By Andy Esiet, Calabar
The political structure of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Cross River state was on Thursday disorganised as its chieftains from the Southern Senatorial district decamped to the All Progressives Congress, (APC).
Among the defectors are Architect Bassey Ndem, an industrialist and a former Commissioner for Lands in the state, Otuekong Orok Duke, a former Deputy Speaker in the State House of Assembly and Mr. Edem Ekong, former Commissioner of Lands in Governor Liyel Imoke’s government with thousands of their supporters
At a rally in Calabar to welcome the defectors, the state governor, Professor Ben Ayade insisted on the sustenance of the governorship rotational principle in the state which has been in place since the return of democracy in 1999.
The southern senatorial district of the state is staking a claim to Cross River 2023 governorship, as the remaining two districts- Central and North have had their turns.
Describing the PDP which he quit in May 20, 2021, as a hemorrhaging party, the governor said he has the moral obligation to ensure that Cross Riverians do not remain there.
“It is against this background that I will keep to my words. 2023 is a harbinger of peace, equity and justice so that every one of us will have a sense of equity and sense of balance to maintain and sustain our politics. This will enable everybody to know his turn at every given time,” the governor said.
The governor stressed that with the exit of the defectors, PDP in the state was finished and empty, saying, “when I turned my back and look at Cross River-from Obanliku to Bakassi- I wonder where the opposition is coming from. PDP in Cross River is finished, it is now an empty shell, APC is in total control.
“Anybody who wants us to remain in opposition does not wish us well. We have socketed to the centre and APC has come to stay in Cross River. Our state is better off with the APC…The array of political juggernauts joining us in APC today were the men who made PDP thick. Today, they have joined us in APC, so where is the PDP in Cross River? The party is dead.”
He said that the state does not belong to any single person or group but to the people adding that no one can determine the faith and destiny of the people except God, saying that there was no more opposition in the state as the movement of the three giants indicates that PDP was empty and opposition completely dead in the state.
“Cross River state doesn’t belong to an individual but to the people and no group or group of persons can determine the faith and destiny of our people except God” , Ayade said adding, “the arrogance and sarcasm of prolonged stay in government comes with it’s negativistic impact .There is more opposition in Cross River state ,APC is in complete control.
“I come with a clinical truth ,we cane to a critical point where we needed to socket to the centre ,anyone who thought otherwise ,me er means well for our us. The three giants who have moved today have their roots in all parts of the state ,with intellect ,grassroots support and more ,now we have them in APC ,PDP is empty nothing is left .
“Politics is a social engineering to bring value to your people and that exactly what we stand for , I stand for fairness ,equity and by that you know what I mean by that ,Ayade said .
Speaking after receiving the symbol of the party which is the broom, Ndem said he joined the APC for equity and integrity “because His Excellency, at several fora, stood on the principle of rotation and by rotation, he simply means turn by turn”.
In his brief speech he said, “I am coming into the APC for two reasons one is to for integrity,which governor Ayade has affirmed in different fora that he believes in rotation ( zoning) I am not in doubt that the governor will stand by that because he is a man of proven integrity.
“Secondly , governor Ayade needs to be supported to finish strong as it concerns all the projects and programmes ,those project belongs to the people ,he must be supported, and I will give my sweat ,blood ,cash and all to make sure he finishes strong” .
Speaking earlier the Chairman of the APC in Cross River , Alphonsus Eba Esq said the “tsunami” movement was an equivocal manifestation that God answered has answered their prayer noting that they prayed that He takes away all liabilities and replace them with political assets .
Eba said,” when we entered office 60 days ago we went to the mountain to pray that God should take away liabilities and desperate souls front our party and replace them with political assets . What we experiencing today is an equivocal manifestation that our prayers have been answered by God,APC is on a voyage of splendour We have given a fatal blow to oligarchy and we have send the opposition into state of oblivion”.
Among APC chieftains and government functionaries at the rally were Deputy Governor, Professor Ivara Esu, Deputy Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Joseph Bassey Senator Florence Ita-Giwa.