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I’m not aware Ayade wants to defect – Ndem

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Cross River State governor, Senator Ben Ayade

With few weeks to party nominations, the rumour making the rounds is that Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River is not in good terms with critical stakeholders. Chief Bassey Ndem, stakeholder and a former commissioner, spoke with ANIETIE AKPAN on this and sundry issues.

What is your view on reports that Ayade is not in good terms with critical stakeholders in the state?

PERSONALLY, I don’t have any problem with Governor Ayade, as I am in good terms with him.

The governor is a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), just like me. He is a party leader and is at the helm of affairs.

It should be noted that he is executing projects that will impact not only the lives of PDP members, but also other political parties and persons in the state, because he is the governor of Cross River State.

As far as I know, PDP members are in good terms among themselves.

To my knowledge, there are no factions, no group is pulling out to form a new faction in the state.

There are speculations that the governor wants to be the sole candidate, and that the powers that be in PDP may deny him the ticket for 2019…

Is it not Cross Riverians that will determine the candidate that will represent them?

Do we have an association that determines who gets the ticket or goes as the sole candidate?

Has there ever been a time in Cross River that we had a sole candidate?

So, why should we expect it this time? Are we running a one-party system? People are free to vie, even when there is an incumbent.

But the people of Cross River will ask critical questions before they select their governor.

It is not a small group of “powers that be” that will sit somewhere and determine for Cross Riverians who their governor will be.

That will be imposition, which cost the party dearly the last time.

The party has given guidelines, there is the constitution and we have to follow it, or we won’t succeed.

There is also report that Ayade is romancing APC and President Buhari. Is this good for PDP?

Specifically, what has he done to show that he is romancing the APC and President Buhari?

All these things are rumours, propaganda and deliberate misinformation spread by those seeking to benefit from the conflict they are trying to ignite.

We have to learn to separate governance from party politics.

We operate a federation, and the state and federal governments must cooperate and maintain a cordial relationship, if citizens must enjoy the full benefits of the relationship.

If that is what they call romancing, then so be it, and we should commend both personalities for rising above mundane and destructive party politics to deliver good governance.

At a certain level, this speculation about romance with APC is nonsense.

It is illogical to think that a sitting governor will strengthen the opposition party.

In any case, time is running out and I believe those that started and are fanning the embers of that rumour will soon eat humble pie, as they try to explain why their prediction didn’t come true.

When people say he romances the president, the question I ask is: Is Buhari the president of APC or the president of Nigeria?

Other PDP governors are travelling with the President, with some going to welcome him at the airport. But because it does not suit some people’s narrative, nobody talks about it.

Look, you don’t just wake up and decide to travel with the President.

The last trip to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was planned months in advance, and the Presidency must have carefully selected the governors that were relevant and needed for that trip.

The state most impacted by the Ambazonia conflict is Cross River, which has 26,000 refugees already from Cameroon.

I know there is an arms conflict in South West Cameroon, which borders Cross River, just like Cross River has turned an arms or mercenary route.

Realising this, the Cameroonian government is going to take hostile action, and Cross River will suffer in the process.

The crux of the governor’s speech and networking at the ECOWAS conference bordered on that. ECOWAS is the body that will and must take this message home to Paul Biya of Cameroun.

So, our governor needed to be there to deliver the message passionately and forcefully to the right ears to take corrective action.

Now, if you ask me if the governor is planning to defect to APC, I will say I am a major stakeholder in Cross River PDP and I am not aware of such.

The governor does not need to follow the President to Togo before he defects, if he wants to.

Although it is the inalienable right of anyone to move to a party of his/her choice, however, my personal view is that decamping is rarely in the interest of the common man.

It is also being speculated that a PDP cabal will throw up a candidate in 2019…

Our political machine is PDP, which is the machine that will throw up somebody, not a coven or cabal.

We will ensure that the most popular candidate emerges.

PDP will work to ensure victory. Are we not practising democracy?

Shouldn’t the man in Akpabuyo have a say in who emerges as governor in Cross River State? We will reject any imposition by any cabal.

On Ayade’s many projects, some think he is biting more than he can chew, as most of his projects merely exist on billboards for political reasons…

I’m not government’s spokesperson, but as a citizen and stakeholder, I see that the government seems to have a two-prong approach to executing projects.

The first are the signature projects, while the second is the smaller quick-win projects.

Under Signature projects are the deep seaport and the superhighway.

These are huge, visionary and long-term projects that have the potential to change the state’s economic trajectory permanently. 

The superhighway, we are told, will cost approximately US$4bn to build.

The allocation the state receives from the Federal Government and state internally generated revenue (IGR) cannot simply fund it.

It has to be financed by other people’s money and foreign direct investment. 

If the investors carry out due diligence and are satisfied with the studies and believe that from traffic and other activities they are going to recoup their money plus interest, what is your problem?

Ten years of our total allocation as a state cannot build such.

He is using investors’ money, which he calls intellectual money to do the project.

After completing these projects, can the foreign investors come and carry them away?


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