Former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, Mr. Timi Alaibe, and some other chieftains of the All Progressives Congress in Bayelsa State have defected to the Peoples Democratic Party.
Among the defectors were an ally of former Governor Timipre Sylva, Chief Nathan Egba; Chief Rufus Abadi; a former Secretary to the State Government, Chief Gideon Ekeowei, who led other APC members to the PDP in a colourful ceremony in Yenagoa on Thursday.
The defected top APC leaders were received by Governor Seriake Dickson; the South-South Zonal Chairman of the party, Chief Emmanuel Ogidi; the Chairman of the PDP in the state, Chief Moses Cleopas; and other top political leaders in the state.
In his remarks, Dickson said that Alaibe and the other top APC chieftains were the politicians who gave him the tough fight in the state governorship election of 2015.
He said that with the defection of the large number of APC leaders to the ruling PDP in the state, the APC had become a weak party, incapable of winning elections in Bayelsa.
The governor urged members of the APC to join the PDP to play the expected leadership role in the development of Bayelsa and Niger Delta region.
He said, “We have enough room for everybody, for all those who want to join our party. This is the fifth rally the party has put together in the state. I am especially happy to be here in the spirit of reconciliation, (to have) a new Bayelsa and service to our people, rather than self aggrandisement.
“From today, you have been automatically restored to your leadership positions, the positions you occupied before you left. I urge you all to return to base to play the leadership role that you all can and will play.
“Let me make it clear that firstly the PDP you are coming back to is unlike the party you left; it is a party of order, conscientious building, law and order and mutual respect.
“We are in the opposition and a party in the opposition cannot conduct itself in a divisive way. We need all of you to work as supporters and advisers. I take you as members of my advisory team, you are no longer adversaries. Drop the adversarial toga. It belongs to the other party.”
Also speaking, Alaibe said that he had been to the APC and had seen the difference between both parties.
He described the PDP as a party of Ijaw people with interest in matters affecting the welfare of the people of the Niger Delta.
He said, “You can see the party in Bayelsa, and the quality of leadership provided by the governor. I am here because the PDP is the place to be.
“The PDP is an Ijaw party. It takes on issues of restructuring. It communicates on the issues that affect the Niger Delta. That is why we are all ‘Atikulated’ (for the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar).”
The National Vice Chairman of the PDP, South-South, Chief Emmanuel Ogidi, urged party members to equip themselves with their permanent voter cards as the general elections was already close.
“We have a war on our hands; those who don’t have PVCs should try and get them. February is not far. We need to deliver our candidate, our national and state assembly members,” he said.