By Okechukwu Onuegbu
Crisis has rocked the ancient city of Ebenebe, Awka North Local Government Area, Anambra State following dethronement of the community’s women leader otherwise referred to as Chairperson or Women President General, Mrs Favour Nworah, by the State government.
Nworah, who has been the Women President General of Ebenebe Town Union Women Wing (ETU WW) since April 2019, was sacked by governor Chukwuma Soludo on April 2023, few months after the 2023 general elections.
According to sources, the Women PG was sacked from office because she appeared in different photographs with the uniforms of Labour Party (LP), including posing with and at political events attended by the Presidential candidate of the party, Mr Peter Obi, the LP Awka North House of Assembly candidate, Mr Ferdinand Onwuje and others.
The development has degenerated into factionalisation of the women’s group, with one led by the government appointed Interim Women Leader, Mrs Josephine Okafor, even as supporters of the embattled Women Leader (Nworah) have been staging peaceful protest in Ebenebe and Awka respectively.
Leader of one of the protests staged at Ebenebe, Mrs Florence Nnatu, accused some stakeholders of Ebenebe including the leadership of Ebenebe Town Union (men wing) of having hands in the crisis and urged them to back out to avoid creating crisis among their wives.
A petition obtained during the protest dated April 25, 2023 filed by Bar. P. I. Chukwudebelu of Kirkland Solicitors, Awka, the counsel to ETU WW, and signed by 8 Chair ladies from 8 villages of Ebenebe, showed that the women leader had on March 24th, 2023 written to the Women Affairs commissioner, explaining that her tenure would expire on April 11th and her executive wanted the ministry’s presence at an election scheduled to hold on April 13th, 2023.
The petition read, “Our clients were taken aback when the scheduled election was called off and/or suspended supposedly on the instructions of your esteemed office albeit upon wrong presentations from politicians. The feelers now is that the same political forces are at the verge of imposing misfits and unsuitable persons as a proposed caretaker Committee of Ebenebe Town Union Wing Wing without even consulting the relevant stakeholders to that effect.
“That the stoppage of the democratic election processes and its attendance constitution of caretaker Committee in the Ebenebe Town Union Women Wing would bring about unpleasant and avoidable crisis in this union and this, our clients seek to prevent through your good office which they expect to do justice in this regards.”
In an interview, the embattled Women Leader, Mrs Favour Nworah, while collaborating the content of the petition, presented a copy of the ETU WW by-laws to our correspondent, which among other things indicated that their principal offices were elected positions whose tenure last for four years and renewable for another four years (if voted for again), as well as free from political interferences and appointments.
Nworah, however, admitted to have supported Onwuje during the 2023 House of Assembly elections “because he is my husband and always by my side. APGA (All Progressive Grand Alliance) candidate have not called me even once talk more of coming to me as his woman PG upon I am from the same ward with him. The day he visited Awka North women wing he meets Amansea Woman PG instead of me.”
She further maintained that she remains an APGA and worked for APGA and Soludo during the 2021 governorship elections, adding that “I couldn’t sleep because I know what I did for APGA and soludo. I used my money, my products, my strength and time for my party APGA to make sure soludo won. I visited all the wards in Awka north to make sure women votes count. ”
But the President General of Ebenebe Town Union (ETU), Hon. Chukwudi Okonkwo, said his office was not responsible for Nworah’s removal although he was aware of an appointment of Mrs Josephine Okafor to act in her place as Interim Women Leader/Chairperson for the community.
” Anambra State government has appointed an Interim Executive led by Mrs Josephine Okafor to lead Ebenebe Town Union Women Wing. I don’t have the power to do it or question the government for taking such steps. I learnt that Mrs Okafor was appointed by the ministry after considering various petitions filed against Mrs Nworah by her fellow women. I have some of the petitions copied to me. The government has power to also announce election for the women whenever it deems it necessary,” Okonkwo stated.
A copy of the petition from anti-Nworah (supporters of removal of the Women Leader), dated March 31, 2023 signed by a different set of eight women from eight villages made up of Ebenebe community and addressed to the Commissioner for Women Affairs, Mrs Ify Obinabo, accused the woman of high-handedness and anti-government.
It reads “Another reason for this petition is that our woman leader (Mrs Favour Nworah) who is in payroll of the State government has been working against the interest of the State party, All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA). During the last state House of Assembly elections, Nworah and her group worked tirelessly against APGA and her candidate, Hon. Chimezie Ikwunne to the knowledge of everybody in Ebenebe. We have proof.
“The tenure of Nworah expired since April 2022 but she refused to conduct elections because she wanted to use her position to campaign for the candidate of Labour Party in the last House of Assembly elections, Hon. Ferdinand Onwuje who lost in the APGA primary election and detected into the Labour Party. All efforts to have her change her mind proved abortive. The constitution states that each leader has only tenure of three years.”
Speaking on authenticity of the Women Wing By-laws, the immediate past President General of Ebenebe Town Union, Mr Paul Nnatu, said he knew when it was constituted and endorsed by the women only.
Nnatu also dismissed the claims in the petition that Nworah was appointed by him, explaining that his executive witnessed her election on April 2019 as an observer when it was conducted at the palace of His Royal Highness Igwe Christopher Nnaegbuna and supervised by representatives of Anambra State Ministry of Women Affairs.
When contacted on phone (recorded), the Anambra State Commissioner for Women Affairs, Mrs Ify Obinabo, said she was not free to comment and ended the call. A message earlier sent to her WhatsApp since 9.48pm on Saturday was not replied to date even though she acknowledged receiving them during the call on Sunday.
Similarly, the Interim Chairperson/Woman Leader, Ebenebe Town Union Women Wing, Mrs Josephine Okafor refused to respond to calls.