THE harmonious ambience under which the recent flag-off of the Peoples Democratic, PDP, governorship campaign in Cross River State, took place, did not leave any doubt that successive campaigns across the 18 local government areas of the state would not be characterised by overwhelming solidarity.
By Charles Kumolu
Held in Ogoja, the principal town in Cross River North Senatorial District, the event was a fanfare of sorts, given the remarkable display of oneness by party faithful.
In addition, the well attended gathering was prominently hallmarked by wave of endorsements in favour of the PDP governorship candidate, Senator Ben Ayade.
Party chieftains and traditional rulers, were excited over the choice of Ayade who they swore collectively to rally behind and provide the needed support.
For Ayade, who emerged as the party’s standard bearer in a primary election that was not short of controversies, the outing reaffirmed his position as the leading candidate in the race.
In his remarks, on behalf of Ogoja Council of Traditional Rulers, Chief Igbaji Monkom, commended the state governor, Sen Liyel Imoke for zoning the governorship position to the Northern Senatorial Zone.
“We are grateful to our governor, Senator Liyel Imoke and the party that despite the skepticism that trailed the zoning of the governorship to our zone, you have kept an abiding faith in your promise to the North. On our part, we are very determined and ready to support not only our son, Professor Ben Ayade, but also our President, Goodluck Jonathan in the February 14 and 28 elections.
Ayade has always been part of us and has identified with us over the years. He has the passion for the people. He knows our pains and he shares them with us. And since 1998, we have known no other party than the PDP. We are for Ayade and President Jonathan,” he noted.
Re-echoing Monkom’s sentiment , Chief Sunny Ekong said: “Imoke has always shown particular interest in us and you proved to us today with the choice of Ayade that you meant well for us. The only way we can pay back this uncommon gesture is to get our permanent voters’ cards and ensure that Ayade is voted one hundred percent into office and President Jonathan is returned overwhelmingly in the February 14 election.”
The pulse was also the same at Yala, where the campaign train led by Imoke was received by an ecstatic crowd of supporters and party faithful.
Imoke, who addressed Yala Elders of Thought, made a passionate appeal on the need to vote for Ayade and President Goodluck Jonathan.
“We have brought your children to you and to appeal to you to support them. As politicians, we must pay our respect to you and that is what we have come to do. We know that without you, we cannot make any meaningful progress politically. There is absolute need to support the PDP from top to the bottom so that we can continue to develop Yala. This is our humble appeal to you,’’ he stated.
An assurance that the governor’s appeal would yeild fruitful result, came from Mrs. Martina Odom, who expressed the commitment of the people of Yala at ensuring that Ayade wins by a landslide at the forthcoming poll.
Odom said: “We appreciate your consideration and feelings for us at every challenging time. Our wards have benefited from your scholarships, your intervention in the healthcare of our people. You are a man who has a heart of pity. You have given us water and equipped our health centres. We assure you that not only men will vote for you in Yala but we the women will also vote massively for you. We believe in you and we know your capacity.” Also speaking, Hon. Mike Ogbudu, who thanked Imoke for offering them a youthful governor-in-waiting, assured the campaign train that Yala will ensure the highest number of votes for Ayade and the rest of the candidates including President Jonathan. “Thank you Your Excellency for leading the state to where it is now. We will ensure that Ayade polls the highest number of votes from Yala come February 28.”
The excitement over Ayade’s candidacy was also visible in his ancestral town, Obudu when the campaign train berthed there.
Held at Jeddy Agba Memorial Stadium, Obudu, the crowd was so overwhelming leading to an unusual traffic gridlock across the town.
They sang his praises to high heavens and rendered a supine supplication to God for the actualization of the vision embodied in their son.
Indeed, the Obudu rally was uniquely different as the governorship candidate engaged his people in his native language.
This drew thunderous ovations and chants from all who forsook their personal schedules to receive Ayade.
Further campaign stops at Bekwarra an Obaniluku, were greeted with massive presence of party faithful, who restated their committment towards ensuring that Ayade emerges victorious at the polls.