AYADE’S DEFECTION, A BIG RELIEF – IMOKE
Former Governor of Cross River State, Senator Liyel Imoke, has described the defection of Governor Ben Ayade from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC), as a big relief, and denied ever selling the PDP governorship ticket in 2015 to Ayade for the sum of N2 billion.
Sen Imoke said he regretted handing over the party to Ayade, who he accused of running a one man show since he took over the mantle of leadership.
Imoke who was Minister of Power during President Olusegun Obasanjo administration, admitted that he made a mistake in swinging support for Ben Ayade, and pleaded for forgiveness from party members and the people of Cross River State.
The former governor who spoke at the PDP Stakeholders Forum held in Transcorp Hotels, Calabar, at the weekend, maintained that they did not tell anybody to leave the party, but added that the defection was a divine intervention.
He maintained that Cross River still remained a PDP stronghold in the entire South-South, stating that it was mark of highest irresponsibility for Governor Ben Ayade to bring in security operatives to seize the PDP secretariat.
He expressed worry at the future of the state under Ben Ayade, and stated that never had Cross River government and the PDP been run by one man and family members.
Imoke decried the winner-takes-all attitude of his successor, which according to him, was alien to the PDP family, and called on all hands to be on deck to return the state to the right path under PDP.
Reacting to allegations that he sold the governorship ticket to Ayade, Imoke said:”I have heard they gave me N2bn for the election in 2015. Imagine people saying that I have sold Cross River State. It is damaging my name and reputation. What an insult to accuse me of collecting money to put into the government.?
“No doubt I took responsibility for putting this government in office, but they shouldn’t drag my name to the mud because they didn’t have money for an election.
“Frankly, God has seen our challenge and I have wondered about the future of Cross River. But what has happened is a divine intervention because we did not tell anyone to leave our party. They rather left on their own volition.
“At no point in time have we had a party run by one man or by a family or not to carry people along. It pains me because I gave power to the people.
I never participated in any congress at any level nor have I ever sat down to write a list of delegates or party leaders because we were a family. Again, we had leaders we trusted to run the affairs at every stage.
“But what they want is to divide us but they have failed. This is an opportunity for me to say thank you to all. So when I hear during Imoke’s era, he controlled the party, I laugh it off because it is not true.
“PDP belongs to no one. We shall reposition our party and take back what belongs to us because we are a PDP state. The movement of one person cannot change that scenario.
“We are beginning to see a different approach to governance that is not democratic. I had thought that the people we handed over to in 2015 would have continued with the PDP tradition, but they have failed us. We have never played politics of intimidation and harassment.
“We shall use this opportunity to bring back all the former stakeholders who ran away from PDP and return the glory of the state.”, he stated.