By Inyali Peter
Thousands of members of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) last weekend defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Obudu local government area as the race to the Senatorial bye-election to replace the late Senator Rose Oko who was representing Cross River North district gets more intriguing.
Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River who is said to be interested in pushing his stooge in order to aid his chances in 2023 and a leading aspirant of the APC, Professor Zana Akpagu both hail from Obudu.
Akpagu currently sits as the Vice Chancellor of the University of Calabar and is said to have massive followership having been a faithful party man in the PDP for over a decade before switching allegiance in 2015.
And, the defectors led by Charles Akeh, said that their decision to join the ruling APC is to strengthen the party in the area and work for Mr. Akpagu in the forthcoming bye-election.
“We will ensure that APC wins in Alege-Ubang during the senatorial bye-election. We will build on Professor Akpagu’s unmatched achievements and popularity to deliver APC,” Akeh said.
The defectors hail from the Alege-Ubang ward where the current Chief of Staff to Mr. Ayade, Mr. Martins Orim also hails from. And, in a bid to show its strength, the PDP is said to have masterminded the exiling of APC members after the 2019 general elections, a situation Reuben Okang said will not repeat itself given the personality of Mr. Akpagu.
“We had issues at Alege during the Presidential and National Assembly elections of 2019 where those who worked for APC were sent on exile but we are happy now that we have an aspirant like Zana who has always shown capacity in salvaging our sorrows in the region,” Okang told newsmen.
A similar incident occurred in several communities in 2015 especially those were leaders were known members of the PDP. And, Akpagu while welcoming the ex PDP faithful said the era of intimidation was over as his decision to contest was aimed at changing the narrative of the zone which he said has suffered mal-representation under the PDP over the years.
He thanked the defectors for taking the bold decision not minding that the Governor was from the local government even as he assured them that they have made the right decision to be part of movement that will end the incessant cry of poor representation.
“I want to thank you for this love. Today, you have made one of the best political decisions and I want to assure you that we’ll not fail you. Obudu and Cross River belong to all of us; the days of victimisation by the PDP government for being in opposition is over. We’re the government in power and we’ll deploy our federal might to ensure our members are protected from the desperate PDP”.
He added that “APC under the leadership of the National Chairman, Adams Oshiomole, President Muhammadu Buhari and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu will be basking in a euphoria of victory in the forthcoming Senatorial bye-election. From today, you have been formally inducted into the APC family and everybody will be treated equally”.
Akpagu’s decision to contest as well as that of sitting House of Representatives member representing Ogoja/Yala federal constituency, Jarigbe Agom is said to be giving the Governor Ayade’s PDP headache despite Agom been a member of the PDP.
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