About 1,000 youths of the All Progressives Congress (APC) from Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State have defected to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), ahead of the December 5 governorship election.
It was gathered that the defectors were received by Governor Seriake Dickson at the Banquet Hall of the Government House at the weekend.
Dickson told the youth that they were the future of the state and the Ijaw nation.
The governor urged them to defend their votes in the election.
He noted that anyone who loved the Ijaw nation would not have anything to do with the APC.
Dickson, who was elated by the decision of the youth, renamed the group the Patriotic Bayelsa Youth Forum (PBYF).
The governor hailed their leader, Okilo Matthew, describing him as a true Ijaw man.
He urged the youth to get the group ready for the task ahead, adding that he would encourage them to increase their membership and become relevant in the scheme of things.
Dickson assured them that there would be tight security during the election, saying they should not to be intimidated by any threat from the APC.
He said: “This election is about the Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVC). Sensitise your members, friends and colleagues about the security measures at polling units before, during and after the election. The era of ballot stuffing and snatching is gone. Don’t be intimidated by APC’s threats.”
The governor also told the youth that his administration would make a difference in the lives of the people.
He said: “The era of monkey dey work, baboon dey chop is gone. That is why we will be meeting with you after our victory to say a proper thank you.”
Dickson also offered direct appointment to two of the group’s leaders – Okilo Matthew and Momotimi Macaulay.
The governor pledged to assist two ladies in the group, Caroline Samson and Queen Soromo, who makes beads and a hair stylist, with financial support from the state-owned Izon-Ebe Microfinance Bank, to enhance their businesses.
Matthew, who is also chairs the Community Development Committee (CDC), said the residents’ decision to abandon Sylva and APC for Dickson was informed by several factors.
The group’s spokesperson, Momotimi Macaulay, noted that after an analysis of the situation, they decided to work with the PDP.
He said: “Our decision to leave APC was informed by several factors, including the prevailing peace, which was revived by the present government. We, from Southern Ijaw, are aware of the daily killings and maiming of our youths by the previous regime. But with the Dickson government, we now know peace.
“Secondly, when we talk of education, I recall during my tour of some communities, before this government came on board, at Toru-Ebeni, I met a group of children sitting at a village square. I thought they were in a market square. But upon a close observation, I discovered they were actually school children studying under such inhuman condition.
“Your Excellency, the reason we are gathered here is because of your purposeful leadership. When I visited that same community recently, I discovered that the governor has built and equipped a new school.”
“That is just one of the numerous projects that this administration has built across the state. We are here to tell you that your votes are secured in Southern Ijaw. We will not sell our votes for any reason. We are here to let you know that we are true youths of Bayelsa State.”
He also commended the governor for his empowerment programmes enjoyed by the youths, noting that he benefited from the recent Restoration Cup, which, he said, played a major role in the unity that communities have embraced in the area.
He added that the group was aware of the monthly stipends government pays to their parents, uncles and aunties and thanked the governor as he affirmed the group’s total support for PDP.
“We are all registered voters, we are going to work with other group and in Southern Ijaw, your votes will count. Our question was that, what has Sylva forgotten in the government house? A man, who couldn’t manage the vast resources then, can’t manage what is coming to the state now”, he said.