Chuks Okocha in Abuja
Some last minute mediation by Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State in the crisis plaguing the Cross River State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) might have prevented Governor Ben Ayade from defecting to the All Progressives Congress (APC), THISDAY has learnt.
It was gathered that the Cross Rivers State PDP crisis started, when all organs of the party were taken away from Ayade at the state, local government, and ward levels, with the alleged financial support of a South-south governor. This had prompted Ayade to boycott the South-south zonal congresses and the South-south governors’ meeting that took place in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital. But Ayade attended the PDP governors’ meeting, where he opened up on the crisis and his intention to leave the party.
Following the disclosure of his intention, it was learnt, the PDP National Working Committee (NWC), led by Prince Uche Secondus, sent the Bauchi State governor to intervene and try to stop Ayade from leaving PDP.
Receiving Mohammed at Government House, Calabar, Ayade had boasted that under his watch PDP made the highest returns in elections. He said he was not moved by the persistent crisis that put him at loggerheads with a number of party stakeholders.
Ayade’s aides identified a South-south governor as the alleged sponsor of the rebellion against the Cross River State chief executive.
The crisis in PDP has seen the two tendencies in the party struggle over the Cross River North senatorial seat.
But asserting his place in PDP, Ayade told the Bauchi State governor, “I cannot blind myself to the challenges of PDP and decide not to know what to do at the right time for their (Cross River people) sake.
“I know you are somebody that doesn’t take injustice. One single injustice, they will see a new Cross River State. I say it as a warning, because it does appear that your party seems to celebrate people who threaten and stress them.”
The Cross River State governor added, “All councillors (in the state) are PDP, council chairmen are PDP, all House of Assembly members are PDP, all commissioners are PDP, and all the National Assembly members, except one, are PDP; all of them are under my leadership.”
Ayade hinted on the possibility leaving with a good number of party stalwarts should he decide to defect. He said, “I am happy you have created an opportunity for a melodrama. So, today I am seated and dancing on the fence. Indeed, that’s true. And so I speak with righteous anger for the continuous annoyance and nuisance orchestrated on our innocence by external factors. But I just hope this ends today.
“And so, please, as I leave you with some holy whispers, which will be very strong, firm and clear, it’s a harbinger of trouble. While I believe in ecclesiastics of peace, I believe in the catechism of good faith but I also believe in respect for the supremacy of an office.
“So if you take a catalytic combination of all I have said, it tells you that there is the need for a guided caution by some persons, going forward as a people, as a party. I think the time has come when all of us will gather and say enough is enough.
“I can’t afford to make a decision just for my sake. I am not desperate in putting a successor but I am desperate for their well-being.”
Mohammed, on his part, called for party unity as he praised Ayade for connecting with the people of the state.
The Bauchi State governor told Ayade, “You are inexorably connected in terms of perception, vision and where we want to take the country together and because our forefathers have been together in this kind of thing, we are connected intellectually and politically.
“There must be structures put in place to make sure that the affairs and aspirations of all Nigerians, especially, our leaders, are reached.”