Lady Valerie Ebe with Akwa Ibom State Governor, Chief Godswill Akpabio
Okon Bassey in Uyo
In order to close any lapses in terms of constitutional issue, the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Chief Godswill Akpabio, saturday sworn-in his new Deputy Governor, Lady Valerie Ebe, less than 20 hours after the latter was screened and cleared by the State House of Assembly.
Lady Ebe was cleared and sworn-into office about 48 hours after the former Deputy Governor of the State, Mr. Nisma Ekere, had voluntarily resigned from office on personal grounds
By her swearing in, Akwa Ibom has joined the league of other states of the federation that had female Deputy Governor with Ebe being the first female Deputy Governor in the state, 25 years after its creation.
According to Governor Akpabio, ''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 faith 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, many female Commissioners and board members and now one Deputy Governor. Akwa Ibom is definitely leading the revolution for gender equality in our country.''
Akpabio stated further: “The swearing-in of Her Honour Lady Barr. 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 break new ceilings for women or close the ceilings against them. She cannot afford to fail.”
The Governor recalled that Lady Ebe had served the state with honour and distinction, saying ' her core values had been integrity, enthusiasm and great people skills. “I enjoin her to bring these attributes to her new office and see herself as a servant, indigene and friend of all of Akwa Ibom State,” Akpabio said.
“She should cease to think of her local government area because this appointment confers on her the citizenship of all 31 local government areas in our state.''
Akpabio expressed hope that with her new appointment, she would put up an outstanding performance in the office, bring deep experience and a strong set of skills to this high office of public trust.
He thanked Speaker, Rt. Hon. Sam Ikon and members of Akwa Ibom House of Assembly for the speedy confirmation of the appointment of Mrs. Ebe’s appointment, urging the people of the state at home and abroad to extend to the new Deputy Governor the same cooperation and support, which they have extended to him for these years.
Akpabio lauded the out gone Deputy Governor, Ekere, who tendered his resignation from office last Wednesday for his services to the state, having served first as the Chairman of the Akwa Ibom Investment and Promotions Council (AKIIPOC) from 2007 to 2011, and lately as the Deputy Governor from 2011-2012.
The new Deputy Governor, who was born on March 26, 1947 from Mkpat Enin Local Government Area, had served a Commissioner for Culture and Tourism as well as that for Environment in addition to having served as a state PDP Legal Adviser.
Meanwhile, there were indications at the weekend that Mr. Nsima Ekere might have resigned as deputy governor of Akwa Ibom State due to strained relations with the governor, Mr. Godswill Akpabio.
Ekere resigned on Wednesday, citing personal reasons, in a move that jolted political observers, as such decisions are not common in these parts. But sources in Abuja indicated that he might have thrown in the towel on account of issues bordering on alleged disloyalty to the governor.
Sources close to the Presidency said Ekere, who was reported to be eyeing the governorship slot in 2015 and had already been raising political structures to realise his ambition, had been perceived as a threat to Akpabio’s political machine, especially in Eket Senatorial district. The former deputy governor was said to have made strategic contacts in the Presidency in furtherance of his ambition, in the belief that he could not count on Akpabio’s support.
However, the bubble burst for Ekere, who has since been replaced by Mrs. Valerie Ebe, the first female deputy governor of the state, when his moves came to the knowledge of the governor. A prominent figure in the Presidency was said to be behind the revelation of the moves to Akpabio.
It was gathered that when the governor confronted his former deputy with the issue of his political ambition at a recent meeting, it led to a heated argument, with Ekere denying making such move.
Ekere was said to have chosen the path of resignation when it became clear to him that his relationship with the governor have been strained and, as it is common with the governors, the next move might be for the governor to instigate his deputy’s impeachment by the House of Assembly.
In fact, 20 of the 26 members of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly were said to have signed up to his impeachment, even though the Speaker, Elder Samuel Ikon, and the deputy governor are believed to belong to the same political camp that Akpabio does not feel comfortable with. Ekere had succeeded Patrick Ekpotu.