From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
Former top members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Bayelsa State who dumped the party for the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) have said the absence of internal democracy in the APC had pushed them out of the party.
Speaking while being formally received into the party by Governor Douye Diri and top party officials, the defectors, who spoke through a former Nigerian Ambassador to Venezuela and ex-Secretary to the State Government, Senator Felix Oboro, described the APC in Bayelsa as a one-man party where the leader decided everything without recourse to the opinions of other members.
He said the overbearing attitude of the leader of the party in the state left most of them unhappy and frustrated, leaving them with no choice but to look back to the PDP, which he described as home.
According to Oboro, the leadership of Governor Douye Diri endeared him and his followers to the party, saying they are back to join the governor develop the state.
Also speaking a former Commissioner for Finance, Mr Solomon Apreala, a former Special Adviser to the Governor on Political Matters, Mr Steven Diver, and a former Special Adviser on Security, Chief Richard Kpodoh, all said the performance of Governor Diri within one year in office, despite the numerous challenges he had contended with, attracted them back to the party, which they said was home to them.
The trio remarked that as founding members of the PDP they were uncomfortable in the APC and assured the governor of their unalloyed support for his administration and the PDP.
In his remarks, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Political Matters, Chief Collins Cocodia, lauded the governor for his non-discriminatory leadership, which he said has endeared the defectors to his administration, assuring that more politicians would cross over to the PDP in due course.
Diri in his address described the defectors as time-tested politicians that would add value to the PDP.
He assured them that they have been received with both arms in line with the ideals of his administration, which is anchored on love and reconciliation.
He stressed the need for politicians and the generality of Bayelsans to embrace love and shun all divisive tendencies, stressing that Bayelsa cannot develop in an atmosphere of hate and acrimony.
The governor expressed delight over the return of the defectors and appealed to members of the party to respect one another while working hard to maintain the core values of the PDP.
‘My deputy and I have agreed that the number one thing to do in Bayelsa is reconciliation, peace and security. So, we started with reconciliation, peace and security and then unity even though we discovered that the atmosphere was filled with acrimony. The whole political atmosphere in Bayelsa was something different from what we used to know,’ he said.