From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Two weeks after Governor of Cross River State, Ben Ayade, defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC), President Muhammadu Buhari received him at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He was led to the meeting by Chief of Staff to the President, Professor Ibrahim Gambari.
Ayade, who met the President for the first time since joining the APC, saying that he still respects the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Fielding questions after State House Correspondents, Ayade said that he left the PDP for the sake of President Buhari, admitting that the main opposition party made him what he is.
He said: “I am one of the strong Nigerian Governor who have risen beyond party lines and ethnic lines by virtue of my education and exposure. My choice to join APC is generating a lot of concern for the PDP occasioned by the fact that it came as a rude shock.
“And sincerely, it is indeed a rude shock because until I defected, I was a very strong member of the party in truth and in spirit. And the reality is that PDP had the best result in Cross River state – of all the elected offices, all the chairmen of council, all the counsellors, all the National Assembly members but one, all the chairmen of the local governments, all commissioners, all the appointees, all of them were PDP before I defected.
“So, in terms of performance of PDP, it should be highest performance in the last election in Cross River, which means of all the elected offices, except for one office, PDP cleared all.
“So, for such a governor who led PDP to such a victory, to defect to APC, definitely, it must come as a very, very rude shock.
“And I’m not here to discuss PDP, because I still have my carry respects or regards for that party. It’s a party that gave me opportunity to be a senator. It’s a party that every opportunity to be a governor.
“And so at all times, I have chosen to focus on APC and my dreams and reasons for my movement to a APC.”
Ayade rationalized his defection to the APC, taking exception to the habit of the opposition celebrating every negative occurrence in the country as attributing same to Buhari’s failure.
He added: “I moved into the APC because if my personal relationship with Mr. President. I have watched him and I find honesty, integrity and I see his wish and commitment to the Federal Republic of Nigeria. To that extent, I have a leader that I trust.
“Opposition in the third world means let everything happen that will made the other party look bad.
“The increasing insecurity in Nigeria as Nigeria suffers attacks from extraneous aggressors, paid militia and bandits, the opposition party only celebrates that because they believe it gives them a chance to win in 2023.
“So, opposition becomes very cannibalistic. So, you rejoice over the bloodbath in your country, you rejoice over the level if insurgency and killings in your country just because you are playing opposition.
“The country is snowballing into a civil strife. We need to come together and support Mr. President to overcome the insurgency which is characterized by external militias who are paid for the purpose.
“We need to come together and support Mr. President to overcome the insurgency which is characterized by external militias who are paid for the purpose. I know very clearly that they have basic interest in our natural resources especially our tatalites and cobalt related derivative as well as diamond and gold.”
The governor also accused Nigeria’s foreigners enemies of precipitating crisis including secessionist propagations in parts of the country so as to have it balkanised for the purpose of selling their weapons.
“As you know what this international community does for Africa, once they see that large deposit of natural resources, they will be glad to see such country go to war. On one side they’re funding enemies of state; on the other hand they’re funding secessionists so that they can be in the business of guns.
While also paying glowing tribute to the PDP, the Cross Rivers state governor said that still has great respect for his former party, saying it was the platform that gave him the ticket and supported him to win elections for senate and governor respectively.
Ayade said until he defected to the ruling party, he was a committed and dedicated member of the PDP.