A Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) senator representing Cross River South District, Gershom Bassey, has said he would not defect to the All Progressives Congress (APC) after the governor of his state, Ben Ayade’s defection to the ruling party.
“I am not moving to APC, I am a founding member of the PDP, I will continue to remain in PDP,” Mr Bassey told PREMIUM TIMES on Thursday shortly after Mr Ayade publicly dumbed the platform that brought him to power in 2015.
Mr Bassey, who said the governor’s defection did not come as a surprise “because it’s been a long time coming”, said the Cross River State Caucus in the National Assembly which he chairs would issue a statement soon on the development.
The senator said the PDP was beyond the control of any particular person.
“The truth is that the PDP is a very unique party, it belongs to everybody. It doesn’t belong to one person. And that is the nature of the PDP right from inception.
“So when you have a situation where one person may want to own the party, he may run into problems. The PDP does not belong to anybody, it belongs to the men and women of Nigeria. It’s a national party,” he said.
The senator said Cross River was “fully PDP” despite Mr Ayade’s defection.
Meanwhile, a political ally of Mr Ayade, Stephen Odey, who was spotted at the brief defection ceremony, said on Thursday that he remained a member of the PDP.
Mr Odey, a former Chairman of the Cross River State Universal Education Board, was quoted by an online newspaper, CrossRiverWatch, as saying, “I did not defect, I was only there because he (Ayade) is my boss so I have to attend, I did not defect”.
Mr. Odey had served as Mr Ayade’s aide when the latter was a senator.
PDP sacks caretaker committee in the state
The PDP, in apparent reaction to Mr Ayade’s defection, has announced the dissolution of the party’s caretaker committee in Cross River State.
The national spokesperson of the party, Kola Ologbondiyan who disclosed this in a statement in Abuja on Friday said the dissolution has been approved by the National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP.
The caretaker committee is now headed by Efiok Cobham.
The new secretary and spokesperson for the PDP in the state are Eko Atu and Rita Ayim respectively, Mr Ologbondiyan said in the statement.
Other members of the caretaker committee are Attah Ochinke, Uke Enun, Walter Mboto, Mike Usibe, Christopher Ekpo, Victor Effiom Okon and Prince K.J. Agba.
The party structure at the local government and ward levels, however, remained unchanged, Mr Ologbondiyan said.
With his defection, Mr Ayade becomes the only APC governor from the South-South geopolitical zone.
The ruling party had lost its only governor in the zone last year when Godwin Obaseki of Edo crossed to the PDP months to the governorship election in that state. He won reelection on that platform.
With Mr Ayade in the kitty, the APC now has 21 governors, the PDP 14 and the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) one.
Mr Ayade’s defection came six months after his Ebonyi State counterpart, David Umahi, also left the PDP.
Mr Umahi left the PDP last November citing “injustice” meted out to the South-east by the party as the reason for his departure.
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