From Judex Okoro, Calabar
After months of speculation, Cross River State Governor Ben Ayade has announced his defection to the All Progressives Congress (APC) party.
The news comes weeks after four People’s Democratic Party (PDP) governors led by Sokoto State Governor Aminu Govermor Tambuwal visited him to plead that he remain in the party.
APC governors stormed Cross River on Wednesday to finalise arrangements on the Cross River governor’s defection. They include the governors of Yobe, Mai Buni; Imo, Hope Uzodinma; Plateau, Simon Lalong; and Ekiti, Dr Fayemi Kayide. Minister of State for Petroleum Timipre Sylva was also in the entourage.
They arrived in Calabar about 7:30 pm and had a dinner with Governor Ayade where the defection was exhaustively discussed.
Two more governors – Abubakar Badaru of Jigawa and Bagudu of Kebbi – joined the delegation on Thursday morning.
At about 9:45 am, the APC governors, led by APC Interim National Chairman and Governor of Yone State, Mai Mala Buni, stormed Government House for an expanded executive committee meeting. At that meeting Governor Ayade declared his defection to the party.
Addressing reporters at Exco Chambers in Calabar after his defection, Governor Ayade said: ‘I have considerd the situation and the problem on our land. So, it is now to join other governors to build the nation. We need to join the President to rebuild Nigeria.
‘I have seen the sutuation of my people. I, therefore, as the leader of the people and the state have decided to assit the President in rebuilding the nation.
‘So, on behalf helaf of my people, I declare Cross River as a APC state.’
A press statement by the Director General, Press and Media to Yobe State Governor and Chairman of the APC Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, Mamman Mohammed, reads:
‘The Chairman APC Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee and Yobe State Governor, Hon Mai Mala Buni, today received Cross River State Governor Dr Ben Ayade, who joined the APC from the People’s Democratic (PDP).’
The Cross River Governor and some members of the National Assembly and National Working Committee of the PDP had been engaged in a running battle over the control of party structures and the northern senatorial seat of the state.
This has led not only to factionalisation, but a series of litigations and in-fighting within the PDP for over a year.