The first female Deputy Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Barrister Valerie Ebe was sworn in on Saturday.
Ebe, who took over from the outgone deputy governor, Mr. Nsima Ekere who resigned last Wednesday, was confirmed on Friday by the Akwa Ibom House of Assembly as the new deputy governor based on an official letter sent to the House by Governor Godswill Akpabio.
Speaking after the swearing in, Governor Godswill Akpabio, stated that ''though gender was not a consideration in her appointment, a section of the public would definitely see her as being at the vanguard of our fight for more women participation in our governance.
“By her appointment, we now have a triumvirate of women in key positions like the chief judge, head of civil service and deputy governor. Akwa Ibom is definitely leading the revolution for gender equality in our country.”
''The swearing-in of Her Honour, Barrister Valerie Ebe as the new deputy governor of our dear state is historic. She is the first woman in the 25-year history of our dear state to occupy such a position. The burden of being the first is that her performance and achievements will either close or open more doors for women. She cannot afford to fail''.
The governor, who recalled that Ebe had served the state with honour and distinction, noted that her core values had been integrity, enthusiasm and great skills.
He, therefore, enjoined her to bring those attributes to her new office and see herself as a servant, indigene and friend of all the people of Akwa Ibom state.
He congratulated Ebe on her appointment and subsequent swearing in, and expressed hope that she would “put up an outstanding performance in the office and at the same time bring deep experience and a strong set of skills to this high office of public trust.”
He thanked the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Sam Ikon and members of the Akwa Ibom House of Assembly for the speedy confirmation of the appointment of Ebe’s appointment, urging Akwa Ibom people at home and abroad to extend to the new deputy governor the same cooperation and support, which they had extended to him over the years.
Meanwhile, a group, Women Alliance for Democratic Progress, has lauded the Akwa Ibom state governor, Godswill Akpabio over the choice of a woman as the replacement for Mr Nsima Ekere, saying it was a demonstration of the governor’s commitment to women empowerment.
The group which spoke through its chairperson, Mrs Idara Akpan, noted that the governor’s selection of a woman as his deputy was in furtherance of his commitment to the policy of affirmative action which seeks to empower more women, saying that since the inception of his administration five years ago, he had been empowering women in the state.
“The entire womenfolk in the state are excited about the emergence of Mrs Valerie Ebe as the first female deputy governor of the state. This is the icing on the cake for women empowerment which this administration is known for. We have benefitted through the Women Agro-Entrepreneurship Development Programme (Waedep) and other Women Empowerment Schemes, but the choice of a woman as the deputy governor will cap them all.
“Governor Akpabio has shown his great leadership quality and we are prepared to support his choice of leadership in 2015 for the sake of continuity,” the group said.
The group further stated that the governor’s action was an indication of the fact that women were beginning to take their rightful place in the politics of the country, urging other leaders in the country to follow the example of Governor Akpabio.
Meanwhile, Contrary to the statement credited to the former deputy governor of Akwa-Ibom state, Mr Nsima Ekere, that he threw in the towel for personal reasons, fresh indications emerged yesterday as to why the former deputy governor resigned his appointment, as it was gathered that the resignation might not be unconnected with his alleged act of disloyalty to the governor.
Informed sources in the Presidency revealed that Ekere, who was reported to be eyeing the governorship slot in 2015 and had already been raising political structures to realise his ambition by planning to impeach the governor, was also making attempts to weaken the governor’s structure in Eket Senatorial District. He was said to have met with a prominent figure in the Presidency to solicit her support to become the governor of the state in 2015, promising to be her ‘boy’ when he gets to government.
Ekere was alleged to have sought the person’s help to win the ticket because he felt his boss, Godswill Akpabio, would not support his candidature, while the influential figure was said to have assured him of her support.
Apart from this, the former deputy governor’s camp was also said to have hatched plans to cause disaffection between the House of Assembly and the governor so that he (Ekere) could capitalise on the gains of the fallout between his boss and the House.
However, the bubbles burst for Ekere when the Presidency figure whose help he had allegedly sought, went ahead to inform the governor about Ekere’s disloyal action, adding that such a person was dangerous to have as one’s deputy.
It was gathered that the governor confronted his former deputy with this fact at a recent meeting which led to a heated argument, even as Ekere was said to have denied making such move, but sensing that it was over between him and the governor and that he could be impeached, he decided to throw in the towel.