Cross Rivers State is one that the PDP has always relied on for survival. Since 1999 when Nigerians resumed electing their leaders at all level, the People's Democratic Party (PDP) has never for once lost the governorship election in Cross Rivers State, not for once at all. And before the election, the PDP would have rest assured of recording success in the south-south state.
When the country embraced democracy again in 1999, the people of Cross Rivers State opened their arms to welcome the PDP and of course till 2019 when the last governorship election was held, the Cross Rivers people have not denied the PDP.
That 1999 the PDP presented Mr. Donald Duke as its candidate. Of course it was not only the PDP that was on ground in the country at that time. The Action for Democracy (AD) was also a strong party though some might argue that it didn't have a national outlook.
Duke was lucky to be the first democratically elected governor since 1999. The Cross Rivers State people overwhelmingly voted for him and he was elected as the state governor. The same feat was attained in 2003 when the country returned to election. The Constitution allows a term of four years. Duke was presented again by the PDP and he had his second term which expired in 2007.
Duke's tenure expired in 2007 but the grip on power of the PDP continued as the party nominated Mr. Liyel Imoke as its flag bearer for the 2007 governorship election. The party must have been meticulous in its decision to field Mr. Imoke because there didn't appear to be any regret to the choice of the party.
Imoke won the 2007 poll with a wide margin an he was declared elected by the great people of Cross Rivers State. His emergence as the governor of the state was not attributed to his own personal pedigree, but the fact that state is close to the PDP and vice versa.
Mr. Donald Duke seems to have set the precedence as Imoke was reelected for the second term in office in 2011. He led the state for eight years from 2007 to 2015. And the legacy of the PDP didn't stop at that as the party won the 2015 governorship election.
After the expiration of his tenure, the PDP nominated Mr Ben Ayade as its governorship candidate in 2015. It must be mentioned in this article that by the 2015 governorship poll, the All Progresives Congress has been created. So, Ben Ayade's victory in the election was not a fluke.
The PDP appears to be a party that gives opportunity to its leaders. Under the chairmanship of Prince Uche Secondus, the PDP has provided opportunity for its elected members to contest without restraints. Ben Ayade got the PDP ticket again for the 2019 governorship election.
He actually won the election, but he shifted his political views only last Thursday after he had a closed door meeting with the some APC governors including Kayode Fayemi, Abubakar Bagudu, Mai Mala Buni and Jigawa state governor. They met to discuss Ayade's defection to the APC.
Arising from the meeting on that Thursday, Ben Ayade declared his dumping of the People's Democratic Party for the APC. He said the style of leadership of Muhammadu Buhari and his virtue made him consider joining the APC.
However, Mr. Liyel Imoke, the former governor of the state has reacted to Ayade's defection. The former governor talked in a PDP stakeholders meeting held in Calabar, Cross Rivers State capital on Sunday, 23 May three days after Ayade declared his defection.
Imoke said, APC is a party that is collapsing. It is not a place to go for Cross River. We will revive the glory of Cross River. I took risks to see the emergence of this government. They even accused me of collecting money. It is an insult.”
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