By Stephen Ubanna
When Dave Umahi, governor of E boyi state who was elected on the Platform of the Oposition People’s Democratic Party, PDP, decamped to the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, last November, Hope Uzodimma, a Senator of Federal Republic of Nigeria and now governor of Imo state, had boasted that more PDP , governors will decamp to the APC.
True to his words, Ben Ayade, a Professor and the Cross river state governor had decamped to the party, thus making him the second PDP governor to dump the Opposition party for the APC FOR their own pecuniary gainsas party Chieftains had said. But he had said that he decamped to the APC ‘’due to President Muhammadu Buhari, Leadership qualities and to help the 78 year-old retired Army General and Katsina state born Nigerian President in dealing with the economic and security challenges facing the country over the last five years’’.
But not many were surprised that the Cross river state governor , described as a governor without any Ideology, could dump the PDP to join the APC, ahead of the February 18, 2023, general elections, as scheduled by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
Indeed, for months there have been speculations making the rounds that Ayade has concluded plans to decamp to the APC , because of the crisis in the state Chapter of the PDP. The crisis was so pronounced that the PDP Governors Forum had intervened to resolve it. The crisis which was a fallout of the state Ward and state Congresses, elections in the state and the governor’s inability to produce the Candidate for the Cross river North Senatorial election may have angered him.
Prior to his exit from the PDP, the crisis in the party had resulted in series of litigation from one High Court to another which was said to have ended up at the Supreme Court. The Court cases may have deepened the crisis at the party as Ayade , the Crorss river state governor was said to have lost the party machinery to those opposed to him.
Aminu Tambuwal, a former Speaker of House of Representatives, and governor of Sokoto state, , had led a a three –man Crisis resolution ommittee, Comprising of Ifeanyi Okowa, governor of Delta state and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, governor of Enugu state to the south-south state ‘’to rub minds with the stakeholders on some of the issues bordering on the PDP unity in the state’’.
With the assignment given to the three-man Team, by the PDP governors , which was said to have been sanctioned by the Uche secondus led National Working Committee of the Party, NWC, they were said to have met with Ayade, the aggrieved Cross river state governor whose Candidates may have lost out in the Ward, Capter and State Congresses and other stakeholders of the party in the state on the contentious issues. Tambuwal was optimistic thathe PDP, crisis in the Cross rive state will be resolved to the admiration of all the parties but that was ho how far he could go.
Notwithstanding the efforts of the PDP governors to restore normalcy in the party in Cross river state, the governor, who had already opened a channel of discussion with the APC, Leadership, had already started making plans to defect to decamp APC.
He was said to have been encouraged by Umahi, the govenornor of Eboyi state state , who had already decamped to the APC to do so as a way of having unfettered access to the Nigerian President to make his demands which would be speedily answered to enhance the provision of infrastructural facilities in the state.
Not that the Cross river governor was at the Tuesday, May 11,southern governors meeting at Asaba, Capital of Delta state on Tuesday, May 11, 2021. He had fully participated in all the discussions and deliberations of the governors and also signed the Communique that was released at the meeting.
The southern states governors had takena decision, banning open grazing in the region, called on the retired to restructure the Nigeria and also called for Dialogue among the Federating units. The governors, who were said to have brushed aside their political differences also had called on the Nigerian President to address the peopel on the state of the nation.
Ayade , according to informed sources never raised any objection to any of the decisions taking at the meeting. His exit from the PDP, barely two weeks of the Asaba, southern governor’s meeting shows that he has working agenda, a party a top official had remarked. He may gladdened the heart of the APC, Chieftains who had encouraged him to join the ruling party that ‘’more PDP governors will soon the party’’
Hear him:. I am happy to announce to you that very son , more PDP governors will be joining the APC, because of what we want to achieve to have a country where we can sit with the retired Army General and agree on our succession process without fighting for it. This is an indication that he has a personal interest for joining the APC and not the interest of the people of the state and Nigerians in general. He may have told the APC, big shots that members of his Cabinet other loyalists at the PDP, will also dump the party for the APC.
Despite the reasons given bythe Cross river governor for dumping the party that had brought him to limelight in the nation’s murky waters of politics, many believe that he had joined the APC, ”to save his face because of ‘’the huge lose suffered at the last PDP Congress in the state’’.
In apparent reaction to Ayade, the Cross river governor defection to the APC, the NWC, of the PDP, has urged party members in the state ‘’to remain steadfast, committed and united”, insisting that they must ensure that ”the party structure remains intact”. Appealing to the critical members of the party in the state, ‘’to immediately pull together in order to strengthen the party, they were said” to have wished the Professor well in his political sojourn APC, as well as his future political endeavours’’.