The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has reacted to the defection of Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Mr Ayade dumped the PDP for the APC in Calabar, the state capital at a brief ceremony attended by about some APC governors on Thursday.
He was elected twice in 2015 and 2019 as governor on the ticket of the PDP. He had earlier been elected on the party’s platform as the senator representing Cross River North Senatorial District.
The governor explained that he defected to the APC in order to align Cross River with the government at the centre.
“Having seen and known the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and his commitment to this country, his nationalistic disposition and all the efforts he has made to bring Nigeria to where we are today, it is obvious that at this point we needed to join hands with him to build a Nigeria that we can be proud of,” Mr Ayade said.
“We need all governors to recognise that it is not party that matters, it is character, it is honour, it is commitment to the vision of this great nation. We all need to as a team work ahead of the president by working towards building a prosperous country that the succession worries of 2023 will come without the fears and the worries the international community has for us.
“I believe that if everyone of us as governor joins hands with Mr President, I think we can sit on the same dining table and fashion out a way to govern this country.”
While the news of defection came as surprise to many, Mr Ayade had made headlines in recent times lamenting the manner in which the PDP was being run.
The governor dumped the PDP a few months after his Ebonyi State counterpart, Dave Umahi, also defected to the APC.
In a statement by its spokesperson, Kola Ologbondiyan, the PDP said it wished the governor well in his future endeavours.
It also asked its members of the PDP in the state to pull themselves together and ensure that party structures remained intact after the governor’s exit.
“The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) notes the decamping of the Cross River State Governor, Prof. Ben Ayade,” the statement said.
“Our party calls on all critical stakeholders and teeming members of our party in Cross River to immediately pull together and ensure that all structure of our party in the state remains intact.
“The PDP wishes Governor Ayade well in his new political sojourn as well as in his future endeavours.”
APC mocks PDP
Meanwhile, the APC has likened the PDP to a ‘sinking ship’ following Mr Ayade’s defection.
The ruling party said Mr Ayade’s decision to dump the PDP was wise and timely and that the main opposition party faced a solemn internal crisis.
“We commend the patriotic disposition and judgement that shaped Governor Ayade’s decision to join forces with President Muhammadu Buhari to build a better Nigeria as a member of the APC,” the APC interim national secretary, John Akpanudoedehe, said.
He called on other governors and lawmakers to abandon the PDP, describing it as “sinking wreckage.”
He said, “The APC is advising the other governors who are stranded in the sinking wreckage of the PDP to exercise the best option of abandoning that vessel.
“The APC is also urging members of the PDP in the National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly who are still hanging on to the sinking party to leave it for good and join the APC, which has been repositioned by the excellent leadership qualities of His Excellency, Governor Mai Mala Buni, the National Chairman of the party’s Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC).”
In reference to Mr Ayade’s perceived achievements as governor under his now former party, the APC said the governor has “always been an APC man at heart given the humane and progressive manner in which he managed the affairs of Cross River State.”
The APC accused the PDP of employing undemocratic means in the coordination of its internal affairs, adding that “it would continue to work in favour of the ruling party which would win more governors and legislators from the opposition party”.
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