There was a mild drama at the Government House, Awka, on Thursday, as Prof Chukwuma Soludo took his oath of office as the sixth governor of Anambra State.
The fight between the wife of the immediate past governor, Ebelechukwu Obiano, and the wife of the former leader of Biafra, Chief Chukwuemeka Ojukwu, Bianca, took the shine off the inauguration of the new governor, which started around 9.45am.
It was a low-key ceremony as only a few guests, including a former governor of the state, Peter Obi; an economist, Prof Pat Utomi; and a former Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, Victor Umeh, were among the dignitaries at the event.
However, the former deputy governor of the state, Prof Nkem Okeke, who had earlier defected to the All Progressives Congress, was not at the ceremony.
Just as Soludo was about to take his oath of office, the fracas between Ebelechukwu and Bianca disrupted the proceedings for a few minutes before normalcy was finally returned.
The commotion started when Ebelechukwu engaged in a fight with Bianca.
The former governor’s wife, who arrived at the venue late, approached Bianca where she was seated and was muttering some words, which apparently angered the latter.
Guests, who sat close to Bianca, said Ebelechukwu uttered some words in Igbo language, which roughly translated to, “So Bianca, you are here, I thought you said our government would fail and that we won’t serve eight years. Now, we have served eight years. You also said you won’t attend any APGA event again; so, why are you here?”
It was gathered that Ebelechukwu repeatedly muttered the words as she approached Bianca, who was seated on the front row with the former governor, Willie Obiano, an action, which angered the ex-beauty queen, who landed a slap on the face of the former governor’s wife.
The immediate past first lady of the state then grabbed Bianca’s hair and pulled it, before security operatives separated both women.
The commotion that followed caused a momentary disruption of the event, after which Ebelechukwu was whisked away from the venue by security operatives, while her husband, Willie, left immediately after Soludo was sworn in.
Earlier, Ebelechukwu had been stopped at the gate, when her convoy attempted to use the main gate.
She came late for the event, while her husband arrived much earlier and had already inspected the guard of honour.
A barricade was put on the expressway leading into the Government House, while Ebelechukwu was asked by security men to drive down to a far away junction.
While the former governor drove out of the venue in a convoy, his wife had to trek out.
As soon as the event restarted, Soludo took the oath of office and effectively became the governor of the state.
In an apology letter signed by his media aide, Joe Anatune, the governor said the breach of protocol was caused by improper communication, which arose from a personal issue between Ebelechukwu and Bianca.
The letter read in part, “Governor Chukwuma Soludo hereby apologises to all Anambra people, friends and guests, who attended his inauguration this morning as the Anambra State governor, for the breach of protocol.
“The breach was caused by improper communication, which itself arose from a personal issue between the two parties involved in the breach.
“Steps are being taken to resolve the misunderstanding and restore the parties to their previous relationship.”
In his inaugural address, the governor enumerated the challenges facing the state such as touting, illegal collection of taxes and levies and insecurity.
The governor, while promising to flush out the touts, announced a one month tax holiday for residents of the state.
He said he would sign an Executive Order to ban all illegal revenue collectors in the state.
On the Indigenous People of Biafra/Eastern Security Network, Soludo promised to dialogue in resolving the group’s agitation, saying, “There is nothing that dialogue cannot solve.”
He promised to transform Anambra and make it a liveable place for everybody.
Soludo said, “We will seek active collaboration and cooperation with the Federal Government, our neighbouring and other states as well as the international community to provide our state truly people-centred governance. We will consolidate the progress made under our predecessors to continue Anambra’s upward trajectory.
“Let me once again put on record our debt of gratitude to the federal institutions – the judiciary, the Independent National Electoral Commission and security agencies – for insisting on a transparent and credible electoral system. Eternal gratitude goes to President Muhammadu Buhari and the Presidency for remaining democrats.
“In particular, I thank my wife, Nonye Frances Soludo, and children, Ozonna, Ifeatu, Chinua, Ekene, Oduko and Zikora, for their love and sacrifices. Despite your deep reservations, you still allowed and supported me to step out in the service of our people.
“Today, I stand up for the millions of Ndi Anambra for whom this mandate means everything. The hopes and expectations rise up to the heavens. Understandably, all of us wish that I could perform miracles by waving my hands and all our problems will be solved. I hear you. I feel your pulse.
“For your sake, I keep awake at night, sometimes having palpitations about not letting you down. Well, since God is the miracle worker, I will look up to Him in prayer and faith as we all start the work ahead of us. I see and feel all the humongous challenges.”
As soon as he finished his speech, Soludo went straight into his office and began work.
Obi said there was great expectation from the people and noted that Soludo could not afford to disappoint them.
Gov makes first appointments
Meanwhile, Soludo has announced the appointment of Prof Solo Chukwulobelu as the Secretary to the State Government; Dr Chukwudi Okoli as the Accountant-General; and Mr Chinedu Nwoye as the Deputy Chief of Staff to the Governor/State Chief of Protocol.
According to the Anambra Broadcasting Service News, the appointment takes immediate effect.
Chukwulobelu, who served in the same capacity in the last administration, was retained by Soludo.
Soludo had earlier in his inaugural address said, “Today is my first day at work. I just reported for duty and will work for at least eight hours. We had more than a month since the election to celebrate our historic victory. Now is the time to work, and there is no minute or kobo to waste in fanfare.
“In a few minutes, I will announce some of the principal officers of the administration and commence with serious meetings of the Anambra State Security Council, followed by a meeting with the permanent secretaries, a meeting on Okpoko, and with my strategy, execution and evaluation team.
“Within the next one week, the list of commissioners will be laid before the House of Assembly.”