Cross River: Ayade, NASS Clash Over Northern Senatorial By-election

In Breaking News, National News, Politics

By Judex Okoro, Daily Sun

The silent war in Cross River PDP has continued to gather momentum as Governor Ben Ayade’s faction and some members of the National  Assembly battle over the pending by-election for northern senatorial seat.

While Governor Ayade’s men have thrown their weight behind Dr. Stephen Odey, a trusted ally and the incumbent Chairman of Cross  River State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) and hails from late Sen. Rose Oko’s Yala local Government Area, the NASS members are said to have queued behind one of their own, Hon. Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe, who  has declared his intention to move up to the Red Chamber.

Jarigbe is a second-term member of the House of Representatives, representing Ogoja/Yala Federal Constituency.  He comes from Ogoja Local Government Area which has not produced a Senator for decades.

Following the death of Senator Rose Oko, the National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, INEC, Festus Okoye, had on May 21, 2020 announced plans to conduct by-election for Cross River Northern senatorial zone.

Since then Governor Ayade has not hidden his intention to return to the Red Chamber in 2023 and has been shopping for a loyalist who would hold brief for him till then.

Besides, the Governor has been at loggerheads with NASS members over who control the party structures, leading to no love lost between him and the national lawmakers.

Daily Sun investigations revealed that Hon. Jarigbe decided to take up the gauntlet after a series of consultations with critical stakeholders and community leaders who are totally opposed to Ayade’s move to install his aide, Dr. Odey.

It was learnt that he has been under intense pressures from friends, kinsmen and political associates across the party divide to take up the gauntlet.

Sources close to his campaign organisation in Ogoja further revealed that he has re-oiled his political machinery in readiness for the primary election. 

In a chat with Jarigbe on whether he would run or not, he tacitly said: “I would resist any attempt at insulting the collective sensibilities of my people in the name of putting a protege that will hold brief for anybody. We are all democrats and I urge all to play in line with the tenets of democracy.”

A highly reliable source close to the PDP State secretariat said tension has heightened following the sudden entrant of Jarigbe into the senatorial race as it has totally altered the political equation and zoning arrangement in the party. 

The source,  who don’t want his name in print for fear of being tagged anti-party man, said: “We are in for a though primary election in PDP. We do hope we shall overcome it.”

Reacting to the development, the Coordinator of Movement for the Restoration of Cross River PDP (MFTROCR), Raymond Takon, said: “The game for the Senate is hotting up and becoming interesting. All the party needs at the moment is to come together as one family and put forward their best foot because APC is waiting on the wings to feast on our mistakes.

“We urge all stakeholders to drop their boxing gloves and go for a free and fair primary election that would prove we are still a democratic party. Anything short of that would cost us the seat.”

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