The PDP Stalwarts include members of the PDP Board of Trustees, the National Assembly caucus such as Senator Liyel Imoke, the leader of the party and former governor of Cross River State, Professor Stella Attoe, Senator Gershom Bassey, representing the southern senatorial district, Senator Sandy Onor representing the central senatorial district and representatives Etta Mbora, Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe, Essien Ayi as well as Chris Agibe and Daniel Asuquo.
Others are the Cross River representative at the national PDP, Amina Arong, pioneer PDP publicity secretary, Emmanuel Ibeshi and former publicist, Venatius Ikem as well as chapter and ward chairmen across the 18 local government areas.
In his remark, the leader of the PDP in the state, Senator Imoke described the defection of Governor Ben Ayade to the All Progressives Congress, APC, as a divine intervention for the Peoples Democratic Party.
Imoke, who was in high spirits, said that the defection of Ayade is God’s way of returning the party to the rightful owners, which he noted were the people.
“Let me express my pleasure that God in his infinite mercy has seen Cross River State and the challenges. I had pondered and wondered about the future of Cross River State for many years and for many reasons. But today, I feel there has been some divine intervention because we did not ask anyone to leave the party and that they left the party of their own volition, we have seen the hand of God,” Imoke stated.
He commended men and women including the youths, who stood firm despite harassments and intimidations from the former party leadership, noting that the older stakeholders were ready to bequeath a better legacy for the younger generation.
Imoke promised that come 2023, the Cross River PDP would hand over leadership of the state at all levels to the upcoming generation.
“This party, 2023 we are handing it over to the youths. We want youths of integrity, youths that can stand firm, we want youths that can deliver and we want youths that can grow. We want youths that can take over from us. Any good party will understand the importance of generational shift.
“God forbid that the next governor will be a ‘food on the table’ governor. The next governor must be someone of character. We are taking the party back to where it was, the party belongs to the people,” he said.
The former governor, who debunked the accusation and allegation that he sold Cross River State to the present governor, said that his accusers lacked the cash to fund the 2015 election.
He stated, “I have watched this government even accuse me of collecting money. They said collected money to put a governor in place. They said they gave me 2 billion naira.
“Did they have the money for election? And people believed them that I Liyel Imoke the son of S. A. Imoke sold Cross River State. You can see it all now they want to damage my name and reputation for doing them a favour.”
He assured party members that the party would commence meetings at various caucuses in preparation for the 2023 general elections.
Earlier, the chairman of the newly constituted caretaker committee and former Deputy Governor of Cross River State, Efiok Cobham commended the people for standing firm and holding fast to the values of the PDP.
“Whatever are your wishes shall be our own goal. We will help each other reposition the party, strengthen the party; bring back those core values that made PDP a family. Those who have left do not know PDP. No individual has come up, on his own, to fight the family and win.
“There is none in our records because our unity remains our strength and I want us to continue to maintain that unity. Whatever differences that we have are human differences and the solutions can never be beyond human,” Efiok said.
Other stakeholders pledge to work for the re-emergence of the party in 2023.