Donald Duke, a former governor of Cross River State, has returned to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Effiok Cobham, Chairman of the PDP Caretaker Committee in Cross River State, confirmed the development at a press briefing in Calabar, the state capital, on Wednesday.
Asked to confirm the speculations that the former governor had returned to the party, Cobham said: “Yes, he has registered.”
Duke’s defection comes after Ben Ayade, the incumbent state governor, left the PDP for the All Progressives Congress (APC) recently.
Confirming the development later in the day in a statement, Duke said it was unfortunate the governor defected from the PDP after encouraging him to return to the party.
The statement read: “Dear Friends, a lot is being said about my return to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. Truth is, I reunited with the party almost a year ago now, but in spirit never left the ideals for which the party was founded upon. It is rather unfortunate that Governor Ben Ayade who constantly egged me to rejoin the party has himself had cause to leave.
“A rather unfortunate decision for which I neither support nor condemn, as I’m not privy to the details except his complaints of being stifled and unappreciated by the leadership of the party and certain elements of Cross River State origin at Abuja.
“In our early to mid thirties buoyed by optimism and faith in our State and Nation, we took a plunge into the unknown world of politics. Providence smiled at us and thrust us into the limelight and leadership of national politics.
“In Cross River State, we took on the establishment and won a razor thin victory in 1999, but through firm and adroit leadership and adherence to the democratic principles of inclusion we soon brought largely all the political class in the state under the PDP and by 2007, we were perhaps the most PDP state in Nigeria.
“However, post 2007, the party’s fortune started ebbing. An autocratic leadership style emerged, communication with its followers declined and emergence in the party was determined largely not by the party constitution or structures but by the whims of the States Chief Executive. This is the structure Gov Ayade inherited and has largely led us to where we are today.
“The very top down political style we fought against prior 1999, instead of consultation, accommodation and inclusion reared its head to the extent that founding members of the party in the state including former state chairmen, senators, members of the National Assembly and I, over time opted out and this attrition has continued unabated to the extent that the Governor himself has left to seek pasture elsewhere.”
Duke had defected from PDP to the Social Democratic Party, where he contested the 2019 presidential election.
He was a two-term governor of Cross River between 1999 and 2007.