Cross River 2023: ‘I Will Stop Ayade From Producing A Successor’ — PDP Chairman, Vena Ikem   

Cross River 2023: ‘I Was Elected To Stop Ayade From Producing A Successor’ — PDP Chairman, Vena Ikem Opens Up




The newly elected Cross River State Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Barrister Venatius Ikem has vowed to stop Governor Ben Ayade who left PDP in May 2021 to ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) from producing a successor, can authoritavely report.


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In a major press interview, the newly elected chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party in Cross River State, Venatius Ikem – a former national publicity Secretary of the he party and ex-Commisioner in the state – has opened up to Apex News Exclusive that he was elected to block Governor Ben Ayade who left the party in May 2021 to APC from producing a successor. Excerpts:


Will you work to reconcile former Senate leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba with Liyel Imoke and other party leaders as a way of luring him back to PDP?


That’s a very specific and personal question. I would rather say I will work to bring back to the party all former members who are willing to come back to the party. I don’t like to personalize some issues. It is possible some people have found comfort where they are and it’s unlikely that anything can persuade them to come back. I like to accept the things I cannot change. I am, nevertheless, aware that most of our members who went to APC are only still there because of the feeling of humiliation. And I have said to them, just look at me here and understand that you can come back home and be received like a prodigal son, with pomp. Some are still hopeful that something might happen by way of appointment, but time is running out. It is this later category that I think I will invest my time and energy on. Others can come as usual when we have won. You know what I mean.


Governor Ayade reportedly plans to unleash govt might to install a successor come 2023. What will happen if you perceive that coming?


That’s only to be expected. What other instrument does he have? He is aware that he has lost the support of the People of Cross River State completely. All he flaunts is that he is governor. If a lion has to announce that he is a lion then something is terribly wrong. The efficacy of power is in its subtlety. Not in it’s brash application. There are many lessons Governor Ayade will learn about power only when it has left him. Indeed as far as I am concerned, he is no longer in Power. He remains only in Government and it is an unfortunate disaster. He might learn the difference some day. Suffice it to say that we are counting on our ability to mobilize our people to admit the reality that Governor Ayade hasn’t done well and deserves no consideration in evolving a successor.

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At your inauguration as PDP chairman, stalwarts said upcoming Yala/Ogoja federal constituency by-election as well as guber election in 2023 will be carted away by your party. Former deputy governor, Efiok Cobham even said your eggheads will deploy tricks they did not show Ayade. What will you do differently to recover power from APC?


There is the politics of the soapbox, then there is politics. Don’t take everything politicians say literally when they mount the soapbox.


The Ogoja/ Yala Federal constituency election is going to be a test case for our new assertion to control of the politics of the Northern Senatorial district, post Governor Ayade’s exit from the PDP, as exhibited by the emergence of Sen. Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe. The echoes of that election will be felt far beyond the constituency. Indeed it will be a foretell of the near future of the politics of Cross River State.


Consequently, I can only tell you that we will take it as seriously, if not more seriously than the Senatorial bye elections and deploy whatever electoral assets that will be required to win. So far I am satisfied with the sheer determination of our people in the constituency to win the election. The challenge mostly is with how we as Party executives and other leaders manage the contending aspirations within the Party. At every opportunity I get I remind our party members that aspirants do not work against the party because they lost primaries. They do only if the process of selection of a candidate is not transparent and they feel shortchanged.


I continue to pledge my total commitment on behalf of our new executive, to a free, fair and transparent selection process that will guarantee everyone a level playing field and the confidence that he or she did his best. Once a candidate emerges from a free, fair and transparent process, he will enjoy the support of the people as well as that of his opponents.

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Are you scared over speculations that Ayade is plotting a return to the Senate at expiration of his tenure to unseat Jarigbe Jarigbe?


It’s actually scary to me I won’t lie. Scary because he knows he has failed and because he cannot face people after office, he wants to seek shelter in the Senate so that he can postulate ideas he had the opportunity to implement but failed woefully. There is this thing about believing that he can take all the people for fools all the time that I find disgusting. There is always a day for reckoning. Our people will not vote Ayade to represent them again even as a Town Hall representative, but knowing that the electoral process is malleable, he hopes to exploit it to his advantage. We won’t let him. If he attempts it, we will ensure that he gets such a resounding electoral trouncing that will make him weep Publicly for real, unlike the crocodile tears he sheds for the cameras.


There are indications that Ayade might not let go your former Secretariat. How will your chairmanship contain that?


He wouldn’t have a choice, by the time we finish exploring all the legal assets available to us. The last time I checked this country was still run on rules and Laws, not by the whims of one man. He has only exhibited again, his childish inclination that makes him mistake everything brought under his consideration for personal property in clear violation of his oath of office and i think it is tragic.


How worried are you over alleged plundering of state’s commonwealth, including alleged land grabbing, CallyAir, Obudu airport and initiation of capital intensive projects which reportedly never passed through state House of Assembly?


Saying I am ‘worried’ is an understatement. I am petrified that one man mistakenly given the instruments of state power for only 8 years can almost wreck the entire society, destroy almost all known institutions, formal and informal that have been put in place for decades, for the evolment of a civil society, for it’s growth and nurturing of our collective aspirations as a people. It challenges all of us to rise to the imperative of getting involved with how leadership emerges. Charles De Gaulle said Politics is too serious a matter to be left to politicians. Our elites must rise up from the comfort they may have earned for themselves to say, enough is enough and this cannot continue. Can you imagine the audacity in seeking to sell the so-called Industries he claims to have built to himself, and his cronies in the guise of privatisation? All these are gimmicks to obfuscate a future inquiry into how they were set up and at what cost in the first place. What does Governor Ayade take us for? He has to be prepared to face the consequences of his reckless dealing with public funds because there is no place to hide.

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Again, Ayade preferred jamboree in France to attending South-South govs meeting last week. How does this tell on Cross River State?


It remains a regular routine of reminders of how grave a mistake we made in electing him and how great a task we have to stop him from attempting at all to perpetuate same by way of giving us a successor.

For me, here clearly, my job has been cut out for me.


If you win in 2023, will you hold him to account for his 8-years tenure?


There is no greater imperative for the next governor as far as I am concerned than to show Cross Riverians that he has called Governor Ayade to account for his misdeeds. Anyone who campaigns to my hearing that he will “draw a line” and continue from where Gov. Ayade stopped will lose any semblance of sympathy from me and I will deploy the entire capacity within my control to stop him. The reason is clear: it will mean that person intends to do the same and might do worst than Gov. Ayade. Cross River State cannot afford another “Ayade” even for one year! Our children deserve better. The younger generation is restive for positive examples. We must show them that there are consequences for bad behavior, otherwise, they will grow with the wrong values. That brothers me more than the stupidity of stealing what you may never need, depriving those in need in the process. It is evil and ungodly and the God I know and worship, will exert His own recompense at the appropriate time.


But we must first do our part as human beings and as citizens. We must reject what is bad and point the way towards preferred values.




Source: Apex News, excluding headline

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