From Judex Okoro, Calabar
The crisis rocking the Cross River State People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has continued unabated with Governor Ben Ayade and Senator-elect Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe in a back and forth over control of the state’s party structure.
While Governor Ayade insisted that the national leadership had meted out injustice on him by not handing over the state’s party structure to him after leading it to a successful outing in the 2019 general election, Senator-elect Jarigbe argued that the PDP belongs to all and was not handed over to the governor as a franchise.
While Governor Ayade frowned at moves by external forces to cause problems and disunity in the party, Jarigbe contended that the governor’s outburst could send the wrong signals to those who are ignorant of the goings-on in the state PDP.
Speaking during Bauchi Governor Bala Mohammed’s visit to Cross River at the weekend, Governor Ayade said it was high time he took a decision on the future of the state with regard to challenges they are facing in PDP.
‘I have always played politics with ethics, but in the course of time, I have realised that ethical politics is mistaken for weakness. Time has come when we will put our foot down and make a decision on the basis of which will prosper their collective well being,’ the governor said.
‘I cannot blind myself to the challenges of PDP and decide not to know what to do at the right time for their sake. So, let me say this as a very clear warning: I am a very smart person, but I carry humility.
‘One single injustice, they will see a new Cross River State, and I say it as a warning because it does appear that your party seem to celebrate people who threaten and stress them. Today, I am seated and dancing on the fence.
‘All the councillors, chairmen, commissioners, House of Representatives members, senators are all PDP, apart from one, and all of them under my leadership into the elections. So, it is not now that somebody can discuss what structures and strategy I need,’ he said, adding that the ‘time has come where all of us will gather and say enough is enough.’
Reacting, Senator-elect Jarigbe, in a statement made available to journalists in Calabar, wondered how the governor played politics of ethics when he (the governor) handpicked those to be ward and chapter executives to the exclusion of National Assembly members, some stakeholders and some serving commissioners.
Explaining his supposed poor treatment when he complained of moves to impose party officers in his own ward and local government, Jarigbe stated that it was a premeditated move to throw them out of politics even when they were in the forefront of Ayade’s emergence as governor.
Maintaining that the claim of ethical politics does not hold water as the party was not run in tandem with what Ayade inherited, the senator said: ‘As the leader of the party, the governor has been unjust as he appropriates every opportunity to suit him.
‘We are in a democracy and this affords us the opportunity to challenge non-participatory and dictatorial decisions. We did not give you the party as a franchise. As the leader of the PDP in Cross Rivers State, the governor is not a franchisee. We’ve got stakeholders,’ he said.
‘We cannot be fooled,’ he added. ‘The way forward is to come back as a family and discuss. No one intimidates anyone in a democracy, just as there are natural laws that govern our co-existence as humans, not money, contacts or power.’