Cross River State Governor Ben Ayade began his campaign to secure a second term and consolidate his hold on power by insisting that rather than Central senatorial zone, his northern senatorial zone must serve out a second term in line with the precedent already set by the other two zones.
An unprecedented yesterday overflowed the Sankwala Cenotaph venue of Governor Ben Ayade campaign rally in Obanliku local government area of the state.
The overwhelming crowd made up of artisans, okada riders and market women lined up all roads leading to the venue to cheer Ayade as his campaign train made its way.
The enthusiastic supporters danced and sang the Governor’s praises as they pledged to cast their votes for him and all PDP candidates in the coming elections.
When Prof Ayade mounted the rostrum to speak, a deafening chant of “Ayade is a goal” rented the air, with the jubilant crowd surging forward to physically touch the governor and pledge their support for his reelection.
It took spirited efforts of security agents to keep the ecstatic crowd at bay.
Speaking later, the evidently elated governor told the people of the council that Obanliku was strategic to the state as the council housing the famous Obudu ranch resort.
He promised speedy completion of the 147 mfom-okuku-obudu ranch road project linking the five local government areas of Cross River North senatorial zone.
As a demonstration of the importance he attaches to the ranch, the governor disclosed that the Obudu/Obanliku axis of the road has already been asphalted in order to aid easy access to the facility.
The Cross River state chief executive also pledged rapid urbanization of the council by transforming it into a modern town complete with modern infrastructures.
Said Prof Ayade:”l want to assure you all that as a proud son of the North, l won’t fail you. Be rest assured that l am very committed to the welfare of our people and all the developmental projects we have started in the north will be completed in our quest to develop our zone in line with others.”
Meanwhile, thousands of party faithful, support groups, youths, traders as well as various social groups, Tuesday, thronged Ukelle and Okpoma in Yala Local Government Area as well as the Ogoja Township Stadium as Governor Ben Ayade flagged of his re-election campaign in Northern Cross River.
Decked in their different regalia and armed with posters and banners, they proclaimed the governor as the best thing to happen to the state.
In Wanikande in Okpoma, a prominent member of the All Progressives Party (APC) and a former governorship aspirant, Dr. Julius Okpotu decamped to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
Received by Governor Ayade and members of the PDP campaign council at the venue of the campaign rally, Okpotu said governor Ayade would be reelected on account of his sterling performance in office.
He said Ayade’s support base cuts across party lines, adding, “even members of the APC will work to get him re-elected.”
“I am here because of the good works of Governor Ayade. He has worked tirelessly to change the story of Cross River. His re-election therefore, will be a smooth sail.”
Chanting solidarity songs, the enthusiastic crowd, in appreciation of Governor Ben Ayade’s developmental strides, vowed to protect their votes for the governor’s return.
This even as the paramount ruler of Yala Local Government Area, Buturo Godwin Denis Odu, said the people of ogoja have decided that Ayade must go back to government house to complete his wonderful performance.
In his word: “we are oracle and we have spoken that our son must return.”
Earlier, the council of chiefs of ukelle received the governor and his team and prayed and blessed him for a smooth re-election.
The clan head, Anthony Eji, stated “you are our son and our people are fully with you as you have represented us well and we would not disappoint and abandon you now”.
Responding, Ayade said: “I know I have done a lot by appointing 6000 appointees, engaged 2500 teachers and 1000 nurses among others, but surely I will know no sleep until everyone of you here gets a job.”
The governor who apologized for the inconveniences created by dust at the ongoing 148km northern dual carriage way, enjoined the people to bear with him as such a gigantic project could not have been completed within two years.
He disclosed that the Okpoma water project has been completed among other projects aimed at alleviating the pains of the people.
“This is the turn of the north as both south and central have had their different eight years as governors, so do not allow anybody to come and stop this road we are constructing.”
At the Ogoja township stadium, overwhelming crowd of supporters who waited into the night to welcome the Governor burst ecstasy upon his arrival.
An obviously elated Ayade who spoke after some dance steps said: “I thank you for your patience as only the Ogoja people can come together in darkness. Today, I am proud that I am an Ogoja son as no where in this country will you have a rally in this darkness and witness such peace and tranquility as i have seen here now”
At a meeting with the traditional rulers held at Ogoja council hall, the governor disclosed that he intends to organise a leadership and security training for the traditional institution, adding that, he will also ensure that chiefs yet to receive certificate of recognition are duly recognized.
PDP bigwigs who were at the rally,including Chief Asuquo Ekpenyong, Senator Rose Oko and the coordinator of Cross River presidential elections, Barr Chris Agara enjoined the governor to return home and sleep as there was no need to campaign, having since embarked on giant strides aimed at impacting favourably on the citizenry.