A gale of defections has hit Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Delta State, as the All Progressives Congress (APC) campaign train reached critical strongholds of the ruling party in the state.
During the week, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s former Commissioner for Urban Renewal, Dr Karo Ilolo, and two-time chairman of Ethiope East Local Government Area (LGA), Chief (Mrs) Faith Majemite, dumped the PDP and declared for APC.
According to the Director of Communications and Media Strategy for the APC campaign council in the state, Olorun Ima Niboro, at the party’s ward-to-ward campaign held in Uzere, Ilolo said: “The PDP umbrella is torn. We are totally committed to the cause of the APC, and we shall win”.
Uzere is the hometown of Okowa strongman, Bashorun Askia Ogieh, who is Managing Director of Delta Oil Producing Areas Development Commission. The commission has featured prominently as the alleged financial war chest for the prosecution of the 2023 elections by Okowa.
Also at Uzere, Majemite dismissed the PDP as a party of “thieves”. She said that in seven-and-a half years, PDP under Okowa, has received N4.2 trillion, but the state remains undeveloped and dirt poor.
“They are all thieves. If PDP comes here to campaign, ask them, where’s our money? Until they answer your question, don’t listen to them”, she said.
Ogieh’s only brother, Mr Goodluck Obrogor was the cynosure of all eyes when he led 177 defectors to denounce the PDP and pledge loyalty to APC.
In his defection speech, Obrogor said that Uzere people are in the throes of oppression and intimidation, and pleaded with the APC governorship candidate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege to help them.
“Obarisi, please see this place as your own home and come and set us free from the shackles of slavery imposed on us by the PDP”, he said.
Others who decamped included former Personal Assistant to the Majority Leader of the Delta State House of Assembly, James Miller; Uzere community youth leader, Olotu Ode; Fred Uye, Edafe Agbaka, and other members of the Uzere Youth Movement.
Others included Okpokoro Precious, Azinoh Urieh, Adaka Frank, Ewomazino Ojabekie, Obi Endurance, Endurance Oluku and Ezekiel Urete.
Former deputy governorship candidate of the African Democratic Congress, James Igbi led a cross section of party leaders and elders in the town to decamp to the APC.
In Aviara, former members of the PDP, led by an Aviara ward executive member, Ureghe John-Mark tore PDP cards and also decamped to the APC.
John-Mark said Aviara people have been used and dumped, and that they are fed up with PDP and have decided to pitch tent with APC.
Reacting to the gale of defections, Omo-Agege, who is also the Deputy President of the Senate, said that, by the sincere decision of former leaders and supporters of PDP to dump the party and embrace APC, Ogieh and Okowa have passed judgment on themselves.
“They should know that the time of politics of intimidation is over. They know me and I know them. I can’t be intimidated”, the APC governorship candidate said.
He lamented that Uzere, the second place after Oloibiri where oil was discovered in Nigeria, still looks decrepit after over N4.3 trillion oil revenue generated from the town and other oil producing communities in the state, accrued to the state.
“Is this Uzere, the oil rich producing community? Did you offend Okowa? How could Askia (Ogieh) be so comfortable with making Uzere people Internally Displaced Persons during floods? With the resources from Uzere, you are not supposed to have problems with flooding. Instead of Askia to use his office to help his people, he choses to intimidate them.
“Uzere does not look like an oil producing community. By God’s Grace, when I become governor, I will consult with illustrious indigenes to ask them what the incoming government should do for Uzere”, Omo-Agege assured.
At Aviara, he told the people that that Okowa is deceiving himself, but he would not be Vice President. “Our next President”, he said, “is Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and our Vice President will be Senator Kassim Shettima, both of the APC”.
He urged the people to come out on election day, stare down PDP and Okowa and vote all APC candidates. He assured supporters of adequate security on election day, and urged them not to fear intimidation by the opposition.
At the palace of the traditional ruler of Aviara, HRH Efadue Imo, Ebobo I, Omo-Agege assured that he would ensure that Aviara community is fully linked to the national grid. He also promised to consult with the traditional ruler to address other challenges of the community.
The defectors were received by the state APC Chairman, Elder Omeni Sobotie, who described Ogieh’s younger brother as the biblical Jacobian twin that has seen the light, and prayed that Uzere never experience bad leadership and darkness again.