GOVERNOR Ben Ayade of Cross River State has dumped the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in a surprise move which he attributed to how impressed he is with the performance of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Announcing the defection during a meeting with six APC governors who visited him at the Government House in Calabar, Governor Ayade said he believed his state should be aligned with the party in power at the centre. He hinted that the character attributes of President Buhari and the realisation that Cross River State, which has been emasculated economically following the ceding of its oil wells, needed to be in sync with the party at the centre, as the main reasons for moving.
Governor Ayade said: “Having seen and known the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and his commitment to this country, his nationalistic disposition and all the efforts he has made to bring Nigeria to where we are today, it is obvious that at this point we needed to join hands with him to build a Nigeria that we can be proud of. We need all governors to recognise that it is not the party that matters.
“It is a character, it is an honour, it is a commitment to the vision of this great nation. We all need to as teamwork ahead of the president by working towards building a prosperous country that the succession worries of 2023 will come without the fears and the worries the international community has for us.
Governor Mai Buni of Yobe State, said: “I am here on behalf of the APC family to welcome His Excellency, the executive governor of Cross River State formally to the APC. As of today, he is the leader of the party in the state.”
Other 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 of Kebbi State and his Jigawa State counterpart Mohammed Abubakar. Also present was the minister of state for petroleum, Chief Timipre Sylva.
Other PDP members in Cross River State who joined Governor Ayade in defecting include deputy governor Professor Ivara Esu, speaker of the state house of assembly, Rt Hon Eteng Williams Jones and some of his members. Also, some National Assembly members, members of the Cross River State Executive Council, local government chairmen, councillors and some stakeholders, including Dame Florence Ita-Giwa and High Chief Asuquo Ekpenyong, defected too.
Minister of state for labour and employment, Festus Keyamo, has described Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State as one of the most enlightened and accomplished governors in the country. He added that his defection to the APC is the day the party has been waiting for.