The two members of the Ondo State House of Assembly who were elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) but dumped the party and joined the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state have explained why they took the decision.
The lawmakers who defected to the APC with their supporters at the Cocoa Conference Hall of the Governor's office are the Majority Leader of the House, Hon. Olugbenga Araoyinbo, representing Akoko North-West State Constituency 2, and the former Acting Speaker of the Assembly, Hon. Malachi Coker, representing Ilaje State Constituency 2.
They hinged their decision to dump their old party on the impressive performance and laudable achievements of the state Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu SAN, in less than two months in office.
Araoyinbo said: "I was with the people of my constituency, even with the local government and the Federal Constituency and they asked what I was still doing in PDP. They said: Look , we don't want you to be in a party where you cannot bring the dividends of democracy to us.
They said they want me to go where I can bring the dividends of democracy to them, and where is that place? APC.
Coker explained: "I'm not moving because of the crisis in PDP, but I am moving because of the good works of the new governor who just spent like two months and we have witnessed a lot in this government.
"Sir, the people of my constituency said I should move because of this reason, one, the first MoU in this government was signed in my constituency, that is Araromi-Obu to Lagos road. The second is that the governor gave us the OSOPADEC Chairman. For these sir, I don't have any doubt in my mind to join this party".
The legislators said their defection became imperative after due consultations with their respective constituents.
According to them, their defection would bring more dividends of democracy to the people of their Constituencies, just as they promised to work harmoniously with the state governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, to move the state forward.
With the new defection, both PDP and APC now have equal members of 13 legislators each.
Earlier, the Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Bamidele Oleyelogun, described the two lawmakers as giant men whose defection would add values to the party.
Receiving the new members on behalf of the National Chairman of the APC, Odigie Oyegun, the state Deputy Chairman of the party, Engr. Ade Adetimehin who expressed happiness over the development also expressed optimism that APC would have the whole House before the year runs out.
He disclosed that APC would not discriminate against anyone as every member would be rewarded based on their work.
He charged the new members to go back to their respective constituencies to work and sweep everywhere clean.
Adetimehin also used the event to pass a vote of confidence on the state governor, Arakunrin Akeredolu over his laudable performance less than two months in office, adding that APC believe in actions.
In his remarks, Governor Akeredolu who appreciated God Almighty for His mercy and protection over the people of the state and the party, explained that a lot is happening within the party.
According to him, the APC which started with only five lawmakers in the Assembly now has 13 members, describing the development as a good omen.
"We started with five members in the House of Assembly, and with Malachi and Araoyinbo coming in, we are now 13 in the House of Assembly. We are 13 and still counting. I know we will be 14 very soon, we will be 15 thereafter and maybe 16 thereafter till we have the 26 members", Akeredolu said.
He lauded the two lawmakers for finding it convenient to join the party in the interest of the state, noting that the Legislature and the Executive must work together in the interest of the state.
The governor specifically charged the legislators to put the interest of the state above personal interest and join hands with him to rebuild the state.
Akeredolu emphasized that as governor of the state, he would play his own part to move the state forward and urged the lawmakers and the people of the state in general to do the same.
The Governor has again called on the people of the state irrespective of their political leanings to join hands with him to move the state to its promised land.
While welcoming Araoyinbo and Coker, the governor urged the legislators to always support his administration to make the state great and emphasised that what should be the main focus of everybody in the state irrespective of political party is the interest of the state.
He stressed that what is more paramount and more important to him as Governor is the interest of Ondo state, urging the lawmakers to put the interest of the state above personal interest so that the state could regain its lost glory.
Akeredolu advised the lawmakers not to bring partisanship to issues that affect the state but rather work together to achieve greatness for the state.
He called for peaceful and harmonious working relationship between the Legislative and the Executive arms of government to ensure the interest of the state and the people is protected.
" Yes, we are all members of APC but what is more paramount to me, what is more important to me is the interest of Ondo state. I have said this over and over; I have said this several times, Ondo state should be our major focus. What are we going to do for Ondo state?
"How will the Executive and the Legislature work together in the interest of the state? How do we have a bipartisan approach to issues in the interest of Ondo state?
"Other areas, if you talk about America, you will see somebody from Republican, from Democrat sponsoring bills together, having bipartisan approach. There is nothing stopping us, from PDP, APC to sponsor bills together if it is in the interest of the state.
"So anything aside the interest of our state, I don't see how party comes in. If you are going to pass budget and you read through the budget and you know it is going to serve the interest of Ondo state, will it separate PDP from APC in its operation?", he asserted.
Akeredolu disclosed that Ondo state is not where it is supposed to be, hence the need for all and sundry to contribute their quotas to take the to an enviable height.
He added that he would play his own part before leaving office as governor and challenged the legislators to play their own part, emphasising that history would not forget every role played by each individual to move the state forward.
He expressed optimism that the state would soon get to its promised land with the support of all.