Since the dawn of uninterrupted democracy in Nigeria in 1999, Cross River has arguably been a strong hold of the People’s Democratic Party, (PDP).
The first democratically elected governor of the state in the current dispensation, Mr. Donald Duke ensured that all the political heavyweights in the state at the time and a few officials who were elected through other platform defected to PDP.
Some who had divergent views to Duke’s philosophy were either made to resign or go into political oblivion.
During this time, the defunct All Nigeria People’s Party (APP) which was the major opposition party in the country had a formidable force in the state to the point of producing the speaker, Rt. Hon Gabriel Adah who unfortunately became the first casualty of Duke’s hatred for opposition.
Adah who was elected under the platform of the APP to represent Obudu state constituency was very resistant in dumping his party for the then ruling party which was waxing strong to take over the entire political structure of the state.
For those who know him, Duke will go any length to get what he wants. This was the case with Adah who was impeached as Speaker few months into his reign.
The impeachment practically laid the foundation for the sixteen years reign of the PDP in the state as a few members of the State House of Assembly who came under the platform all dumped the party for PDP for fear of being tagged enemy to the then most powerful governor in the country.
Senator Owan Enoh who was elected under the APP to represent Etung state constituency but has now gone to have a more successful political career with the PDP is a good example.
It was even rumoured that the impeached Speaker, later joined the PDP.
This development however built a solid foundation for Duke’s successor and the immediate past governor, Senator Liyel Imoke who graciously led the state to become the leader and front burner of the PDP agenda in the South South geopolitical zone of the country.
Perhaps, Imoke didn’t have much to do than to consolidate on the structures left by his successor to make sure the state delivers hundred percent to the party in every election; a task he maintained throughout his eight years tenure.
Besides, Imoke at some point was not regarded as just the leader of the PDP but the de-facto leader of all the political parties that existed in the state.
This is because all the major political decisions made by him were made to bind other alternative parties in the state. For instance, the zoning formula of PDP was always going to bind other parties like the case of the governorship election in the last elections.
Because of the dominance and might of the PDP in the state during his regime, the party primaries were largely regarded as the real elections as anybody who coast home to victory was as sure as winning the general election which in most cases was a confirmation to the decision of the party.
But despite this, Imoke was widely criticized for undermining the decision of senior party stalwarts especially if it was contrary to what he personally wanted.
In different occasions, he was accused of being too rigid and dictatorial in the way party flag bearers were elected during primaries.
This became obvious in the last elections as so many PDP fatefuls left the party for Labour party to test their popularity but as usual Imoke ensured all PDP candidates returned elected in the State.
Now Imoke and Duke are no more in the saddle but a new kid in the block in Senator (Prof.) Ben Ayade. Contrary to what the former governors had, the new dispensation of Ayade has witnessed a gale of defections that have prompted political watchers in the state to question the long term future of the PDP in the state.
Within his seven months governorship, more political juggernauts in the state have crossed from the PDP to the All Progressive Congress (APC) than the sixteen years of Duke and Imoke joined together. Maybe this is because the state has never be known as playing opposition to the government at the centre.
While many people have blamed the former governor for the PDP melee, insinuating that the party is having a hangover of the process that produced the party’s flag bearers in the last elections, some have said that the leadership style of the incumbent governor was behind the nightmare.
Ayade has been accused of running the state as a personal business thereby disregarding advice and opinions of senior party members.
Amongst other defections, what has really thrown the state in total acrimony is the recent defection of the governor’s kinsmen and major financiers in the last election to the APC.
A former two time member representing Obudu/Bekwarra/Obanliku federal constituency, Rt. Hon Paul Adah, led a team of who is who in Obudu, the local government of the governor to defect and subsequently register with the APC.
What was more shocking during their official defection on Tuesday, December 29, 2015 at Begiading Ward1 in Obudu local government area of the state was the mammoth crowd that came out to celebrate the decision of the former lawmaker and other political bigwigs who have crossed to the APC.
This development has since caused discontent in the camp of the governor as it was rumoured that all his efforts to truncate the event hit the rocks.
One of the defectors whom I contacted said that leaving the PDP was a big burden which he has taken off his neck even as he explained that his decision was hinged on the insensitivity of the state government to address urgent issues of public interest.
This outburst is however not strange because as role model to so many young people, it was best for him to embrace the change mantra of President Muhammadu Buhari which has favoured the state in terms of appointments than any other government.
However, some of these people who are from the same local government with the governor should be commended for their bold steps and decision to go to the APC.
They should also brace themselves for attacks and abuses but as true Cross Riverians, we have seen clearly that we are not in the best of times because of the direction less ness and clueless ness of the governor.
Before we crucify them, we must appreciate the fact that as leaders and politicians, there is nothing as bad as not satisfying what the people you represent, the people who believe in you would want.
So it is better for people to know that they are not part of this government in the state than to appear very big as people who can add to the development of the state yet cannot do anything.
Before I’m condemned by the social media punks of the governor, I’m not completely happy with the development especially as it’s coming from his immediate constituency (His LGA).
However, it has become crystal clear to the blind and audible to the deaf that the government of Ayade clearly lacks direction and the governor has so far displayed ignorance in government through what a political activist called “aluta style” governance.
As a professor with a very successful business history, it’s unfortunate to imagine that a systematic marginalization of party members associated with his perceived enemies has been adopted as the best approach to transforming the political instability in the state.
The people living now clearly have the choice between going extinct politically or joining forces with the opposition political party to save the state from the sinking ship of Ayade’s leadership.
My interaction with his kinsmen especially his major financier during the elections shows that his inability to listen to advise has brought unprecedented embarrassment to the people.
I’m also aware that many people are scrambling to join those who have left PDP for Ayade to build a new platform for the future wellbeing of Cross Riverians.
There’s also strong rumour that the most popular senator from the state in the 8th National Assembly who meritoriously, is the Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance is undergoing sustained consultation to dump PDP for APC.
If this happens, it will be the biggest blow to Ayade because a good politician would not temper with a man who defeated the then sitting Senate Leader. Let me leave that sensitive reports for now till I gather more facts.
Before I end this piece, let me also remind us that within just seven months of Ayade’s governorship, the former Senate Leader, Senator Victor Ndoma Egba, former governor, Mr. Clement Ebri, former Reps., Earnest Irek, the immediate past Chairman of the State Board of Internal Revenue, a governorship aspirant in the last elections who was until his defection, the Caucus chief of PDP, Obudu chapter, Dr. Peter Oti, Chief Bullem as well as the most popular governorship aspirant and the son of the Paramount Ruler of Obudu LGA, Prince Goddy Jedy Agba and a host of other prominent politicians in the state have all joined the APC.
Now that we are counting months to the local government elections in the state and considering the calibre of people who have left the once most popular party in the state, Cross Riverians are waiting patiently to see if the governor has the political structure and wherewithal to survive the broom revolution in the state.
Inyali peter writes from Calabar Inyalipeter@gmail.com
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