Cross River: PDP’s Contentious Primaries Open Door For Opposition
FROM southern to northern senatorial district of Cross River State, protest votes await the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate, as the nation prepares for the general election.
For now, there are three major governorship candidates in the state and they are from the northern part of the state to which the political parties zoned the ticket. The candidates are Senator Ben Ayade of the PDP, Ntufam Fidelis Ugbo of the Labour Party, and Mr. Odey Ochicha of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Before now, the emergence of the PDP candidate in any position for election was as good as winning the poll. But, today, it is a different story. The fall out of the PDP primaries leading to mass decamping will certainly be the major determining factor on who emerges as governor of the state and other positions. Aggrieved members of the PDP, who felt that great injustice was meted out to them during the primaries, have dumped the PDP for the LP with thousands of their supporters.
So, the governorship and other elections will most likely be a straight fight between the PDP and the LP, which, before now, was little known in the state. It is also going to be a fight of wits and supremacy between the state governor, Senator Liyel Imoke, and his deputy, Mr. Efiok Cobham, on one hand, and the former governor of the state, Mr. Donald Duke, and the Senate Leader, Chief Victor Ndoma-Egba, on the other.
The aggrieved PDP members that decamped to LP have vowed to teach the PDP a lesson.
The three political parties are very rich; so money may not be a factor. The PDP candidate has the former vice chancellor of the University of Calabar, Professor Ivara Esu, from the Biase/Ejagam-speaking stock of the state as deputy, while LP has a prominent lawyer, M. Nella Adem-Rabana (SAN), from the Efik-speaking stock as deputy. Mr. Sylvester Nsa is the deputy for Ochicha also from the Efik stock. The Efik and women factor may have an added advantage for APC and LP as the Efiks had accused the PDP of scheming them out of their own arrangement for 2015. However, the three deputies are from the Southern Senatorial zone and are quite formidable.
Already, there are several cases of aggrieved party aspirants decamping with their supporters to LP.
The State’s NLC Chairman, Mr. John Ushie, said: “The LP is the party of the NLC. Our concern, as organised labour, is that Nigeria should have a free and fair election. We will prove that point and ensure that our votes count in the forthcoming elections. It is also our responsibility that our votes count in the forthcoming election. And, in Labour, we will vote totally for the candidate of our choice; those we feel that can represent us and take us there.”
The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), six socio-political women groups in Cross River Central said although they were members of the PDP, impunity allegedly displayed by the leadership of the party has caused the groups to stand against the ruling party.
Worried by this swing of defection from PDP to opposition parties, the state governor, while inaugurating the state’s PDP campaign team for the 2015 general elections last Thursday, said there was need for the defectors to return to the party for the sake of unity and continuity in the state, even as he charged all PDP candidates to campaign vigorously.
As part of the process to bring back the aggrieved members, the state governor has set up a peace and reconciliation committee to plead with the decampees to come back.
According to Imoke, the PDP family in the state has grown from strength to strength, hence the need to sustain the achievements of the party.
He said, “For those, who have fled out of the party, we are asking them to return, especially now that they are needed, and the PDP is ever ready to accommodate them. It is only when you are in the party that you can gain relevance and the opportunity to serve your people. It is bad as an individual if you boot yourself out of the PDP family, because it is only through the family arrangement that one can make himself relevant.
He noted that Mr. Jeddy Agba, one of governorship aspirants, who lost out during the primaries, “ had played from the beginning and played it well, and coming back after reconciliation means he is playing it better.”
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