All seems not to be going well in the fold of People Democratic Party (PDP) in Cross River State. Governor Ben Ayade, on one hand, is pitched against his predecessor, Senator Liyel Imoke, most National Assembly members from the state, and founding members of the party, on the other, as congresses into Wards, Chapter and State are threatening the soul of the party. As tension mounts, the state congresses scheduled for March 24 has been postponed indefinitely.
Ayade, according to top sources, is bent on dismantling the old and founding members of the party, led by Imoke that put Ayade in office since 2015 and in his second term in 2019. Imoke and others in the old block were alleged to have plotted to deny Ayade the party’s ticket for his second term, but for pleadings and interventions from some quarters.
But that move was suspended but he (Ayade) was denied the opportunity of deciding who got the party’s tickets for other positions like Senate and House of Representatives. His sin was that he never supported the structure that produced the current National Chairman, Mr. Uche Secondus.
Apparently not happy with that situation, Ayade had in a ceremony during the launch of the now crippling State Microfinance Bank in 2018, described PDP as a party that is “unfair and has got no conscience”.
Ayade, who was bitter at the disqualification of his friend, Mr. Chris Agara, from the Cross River Central PDP Senatorial primary said, “in spite of it all, that he has spent more money than any other candidate in this state, a party that is so unfair and has got no conscience.
A man came ready for the election and you take out his name from the ballot. You take out his name because you know he is too powerful. When people use God-given opportunities to do injustice, injustice would wait for them”.
Top PDP members in the state said Ayade wants to take revenge on the party’s founding members and their supporters by dismantling all of Imoke’s structures in the state and ensuring that all the executive members from the wards to the state levels are his people so as to make way for him (Ayade) to easily install a successor in 2023.
As part of the strategy, all PDP’s chairmen and councillorship candidates for the local government elections are said to be Ayade’s men thus forcing other aggrieved members to challenge in court the way and manner the candidates emerged.
Stakeholders and some of the National Assembly members represented by Movement for the Restoration of Cross River PDP (MFTROCR) said, “The governor is alleged to have compiled all the names of 18 local government chairmen and 197 councilors, without any input from the National Assembly and founding members.”
Ayade is said to be interested in installing Alphonsus Eba–Ogar from Yala council as the state chairman while Imoke and National Assembly members are said to be favourably disposed to the former National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Venatus Ikem, who is from Obudu with Ayade to emerge as the new state chairman of PDP.
The wards and chapter congresses of the party were held on March 7 and March 21, 2020, across the 196 wards and 18 councils respectively but this was rejected by the founding fathers and most of the National Assembly members.
While speaking on behalf of the aggrieved National Assembly members, the leader of MFTROCR, Comrade Raymond Takom, said the founding fathers and the National Assembly members were kicking against the alleged handpicking of wards, chapter and state executives by the party through an alleged instruction from the governor.
Takom said, “It was quite unfortunate that majority of the National Assembly members, founding members, former elected and political office holders that built the party from scratch have been thrown out of the party through a selection of party’s officials instead of the normal congress.
Some of us don’t even know who are the wards or chapter officers in a party that preaches democracy. All we can say is that the party’s chairman, on instruction from above, wrote down the names of their favourites as party’s officers across board.
What is going on right now is highhandedness and the leadership of the party in the state is trying to turn the party into a one-man show by being autocratic in approach. This is not what we know of democracy and that is the truth.