In this report, PAUL UWADIMA, writes on the emergence of Col. Austin Akobundu (rtd) as the National Organising Secretary of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the enormous responsibility that has been placed on his shoulders as the major opposition party repositions itself for the all important 2019 general election.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) elective national convention may have come and gone but its impact is still the talk on the lips of many Nigerians especially those sympathetic to the politics of the PDP and even by the members of the party in power, including the officials of the present government and leadership of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Aside the APC, other opposition parties including the UPP, DPC etc have also congratulated the PDP for its successful national convention.
With the national convention behind PDP, and the establishment of the Reconciliation Committee to assuage the feelings of those who felt short-changed in the elective convention, it is now up to the new leadership of the party to come up with strategy to reposition the party and reshape it from its past of impunity and lack of due process which cost it the 2015 general election to a party where fairness, justice and equity reign supreme.
One of the officers of the party expected to play a key role in PDP’s repositioning is the national organizing secretary of the party. It is a position that the PDP delegates from across the country at the convention elected Col. Austin Akobundu (rtd) into.
In his campaign for the office of the National Organising Secretary of PDP, Col. Austin Akobundu (rtd) described his vision of PDP as, “A party embodying the higher ideals of accountable leadership and personal integrity and whose platform is large enough to accommodate the hopes and aspirations of members working for the betterment of the Nigerian society”. He said that his mission is “To unite all party men and women under one umbrella; to build bridges across divides and transform the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) into a truly democratic institution for delivering good governance to Nigerian people”.
He described his political philosophy as, “Politics is an honourable vocation when one is guided by the fear of God and respect for the rules of engagement. History’s verdict comes from down harshly on political actors who take lightly issues of integrity, honour and loyalty. My military career taught me the tragic toll which betrayal by one individual can take on the destiny of a nation and its people.
To me, politics, like soldiering, is all about sacrifice. There is no room for betrayal or deceit. I therefore built my political philosophy on loyalty to my party and selfless service to my people.”
Col. Akobundu has had a distinguished public service career as a soldier and administrator. His most recent public service was as the honourable minister of State for Defence ( March 15, 2015- May 28, 2015). Before then he had served as chairman/member of various state, zonal and national committees of the PDP from 2001 to 2015. Member, PDP National Working Committee from 2008 to 2012; National Vice Chairman/ Zonal Chairman (South East) 2012 to March, 2015; National Vice Chairman/ Zonal Chairman-South East (Appointed)-June 24, 2015-May 14, 2016.
Similarly, he former minister has served the PDP as chairman, Security Committee-PDP Abia State-2001-2003; Chairman, PDP Fact Finding Mission, Bauchi State-February 2002; Member , Presidential Inauguration Committee (Security –sub-Committee) 2003; Chairman, Security and Intelligence Committee, Abia State ( PDP 2007 General Elections); Member, Screening Panel, Governorship Primaries (PDP North West, 2011); Chairman Screening Appeal Panel, House of Assembly Primary Elections (PDP Katsina State, 2011); Member, Electoral Panel, Senatorial Primaries, Kwara East Senatorial Primary Election-2011; Chairman, Screening Appeal Panel, Cross River State Governorship Primary Election-2012.
Recall that before venturing into partisan politics, Col. Austin Akobundu (rtd) has had a distinguished military career which prepared him for leadership in all spheres of human endeavor. He has had distinguished career in the Army’s Signal Corps where he held numerous command and staff appointments including; Administrative Officer, Nigerian Army School of Signals, Apapa, Lagos-1980; Adjutant, 560 Signal Regiment-1984; Officer Commanding 34 Self-Propelled Artillery Brigade, Signals Squadron, Jos-1985; General Staff Officer, GSO III, Training, Corps Brigade, Mile 2, Apapa, Lagos-1988-1989; Brigade Signals Officer, BSO, 13 Amphibious Brigade, Calabar-1990-1991;General Staff Officer, GSO, II, Training Headquarters, Nigerian Army Signals and School-1992-1993; Officer Commanding 541 Brigade Signals, Port Harcourt-1996-1997; Chief Instructor, Nigerian Army School of Signals, Combat Communication Wing-1997-1998; Chief Instructor, Army Training Support Centre (ATSC) Nigerian Army School of Signals-1998-1999; Directing Staff (DS), Command and Staff College, Jaji, Kaduna State-1999-2000; He was also at one time or the other, Aide-de-camp, Military Assistant, Military Technical Assistant to some military governors; Chairman, Rivers State Projects Monitoring and Implementation Committee-1994-1995; and Chairman, Environmental Sanitation Authority, Rivers State-1995. He retired from service on April 10, 2000.
Col. Akobundu (rtd) who is married to Cecilia Adeola Akobundu and blessed with four children had received numerous awards in the course of his service to the nation including, Chief of Army Staff Award for Best Army Faculty Paper, CSC- Course 18, On The Role of The Nigerian Army in the Fourth Republic-1996; Meritorious Service Star (MSS); Forces Service Star (FSS).
The man who holds the traditional title of “Ochiagha” of Ikwuano, is expected to bring his wealth of experience to bear in his new responsibility as the organizing secretary of PDP at the time the party is grappling with many challenges which need a man with the mind of a military strategist to set it on the right path ahead of the 2019 general elections. As a well known team player many Nigerians have high expectations of Akobundu and indeed the new National Executive Committee of the PDP.