Governor Godswill Akpabio
Mixed reactions Tuesday trailed this year’s Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration in Akwa Ibom State, as the state Governor Godswill Akpabio, sacked the Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Welfare, Mrs. Helen Ukpabio, while the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Mrs. Arit Okpo, was directed to embark on compulsory retirement.
While about 241 widows of Nigerian soldiers, who lost their lives during war situations were granted interest-free micro credit loan by Ondo State Government, Rivers State Governor, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, appealed to Nigerians to show gratitude to officers and men of the Nigerian military for the services they render to the country.
However, THISDAY gathered that Ukpabio and Okpo were removed from office, immediately after the governor finished laying the wreath to mark this year Armed Forces Remembrance Day.
Although no reason was given for their removal, THISDAY gathered that it might not be unconnected with the alleged poor handling of the Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration in the state.
It was gathered the governor felt embarrassed when the commissioner and the Permanent Secretary could not convinced him why pigeon birds, which symbolises peace were not provided at the ceremony.
A statement issued by the state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Mr. Aniekan Umanah, said: “His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Chief Godswill Akpabio, has relieved the Hon. Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Welfare, Dr. Helen Ukpabio, of her appointment as commissioner with immediate effect.
“Similarly, the governor also approved the retirement of the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Mrs. Arit Okpo. The governor thanks all affected officers for their services to the state and wishes them success in their future endeavours.”
Speaking at the occasion, the governor stated that: “As we honour them, our commitment must be to protect democracy and ensure we do not create conditions, which could lead to sacrifice of our young men and women anymore.”
In the same vein, Governor Olusegun Mimiko, who announced the interest-free micro credit loan package at this year’s Armed Forces Remembrances Day Celebration in Akure, said the second tranche of the N20 million revolving was also distributed to the beneficiaries.
Represented by his deputy, Alhaji Ali Olanusi, Mimiko said 225 widows benefitted from the loan last year and which was devoid of any administrative bottleneck.
At Tuesday’s event, beneficiaries of last year’s disbursement, who repaid the loan fully, got cheques of N100,000, which was double of the amount given them last year.
Also, Chairman of the Nigeria Legion, Kwara State chapter, Colonel Ibrahim Idowu (rtd) Tuesday called on the Federal Government to assist the legions nationwide by increasing their take-home pay every month so as to improve their socio well being.
Meanwhile, Amaechi spoke when the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 82 Division in the Nigerian Army, Major General O. O. Oshinowo, paid him a courtesy visit in Port Harcourt to bid him farewell, Tuesday, having reached retirement.
The GOC was accompanied by other senior military officers in the Nigerian Army.
“We should show gratitude for the service you rendered to the country so that all others who are coming after you will be glad to serve knowing that people appreciate the services they are rendering.
“I congratulate you on the services you provided and be rest assured that though you are retired, I believe that this country will still use you.
“One thing you must know is that you have served this country diligently. I am sure you didn’t receive a lot of accolades from the people; they took you for granted like we take our Army Officers for granted. God will bless you and God will help you in your endeavours,” Amaechi said.