By Roland Enya-Forte
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has assured a pro Emmanuel Ibeshi support group from Cross River State of a fair playing field and assurances that they will be no imposition of candidates during the party’s primaries.
The assurance was given by the PDP National Secretary, Senator Ibrahim Tsauri, while addressing the group Thursday morning when they stormed Wadata House, the party’s national secretariat in Abuja, to demand for primaries in the state chapter of the party.
Our correspondent, Roland Enya-Forte Bassey Igboke, who was at the national secretariat of the party in Abuja today, says the gale of endorsements by PDP stalwarts for a second term for the state Governor, Senator Ben Ayade, across the 3 senatorial districts, seem not to have gone down well with some members of the party and some of them want to run against Governor Ayade in the party primaries for 2019.
According to our correspondent,
“Members of the group who bore different banners with Ibeshi’s picture and declaring support for Ibeshi 2019, made it blatantly clear that they want, Ibeshi, a former Ayade’s Special Envoy to the African Development Bank AfDB, and former national PDP National Publicity Secretary, to run against Ayade in the PDP primaries.
And while addressing members of the coalition, Senator Tsauri said, “Yesterday we were at Ekiti and their demands were same as yours; a fair playing field and no imposition of candidates.”
He assured the coalition that their demands will be met “because as a party, that is what we want because it’s the way forward.”
Earlier, the leader of the delegation, Mr. Ken Bassey said “We are a coalition of support groups that have always been actively involved in mass mobilization of support for the success of our dear and great party, the PDP at various levels.
“Our visit to the National Headquarters is an opportunity for us to meet with the Prince Uche Secondus led NWC and to register our total support and express our confidence in his leadership which we unequivocally trust will lead our great party to a resounding success at the polls come 2019.
“We wish to appreciate and thank the National Working Committee for its foresight and for successfully rebranding the party while promising never to allow a repeat of previous mistakes that led to the party’s misfortune in 2015.
“We as ardent supporters of the PDP in Cross River State have recognized that the 2019 elections in Cross River State will be different from previous ones. This is because an aggressive and stiff challenge is being posed by the APC and owing to the fact the the APC is the party in power at the center, they are bent at using that power to capture the soul of Cross River State which has been an exclusive domain of the PDP since 1999. This therefore means that to ensure we emerge victorious over them, we must put our best foot forward.
“We hereby wish to appeal to the NWC to please pay special attention to the events that lead to the primaries and eventual emergence of flag bearers that will represent the Party at all levels in the State. Please help us ensure that there will be no impunity or imposition of candidates. We need a level playing field to ensure that only the most popular candidates emerge.
“Please permit us to state the unfortunate fact that most Cross Riverians are of the opinion that the performance of the current Government in the State leaves much to be desired and this is a serious cause for concern to us. We cannot go to the electorate presenting the exact same option as this could lead to failure for the Party in the State.
“This Coalition has however identified a man of impeccable character and outstanding credentials whom we believe will surely lead the Party to a resounding victory in Cross River state, his name is Hon. Emmanuel Ibeshi. A former Member of the House of Representatives, first elected National Publicity Secretary (1999 – 2001), and above all a very committed Party Man. Not forgetting the fact that he stood on the side of truth during the recent crisis that was imposed on the Party. He served as the Secretary of the syndicate eleven.
“We as a coalition have made known to him that we are demanding that he declares to contest for the position of Cross River State Governor for 2019. Being a former National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, he is one of you that is why we hereby appeal to you to help us pass our message once again to him, thank you.”
When CrossRiverWatch contacted Mr. Ibeshi to find out if he sponsored members of the coalition to Abuja, he vehemently denied having anything to do with the mobilization of members of the group to Abuja.
“I have nothing 100 percent to do with how anyone got to our national secretariat.”
He acknowlwedged that members of the group have however approached him and requested that he should join the governorship race but maintained he has not made up his mind on what to do but will not hesitate to engage the coalition and reason through their suggestion depending on how events unfold.
Mr. Emmanuel Ibeshi had contested alongside Governor Ben Ayade in the party’s primaries in 2015 but lost.
Another northern aspirant said to be gearing up to challenge Mr. Ayade under the PDP is a former Minister of Environment, Mr. John Odey.
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