By Izunna Okafor, Awka
Women of Mbaukwu in Awka South Local Government Area of Anambra State have warned the Deputy Governor of the State, Dr. Onyekachukwu Ibezim to leave them alone and concentrate on his job as the Deputy Governor of the State.
The women gave the warning during a protest to register their displeasure and dissatisfaction with what they described as an unwarranted high-handed interference from some government officials in the affairs of their Women Union leadership in the community.
During the peaceful protest on Tuesday, the visibly unhappy women stormed the streets, the market square, the Civil Centre, Igwe’s Palace and other places, with placards bearing different inscriptions that represent their position on the matter they were protesting about.
Some of the inscriptions read “No Crisis for Mbaukwu Women”, “No to Imposition”, “Deputy Governor Face Your Work”, among others.
Expressing their grievances at the palace of Igwe P.N. Anagwu of Mbaukwu, the women regretted that after they conducted the Town Union leadership election for the women of the community on 8th of June 2023 and the elected new leadership (with Mrs. Theresa from Akabor village as the President); the then Women President-General of the community, whose tenure had expired, did not handover to the newly-elected leadership long after it was due.
The women said that as they were clamoring for a handover, the next thing they saw on the social media was the news that another leadership (Caretaker Committee) had been constituted and inaugurated already in Awka, for the women of the Community. The Committee was said to be inaugurated by the State Commissioner for Women Affairs, Mrs. Ify Obinabo.
The women said the news did not only come to them as a shock, but also saddened them, as they kept wondering when, how and by whom the said new leadership was elected. They said they also wondered why the said inauguration of the held in Awka, other than in Mbaukwu which has been the usual venue for inauguration of the community’s leadership since the history of the community.
According to them, the Commissioner, in the letter announcing the inauguration of the said Caretaker Committee, imposed her choice individuals on them, without any consultations. As was observed by this reporter, Izunna Okafor, the letter from the Commissioner positions CJ Nebechukwu Stella Obiageli as the Chairperson of the Caretaker Committee and Leader of the women, and also stated that the Committee would oversee the affairs of the women leadership in the community for complete one year before election would be held for them.
The women further explained that the Commissioner, in her reasons for the creation and inauguration of the Caretaker Committee, cited crisis in their Union’s leadership and their disobedience after she warned them not to hold the June 8 election until government officials were assigned to supervise it; which they ignored and went on with the election, without any government delegation present to witness the election.
Be it as it may, the Mbaukwu women, who denied having any single crisis rocking the women union of the community, also opined that the Deputy Governor of the State, Dr. Ibezim who also hails from the community must not be far from the influence behind the action of the Commissioner (the inauguration of the Caretaker Committee), as he (the Deputy Governor) had not been at rest since his candidate in the June 8 women election absconded and also failed woefully after he had wished she emerged.
The women also said the Deputy Governor might have been determined to frustrate the inauguration of the newly-elected leadership since it was not his candidate that emerged. This, they said, might have pushed him to leverage on his influence to ensure the imposition of another person on the women as Caretaker Committee Chairperson, as was done by the Commissioner, rather than seeing the elected executive occupy that positiy.
The women also wondered why the Commissioner did not make plans for conducting fresh election since she said her reason for not upholding the June 8 election was because the government officials were not on ground to supervise it.
However, when contacted by this reporter, the Commissioner for Women, Mrs. Obinabo attested that the women went against her directive by conducting the election without any government official present to monitor it; hence, her Ministry’s decision to constitute a Caretaker Committee for them, to lead them for a 12-calendar month before another election would be held for them.
When asked why her Ministry chose not to conduct a fresh election for the Women than imposing a one-year-tenured interim leadership on them, as the women complained; the Commissioner simply told this reporter that it was not the women who supposed to order the Ministry on what to do.
“Are they supposed to order us? Don’t we have our own schedule? …I don’t know what they’re talking about,” she said.
Efforts made by this reporter to get the reactions of the Deputy Governor, Dr. Ibezim on the matter proved abortive, as he did not pick his calls or reply his message, as at the time of this publication.