The 2020 State Congress of the People's Democratic Party in Rivers State ended on a peaceful note on Saturday, March 21 at Obi Wali Convention Centre in Port-Harcourt with new executives to take the reins of affairs of the party in May.
Those who attended the Congress cut across party delegates, youths, chieftains of People's Democratic Party, party elders, members of the party representing the state at National Assembly, national chairman of the party and electoral officers from the headquarters of the party among others.
There were also representatives of the country's electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) who were present at the Congress to monitor the process.
At the end of voting, a new party executive was formed to pilot the affairs of the People's Democratic Party in the state and it's headed by a former ambassador to South Korea, Ambassador Desmond Akawor, who comes from Oyigbo Local Government Area of the state.
The new party chairman is chieftain of the People's Democratic Party in his Oyigbo Local Government Area and the state at large.
He was Administrator of the Greater Port-Harcourt City Development Authority (GPHCDA) which oversees construction work at new residential areas of the Greater Port-Harcourt city in the metropolis.
After he was announced as incoming chairman, Governor of Rivers State, Chief Nyesom Wike, had words for the new party chairman but he started off by first praising outgoing Chairman of the party, Bro Felix Obuah, describing him as loyal.
Governor Wike had said: “Let me thank our State Chairman - and I tell people that loyalty is not by mouth, loyalty is not by showing appearance, loyalty is not by coming to see the governor every day - Loyalty is your conduct. Loyalty is those things you do at the back of those leaders you say that they are your leaders. I know in 2012 when we started battling on how to reclaim the structure of our party and we looked around and we said who are we going to trust that will not sell out - because you know what politics is all about - and we came to conclusion that Felix Obuah will not sell out.
“I don't know how many of you would have passed the temptation he passed where the state government had to revoke his land, had to revoke his hotel, but he stood firm. He said 'take my land; take my hotel. I will stand with the Minister', which is me today - and since he became the Chairman, he has never wavered one day. He has never wavered one day. Yes, we are all human beings - you could make one or two mistakes but if you are talking in terms of sabotage to the government, in terms of selling the party, Felix has never one day, he has never one day (done that)”.
The outgoing chairman impressed the governor so much that he thought that he could make him chairman for another term.
“And so when the national party brought out their programmes and that their tenure was coming to an end, I asked the chairman: is it statutory that when you do two terms you must go? - He said yes. I thought it was only for public officers who were elected. I didn't know that even for party officers that were elected. I thought that they can stay. If it was possible for anybody to stay for third term, I would have done it. I would have made sure that Felix would have stayed back.
“A man who believes in party ideals. I ask him, 'why do you like this kind of funfair?' He said 'Sir, funfair is part of politicking. It brings people around'. 'I say well, that is your own pattern' and it has paid off. In most cases when we go for rallies the kind of things he would do, I would say not everybody has this capacity to play this out. So it is going to be difficult, it is going to be difficult, it is going to be difficult and I challenge the incoming chairman. You have work to do. It is not to talk. You have work to work”, the governor said.
He however said that his joy was that the incoming chairman would be guided by his several years of experience by reason of positions he had held to perform duties as chairman of the People's Democratic Party.
Governor Wike believed that the standards of the party should not come down and he stated this clearly to the incoming chairman of the party.
He said that the duty of those in authority in the state would be to continue to bring good governance to the people so that they would continue to have hope in the party and vote for those who contest election on the party's platform.
“Don't allow the standards of the party to come down. The party has given us the mandate to govern - the platform in which we ran election and won. Our duty as those who are in authority is to continue to do those things that will give the people of the state the hope to continue to believe in PDP and that is why I challenge anybody today (that) if INEC is to conduct proper election any day any time (there's) nobody that want(s) to contest election under PDP that will not win election in Rivers State”, he said.
The governor had said to the incoming chairman of the party to be careful and not be swayed by politicians who he said would bring him rumours.
He appealed to the new chairman to ensure that the party would continue to support the government in the state.
He had said “that is why the party must at all times continue to support the government”.
The governor who urged the incoming chairman to continue from where the outgoing chairman of the party would stop said that he had directed the outgoing chairman to organize workshops and conferences for the new executives so that they would “understand what party administration is all about”.
He challenged the incoming chairman to be bold and ask people when he hears things about them.
The governor who said that the party had done well in the state was convinced that the party would hold on to power in 2023 general elections.
The incoming chairman had said in his acceptance speech that the new executives of the party would serve members of the party and promised that they would discharge their responsibilities with more vigour.
He had said that the new executives appreciate the support of the party elders and leaders, delegates and party faithful and stressed that it would be time to support the governor of the state.
“Let us confront the reality we face today as a party and as a nation. This is the time the party needs to stand by our leader, His Excellency, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike. He needs the support of all men and women to continue his good work. The people of the state and the party guarantee to stand by him”, he had said.
He had said that the new executive would welcome back members into the party and thanked electoral officers from the national headquarters of the party for conducting a peaceful and transparent election and asked that party members support the incoming executive.
The 2020 Congress of People's Democratic Party in Rivers State was a great spectacle with the array of men and women who had come to the Congress either as delegates or as supporters of the party.
The huge crowd and peaceful Congress go to show that the party has strength and solidarity in the state and the new executive headed by Nigeria's former ambassador to South Korea would only need to continue from where the outgoing chairman of the party would stop to keep the flag flying in line with directive by the governor of the state who is leader of the party that the new executive should perform.