disturb throughout the night so they have bastardized Port Harcourt, that wasn’t the Port Harcourt l grew up in but it won’t last forever. Something is going to give sooner or later and people will be made to pay for all their sins, l can tell you that for sure.