Leading political figures in Bayelsa State shocked many when they announced their decision to decamp from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP . Even more shocking is the fact that a number of the persons who are expected to this weekend defect to the All Progressives Congress, APC were at one time confidants of the immediate past president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.
Senator Heineken Lokpobiri(pictured above) who served in the Senate for two successive terms between 2007 and 2015 was unflinching in his assertion for his defection.
“The reason why I am leaving is because PDP is dead in Bayelsa, PDP is dead in Bayelsa and I want to be part of the change that is coming to Bayelsa and indeed Nigeria,” he told Vanguard in a telephone interview.
Besides Lokpobiri others who are expected to be received into the APC this weekend include: Senator Clever Ikisipo who represented President Jonathan in the Senate up till last June, former Senator John Brambaifa, two former Acting Governors of the state, Nestor Binabo and Werinipre Seibarugu, a former Deputy Governor of the state, Peremobowei Ebebi and one of the conveners of the PDP in the state, Ambassador Emmanuel Otiotio.
Given the high profile of the defectors it is not surprising that the APC is reported to be sending its number two man in the Federal Government to receive them into the new ruling party.
Besides Lokpbobiri, a number of the other defectors in separate interviews gave reasons for their action which mostly centered on grievances with the incumbent governor, Serikae Dickson.
“PDP is dead because we have a governor who has refused to perform. All those who say that the governor has performed, let them tell you the projects that the governor has commissioned. Is it in Yenogoa alone that he is? Is there any project? The roads going to my area are not even cleared.“The simple truth is that I am leaving because the PDP as led by the present governor is dead and we have no choice but to be part of the change going on in the country.”
Asked if he was not abandoning President Jonathan because he had left office, Lokpbobiri said
:“We are not slaves to the former president! He is not doing any election. When he contested we supported him though he didn’t support some of us, but we all supported him. Anybody who says we are abandoning him is missing the point because the former president is not contesting election, when he contested against Buhari we supported him.
Chief Dekivie Ikiogha who served as Chief of Staff to Governor Dickson and was a close political associate of President Jonathan pointed at the internal party crisis that has separated many chieftains from the governor.
“I recall in one of the meetings that led to the final decision to quit, how my supporters reminded me that the PDP I helped to form and nurture was no more the same.“They said some hawks have hijacked the party, making it very glaring that it was a house in tatters, a divided house made of men who were only driven by their selfish ambition.”
We have been received and are fully at home in the APC.”“As I make this move, I am just convinced that we are on the right path. That is why I am urging all my compatriots who are still in the PDP to take that step and join us. I have seen life. I have seen hope. I have seen freedom. I have seen warmth. I have seen friendliness. APC is a family to be and behold.
“Unhappy as some people may be, troubled as my former allies in the PDP government in the state may because of the light they have yet to see, I am urging them to play politics with love and not to haunt and chastise those of us who have decided to quit. Campaigns of hate will not help us.“It is time to join hands and rebuild our state. We have been in PDP for 16years and now is the time for change.”
Ambassador Emmanuel Otiotio, a former Nigerian envoy to Japan and recently, political adviser to Governor Sylva spoke in the same vein.
“Few years ago Nigeria was dwindling and floundering and Nigerians were losing hope until the recent inroad into the presidency of Muhammadu Buhari. The APC has shown capacity to govern, the APC has shown the capacity to bring about change. I know Buhari personally and I know his integrity and we are ready to work with him.