Cross River State Governor Ben Ayade, who became the latest governor to defect from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), said he took the step to re-classify his state.
He told visiting APC governors and leaders inside the Executive chamber in Calabar where he was received into his new party: “Recognizing the role of Cross River State; a state that has been reduced to want in body, spirit and in soul; a state whose revenue and resources had been taken; a state whose territorial boundaries has been tampered with.
“It is my responsibility to re-socket Cross River State to the centre. “I, therefore, on behalf of the entire people of the state, to the extent of those that believe in the philosophy of peace, unity and progress, that Cross River State is today formally declared as an APC state.”
Ayade directed the state executive council members, members of the House of Assembly, local government chairmen and other stakeholders, who were present at the declaration, to go to their different wards and register as APC members.
Ebonyi State Governor David Umahi on November 16, last year, moved to the APC from the PDP while Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki defected on June 18, 2020, the eve of the governorship election, defected from the APC to the PDP. He won his re-election.
Ayade’s defection was hailed by Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo (SAN), House of Representatives Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, former APC National Vice Chairman (Southsouth) Hillard Etta, Kwara State chieftain Saliu Mustapha and Chief Obono-Obla.
The PDP chided him for jumping ship.
It advised the Cross River chieftains to ensure that the structure of the party was kept intact.
Ayade’s defection was witnessed by Governors Mai Mala Buni (Yobe), who is the APC National Caretaker Committee Chairman, Hope Uzodima (Imo), Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi), Simon Lalong (Plateau), Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti) and Badaru Abubakar (jigawa). The Minister of State for Petroleum, Chief Timipre Sliva, was also part of the delegation.
Ayade said Cross River State, with her lean resources, could not afford to remain in the opposition.
He noted that President Muhammadu Buhari had been doing his best for the country, adding that he deserved the support of all.
Ayade said: “Having seen the commitment and the sincerity of Mr. President; having seen the progress made so far and the tension created by social media manipulation. “And having recognised the issues and challenges in the state and nation; it is my responsibility as the leader of the people in Cross River State, to do the needful, to assist Mr. President to succeed.
Speaker of the House of Assembly, Eteng Williams, applauded the defection, saying: “What the governor has done is the right thing for the state. We believe in the progress and the good of the state. So we will follow the governor. The new slogan for us is #we move!”
A National Assembly member, Legor Idagbor, representing Obudu, Bakwarra and Obanliku Constituency, also assured of his readiness to follow the governor to the APC.
An elder statesman, Chief Asuquo Ekpeyong, hailed Ayade, saying that Cross River State needed to be with the center.
Expressing delight over the defection, Gbajabiamila said Ayade’s action had shown that APC is the party to beat in the country.
The Speaker, in a statement by his spokesman, Lanre Lasisi, said the Cross River State governor had taken the right decision and shown a good example for others to follow.
He said the ruling party was open to all, urging well-meaning Nigerians to join the APC to move the country forward.
The Speaker noted that APC will continue to be just and fair to all its members.
Omo-Agege, in a statement by his spokesman, Yomi Odunuga, in Abuja, said Ayade has displayed uncommon courage of conviction to take Cross River and the South-South, out of the periphery to mainstream.
He said: “It is remarkable that Governor Ayade, our party’s new leader in Cross River State, had been confronting numerous needless retrogressive intrigues from his former party, but while receiving him with open arms in APC, we unequivocally recognise him as the state party leader.
“The essence of this is to enable him focus on the task of accelerating further people-focussed development in his state by sharing the progressive vision of APC and that of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Governor Ayade has wasted no time in declaring that he is joining our party so as to bring back Cross River to the centre in order to enhance her fortunes.”
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