The decision of former governor of Cross River state, Donald Duke, to join Social Democratic Party (SDP) and even run on the party's platform as presidential aspirant has boosted the profile of the party in the state. The party is now seen by many as a credible alternative to the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state.
A governorship aspirant on the party's platform, Eyo Okon Ekpo, also defected from PDP to SDP, citing the same reason that it was a credible alternative to other parties. He said SDP had structures all over the state and was ready to win elections in 2019.
It was with fanfare that the party's state secretariat was opened on Wednesday, 12 September at Nsefik Layout along Ndidem Usang Iso Road in Calabar Municipality by Duke.
During the event, Duke announced that the party was on a mission to rescue Cross River State and also Nigeria from its present quagmire.
Duke was accompanied by the state chairman of the party, Eni Ikpi and Eyo Okon Ekpo. He said the party was the right choice for those who still believe in Nigeria and it is unimaginable what will become of the state if it is not salvaged next year by the SDP.
“Cross River state is not the state we knew. If we allow it run like this today, you may see Cross River in the next four years, you will not even see Cross River, you will see 'C' then 'O' and then one 'S' and then you will see 'I' and I am sure you have seen such signposts in some places where you see some railings and you see that some letters are missing. That's what Cross River will be like in the next four years if we do not do something now.
“Just as we have to rescue Cross River, we also have to rescue Nigeria. Nigeria is in grave danger, when we have a country where 80 per cent of our youths of working age do not have jobs, then that country is in danger. When we have a country where you are not sure of what is in store for you, then we are in danger.
“Anyone who is running for any leadership position in Cross River state be it a governor, legislator or chairman of the council, it's a rescue mission. If you believe that Nigeria is worth dying for and in so doing, you want to be on the right path, then you are on the right path in SDP.”
He said with about 200 million Nigerians who are largely unemployed, it will spell doom for West and Central Africa if the country falls apart and that unlike the present situation, it is the basic right of citizens to a job, education and basic healthcare.
“Nigeria is a large country of almost two hundred million people. It is very large and that's why the European countries take us seriously not because of what we do positively but what we do negatively.
They know very well that if the country should fall apart, the whole of west and central Africa will be in trouble and that is why it is important that we must get this country going in the right direction where we make it a right for every citizen to have a job, a right of every citizen to have education, a right of every citizen to basic health care.”
He said the present situation in the country where 15 per cent of the population depends on the other 85 per cent for its livelihood does not augur well for the country and the SDP is determined to reverse this ugly trend.
Also speaking, Ekpo said the SDP hopes to recover the mandate of the people from those keeping it and start all over again.
“We shall recover our mandate from those keeping it and restore what is rightfully ours and start again. There is a different way to do something and the SDP represents it.
“We know what good governance feels and looks like, it happened in our state and it is not something that we read in textbooks. We will show that there is still hope in the state and we will collectively drive the state forward for the benefit of its people,” he said.
Ekpo had at a different forum spoken extensively about how the SDP government would fix the dismal electricity supply situation in the state.