Judex Okoro, Calabar
The crisis rocking Cross River chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) appears unabated as some stakeholders have raised the alarm over the hijack of party structure by Abuja-based politicians, fuelling speculations of internal rift within the party leadership.
The stakeholders, made of some senior citizens, former Assembly members, Councillors and former political appointees, are worried that Governor Ben Ayade has been boxed into surrendering the party structure in the state to Abuja-based political godfathers.
According to the stakeholders, the alleged hijack of party structure by the Abuja group, said to be led by some party stalwarts at national level and prominent sons of Cross River State, has caused undue interference in the on-going selection processes of aspirants into various offices of state and the National Assembly.
Addressing newsmen, in Calabar, at the weekend, over the ugly development, spokesperson of the group, Chief Nathaniel Okon Eusa, decried the attempt by the Abuja group to handpick candidates for political offices not minding the implications it would have on the party ahead of 2019.
Esua, who hails from Biase and a former board member of Federal Medical Centre, Abakaliki, during former President Olusegun Obansajo’s administration said, “The PDP in the state has been reduced to a one-man show as party members are totally side-lined in terms of making input on who represents the various state and federal constituencies as was the case.
“Before now we used to have caucus meetings at wards, local and state levels to decide who-and-how gets what and then create a soft landing for those who will lose out of the power game.
“In the end we go into election with one voice. But today the reverse is the case as the party leadership has been hijacked by strong men in Abuja, leaving us with no option.”
Also kicking, Hon. Otu Ewah, from Boki and a former Special Assistant during Governor Donald Duke’s administration said: “I can see the high intrigues and unseen hand of some prominent party bigwigs based in Abuja who are discreetly working against every Ayade’s move and some of his political allies in the race.
“We are not against anybody contesting or having an interest in any candidate, but what are against is imposition of candidates.
“All we want is a level-playing ground for all party members to express their intention and taste their popularity in the field. PDP is in new era and so we don’t want any form of impunity in the state chapter.
“Besides, most of the aspirants they are trying to shut out have been the ones funding the party at the heat of crisis.
“The party leadership in the state should be allowed to perform its functions rather than dictating to them who to choose and who not to choose.
“It is quite undemocratic and therefore taking us back to the NPN-NPP era when we had Abuja Front and Home Front fighting for the soul of Cross River,” he stated.
One of the House of Assembly aspirants from Etung, Emmanuel Ojong said: “Ayade is in a fix because the Abuja-based big politicians have taken control and calling the shots of who gets and how. He cannot even help his own friends who are interested in running for political offices in PDP.
“The party leadership in the state are equally powerless as they have no say in the ongoing congresses and pending primaries.
“So, we call on party members to rise against this I position else we work against the party at appropriate time.”