Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State on Thursday gave life to the months of speculation that he might dump the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), under which he became a two-term governor and also a senator, in this political dispensation, for the All Progressive Congress (APC), as he officially announced his defection at the Government House, Calabar.
Christian Ita, media aide to the governor, while confirming the development, simply said: “It is true. We are there now. He has just declared for the APC.”
A source privy to the arrangement had hinted that the governor on Wednesday hosted some APC governors to a dinner at the Government House.
Some of the APC governors at the dinner included: Hope Uzodimma of Imo, Dave Umahi, Ebonyi; Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, Kebbi; Mai Mala Buni, Yobe and Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa.
The dinner, the source added, was to fine-tune the eventual defection of Ayade, who had, prior to that time, been having battles with the leadership of the PDP in Cross River State, his cronies having lost out in the congresses that produced the current PDP State Executive Council (SEC).
Nigerian Tribune gathered that Ayade had spent the last few months making consultations on his planned defection, with his close political allies advising him to remain in the PDP which they reasoned had given the governor opportunities to thrive politically.
The source, who did not want his name in print, added that Ayade would have defected shortly after Umahi defected in Ebonyi “but he held back because he was not sure of how many of his aides and allies will follow him to APC.”
“While we believe that the governor was not treated fairly during the last congress and that he lost the executive of the party in the state, many of us still don’t believe that that is enough reason for him to dump the party. Our argument is that PDP has done him well and whatever problem we have now are not too fundamental for the governor to leave,” the source said.
According to him, ” We also consider the alternative, which is the APC. Many of us are worried that the APC of 2014 is not the APC of today. The public has a different view of APC now and one needs to be very careful. But the governor has the last say on where he wants to belong; the same way we have the right to decide on where to go or where to say”.
Another source close to the Government House also hinted that Governor Ayade had already addressed the issue of who among his aides might not defect with him, should he take that option, and had therefore directed his Chief of Staff, Mr Martin Orim, to carry out “a discrete revalidation exercise for all political appointees to determine their level of loyalty and commitment to the governor’s plan.”
The Government House source added that the problem of the governor with the PDP in the state was worsened by the National Assembly members from the state, who are up in arms against the governor.
“The real people causing the problem are members of the National Assembly. They are not on the same page with the governor and because of their influence, they succeeded in taking away the party structures in the state from the governor. That National leadership of the party is also not helping matters”, the source divulged.
An official statement on the reasons advanced for the defection was being expected as at the time of filing this report.
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