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•L-R: Wife of the President, Mrs. Patience Jonathan; wife of Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mrs. Unoma Akpabio; and Zonal Coordinator, Women for Change and Development Initiative, Mrs. Toru Ofili, at the opening of South-South zonal office of WCDI in Port Harcourt...on Wednesday.
Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, and his wife, Judith, on Wednesday shunned the inauguration of the South-South Zonal Secretariat of the Women for Change and Development Initiative by the wife of President Goodluck Jonathan, Patience.

Apart from the governor and his wife, other top officials of the Rivers State government also boycotted the occasion which was held in Port Harcourt, the capital city.

A source close to the President’s wife, who spoke with The Punch at the event, said that the governor and his wife were invited for the opening of the zonal secretariat of the W4CDI and the empowerment of over 1,000 women in the state.

The source said a letter of invitation for the occasion was specifically sent to the governor’s wife about seven days to the event, regretting that the state government deliberately shunned the event.

“We sent a letter of invitation for the governor and his wife across to the Government House in Port Harcourt one week to the event, but as you can see, no single government official was present at the occasion.

“The truth is that (the state) government deliberately refused to attend the event. Enough publicity was done for the occasion and besides, invitation was extended to the state government,” the source said.

But Amaechi’s wife said she was never invited.

The governor’s wife, who spoke through her Press Secretary, Dike Bekwele, denied knowledge of the event.

She argued that the governor would have sent a representative if he was not in the state during the occasion, recalling that she attended the launching of the scheme in Rivers.

Bekwele said, “It is not correct for anybody to say that the governor’s wife was invited. The truth is that the organisers of the event did not invite the state government.

“In the past, the governor’s wife used to attend the occasion in Abuja or any part of the country. I think there is more to why they refused to invite the state government to the occasion.”

The scenario playing out in Port Harcourt, analysts would argue, was a mere extension to the well-known cold relationship between the President and the governor.

The Presidency was believed to be angry with Amaechi for his handling of the affairs of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum which both the Presidency and the Peoples Democratic Party considered inimical to the 2015 ambition of Jonathan.

Presidential aide, Ahmed Gulak, had sometime ago accused the Rivers State governor of running the NGF as a “trade union.”

Also, the PDP had reportedly barred Amaechi from contesting second term as the chair of the NGF but the governor apparently ignored the directive and contested against Plateau State Governor Jonah Jang, seen as the Presidency’s candidate.

The NGF has since been factionalised with both Amaechi and Jang heading different camps.

But while the Presidency has recognised the Jang faction of the NGF, the PDP has since slammed a suspension on Amaechi for alleged anti-party activities.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Jonathan, at the WCDI programme, charged Nigerian women to train their children and make them useful to the society.

Mrs Jonathan explained that it would be difficult for any society to enjoy any form of development without well-trained children, stressing that no nation could achieve its potential without peace.

The WCDI is one of the pet projects of Mrs Jonathan targeted at empowering women, widows and the less-privileged in the society.

She said the scheme was aimed at teaching women on how to be productive in order to assist their families and urged the women to make good use of the equipment given to them.

“I thank the women of Rivers State because since my stay here in the state, I have noticed that there is peace. It shows that Rivers women are doing a lot to train their children well.

“We need to train our children so that they will be useful to our communities, our local government areas, our states and Nigeria in general,” she said.

She said the administration of her husband had surpassed its predecessors in appointment of women, citing the headship of sectors like aviation, education and water resources by women as a testimony to her submission.

“This is the first time in the history of Nigeria that a President is carrying the women along. In appointments, 13 women have so far been appointed in the Federal Executive Council,” she said.

The President’s wife, however, enjoined Nigerian women to be united so that they could bring the 35 per cent affirmative action into reality.

She distributed sewing machines; cassava, pepper and tomato grinding machines to women across the 23 local government areas of the state.

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