…Defection regrettable, unfortunate—Dan Orbih
By Henry Umoru, Festus Ahon, Ike Uchechukwu, Emma Una, Dirisu Yakubu & Omeiza Ajayi
Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State, yesterday, dumped the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, for All Progressives Congress, APC.
Ayade formally declared for the party at the Cross River State Executive Council Chamber, Governor’s Office in Calabar after a two-hour meeting with seven APC governors led by the party’s interim chairman and governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni.
The other governors at the meeting were Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti, Machid Baduru of Jigawa, Abubakar Babade of Kebbi, Hope Uzodinma of Imo and Simon Lalong of Plateau.
On why he left PDP for APC, Ayade said: “We need all governors to recognise that it is not the party that matters, it is a character, it is an honour, it is a commitment to the vision of this great nation.
“We all need to work as teamwork ahead of the president by working towards building a prosperous country that the succession worries of 2023 will come without the fears and the worries the international community has for us.
“I believe that if everyone of us as governor joins hands with Mr President, I think we can sit on the same dining table and fashion out a way to govern this country.”
Speaking on the development, Buni said he and his team were in the state to formally welcome Governor Ayade to APC.
Buni said: “I am here on behalf of the APC family to welcome Governor of Cross River State formally to APC. As of today, he is the leader of the party in the state.”
Also present was the Minister of State for Petroleum, Chief Timipre Sylva.
Defection regrettable, unfortunate—Orbih
Orbih in a telephone chat, said it was a shame that Governor Ayade would leave the PDP for a party that has unleashed hardship on Nigerians in the last couple of years.
He called on the National Assembly to enact a law that would make swapping of political parties premised on defined conditions.
He said: “It (Ayade’s defection) is regrettable and unfortunate. How can you leave a party on which platform you won the governorship for another that has unleashed hardship on millions of Nigerians?
“It is time for lawmakers to come out clear on this. You can’t ride the platform of a party to success and turn around to take the mandate away to another party.
“A law should come up to state clearly that if an elected leader is leaving the party on which platform he was elected, he should relinquish the mandate. This will help sanitize our politics,” he said.
Remain calm, united, PDP tells members
In a related development, the leadership of the party has called on PDP members in the state to remain calm and united, despite Ayade’s defection to the APC.
Spokesman of the party, Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement, yesterday, said: “Our party calls on all critical stakeholders and teeming members of our party in Cross River State to immediately pull together and ensure that all structures of our party in the state remain intact.
“The PDP wishes Governor Ayade well in his new political sojourn as well as in his future endeavours.”
Ayade has been mole in PDP— Onuesoke
In another development, former Delta State governorship aspirant, Chief Sunny Onuesoke, reacting to his defection, said: “I am not surprised at his eventual decamping to APC. Those who are close to me will testify that I saw this coming almost three years ago.
“To be honest, Ayade stopped being a PDP governor over three years ago. My only worry is the fact that it took him this long to finally make it public.
“The fact that he stayed this long before finally opening up on where his loyalty lies goes to show that he has been a mole, a sheep in wolves clothing and a traitor to the people of Cross River State, the PDP family in the state, the people of South-South the entire PDP family nationwide.
Where Ayade leads there I go — Ita Giwa
Meanwhile, Senator Florence Ita-Giwa, former Special Assistant to erstwhile President Olusegun Obasanjo, yesterday, said where Ayade goes, there she will go.
Ita Giwa told Vanguard in Calabar, shortly after Ayade’s defection to APC that the governor is the political leader in the state and she would always go where he leads.
“We have a leader in the state and wherever he (Ayade) moves to, my loyalty is with him.”
Omo-Agege, Mustapha, Akpanudoedehe welcome Ayade
Also reacting, Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege (APC, Delta Central) in a statement, yesterday, by his Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Yomi Odunuga, said: “We appreciate all those who have commended Governor Ayade for this timely and courageous move, even as we expect such further declarations in due course.
“Beyond the mere issue of politics, there is much more that all of us, as citizens, can do towards working with President Buhari to enhance the future and unity of Nigeria.”
In his remark, Saliu Mustapha, national chairmanship aspirant of APC said: “I welcome the decision of Governor Ayade to join the APC. Ayade’s decision to join the progressive fold is bold and courageous. It was the right thing to do at this auspicious time in the life of the people of Cross Rivers State, and that of our country, Nigeria.”
National Secretary of APC Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee CECPC, Senator John Akpanudoedehe, congratulated Ayade “for his wise and timely decision to leave a dead party, PDP, for a living and thriving party, the APC.
“The APC is advising the other governors who are stranded in the sinking wreckage of the PDP to exercise the best option of abandoning that vessel.
“The lack of democracy was exhibited by the PDP, which hurled invectives on Governor Ayade for dumping the party which has totally lost focus and purpose.”