By Yinka Adeniran, Ibadan

Opposition members from the African Democratic Congress (ADC), Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) and All Progressive Congress (APC) in Oyo have joined the ruling People’s Democratic Party.

Amidst fanfare and jamboree, former Deputy Governor, Ambassador Taofeek Arapaja; a former Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs to Ex-Governor Abiola Ajimobi, Mr Deji Aboderin and a former member of the Oyo Assembly, Mr Ademola Ige led hundreds of their supporters to the ruling PDP.

Aboderin was also the candidate of the APC for the Ibadan Southeast/Northeast Federal House of Representatives during the 2019 general elections.

The event, which took place at Christ Church Primary School, Odinjo, Ibadan, was well attended by the leaders of the PDP.

The PDP leaders in attendance to welcome the returnees to the PDP fold were former First Lady, Mrs Mutiat Ladoja, who represented Governor Seyi Makinde; Oyo PDP Chairman, Alhaji Kunmi Mustapha, Hon Dare Adeleke, Alhaji Tiamiyu Abidikugu, the party chairman in Ibadan South East Local Government, Engr Sulaimon Adesina among others.

Others at the mega unification meeting include a member of the federal House of Representatives, Hon. Abass Agboworin; two Assembly members, Hon. Rasaq Abdulahi and Segun Popoola, Hon. Yaya Akinbile, Alhaji Gbade Adeleke, Mogaji Abass Oloko, Special Adviser to the Governor on local government and chieftaincy affairs, Hon. Yemi Aderibigbe, Special Adviser on Political Matters, Hon. Babatunde Oduyoye among others.

Addressing party supporters at the event on behalf of the returnees, Arapaja said he took the decision to return to the party after critical review of the present administration.

He added they were left with no other option than to return to the PDP, declaring his full support for Makinde’s re-election in 2023.

Noting that Makinde deserves support of all and sundry for a second term in office, Arapaja appealed to members at the gathering to embrace true and genuine reconciliation in the party.

He added that the PDP as a party has brought a new paradigm shift in the governance of Oyo in road infrastructure, free education for students, health care delivery, prompt payment of workers’ salaries on or before the 25th of every month, payment of the backlog of pension for retired civil servants and other initiatives which have brought succour to many residents in the State.

He said: “Reconciliation is very important in the party. The governor realizes this that is why he set up a reconciliation committee headed by Chief Saka Balogun. There must not be any faction or group whatsoever. We are back again in PDP. We are grassroot politicians. The opposition will never return to power in Oyo State. We must unite and mobilize others to the party to achieve this.”

Aboderin noted that he had assessed performance of Makinde administration to know if it is worth supporting and encouraging but that he has been convinced.

He said the unification rally was to ensure all the decampees gathered to unite the members at the local government-level at Ibadan South East Local Government, adding that the rally meant the ruling party has come to stay in the state.

Aboderin said, “It is obvious that the people are with the governor and he is well-liked. Aside from that, I am a believer in good governance. I strongly believe in unity and I also believe that since Governor Seyi “Makinde has won through the people vote, the best way to help our state and help our people is to support the governor. So, I have decided to put my political ambition aside just to work with the governor so that the people can benefit more from the government.

“Governor Makinde as a youth is handling issues brilliantly, look at the issue of the recent EndSARS protest, the Governor handled the issue maturely and calmly. He is a listening governor and has even many youths in his cabinet. He is worth supporting in the interest of the state.

Other returnees at the gathering included the Special Adviser to the Governor on Culture and Tourism, Hon. Akeem Ademola Ige, Hon. Fatai Adesina, Hon. Dele Ojo, Hon. Adedoja Ekolo and Hon. Sunday Babatunde and Hon. Yinka Omikunle from Zenith Labour Party (ZLP).

While welcoming the returning and new members at the gathering, the Chairman of the party in Ibadan South East Local Government, Engr Sulaimon Adesina, described the returnees as heavyweight and great political asset to the party urging them to work more for uplifting the party in the State.

In their goodwill messages, Hon. Dare Adeleke warned anybody that may want to form splinter group within the party to desist from doing so as PDP is one family in the State.

Also speaking at the event, PDP state party chairman, Alhaji Kunmi Mustapha described the unification mega rally as a homecoming for the returnees, adding that they have further swelled the ranks of the party to become an indomitable force in the State.

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