Members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) numbering up to six thousand have dumped the party to join the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) in Bayelsa State.
Receiving the defectors, the state governor, Mr Seriake Dickson called on PDP members to close ranks, make the party stronger.
He asked them to work together to brighten the prospects of the party ahead of the 2019 general elections.
Governor Dickson spoke through his Chief Press Secretary, Francis Ottah Agbo in a statement issued on Wednesday.
The meeting, which lasted for about an hour, was attended by former Chairman of the Niger Delta Development Commission, Prof. Tarila Tebepah, Ayiba Duba, Gesiye Isowo and Chief Jackson Suokiri and others.
Other defectors at the meeting are, Chief Ben Eyeororokumo, Hon. Stephen Erebor, former Commissioner, Bayelsa West Senatorial district, Chief Augustine Lugbenwei, onetime Chairman, Brass Local Government Council, Mr Nathaniel Ngo-Sylva, Hon. Franklin Otele, Hon. Charles Emmanuel, among others.
Underscoring the importance of unity, Governor Dickson maintained that the PDP could not afford any distractions, especially now that it is in opposition but intensify efforts at clinching power at the centre.
He said: “The PDP you left behind is not the same now. At that time we were in control of the Federal Government. But now, as you are all aware, we are in opposition.
“And, if we needed one another at that time, now that we are in opposition, hounded from all corners, this is the time we need ourselves more for the sake of our people, the Niger Delta and the Ijaw nation. We can’t afford any distractions.
“I don’t extend political fights beyond elections. All of you know if when we want to fight, we know how to fight politically.
He assured the returnees of their full integration into the party, saying that he had forgiven all of the returnees whom he called friends and brothers.
He urged them to join hands with the restoration government and the PDP family in the state towards consolidating the achievements already recorded.
In their separate remarks, the state Chairman of PDP, Mr. Cleopas Moses and Special Adviser to the Governor on Political Matters, Hon. Fyneman Wilson described the return of the APC members back to the PDP, as homecoming and expressed optimism that their reintegration would add more colour and value to the party.
Responding, leader of the APC defectors, Prof. Tarila Tebepah, commended Governor Dickson for his leadership style, which he noted has transformed the state.
Prof. Tebepah, who described the Governor as a leader with a big heart, assured him and the party of their loyalty and support towards making the PDP stronger.
In reaction, the Bayelsa State PDP Chairman, Cleopas Moses in turn asked those, who are still in APC to stop wasting their time and return back.
The PDP said nothing good will happen to them under the leadership of the APC governorship candidate in 2015, Chief Timipre Sylva.
He said Sylva’s penchant for using and dumping people has become legendary.
He challenged anyone who has directly benefited in any form of political patronage from him in the last two years other than his relatives to publicly state so.
The PDP chairman advised those still in the APC to stop falling for his sweet talks, as his trademark deceit, which has been the hallmark of him and his master, will work against them come 2019.