From Judex Okoro, Calabar
A few hours after Gov Ben Ayade of Cross River defected, some APC bigwigs have hailed the defection, describing it as timely and a huge benefit to the people of the state.
The APC stalwarts including Minister of State for Labour and Productivity, Festus Keyamo(SAN), former Senate Majority Leader, Senator Victor Ndoma Egba and APC governorship candidate in the 2019 election, Senator Owan Eno, said it is the best thing to happen to Cross River and urge him to be a good team player.
Ayade had on the early hours of Thursday, May 21, 2021 formally declared for the ruling party at the Cross River State Executive Council Chamber, Governor’s Office in Calabar after a two-hour meeting with seven APC governors led by the party’s interim chairman and governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni.
Speaking on why he was joining the APC, he said the character attributes of President Muhammadu Buhari that has endeared him to APC.
He called on all the governors to join APC so they can all sit on one table and move Nigeria forward.
Some APC governors who witnessed the event were Hope Uzodinma of Imo State, Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, Solomon Lalong of Plateau State, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu and his Jigawa state counterpart, Mohammed Badaru Abubakar. Also present was the Minister of State for Petroleum, Chief Timipre Sylva.
Welcoming Ayade to the ruling party, Minister of State for Labour and Productivity Festus Keyamo(SAN) in his official Twitter handle described Ayade as an enlightened and accomplished Governor.
“I welcome one of the most cerebral, the most progressive, the most enlightened and the most accomplished Govs, Professor Ben Ayade to the fold of the progressives. As my elder brother and friend from the South South region, this is the day we have been waiting for”
Hailing Ayade’s decision to dump PDP, former Senate Majority Leader, Senator Victor Ndoma Egba, said: “Your defection to the APC is a well thought out decision that will be of huge benefit to Cross River State.
“The APC family in Cross River State welcome the Governor with open arms. You recall that Cross River State has always been in the mainstream of Nigeria politics.
“There is no gainsaying the fact that the past six years of being in the opposition has impacted the state negatively, even though you have consciously navigated the ship of governance in sync with the APC-led Federal Government.
“As a State, we can ill afford to remain in the opposition. I commend you for recognizing this fact and doing the needful for the good of our dear State. As you join us in the Progressives fold, my expectation is that your coming will enrich our internal democracy and I enjoin you to be consultative, inclusive, democratic, transparent and accountable because these are the hallmarks of the All Progressives Congress family.
“I also expect that your presence in the APC will further strengthen the party and improve our electoral fortunes in Cross River State. I have no doubts that the APC family in the State has received you with open arms and will work with you to reposition our dear State on the path of unprecedented socioeconomic and sociopolitical development”, he said
For the APC governorship candidate in the 2019 election, Senator Owan Eno, he said: “We waited with baited breath and measured anticipation. I am enthused today, that finally, the rumour has now become a reality.
“The historic nature of your entry into our party is not lost on every well meaning Cross Riverian. It evinces hope and has lit the light of unbridled optimism in the minds of party members and the teeming supporters of our great party in the state and across the nation.
“Your entry into our party at this auspicious time in nation building,a period of profound challenges confronting the nation is remarkable.”
However, source close to some PDP stalwarts revealed that the leadership in Abuja and at home are re-strategising on the next line of action.
One of them, who spoke on condition of anonymity said: ” We had expected it and was waiting for this day. It is part of politics. We would now re-organise our party ahead of 2023.
“We can assure you we would not lose Cross River because it is a PDP state matter what. We come out stronger.”