The defection of the governor of Cross River State, Prof Ben Ayade from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC) has evoked a reaction from the former.
Recall that Ayade who was elected twice in 2015 and 2019 on the ticket of the party yesterday dumped the PDP for the APC in Calabar at a brief ceremony attended by a motley crowd including the caretaker chairman of the APC and governor of Yobe State, Mr. Mai Bala-Buni, governors Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Mohammed Badaru (Jigawa), Abubakar Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi); Hope Uzodima (Imo), Simon Lalong (Plateau) and the minister of state for petroleum resources, Mr. Timipre Sylva.
He had earlier been elected on the party’s platform as the senator representing Cross River North Senatorial District.
The governor explained that he defected to the APC in order to align Cross River with the government at the centre.
“Having seen and known the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and his commitment to this country, his nationalistic disposition and all the efforts he has made to bring Nigeria to where we are today, it is obvious that at this point we needed to join hands with him to build a Nigeria that we can be proud of.
“We need all governors to recognise that it is not party that matters, it is character, it is honour, it is commitment to the vision of this great nation. We all need to as a team work 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,” he said.
Reacting to the development, the PDP in a statement by its spokesperson, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, wished the governor well in his future endeavours.
It also asked its members of the PDP in the state to pull themselves together and ensure that party structures remained intact after the governor’s exit.
“The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) notes the decamping of the Cross River State Governor, Prof. Ben Ayade.
“Our party calls on all critical stakeholders and teeming members of our party in Cross River to immediately pull together and ensure that all structure of our party in the state remains intact.
“The PDP wishes Governor Ayade well in his new political sojourn as well as in his future endeavours,” the party said.
In his reaction, a chieftain of the PDP in Delta State, Mr. Sunny Onuesoke, said Ayade, whom he described as a mole stopped being a PDP member over three years ago.
He said he was not taken aback by the governor’s eventual defection to the APC.
“Governor Ayade decamping to the APC is not a surprise to me. Those who are close to me would testify that I saw this coming almost three years ago. To be honest Governor Ayade has stopped being a PDP governor over three years coming. 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 to 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 Rivers State, the PDP family in the state, the people of South-South Nigeria and the entire PDP family nationwide.
“I didn’t expect him to stay this long. I had hoped that after the 2019 election, he would be decamping even before the swearing-in because of his body language towards the affairs of PDP in Cross River State and South-South PDP and the recent Southern Governors meeting has been a case of PDP by day and APC by night.
“With the abysmal performance of the ruling APC, it beats my imagination to see why any patriotic governor in his right sense would want to join such a party, it only goes to show that Governor Ayade is decamping to pursue his selfish and ignoble political interest at the detriment of the people of Cross River state.
“His decamping is good riddance to bad rubbish. The likes of Governor Ayade has been a clog in the wheel of progress of our great party as the leading opposition party in the country and him leaving the fold at this crucial times will only strengthen the bond of unity and togetherness required to move our party forward and be better prepared to dislodge the failed and dysfunctional APC led government that has brought so much pain and despair to our people over the past six years,” Onuesoke said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the APC likened the PDP to a ‘sinking ship’ following Ayade’s defection.
The party said the governor’s decision to dump the PDP was wise and timely and that the main opposition party faced a solemn internal crisis.
“We commend the patriotic disposition and judgement that shaped Governor Ayade’s decision to join forces with President Muhammadu Buhari to build a better Nigeria as a member of the APC,” the APC interim national secretary, Mr. John Akpanudoedehe, said in a statement.