A former Governor of Cross River State Donald Duke has described as unfortunate Governor Ben Ayade’s defection from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to governing All Progressives Congress (APC) in spite of Governor Ayade’s insistence that Mr Duke joins the PDP.
Mr Duke also said he returned to the PDP in 2020 and had left the PDP because the “umbrella was breaking”.
“It is rather unfortunate that Governor Ben Ayade who constantly egged me to rejoin the party has himself had cause to leave,” Mr Duke said in a statement on Wednesday.
“A rather unfortunate decision for which I neither support nor condemn, as I’m not privy to the details except his complaints of being stifled and unappreciated by the leadership of the party and certain elements of Cross River State origin at Abuja,” he continued.
“In our early to mid thirties buoyed by optimism and faith in our State and Nation, we took a plunge into the unknown world of politics. Providence smiled at us and thrust us into the limelight and leadership of national politics.
“In Cross River State we took on the establishment and won a razor thin victory in 1999, but through firm and adroit leadership and adherence to the democratic principles of inclusion we soon brought largely all the political class in the state under the PDP and by 2007, we were perhaps the most PDP state in Nigeria.
“However, post 2007, the party’s fortune started ebbing. An autocratic leadership style emerged, communication with its followers declined and emergence in the party was determined largely not by the party constitution or structures but by the whims of the States Chief Executive. This is the structure Gov Ayade inherited and has largely led us to where we are today.
“The very top down political style we fought against prior 1999, instead of consultation, accommodation and inclusion reared its head to the extent that founding members of the party in the state including former state chairmen, senators, members of the National Assembly and I, over time opted out and this attrition has continued unabated to the extent that the Governor himself has left to seek pasture elsewhere.
“I believe it is important that we provide the same opportunities that democratic inclusion afforded us in our youth to other young people as they prepare to takeover the mantle of leadership. It is my hope that we all have learnt the lessons of the past couple of years. Our nation begs for sincere and committed leadership. We can and must do better. There is no room nor time for egoistic pandering but selfless service and this, is what the times deserves.”
By Abel Ejikeme