Unrest As Ayade Battles Back, Makes A Last-Ditch Political Attempt, Moves To Nominate APC Members To His Cabinet
By Iwara Iwara, Calabar
As the political storms of 2023 gather in Cross River State, it is becoming clear that state governor, Ben Ayade, is refusing to end his tenure as governor and political leader of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) without throwing punches at perceived political opponents in order to clearly demonstrate that he is a master at his chosen game.
Ayade’s new order, as reported in a press statement signed by official spokesman Christian Ita on March 31, 2021, “…requesting voluntary resignations from commissioners and heads of departments, agencies, and parastatals, who manifestly lack the capacity and will to deliver on their mandates,” clearly points in one direction; he no longer wishes to cover the fetus.
Without equivocation, the governor is religiously committed to returning to the Nigerian Senate after his term as state governor, which he had previously abandoned for the realization of a governorship that is winding down. Though he has driven Stephen Odey, who is widely regarded as his acolyte, to Abuja to maintain his Senate dominance, one dogged dark-skinned Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe, who currently represents the Ogoja/Yala Federal Constituency in Nigeria’s House of Representatives, is proving a thorn in Ayade’s flesh. Jarigbe has firmly pushed his way through the gates, wrapped in Ayade’s current subtle albatross of never say die legal garbs.
But what went wrong?
Ayade and Jarigbe were political associates at first, and they happily accommodated each other. Stephen Odey was Jarigbe’s campaign manager at one point, before Ayade is said to have made a tactical political mistake after Rose Oko, the late senator who served Cross River North in the Senate, died and a vacancy arose. According to legend, Jarigbe had little interest in going to the Senate until the governor told him in that notorious meeting that he wanted him to give up his House of Representatives seat to someone else. Jarigbe was to be relegated to the position of governor’s stooge, living off of benevolent contracts that the governor could throw his way. Such an impending gruesome fact is said to have irritated a stunned Jarigbe. The man in Jarigbe went to the trenches, cut his relations with the governor, and fought for his political survival all the way to the Supreme Court, resulting in an unresolved political situation as of this writing.
The governor’s absolute rule disposition, according to PDP sources contacted by www.calitown.com, is directly responsible for the tumultuous political situation that has resulted. “As governor, you cannot rely solely on political authority to rule; you must also lead by influence and, in the process, win public trust,” a PDP source said, insisting on anonymity. Another source cited the clear yet contentious fact that His Excellency and his brother, Frank Ayade (often referred to as CR’s co-governor), sat over and handpicked all of the state’s local government chairmen, vice chairmen, and councillors without feedback from political stakeholders. “How long has Frank been a politician? As he put it, he “merely littered our local government councils with an efficient stream of whimpering persons confined to do only Frank and his brother’s will, to the detriment of teeming Cross Riverians.”
One of our sources insists that voluntary resignations be made, claiming that “his policy, as always, is a transparent one.” His sense of self-importance is inflated to the point of arrogance. The problem with self-importance investment is that you end up with a balloon picture of yourself, like a political candle lit on a windy night.” This submission is awash in semantics, which can be interpreted and misinterpreted in both directions. However, there is a widespread belief that he seems to have set up a trap for members of his administration to trigger personal self-destruct buttons. “Those who resign would have reinforced his suspicions that these individuals were not loyal to him all along. But why has he chosen to have his spokesman issue this statement when some of his appointees have been removed from the payroll without warning? The idea that a governor at this stage would seek voluntary resignations when he could have easily reshuffled his get-it-done team poses a range of unanswered questions. But there’s also word that the goodwill Ayade brought to Peregrino House has waned, owing in part to the gap he’s built between himself and sound advice on the one side, and between himself and influential stakeholders on the other.
The latter circumstance has evidently enraged those who have tried to derail the governor’s alleged senate ambitions so far.
Ayade’s feud with Rivers State Governor Nyesome Wike hasn’t helped matters either. Wike has shown no support for Ayade as he tries to gain a firm grip on the PDP in the state, in the hopes of pressuring the party at the national level to harmonise the already Supreme Court affirmed delegate list, which is proving difficult to do. Instead, Wike has thrown his weight behind the rising forces who have in such a short time risen to become a very formidable opposing force to Ayade. This appears to have opened a window of opportunity for Ayade’s veiled romance with the APC, with Ayade also speculating on the possibility of a new Cross River State. For the uninitiated, Ayade clearly claimed that a new Cross River State, headed by a governor who has defected to the APC, is not out of the question.
So there you have it!
The APC carrot is being dangled in front of Ayade by a legion of former PDP bigwigs who defected to the APC when former state governor Liyel Imoke stood in the way of their political ambitions; we won’t name them.
They intend to take Ayade in and use his governorship to splinter the rest of Imoke’s political machinery, which has been squabbling for months. The plan too is to also offer him the party’s Cross River North senatorial ticket, a route that appears more workable than what is obtainable with the PDP. We hear Ayade is ecstatic about the possibilities and will subtly nominate a few APC representatives to his cabinet, which will unforgivably be cleared out in the days ahead.
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