In human interactions, two factors are sacrosanct, age and authority and even more so in the African context. On both counts, Mma Florence is my senior.
Indeed, if she were family, she would qualify as my late 94 year old mothers immediate junior sister, as none of my aunties are anywhere near her age and I don’t take that lightly. I recall a former federal minister, telling me that when he started secondary school at Lagos in 1952, Mma Florence the same year commenced training as an auxiliary nurse at Aba. Indeed, Mma Floxy as I fondly and respectfully call her, had aspired and contested the Ms. Nigeria pageant, while I was still a foetus, (she contested in April 1961 and I was born much later in September of the same year).
Earlier last year, she scoffed at a meeting I held at my residence to harmonize southern aspirants under the platform of the PDP, she was vexed she was not invited. I apologized to her, but made it clear she did not qualify to attend, as 1. She’s not a member of the PDP and 2, although she bears the honorific title of “Eka Iban”, in the strict sense, she’s neither Efik nor of southern Cross River origin. (She’s paternally from Atabong in Akwa Ibom State and maternally from Umuahia in Abia State).
That notwithstanding, she has served Cross River State, her State of residence, diligently to the acknowledgment of all, Mma Floxy has also served Nigeria well. At the onset of the Nigerian civil war in 1967, when I was barely 6 years old, she was already serving at the front lines. She was one of the few brave ladies reverentially referred to as the ‘Commando Girls’ for their exploits and services in times of a national crisis.
Thereafter, she’s been in the front lines of business and societal struggles, in Abuja, Lagos and of course Cross River State. Her resume in this regard is wholesome.
She has represented Cross River State at the Federal House of Representatives and the Nigerian Senate. She has been a Special Adviser to the President and has diligently carried out several responsibilities most of which remain classified.
Recently, she queried my gender, frankly, I’m pleased she’s not in a position to confirm as that would have been sacrilegious, but I am indeed a proud father of 3 biological children. On the issue of me being indigent prior to being elected governor, I needn’t remind her or anyone my pedigree and that I self sponsored my elections even at that time of political uncertainty.
On a personal note, I stood in as her person of contact when she did liposuction, breast implant and upliftment, so I consider her somewhat of an aunt, a next of kin. Contrarily, Mma Floxy, has been known to be courtesan in her political and business dealings. All said, it will be a betrayal of my upbringing to be abusive or cast aspersions on such a personage. Politics should never be a platform that denigrates the ethos of respect to our elders. Thank You.
Former Governor, Cross River State.