Between Monday December 3 and Friday December 7, many women in Akwa Ibom State assembled at different parts of the state.
Their mission was to pray for the success of the standard bearer of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2019 governorship election in the state, Obong Nsima Ekere who they fondly referred to as ‘The One.’ They were led by Ekere’s wife, Efe.
On the first day, and in assorted uniforms that proclaimed their political leaning, the women gathered in the country home of the governorship hopeful in the sleepy community of Ikot Abasi and prayed for divine help through the campaign and during the election.
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The women sang songs of praise. The wife of Bishop Sam Akpan led some other erstwhile political foes of the governorship candidate to Ekere’s fold, even as his wife, Efe, welcomed the new members. She enjoined them to keep working towards Ekere’s victory in the governorship election.
The following day, more forces were to join the praying party. Senator John Akpan Udoedeghe, a veteran political titan and governorship aspirant, assembled his women supporters at his residence in Afaha-Oku near Uyo. His wife, Justina led the forces.
It was a roll call of who’s who in the political firmament of the state. Wife of the immediate past governor, Mrs. Ekaette Uloma Akpabio, former Minister of Women Affairs, Obongawan Rita Akpan, former deputy governor of the state, Mrs Valerie Ebe, Mrs Amadu Atah, wife of the deputy governorship candidate in the 2019 elections, Mrs Idorenyin Okopido, Magdalene Akpabio, Uduak Ufot, Dora Ebong, Irene Inyang, Nene Essien, and Nana Usang, Director of Women Affairs, Udoedeghe Campaign Organisation, among others.
The prayer session was led by a former chairman of Uyo Local Government Area, Pastor (Mrs) Stella Effiong. Immediately after, Udoedeghe’s wife, Justina led many women belonging to Udoedeghe’s camp to join the Ekere train. Again, they were received by Efe.
She assured all, including the new members, of a non-discriminatory atmosphere and full accommodation.
“I want you to trust me. If Mrs Akpabio did you well, I promise I will do you better. Put your trust in me and leave the rest for God,” she assured.
Earlier, Mrs Akpabio had foretold Ekere`s victory in the elections. She said angels had whispered to her that “when women talk to women, women understand.”
Mrs. Akpabio said: “Efe Ekere will give you houses, send your children to school, and give you money for trading. All you need to do now is to go back to your units and begin to campaign for the husband. We have prayed, and I know that those who hear the voice of God have heard from him. I have heard from him.”
From there, the group moved to the Nsima Ekere Campaign headquarters in Uyo. There, before a number of women leaders in the state, Efe Ekere formally unfolded the husband`s vision for the state and called for support.
“You know him very well. He was a deputy governor of this state under Akpabio. Nsima would like to take this state to the next level.
That`s why it is important to come together, know each other, and work together for the realisation of this goal.
“I always say I am approachable. I want to be with you always. Always feel free to engage me on whatever issues that troubles you. When I get your messages and support, it will embolden me
to work for you,” she said.
Many women that spoke at the event assured her of their unalloyed support for Ekere’s ambition, even as Rita Akpan urged everyone to adopt Efe as their daughter.
“We have learnt from the mistakes of the past. Before now, we never heard that a wife of a governorship candidate called women leaders from each local government area together. This is the first time it is happening and it shows the primacy of women in the hearts of the Ekeres.
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They understand that women are the springboard of development.
“We must adopt Efe and mother her. She is respectful, unassuming, humble, gentle and lovely. We have to advise and support her. Women are the neck; men are the head. If that neck doesn`t move, the head is useless.”
The following day, a Thursday, non-indigenes living in the state gathered for yet another prayer session, and Efe sought their support for her husband’s governorship aspiration.
She described herself as a detribalised Nigerian, having lived in the north, South-East and South-West.
While decrying the marginalisation of non-indigenes in the scheme of things in the state, she promised a change. And in response, the leaders of the various groups lauded her humility and vision for women.
They assured her of their support and prayed for her husband’s success. The prayer meetings were rounded off the following day at the Ekeres’ home in Ikot Abasi with several women in attendance.
Efe told the women: “It is your brother’s turn. This is your own. We must start working now, down to the units. Tell everyone that it is time for your brother to govern Akwa Ibom State. Pray for him.”
She thereafter inaugurated a women support group drawn from all the local governments of the state. She charged them to return to the grassroots and work for Nsima Ekere’s victory.