Mass defection looms in Cross River State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) following alleged directive by the party’s national secretariat that automatic tickets be given to all incumbent National Assembly members.
Some party supporters, including aspiring National Assembly members, yesterday stormed the PDP office at 42A, Murtala Mohammed Highway, protesting against alleged imposition of candidates, and chanting “we no go gree oooh, we no go gree oooh!”
The protesters carried placards with various inscriptions, including “We say no to automatic ticket. It is undemocratic, un-civilised, barbaric and a dead end to PDP in Cross River State” and “Imposition of candidate is imposition of death.”
A party stalwart from Erei in Biase Local Government Area, Mr. Joseph Udumoso, said: “We have been having a standing agreement with Akamkpa to serve two terms in the House of Representatives but we were shocked when the governor told us that the incumbents would get automatic tickets.
“We are giving the party 24 hours to reverse its decision, else we will leave the party. I promise you it will be the end of PDP in Cross River State.”
In a statement, a senatorial aspirant and former chairman of the party in the state, Ntufam Ekpo Okon and 15 others said: “We are competent and have a right to question the ongoing attempt by the party leadership to deny us the right to participate and be voted for in a fair elective contest.
“We are appalled by the decision to return all serving members of the National Assembly to placate them, a few individuals, above the collective wish and general good of a greater number politically conscious Cross River people, thereby limiting the pool of competent candidates available, from which the party can select its flag bearers in the forthcoming elections.”
The aspirants, who described the situation as dangerous, recalled that imposition of candidate, lack of open space and impunity railroaded PDP into the implosion from which she is yet to recover.
“It would appear that our party has not veered away from that ignoble course and allow popular political reasoning of free and fair democratic practices prevail. Compelled by this and attendant discrepancies, we hereby convey our displeasure at this grand scheme to deny us our legitimate aspirations to seek elective offices on our party’s platform.”
They demanded that the party in Cross River leave the political playing field open and level for all qualified aspirants. “This is the only way the party can pick its best candidates for the general elections against the ruling party that is gathering momentum as the elections approaches.”