Prof. Ben Ayade to declare for the All Progressives Congress (APC) over alleged injustices to him by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) received a boost on Wednesday after the Local Government Chairmen and 196 councillors threatened to ‘go with the governor wherever he leads them’he move by the Governor of Cross River State,
Sensing danger, the National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP immediately mobilised Governors Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State and Godwin Obaseki of Edo State and the party’s reconciliation committee headed by a former President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, to persuade the governor from dumping the party.
According to report by This Day, the 18 elected local government chairmen and 196 councillors said the only condition to remain in the party is a fresh conduct of its congress.
TheNewsGuru.com, TNG gathered that the chairmen and councillors yesterday met with members of the NWC in Abuja during which they served the defection threat.
The delegation, led by the Chairman of Akpabuyo Local Government Area, Hon. Emmanuel Bassey, in a petition handed over to the party’s Deputy National Secretary, Dr. Emmanuel Agbo, called for immediate conduct of transparent congresses at all levels in the state.
According to reports, the last congress conducted by the PDP in the state, Ayade lost control of the structures to members of the party in the National Assembly.
The governor’s loss of political structures at all levels to a faction that sponsored Hon. Agoms Jarigbe in the senatorial primary that pitted him against Senator Steve Odeh, sponsored by the faction loyal to the governor.
Odeh, it was gathered, was sponsored by the governor to replace the late Senator Rose Okoh who died last year.
It was alleged that Odeh reached a deal with the governor to spend only one term as a senator to enable Ayade to return to the Senate, where he was until 2015.
However, the calculation failed as Jarigbe, a serving member of the House of Representatives refused to remain in the House.
At the primary, PDP returned Odeh as the senatorial candidate, but Jarigbe rejected the outcome and went to court and his appeals were upheld.
The development led to the threat of defection by the governor and his faction, which boycotted the zonal congress of the party held recently in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, where Chief Dan Orbih was elected as the South-south National Vice Chairman.
The governor also boycotted the PDP governors’ meeting at the weekend in Makurdi, Benue State.
It was as a result of the threat by the governor to defect to the APC that the elected local government chairmen and councillors met with Agbo yesterday to present their petition for a new congress to confer respect on the governor as the leader of the party or they would defect.
Chairman of the Calabar Municipal Council, Hon. Effiong Eke, told journalists after the meeting with the party that they demanded a fresh state congress to guarantee the return of party structures to the governor.
He said: “The governor is the leader of the party in the state. He should be given control of the party structures and this can only be done with a fresh congress.
“We are demanding a fresh congress. If not, where the Governor, Prof. Ben Ayade, goes, we will go with him. He is the leader of the party in the state.”
Also, the leader of the delegation, Hon. Emmanuel Bassey, who is also the Chairman of Cross Rivers State Local Government Chairmen Forum, said: “We are chairmen of the 18 local government councils in Cross River State. We came to meet the national chairman and we have met him, and he was ably represented by the Deputy National Secretary in the person of Dr. Emmanuel Agbo.
“We came for the purpose of our state; the state of affair of the party in our state; we met him and we presented to him what we came with and he has honourably taken care of it and has assured us that he is going to make sure that what we presented to the party and what we came with, will be given immediate and urgent attention.”
When he was asked to reveal the content of the petition presented, he said: “You guys must have known that the state congress has not been held, and we did ask that it be done urgently. And he has assured us that that will be considered urgently.
“For God’s sake, Prof. Ben Ayade is the party leader in Cross River State; he is the one that leads, just like every other governor in any PDP state. So, let us give him his due respect. Let it be given to him.
Whatever equation he must have taken, I think is to a great extent it is for the goodness and betterment of the party.
“Let me state here categorically that we are the pillars of the party in Cross River State and these pillars were erected by Prof. Ben Ayade; so, if he goes, we go with him.”