By Anderson Hart

Chief Nabil Saleh has been elected the new Second Deputy President of Port Harcourt Chamber of Commerce defeating Chief Franklin Dandison Gbupo by 52 votes to 21. The election conducted during PHCCIMA's Emergency General Meeting also witnessed the election of Chief Pakaye Elekima as the new Publicity Secretary and Surv. Emmanuel Ogbonda as council member.

Welcoming valued members to the Emergency General meeting, President of PHCCIMA, Engr. Emeka Unachukwu had said the election for the second deputy president position had became necessary following the demise of the first deputy president, Late Dr. Renny Hearty Cookey - and consequent elevation of former second deputy president , Dr Tamunoemi member e Otaji to the position of First Deputy President.

Speaking prior to commencement of elections, the president had explained that PHCCIMA is charting a new direction which according to him can easily be witnessed in the new approaches to doing things. He said attempt to drag the chamber back or cause any sort of regression will continue to receive stiff resistance in the interest of the chamber. Unachukwu explained that while the election for the Publicity Secretary position was intended to fill the void created by the elevation of Chief Nabil Saleh, that of the position of Council member was to replace Chief Felix O. Felix, an elected council member who has been inactive.

“We are replacing Mr. Felix O. Felix because he has remained inactive as an elected council member, he is yet to settle about two years outstanding subscription owed the chamber, we are all aware of what the constitution says about subscriptions payments. Furthermore, Felix O. Felix and Chief Isaac Wonwu are the once creating disharmony and taking the chamber to court; worse still Chief Felix O. Felix was instrumental to signing a press release in the newspaper that declared the present exco sacked. We cannot continue to condone his unrestrained behavior”, he said, noting that his position as elected council shall be put up for election to allow the chamber move forward; a decision that was adopted by council. Unachukwu noted that the chamber is moving forward and any attempts to constitute an impediment to the progress achieved will not be tolerated, he said.

He said Chief Isaac Wonwu and his cohorts have engaged the chamber in a running battle, taking the laws into their hands and demanding all sorts of impossible things from exco. “However we have been able to curtail them, thanks to the various supports we got from some of our valued members - we have been able to withstand the storm. The matter is presently in court and the next hearing has been adjourned to December”.

Engr. Emeka Unachukwu told council that, Chief Isaac Wonwu perhaps felt undone by the long adjournment and decided to take the laws into his hand by using the police to cause all sorts of problem, including serious attempts to stop the holding of the Emergency meeting. “Wonwu had sworn that the Emergency meeting can never hold, but we are happy that the exco in consonance with dignified members who were able to lend their support we surmounted his plans”. He commended a lot of members who have supported the fight financially and implored them and others to extend support because the cost of sustaining the fight is quite enormous.

Unachukwue therefore requested that the time for council to take a decision for mass action against Chief Wonwu and his cohorts is now! He threw it to council to decide on the next line of action to finally put a stop to the declaration of war against the chamber by these men.

At that instance, Chief Gibson Oyibo pleaded with council to rather apply the alternative dispute resolution option to encourage dialogue with the parties concerned with a view to solving the problems; this was unanimously adopted by council as something that has the ability to save time and money.

Consequently, council approved a reconciliation committee to meet with Chief Wonwu and his cohorts and perhaps extend an olive branch of peace. The committee includes: the MD/CEO of Promise Fast Food, Pastor Toyin Alabi, MD/CEO of M. Saleh Nigeria Limited, Chief Nabil Saleh, MD/CEO of Vincton and Vinctress Hotels, Chief Pakaye Elekima, Chief A Agorom and Jovita Iroemeh. Other valued member who may want to join is said to be welcome.

Paying tribute to the late first deputy president, Dr. Renny Cookey, the PHCCIMA President explained that Port Harcourt Chamber of Commerce lost the best President we would have ever had. He described the death of late Dr. Renny Cookey as strange and unfortunate for a man whose wealth of experience and invaluable contributions to society was in high demand. As a mark of respect the PHCCIMA President had urged all to stand up for a minute of silence in his honour.

Seeking for ways to reduce thew wave of unsubstantiated gossips and rumours threatening the fabric of the chamber, Unachukwu urged valued members to shun rumour mongering and gossips capable of bringing down the house. He advised members to avail themselves of the machineries for getting chamber information as this has been put in place through the office of the Director General to enable valued members make enquiries. Similarly he said members can also get first hand information on the floor of the house during council meetings.

Captain Mike Williams and M/s Jovita Iroemeh (Ada) were appointed electoral officers for the election.