Show us your Mama Taraba and we will show you our Mama Bakassi. That’s what every indigene of Bakassi Peninsula will likely say if you were to confront them on the field of “Mama” politics.
Mama Bakassi is, of course, no other person than Florence Ita-Giwa. Elected Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, on the platform of All People’s Party (APP), she held the post for Cross River South Senatorial District, from 1999 to 2003. During this period, she was, at different times, a member of various committees: Rules and Procedures, Environment, Foreign Affairs, Women, Niger Delta and Drug & Narcotics.
On leaving the Senate in 2003, she joined the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and became President Olusegun Obasanjo’s Special Adviser on National Assembly Matters.
However, it was her championing of the cause of her people living in Bakassi that shot her into international limelight. When you put your life on the line so much that elderly people, who, ordinarily, you are supposed to call “Mama,” are now the ones calling you by that sobriquet, then you don’t need to wait for a seer to tell you the special place you occupy in their minds and hearts. Of such sterner stuff is the woman called Florence Ita-Giwa made.
Born on February 19, 1946 in Atabong Bakassi LGA, Cross River State, she attended the Kilburn Polytechnic in London, United Kingdom, after which she became a nurse. It is not every woman that answers to the name “Florence” that is a Nightingale, but in politics, social welfare and on the Nigerian social scene, Florence Ita-Giwa, who holds the national honour of Officer of the Order of Niger (OON), has proved to be one of them. If, for some reasons, you cannot be a Nightingale, then, by all means, be a nice girl.
At 72-plus, she is both a Nightingale and a nice girl. By dint of hard work and dedication to selfless service, she has been able to prove that the letter “a” in her surname “Ita-Giwa” stands for achievements extraordinaire, or simply put, lifetime achievements. The Sun Lifetime Achievement Award comes as a timely recognition of this fact.