No fewer than 1000 youths of the All Progressives Congress (APC) from Southern Ijaw local government area of Bayelsa State defected to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
They were received into the party by the governor, Seriake Dickson at the Banquet Hall of Government House over the weekend.
Dickson averred that the future of the state and the Ijaw nation lie with the youths as he challenged them to come to stand firm and defend their votes. He said that, anyone who loved the Ijaw nation would not have anything to do with the APC and congratulated them for dumping APC for the PDP.
The governor, who was elated by the decision of the youths later renamed the group as Patriotic Bayelsa Youth Forum, as he praised the leader, Okilo Matthew, describing him as a true Ijaw man.
He urged them to get the group ready for the task ahead, adding that, he would encourage them to enable them increase their membership and become relevant in the scheme of things..
Dickson assured the youths that, there would be adequate security during the election, as he enjoined them not to be intimidated by any threats from the APC.
“This election is about Permanent Voters’ Card (PVC). Sensitize your members, friends and colleagues about the adequate security measures at all the polling units before, during and after elections. The era of ballot stuffing and snatching is a thing of the past. Don’t be intimidated by the APC threats”, he said.
He also told the youths that his administration was poised to continue making a difference in the lives of the people, who are ready to work for a better Bayelsa State.
His words: “The era of monkey dey work, baboon dey chop is gone for good. That is why we will be meeting with you after our victory to say a proper thank you.”
He thereafter offered direct appointment to two of the group leaders, Okilo Matthew and Momotimi Macaulay.
Two young ladies in the group, Caroline Samson and Queen Soromo, who are into bead making and salon services respectively would also receive financial support from the state-owned Izon-Ebe Microfinance Bank, to enhance their businesses, the governor directed.
Earlier in his remarks, Matthew, who doubles as the chairman of the Community Development Committee in the area, said their decision to ditch Timipre Sylva and the APC for Governor Dickson was informed by so many factors.
The group’s spokesperson, Momotimi Macaulay said after a careful analysis of the situation in the state, they decided to work with the PDP.
He stated: “Our decision to leave APC was informed by several factors. Chief among them is the prevailing peace in the state, which was revived by the present government. We from Southern Ijaw are aware of the daily killing and maiming of our youths by the previous regime. But since Dickson regime we now know peace. Please keep it up, sir.
“Secondly, when we talk of education, I recall when during my tour of some communities, before this regime came on board, at Toru-ebeni, I met a group of children sitting in a village square. And, I thought they were in a market square, but upon a close observation, I discovered that 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 groups 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.