The ranks of the All Progressives Congress, APC in Cross River state swelled Thursday as prominent chieftains of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from the Southern senatorial district of the state and thousands of their supporters joined its rank.
At a rally in Calabar to welcome the defectors, the state governor, Professor Ben Ayade insisted on the sustenance of the governorship rotational principle in the state which has been in place since the return of democracy in 1999.
The southern senatorial district of the state is staking a claim to Cross River 2023 governorship, as the remaining two districts- Central and North have had their turns.
Describing the PDP which he quit in May as a haemorrhaging party, the governor said he has the moral obligation to ensure that Cross Riverians do not remain there.
“It is against this background that I will keep to my words. 2023 is a harbinger of peace, equity and justice so that every one of us will have a sense of equity and sense of balance to maintain and sustain our politics. This will enable everybody to know his turn at every given time,” the governor said.
The governor stressed that with the exit of the defectors, PDP in the state was finished and empty.
According to him, “When I turned my back and look at Cross River-from Obanliku to Bakassi- I wonder where the opposition is coming from. PDP in Cross River is finished, it is now an empty shell, APC is in total control.
“Anybody who wants us to remain in opposition does not wish us well. We have socketed to the centre and APC has come to stay in Cross River. Our state is better off with the APC.”
Continuing, Ayade said: “The array of political juggernauts joining us in APC today were the men who made PDP thick. Today, they have joined us in APC, so where is the PDP in Cross River? The party is dead.”
Among the defectors was Architect Bassey Ndem Eyo, an industrialist and a former Commissioner for Lands in the state.
Speaking after receiving the symbol of the party which is the broom, Ndem Eyo said he joined the APC for equity and integrity “because His Excellency, at several fora, stood on the principle of rotation and by rotation, he simply means turn by turn.
“And I trust that from everything I have seen so far, His Excellency, the Governor, will continue to uphold the ethics which has made the Southern Senatorial district stand by him even in his moment of greatest trial.”
He emphasised the need for total support of the people of the state to enable the governor finish strong.
Other PDP chieftains who renounced their membership at the defection rally included Barrister Edem Ekong, a former Commissioner for Lands under former Governor Liyel Imoke and a former member of the state House of Assembly, Orok Duke.
Among APC chieftains and government functionaries at the rally were Deputy Governor, Professor Ivara Ejemut, Deputy Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Joseph Bassey Senator Florence Ita-Giwa.