By Aplefe Ojong
The decision of the Governor of Cross River State, Senator Ben Ayade to allocate 30 appointments to members of the opposition parties in the state has attracted mixed reactions from a cross section of the indigenes of the state and other political parties.
While the major opposition party, the All Progressives Congress, APC rejected the offer and labelled it a ploy to weaken the opposition in the state, Some chieftain of PDP, Labor Party and other smaller parties in the state say it is a welcomed development that will strengthen democracy in the state.
Immediately reacting to the news of the 30 positions being allocated to the opposition in the state, the state Chairman of Inter-party Advisory Council, Mr. Godwin Akpama described the 30 positions gesture by the governor as another “signature projects” by the governor.
“We will support him, all should support him. God will continue to bless him. His allocating 30 posts to the opposition is another signature project by the governor, it is unprecedented in the history of this state.”
Also reacting to the news, a former member of the Provisional Ruling Council and and PDP chieftain, General Edward Unimna Rtd, commended the governor for allocating 30 positions to the opposition.
Unimna posited that the kind gesture of Governor Ayade was a clear indication of his maturity and integrity, stressing that Ayade has equally shown that he is a governor for all indigenes and other Nigerians residing in the state.
He maintained thus, “Your Excellency thanks for allotting some political appointments to non-ruling political party people. It shows your maturity and integrity as governor of a state and all her people and residents, not a governor of a political party.
“Extending the gesture to include non-political party people would even greatly take your image and goodwill to higher heights”.
In her own comment, the former Chairman of Obudu Local Government Area, Hon. Cecilia Ally, described Governor Ayade’s action as emanating from a man with a good, broad and accommodating heart, not minding socio-economic, political, ethnic/tribal and religious affinities and differences.
“This is the first time a governor is giving to the opposition such a large number of appointments and openly telling the people that he is extending such opportunity.
“Ayade has openly shown that he is a man with the interest of his people at heart. He has also spoken loud and clear that political divide will not determine his consideration for appointing people into positions as shown by his allocating 30 positions to those outside the ruling PDP in Cross River State. He has done well and I’m fully confident that he has more goodies for the people of the state in the years to come”, Hon. Ally concluded.
In the same vein, Chairman of the Labor Party in the state, Mr. Austin Ibok also told CrossRiverWatch that his party was happy with the offer from the governor and will support the decision to the later.
“For my own party the Labor party, we are totally in support of the governor’s offer of 30 appointments to the opposition. It is a welcomed development and we will gladly accept the appointments because I believe it will help to strengthen the opposition in the state.
“Accepting the appointment does not mean we want to decamp to the ruling party and the governor also said that in our meeting. Even if anyone who accepts the appointment later decamps to PDP, that person should lose the position because it was meant for the opposition parties.”
Sources in the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, Alliance for Democracy and the Independent Democrats also indicated that they were pleased with the governor’s offer and were ready to accept it.
But the APC rejected the offer and called on the opposition parties to be wary of such “Greek gifts”.
According to Mr. Cletus Obun, Chairman of the APC in the Central Senatorial District and former member of the State House of Assembly, “We should not be carried away by such Greek gifts because I am not. Why is the offer coming at a time when there will soon be a momentous exodus of people into the opposition? I hold very strongly that the offer is not in good fate and as a matter of fact, it is a calculated ploy to weaken the opposition in the state and we must resist it.”
Another Chieftain of the APC and rights activist, Barrister Obono Obla in his reaction told CrossRiverWatch that: “I do not subscribe to the idea really if it is not well intended. We are running a presidential system of government which means the winner takes it all. But that does not also preclude the governor from going across board to access competent men and women from other divides in the state to help him succeed in his mission for the state. If it is to that extent, I will support the governor’s decision but if the appointments are to lure the opposition into fighting themselves, to weaken them and destroy the opposition over fights for nomination of who will become what, then I am opposed to it.
“Our state needs a strong opposition. Cross River has been suffering under a one party state for too long and that is responsible for the economic and political stagnation we are suffering. Any further attempt to decimate the opposition either with a carrot or with a cane should be resisted.”
It will be recalled that the governor had a closed door meeting with the opposition parties in the state in his office earlier this week where he made the offer.
CrossRiverWatch gathered that representatives of the Labor Party, APGA, ID, AD were present at the meeting while those of the APC turned back at the government house gate after they were delayed for long by security agents at the gate who insisted on getting express clearance to allow them in.
Feeling spited by the development, one of the representatives who turned back told our reporter that, “If it was not to make a mess of us, why would a governor invite leading opposition parties and will not inform his security people at the gate?
“We thought it was important to honor him and go and listen to him but the treatment at the gate showed clearly that some people are still feeling that they invited us to come and chop so we must be insulted that is why we turned back.”
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