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C’River PDP Elects new Chairman, Vows to return to power

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By Joseph Kingston, Calabar

Following the defection of Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade to the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, leaders and members of his erstwhile Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the State may have heaved a sigh of relief after some months of controversies and stalemate as they spent about nine hours on Saturday to elect their new Chairman, Barr Venatius Ikem, and 37 others to lead the party for the next four years.

Recall that the stalemate over who controls the structure of the party had stalled the State Congress, which was earlier scheduled for March last year.

Orient Daily reports that while the National Assembly caucus members supported the candidature of Ikem as Chairman, the Governor, Ben Ayade, was believed to have anointed Mr Alphonsus Eba.

Unconfirmed reports said the PDP National Assembly caucus members and some other key national leaders of the Party had decided to take the structure of the party away from the Governor over unresolved issues and that this may have angered the Governor to dump the PDP for APC.

Incidentally, Eba had defected together with the Governor.

During the State congress election which was held on Saturday, Chairman of the Congress Committee and member of the National Executive Committee, Bar. Oke Muo Aro, declared Barr Ikem winner, saying he scored over 2,000 votes.

Prior to the congress, other contestants had stepped down for Ikem who emerged unopposed.

In his valedictory speech, the Chairman of the PDP Caretaker Committee and former Deputy Governor of Cross River state, Barr. Effiok Cobhom, lamented that the Calabar-based administration had denied the PDP the use of all available public space to hold the state congress.

Cobham said that even when PDP leaders settled for the privately-owned Boulevard event centre along the Goodluck Jonathan by-pass for the congress, the now APC-led government sought a court injunction to stop the anticipated event from holding in the said venue but for timely intervention of highly placed individuals in the judiciary.

He explained that the Executive Committee of the party was made up of 38 members with each of the 18 local government areas producing not fewer than two representatives for balance and fairness.

The former Deputy Governor urged PDP members to work hard so as to get back the government house from the APC, saying that Governor Ayade committed a great error of judgement by defecting to the APC.

In his remarks, Sen Gershom Bassey, representing Cross River South, said “2023 is a PDP year and we are working towards clinching all the seats from Abuja to ward levels. Nigerians are tired of APC and are determined to vote them out. For Cross River here, it has always been a PDP state and we are positioned to retain it in 2023.”

Sen Sandy Onor, representing Cross River Central Senatorial district, commended party members for their resilience and commitment to PDP, adding that the APC was in for a real battle as every PDP member was determined to take back what rightly belonged to them.

“By the time we are done with the state congress, more confusion would visit the government of Cross River State and APC because we know that those who defected went nowhere.

“We shall put a final nail on the coffin on who owns the state at the coming Ogoja/ Yala federal constituency by-election. We are also aware that APC is not on the ground in the North and would go all out to rig. But we are ready for them,” he posited.

Also speaking, the newly sworn-in Senator Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe, who represents the Northern Senatorial district expressed gratitude for the solidarity during the period of litigation with Dr Steven Odey for the seat.

His words: “With PDP clinching the Senate seat, APC is a minority in Cross River. And after this congress, we are going to bring back àll those people who left the party because of food on the table. By 2023 we are going to change the narrative.

“My success at all levels of contest has proven that you don’t need a governor to win an election. All we need is to go home to our various wards and chapters and mobilise our people to come out and vote for the party in2023. With that we are good to go.”

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