Why Cross River Governor, Ben Ayade loses senatorial bid to Jarigbe Agom of PDP
Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State has lost his bid to return to the Senate. The All Progressives Congress (APC) stalwarts in the state expressed surprise over his defeat, with Ayade polling 56,595 votes against the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Jaribe Agom-Jaribe, who polled 76,145 votes in the February 25, 2023, Presidential and National Assembly elections.
Analysts attribute his loss to a disconnect between him and his Cross River North people, who felt abandoned by him when he became governor. Ayade’s dumping of the PDP for the APC and his failure to fulfill promises were also blamed for his defeat.
Ayade’s critics claim that his eight years in office were all about his family and friends, who operated like demi gods. A businessman in Obudu, who chose to remain anonymous, complained about items to empower citizens lying down at Obudu Local Council and not being distributed. He blamed the disagreement between the governor and his ‘co-governor’ Frank for this delay, as they were trying to identify who was their relation or not.
Another resident said that the cargo airport under construction was sited on people’s land forcefully taken without adequate compensation. Ayade promised to complete the airport, yet the project is a far cry from completion. People are hungry, and the project was done for selfish interests, forcing local councils in the state to pay out so much.
In contrast, supporters of Ayade said that he did not perform so badly for his people. For instance, he opened up Obudu by building a world-class facility, the Obudu-German Hospital, and a university, the Obudu Canadian School. He also constructed the cargo airport and brought other developments to the state. They believe that Ayade will be vindicated in the future.
However, the people of Cross River North senatorial zone voted against Ayade and his brother, Frank, whom he christened ‘co-governor’ because they failed to meet the expectations of the people. The accused Ayade of bringing down electric poles for the phantom super highway project, and for eight years, there was no light. They criticized his leadership for not providing good water or a single borehole from the government.
Ahead of the March 11 governorship election in the state, a section of Northern youths and stakeholders held a meeting where they resolved to vote for Prince Bassey Otu, the APC governorship candidate, in the spirit of zoning or rotation instead of the PDP candidate, Senator Sandy Onor, who is from the Central. They assured Otu of their support, saying that what happened in the last election was an internal disagreement among their people.