By Simon Ebegbulem
BENINâ€”FORMER members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Edo State, who defected to Action Congress (AC) last weekend, yesterday gave reasons they dumped the party, saying it became â€œa private estate of one manâ€.
The decampees, led by the Vice-Chairman of the PDP (Edo Central), Chief Henry Okoror, former senatorial aspirant, Mrs. Evelyn Igbafe and others, lamented that the mass defection of PDP members, including six local government council chairmen, was a result of alleged imposition of candidates by the leadership of the party, led by Chief Tony Anenih.
Chief Okoror, who until his defection was the vice-chairman of PDP Edo Central, Chief Anenihâ€™s homestead, told newsmen at a briefing addressed by the defected members that he advised Chief Anenih on several occasions on the need to allow party members elect their leaders, but noted that his advice was always thrown to the dust bin.
According to him, â€œ I did my best to ensure that the right thing is done but it was always difficult. â€œIn most cases, I will advise but before I know it, someone will be imposed on the party. This is the major problem we had in PDP and some of us got tired of it and having found out that nothing is going to change, we decided to leave the partyâ€.
On her part, Mrs. Igbafe said that â€œ overtime, there had been within the PDP the painful practice of aspirants who held the ground in their areas, popularized the party and commanded grassroots overwhelming support being pushed aside to give way to selected individuals who are imposed on the communities and party members”.
â€œThe rule of one man has replaced the party election machinery.Â But on the other side of the divide, there is a Comrade governor with his Action Congress (AC) who has clearly shown that he is a listening leader, a democratic leader, a friendly leader who believes firmly in the tenets and principles of genuine democracy.
â€œWithin a year, the Comrade governor has shown that he is a man of action, ready to carry out developments in Benin City.
â€œWithin one year of his tenure, he has employed over 5,000 youths under Edo Youth Employment Scheme and that is why we decided we must work with him to move the state forward.â€