By Emem Idio
BAYELSA State is being primed for testy contests in the 2019 polls. A swathe of defections across the two leading political parties-ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and All Progressives Congress, APC, is altering calculations for the polls.
The bulk of the defections are in favour of the PDP, a development the APC has downplayed as insignificant and incapable of hurting its chances at the polls.
One of the APC top shots who left for the PDP is its former chairman, Chief Tiwei Orunimighe, who was also a close ally of former governor, Chief Timipre Sylva, the leader of the party in the state.
Orunimighe, who has since been appointed the Special Adviser to Governor Seriake Dickson on Oil and Gas, led some APC chieftains in an exodus to the PDP. The defectors include former ex-militant leader Africanus Ukparisia aka, General Africa; President Muhammadu Buhari’s representative in Ogbia in the 2015 general election, Chief Orifie Ene and his supporters; former Commissioner for Environment, Mr Victor Akenge; Chief Diekivie Okologhbo; Chief Alatei Maxwell; Mr Amangala Ani; Chief Nkoi Gita; Barr Mike Amiekumo; and Mr Cleopas Johnbull among others.
Orunimighie’s defection was not much of a surprise to many unlike his co-travellers because he fell out with Chief Sylva after dragging the party to court following his suspension for alleged anti-party activities.
Chief Ndutimi Alaibe, also bid farewell a month later, a former managing director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, and former special adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, PAP also defected.
Alaibe, whose political pedigree in the oil rich state is well known was accompanied by former federal and state lawmakers, Hon Michael Epengule,Nelson Belief, B.Z. Onniye and Ebamua Empere.
They were also followed by former Secretary to Bayelsa State Government, Alabo Gideon Ekeuwei, one-time Commissioner for Youths and Sports, Kemi Prefa, former commissioner for information, Mr. Nathan Egba, former chairman of Sagbama Local Government Area, Barnabas Edure; and former Executive Secretary, SUBEB, Rhodesia Whyte.
Why we left APC, Alaibe, others
Speaking on why he left the APC, Alaibe said: “We are coming back to support you so you can continue to invest in other areas including what you have already done in the health sector like the diagnostic centre where a former president came to be diagnosed.
“We are happy to be back. By tradition every child that goes out and meets danger, returns back home. We went out there and we saw things that were not palatable, in fact we saw danger and decided to run back home and interestingly, we have a governor that is kind enough to receive use.’’
Also, Orunimiye said he and others dumped the APC because it lacked vision and mission and described the leader of the party in the state as a businessman rather than a politician.
We are better positioned to win coming polls — APC
However, the APC appears unperturbed with the gale of defections and has been boasting that it is now better positioned and formidable going into the general elections.
The state Organising Secretary of the APC, Tonye Okio, said the APC was not losing sleep over the defections of Alaibe and others. He said: “This is a welcome development as Alaibe had been PDP at night and APC by day.”