Former Nigerian Ambassador to South Korea, Desmond Akawor, has been elected as the new Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party in Rivers State.
This is as the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike called on Nigerians to mount pressure on the National Assembly to amend the Electoral Act to ensure credible elections in 2023.
Akawor was elected by PDP Delegates during the PDP State Elective Congress at the Obi Wali Cultural Centre in Port Harcourt on Saturday.
The New Rivers State Working Committee will assume office in May 2020, when the second term of Bro Felix Obuah comes to an end.
Gov., Nyesom Wike, PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, National and State Assembly members joined other party delegates to vote during the State Elective Congress.
Akawor takes over from Bro Felix Obuah, who served out his two terms as Rivers State PDP Chairman, leading the party to elecroral victories in 2015 and 2019.
The Rivers State PDP Congress was marked by strict observation of the coronavirus medical preventive measures, as medics were on ground to run temperature checks on delegates as well as apply hand sanitizers on them. For now, Rivers State has no confirmed case of coronavirus.
The accreditation of delegates and the voting process for all the officials of the new State Executive Committee went on peacefully. The Ward and Local Government Congresses were conducted across the State without rancour.
In a remark, Outgoing Rivers State PDP Chairman, Bro Felix Obuah thanked the Rivers State Governor for his support that helped the party to be successful in the last six years.
He said that PDP enjoys unprecedented internal party democracy because of the leadership provided by Governor Wike. He said the strength of party is exemplified .
Chairman of Rivers State PDP Elective Congress Panel, Senator Sam Anyanwu said that 39 Party positions were listed, with 39 officials picking forms for each of the post. The entire 39 officials were elected unopposed.
PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus voted first, while Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike was the second delegate to cast his ballot. Former Rivers State Governor, Sir Celestine Omehia, Former Deputy Governor, Engr Tele Ikuru, National and State Assembly members proceeded to cast their votes.
Delegates from the 23 Local Government Areas of the State thereafter cast their votes in alphabetical order.
Senator Anyanwu announced that that Ambassador Desmond Akawor polled 2908 to emerge victorious as the Rivers State PDP Chairman.
Born on December 1, 1964 to the family of late Eze and Lolo Jackson Akawor of Egberu Ndoki in Oyigbo Local Government Area of Rivers State , Ambassador Akawor is loaded with political and administrative expertise
He was former Nigerian Ambassador to South Korea; former Minister of State, FCT;
former Executive Director, Projects, NPA; former GM/CEO, NDBDA; one time Commissioner for Water Resources and Rural Development ; former Commercial Manager, First Aluminum Plc; and Director-General, Chief Nyesom Wike Campaign Organisation 2015 and 2019 .
Until his election as Rivers State PDP Chairman, he has been the Administrator, Greater Port Harcourt City Development Authority, GPHCDA.
Other major officials elected at the State Elective Congress are: Mr Chukwuemeka Aaron, Deputy Chairman and Secretary , Benibo George, Financial Secretary, Shedrach Chukwu, Publicity Secretary, Sydney Gbarah, State Legal Adviser, Barr Kingsley Chukwu and State Woman Leader, Mrs Miriam Ogbonna.
Others are: State Youth Leader, Ikpechi Oriji, , Assistant Youth Leader, Mrs Joy Oyaghiri-Fagbemi, State Auditor, Philip Onyeche, State Treasurer, Barrister Blessing Amadi and State Organising Secretary, Kagbang Offis.
In his acceptance speech, Rivers State PDP Chairman, Ambassador Desmond Akawor commended the Rivers State Governor for creating the platform for peaceful congress in the state.
He said Governor Wike has been a worthy ambassador of the PDP through his superlative performance since 2015.
He said that members of the new Rivers State Working Committee will serve the party and lead it to greater achievements. He assured the party of the loyalty and commitment of the new executive committee.
Ambassador Desmond Akawor said that the leadership and membership of the new Rivers State PDP Executive Committee will always stand by Governor Wike throughout his administration.
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike while addressing the congress said that PDP remains a force in Rivers State because his administration delivers on its development agenda.
He said : "We must continue to do what will sustain the hope our people have in government. If INEC conducts credible elections at any time, PDP candidates will win all the positions."
Governor Wike called on the party to continue to support the State Government for the benefit of Rivers people.
"The party must continue to support the State Government. Don't allow anyone to deceive you into distracting the State Government.
This is a time for governance, " he said.
Governor Wike urged the new State Working Committee of Rivers State PDP not to lower the standard of performance set by the outgoing State Executive. He appealed to the incoming State Chairman to apply his wealth of experience to sustain the party.
The Governor praised the outgoing Rivers State PDP Chairman, Bro Felix Obuah for his commitment to the growth of PDP and his total loyalty to the leadership in the state.
He said: "Loyalty is not by mouth, showing appearance or seeing the Governor regularly. Loyalty is by conduct and the things you do at the back."
Governor Wike said when the struggle to win back Rivers State started 8b 2013, a decision was made to elect Bro Felix Obuah because of his pedigree.
"We concluded that Bro Felix Obuah will not sell out. He stood firm, despite all temptations. Since he became chairman, he has never waivered. He has never sabotaged the State Government and the party.
"If it was constitutionally possible for anyone to stay, we would have allowed Felix Obuah to stay. It is going to be difficult to replace Obuah," he said.
PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus said that the State Congress is a transparent process that threw up new State Working Committee in Rivers State.
He called for electoral reform ahead of the 2023 General Elections to avoid further electoral mandate.
The PDP National Chairman commended Rivers state Governor and Rivers people for standing firm to defend their mandate. He said that some other states were not as lucky as their mandate was stolen.
Secondus declared that Governor Wike has done very well for Rivers State.
The Rivers State PDP Elective Congress was monitored by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, as represented by Emmanuel Wonke HOD EPM, Representative of the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Barrister Don Umealor, HOD Legal, INEC Rivers and four other officials of INEC Rivers. From the National Headquarters of INEC: Stephanus Nsima, Imelda Okwute and Ngozi Onwuka monitored the Rivers State Elective Congress.