PDP Mobilizes Tambuwal, Obaseki, And Saraki To Prevent Ayade From Defecting To APC, As Cross River LGA’s Chairmen Demands For Fresh Congress
The Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) National Working Committee (NWC) has mobilized Governors Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State and Godwin Obaseki of Edo State, as well as the party’s reconciliation committee, led by former Senate President Dr. Bukola Saraki, to persuade the Governor of Cross River State, Prof. Ben Ayade, to reconsider his plans to defect from the main opposition party to the ruling party (APC).
The decision came after 18 elected local government chairmen and 196 councillors in the state threatened to leave the PDP if the party failed to hold its state congress again.
The chairmen and councillors met with representatives of the NWC in Abuja yesterday to discuss the possibility of defection.
In a petition handed over to the party’s Deputy National Secretary, Dr. Emmanuel Agbo, the delegation, led by the Chairman of Akpabuyo Local Government Area, Hon. Emmanuel Bassey, called for the immediate conduct of transparent congresses at all levels in the state.
According to THISDAY, during the PDP’s last state congress, Ayade lost control of the party’s structures to representatives of the National Assembly.
The governor’s loss of political power at all levels to a faction that backed Hon. Agoms Jarigbe in the senatorial primary against Senator Steve Odeh, who was backed by the governor’s supporters.
Odeh was reportedly nominated by the governor to succeed Senator Rose Okoh, who died last year.
Odeh allegedly struck an agreement with the governor to serve only one term in the Senate in order for Ayade to return to the Senate, where he served until 2015.
The estimate, however, failed because Jarigbe, a member of the House of Representatives, declined to stay in the House.
Odeh was elected senatorial candidate by the PDP in the primary, but Jarigbe objected and went to court, where his appeals were upheld.
The governor and his faction threatened to defect as a result of the move, boycotting the party’s zonal congress recently held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, where Chief Dan Orbih was elected as the South-South National Vice Chairman.
The governor also skipped the PDP governors’ meeting in Makurdi, Benue State, over the weekend.
The governor’s threat to defect to the APC prompted the elected local government chairmen and councillors to meet with Agbo yesterday to present their petition for a new congress to confer respect on the governor as the party’s leader or defect.
Following the meeting with the party, Hon. Effiong Eke, Chairman of the Calabar Municipal Council, told journalists that they demanded a new state congress to ensure the return of party structures to the governor.
“The governor is the party’s leader in the state,” he said. He should be granted command of the party’s institutions, which can only be accomplished by a new congress.
We are calling for a new Congress. If not, we will follow the Governor, Prof. Ben Ayade, wherever he goes. He is the party’s leader in the state.”
“We are chairmen of the 18 local government councils in Cross River State,” said the delegation’s leader, Hon. Emmanuel Bassey, who is also the Chairman of the Cross Rivers State Local Government Chairmen Forum. We came to meet the national chairman, which we did, and he was ably served by Dr. Emmanuel Agbo, the Deputy National Secretary.
We came for the sake of our state; the state of the party’s affairs in our state; we met him and presented him with what we came with, and he has honorably handled it and told us that what we presented to the party and what we came with would be given immediate and urgent attention.”
“You guys must have known that the state congress has not been held, and we did ask that it be done urgently,” he said when asked to disclose the substance of the petition submitted. And he has told us that it will be taken into account as soon as possible.
Prof. Ben Ayade, for God’s sake, is the party’s leader in Cross River State; he is the one who leads, just like any other PDP governor in the country. So, let us show him the respect he deserves. Allow him to have it.
Whatever equation he may have used, I believe it is to the benefit and betterment of the party to a large extent.
“Let me state categorically that we are the party’s pillars in Cross River State, and these pillars were built by Prof. Ben Ayade; hence, if he goes, we go with him.”
The NWC, however, is working to prevent Ayade’s expected defection by mobilizing Tambuwal, Obaseki, and the Saraki-led committee to ensure a peaceful resolution of the crisis, according to a source.
The PDP’s top leadership is working to address the situation. Professor Ben Ayade’s close associates have been informed. The Saraki-led reconciliation committee has been contacted, and we expect to hear good news before the weekend,” the source said.
Following speculations that Ayade was planning to join the APC, the party sent Bauchi State Governor, Senator Bala Mohammed, to mediate in the crisis in the Cross River State chapter of the party.
In a meeting with Mohammed in his office in Calabar, Ayade claimed that the PDP under his leadership had achieved the highest election returns, adding that he was unmoved by party stakeholders’ disagreements.
“I know you aren’t one to take injustice lying down,” he said. They will see a new Cross River State as a result of a single injustice… I say this as a cautionary note because it seems that your party celebrates those who threaten and stress them.
“Every councillor in the state is a member of the PDP; every council chairperson is a member of the PDP; every member of the House of Assembly is a member of the PDP; every commissioner is a member of the PDP; and, with the exception of one, every member of the National Assembly is a member of the PDP: they are all under my leadership.
“I am glad you have provided a setting for melodrama. So, today, I’m sitting on the fence, dancing. Yes, that is right.
“As a result, I speak with justified rage for the constant irritation and nuisance perpetrated on our innocent by outside powers. But all I want is for this to end today.
“And so, as I leave you with some holy whispers, which will be very strong, firm, and clear, it’s a sign of impending doom.
“While I believe in peace ecclesiastics and the catechism of good faith, I also believe in respect for an office’s supremacy.
“I believe the time has come for us to all come together and say enough is enough.”