A former Senate Chief Whip and national leader of the Action Democratic Party (ADP), Roland Owie, on Saturday, defected to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Mr Owie announced his defection at a ceremony in his hometown of Ilobi-Isi, near Ehor in the Uhunmwonde Local Government Area of Edo.
While speaking, the former Senate Chief Whip urged his supporters to work for the second term bid of Governor Godwin Obaseki.
Mr Owie said he was a founding member of the PDP who, alongside others such as a former Senate President, the late Chuba Okadigbo, was forced out of the party.
The event, which had in attendance several notable leaders of the PDP from Edo South Senatorial District, was led by Owere Imasogie, a party chieftain.
Mr Imasogie said there exists an agreement, after consultation across the country, that founding members of the party “should return to salvage Nigeria’’.
He said Mr Obaseki, whom he described as a son of Isi, has performed creditably and deserved a second term.
“I have spent the better part of the last 17 years outside of the PDP family, except for a brief return between 2011 and 2015,” Mr Owie said.
“Recent developments in the polity of our dear nation has reignited my conviction to realign with positive and progressive mainstream political forces on a rescue mission.
“Impunity came into the PDP, the leadership became abusive and vindictive, and all we were hearing was `no vacancy in government house’, `no vacancy in presidency’, to the extent that a sitting governor was deregistered.
“But PDP has woken up because the APC has adopted the same style.
“Over the past 15 months, I have been consulting with political associates, former colleagues and elder statesmen on the need to get our nation back on track.
“A recurring issue that emanated from that consultative process was the need for all founding members of the PDP to return to the party so that it can achieve its strategic goal of emancipating Nigerians.
“Therefore, today I am returning to the PDP, the party I can call home, with a keen sense of purpose and a mission to work with the leadership and members in developing a sustainable developmental blueprint for Nigeria and jealously guarding the implementation of same.
“Because all politics is local, I must add that on the home front, my return to the party will also ensure that Gov. Godwin Obaseki is re-elected for a second term.
“Beyond the continuity in the progressive institutional policies, commendable and visible physical developments accomplished by the Obaseki-led administration, his second term will engender equity and co-existence, as the governorship will then rightly move to Edo Central Senatorial District in 2024.
“Today, the nation is still greatly divided, and almost back to her primordial lines. Our country is troubled, our people are afraid, and our future is uncertain.
“We cannot build a great nation without unity at home. We cannot be a nation where people are hated, branded and then hounded and ostracised. We stand here to declare that the Edo people remain an integral part of the Nigerian Project.
“PDP is the hope of the masses and we will ensure that its mandate of ensuring that all citizens have equal access to opportunity and resources is fully achieved. This mandate will be achieved in Edo and it will be achieved in Nigeria.
“I call on all our supporters to rise up today and lift with me the symbol of our pride — the Umbrella, an exemplar of royalty in the Benin Empire — and march shoulder to shoulder in our typical heroic step from the land of our ancient past to a glorious future for our state and country.”
Also in Edo State, but at a separate local government, Fred Aimienwanwu, Vice-Chairman, Ovia South West Local Government of Edo, has raised an alarm on threats to his life and that of his family.
He said the threats were over his refusal to defect from the All Progressives Congress (APC) to the PDP.
Mr Aimienwanwu in a petition to the Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Zone 5, Benin, alleged that the council chairman, Destiny Enabulele, and one General Peres were after his life.
In a petition signed by his wife, Lauretta Aimienwanwu, the vice-chairman said boys numbering over 30 had stormed his residence in Benin on Wednesday at about 5 p.m.
He said they forcefully gained entry to his compound by knocking down the gate.
“When they could not gain entry to the apartment, they, however, made their mission clear that they would eliminate my entire family should I fail to defect to the PDP like our council chairman has done.’’
Mr Aimienwanwu added that the boys, who specifically said they were sent by Mr Enabulele, also said he (vice-chairman) should return the council’s property in his possession.
“The boys, numbering about 30, stormed my house and forcefully broke the gate. My gateman was assaulted in the process of forcing the gate open.
“They were armed with dangerous weapons like battle axes and cutlasses.’’
Mr Aimienwanwu ‘s wife added that she overheard one of the boys issuing a threat over the phone to her husband.
“I was in my room and heard one of them making calls. I never knew he was calling my husband.
“I heard him say `we are in your house’ and threatened that if he (Aimienwanwu) fails to decamp from APC to PDP, his entire household would be eliminated.’’
READ ALSO: Edo 2020: Why I stepped down for Obaseki – PDP Aspirant
Meanwhile, Mr Enabulele has denied any involvement in the alleged threat.
He, however, acknowledged that the council’s secretary had written to the vice-chairman to return the local government’s property in his possession.
“I don’t have any business with the vice-chairman. The council has asked him to return its property.
“In any case, let him produce the people that went to his house. I am not involved,” the council chairman said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the local government has been embroiled in crisis following the refusal of Mr Aimienwanwu and six of its 10 councillors to defect to the PDP.
The crisis degenerated to a situation where the other four councillors announced that they have suspended the six councillors, as well as the vice-chairman.
The Edo State governorship election holds on September 19.