By Jonathan Ugbal: Government House Correspondent
A political support group in Cross River, Team Ayade has unveiled and endorse on the Peoples Democratic Party gubernatorial form it purchase for the state’s governor, Senator Ben Ayade.
Unveiling the form, the Chief of Staff to Governor Ayade, Mr. Martin Orim said the group had threatened legal action against the governor if he fails to seek a second term and had made good, its promise by purchasing the nomination form.
“We recall that the day the governor was here to commission this office, the Team Ayade group had compelled him that he has done so well and they urge him to run for another term and they went further to tell him that if he fails to do that, they will initiate a legal action against him, compelling him to run,” Orim said.
He continued: “When we heard that they had started selling forms in Abuja, we made a few calls to our stakeholders and put together money which was given to me and I led a team to Abuja to purchase the governorship form for our principal. This is very symbolic because it shows that we still stand by what we said to him.”
He also commended the support from the members of the group who are lawmakers and promised that the group will support its members seeking political office.
He said that: “I remember very well that on the day of the commissioning of this office, Mr. Speaker spoke on behalf of the House of Assembly and made a commitment to his excellency that the House of Assembly believes in Team Ayade and they will use this platform to ensure that they send him back to the office for a second term and I must say that you have been very very supportive.
“This is a PDP family and you are the heads of the micro families of the larger PDP family which is been headed by the governor.
“We are aware that a lot of you are aspiring to return to the House of Assembly; a lot of us in Team Ayade are aspiring into higher offices from the House of Assembly. We will do our best as a Team Ayade family to put in a word where we can, to throw in our support where we can, to ensure that those who subscribe to this family, Team Ayade will at least have a fair deal in the field and have their ticket to run election.”
Hundreds of supporters had thronged the office seeking to sign the endorsement columns including members of the state executive council, House of Assembly and fourth term member of the House of Representatives, Honorable Essien Ayi.
The Speaker of the state’s House of Assembly, Honorable John Lebo who led the members of the House of Assembly to sign said the twenty five constituencies that make up the house have since endorsed the governor with his foot soldiers needing to focus on certain grey areas to ensure his victory at the polls in 2019.
However, he said that: “Beyond endorsements we need to go back to the field and work. We need to identify our low hanging fruits and we need to complete a lot of those low hanging fruits. We have achieved a lot in the high hanging fruits.”
He added that: “I want to assure you that across the 25 state constituencies, the governor will go round, attend town hall meetings, listen to the people, look at what they identify as low hanging fruits, complete them and win their confidence.”
Furthermore, the speaker said the low hanging fruits in Abi are currently been tied following the receipt of funds for the Songhai farm in Abi.
“We have started in Abi, we are moving into the Songhai farms quickly. We got the release of the funds today and we are moving into the School of Nursing Itigidi. We are wrapping up the Itigidi roads, we need to show our people that government has come to them.
“What we owe the Governor is; as his foot soldiers is to take that message down. He won’t be everywhere but we have to make sure that the people are satisfied with that but above all the Governor has done well, we just have to ensure that we download what the governor has done well to the grassroots and ensure that the people understand the vision and the philosophy that Ayade stands for and being the vision and philosophy that Senator Liyel Imoke laid and Donald Duke copied from,” he said.
Speaking on legislators endorsing the governor, Lebo averred that: “Now it is not House of Assembly as a house because that endorsement won’t be useful. The endorsement that will be useful is each of the 25 state constituencies where the voters are. There are no voters in the House of Assembly, voters are in the field, so for Abi, we are talking as Abi state constituency; That is why I am taking it as a responsibility to ensure that the Governor is able to tie up those low hanging fruits so that the people can continue to follow him and follow us as well. That endorsement is important as well.”
Earlier, the acting Director General of the campaign group, Mr. George O’ben-Etchi had said there are man reasons why Governor Ayade needs to return for a second term in office.
O’ben-Etchi who said Ayade came at a trying time in the state’s history, averred that: “If you have an idea about the debt profile of Cross River State, if you are a feeble minded person, your heart will drop because over the years, we have had to take loans to be able to provide infrastructure and do other things otherwise we will not have survived as a state. Ben Ayade came at a time when we had lost our oil wells, we had lost Bakassi long before he came and so on. So, operating became difficult.
“But, the man came with an ideology that we must build industries and how do you build industries when you have no money? Cross River State being a civil service state, he was first able to ensure that to hold the civil service and make sure that there was no grumbling at that aspect, Ben Ayade has been at least, the first Governor in Nigeria not to owe the salaries of civil servants.”
Also, a former Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party in the state, Mr. Achort Okon in an interview said that: “We all support his excellency, we know what he is to us in the state and we are hoping that by God’s grace he will win his election and continue what he has been doing. So, it is our great support for him and it is total from what you can see from all over the state.”
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