The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will welcome back Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State if he decides to return to the PDP, a former governor of the state, Liyel Imoke, has said.
Mr Ayade, who is doing his second term as governor, recently defected from the PDP to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
His defection came at a time a former governor of Cross River, Donald Duke, returned to the PDP.
“I will welcome him. I will definitely welcome him. Ben and I don’t have personal differences, maybe political differences and that’s why I said that his decision to quit PDP may be personal to him,” Mr Imoke, a chieftain of the PDP, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Sunday.
“Yes, it’s a game of power which should be played fairly and everybody has a right to take whatever decision that they choose and we should not hold it against them in eternity.
“So, certainly for anyone that wants to work to see the growth and development of Cross River State, we are willing to work with them at any time,” he said.
“If Ayade gets to the APC and it doesn’t look as good as he thought, then we’ll be glad to welcome him back as one of us, it’s a game of numbers so the more the merrier,” Mr Imoke added.
“It is very interesting that I haven’t seen Governor Ayade hold a broom, but I have always imagined in my head that Ben would look at the broom once or twice before he holds it.
“In all honesty, even that is alien to him. So to the people of Cross River State, I say stand firm, we are PDP. We are committed, we are resolute, we are a grassroots party and we are sufficiently strong.
“I want to commend the strength and the will of the people who said listen, we are not going. PDP is our party. We will remain here.”
Mr Ayade saidhe joined the APC in order to attract federal assistance to Cross Rivers.
He subsequently said that the personal character of President Muhammadu Buhari attracted him to the ruling party.
“I moved into the APC because of my personal relationship with Mr President,” Mr Ayade told reporters at the Presidential Villa on Thursday after a meeting with Mr Buhari.
“I have watched him and I found honesty, integrity and I see his wish and commitment to the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“To that extent, I have a leader that I trust,” he said of the president.