By Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
Governor of Bayelsa State, Mr. Seriake Dickson, at the weekend received thousands of All Progressives Congress (APC) loyalists, including the erstwhile state party Chairman, Mr. Tiwei Orunimighe.
Also among those who pledged their allegiance to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the statein a well-attended ceremony were President Muhammadu Buhari’s representative in Ogbia Local Government Area in the 2015 elections, Chief Orifie Ene; Watson Belemote, a serving lawmaker in the state, and ex-militant-turned politician, Mr. Africanus Ukparasia.
During a rally held at the Oxbow lake pavilion to formally welcome the defectors, Dickson, who was attending the second official function since the loss of his mother to cancer, said the event marked the final liquidation of the APC in the state.
He added that the defectors were the foot soldiers of the APC in the last election, maintaining that with their exit from the party, the next set of elections would be a walk-over for PDP which he said is poised to win every political position in the state.
According to Dickson, all the returnees would be given the same rights and privileges as the old members, but added that old members must also get their due regard within the ranks of the party.
“The person (Timipre Sylva), whatever his name is, should be grateful to these people (defectors). Everywhere we went in the last election, it was their handwork we saw.
“When I went to Oporoma(Southern Ijaw) where there was electoral fraud, these were the people still there. Our politics is that of appreciating people. But when federal appointments started coming, instead of recognising the backbone of his party, people who stuck out their neck to form the APC, he started dishing out the positions to his brothers and sisters.
“You (defectors) are the authentic leaders of the APC. The others are only party leaders on social media and newspaper pages,” he said.
The governor further vowed to ensure that everyone, including the defectors, are fairly treated in the party, and therefore called for calm from those who were bent on raising hell when they do not get the positions they are vying for.
According to him, “Our party will receive you from the wards to the local council level. You have every equal rights with every other person in the party, but you need to give them regard for keeping the house together when you went on your journey.”
Dickson assured them of deserved perks from the government, noting that the PDP will treat them better than the APC treated them.
Leaders of the defectors, Orunimighe, Belemote and Ukparasia, promised to work for the victory of the PDP in the next elections.
Speaking at the event, the former Chairman of the APC, Orunimighe, said he and others brought the APC to Bayelsa State but decided to dump it because it lacks vision.
He criticised Silva’s approach, claiming that the mass defection was a sign that APC loyalists were fed up with the former governor.