The Governor of Cross River State, Prof. Ben Ayade, has said he trusts the President, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to make the right decision on who to take over from him in 2023.
According to Ayade, Buhari would act in “the interest of the nation”, and advise the ruling All Progressives Congress, as to the best candidate to succeed him.
Speaking with the BBC pidgin on Friday, Ayade said, “I believe the President will do the right thing for the interest of this nation. As far as I know, Buhari, to a large extent, would be the one to decide for the party (APC), the person that will succeed him. If he sees Osinbajo as the right candidate, having worked with him for eight years, I will support him. He is a man of good conscience who is fair and sensitive. That tells you that he truly belongs to no one but belongs to everyone.”
Asked what he thought about the presidential ambition of APC national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Ayade said it was within his right to declare his ambition, particularly given his role in Buhari’s electoral victory.
Ayade said, “Anybody that has come to contest from the South is in his/her right to do so. More people will still come out. If you ask me about Tinubu, I would say it is correct that he came out, because he fought and worked hard and supported Buhari to put this government that is in place. Such a man will expect that since we are talking about a southern presidency, let him try to contest.
“Anyone that is saying he is not supposed to declare his intention is not doing the right thing. He should try his best. I cannot say it is not good. I can’t say that. I belong to a party, and the party will calculate. If the party says it is Tinubu, I will support him. If the party decides to go with someone else, I will lead the convoy that will go and beg Tinubu about the party’s decision. This is because I know that the man has worked hard for this party, and I have a conscience.
“If you see someone that has struggled like that to make the party stand then you will now say, ‘Go, we don’t need you again. You are too old.’ It is not good. I won’t do that!”
Ayade said he was still waiting on the party for a decision, and would back the party’s decision irrespective of who he is.
“I am waiting for the party. If the party makes the calculation and says it should not be Tinubu for any reason, everyone deserves respect on their own level. He (Tinubu) deserves special respect. We must go and convince him. He is not a bad person. He is a good person. If he sees that he is given a good reason that convinces him, then we can go ahead. That is my position,” he added.
Asked to advise the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, about the presidential bid, he said, “I will advise Osinbajo to continue to support the system. I will help him in any way that I can. I will not advise him against his own ambition. I will not tell him to run when he doesn’t want to run. We are friends and as far as I know this country, we in the political class all meet together at one point or the other.”
The governor, however, said, many people were ‘pushing’ him to contest for presidency in the coming elections, but he is ‘not like that’.
Ayade said, “I belong to a family. They are the ones that will calculate and bring out a candidate. You may even be in your house sleeping, and they will call you up from sleep and tell you that you are the chosen one.”