Former Cross River Governor, Donald Duke has said he never responds to the aspersions cast on his person by a former senator, Florence Ita Giwa, because he considers her as family.
Duke said Ita Giwa recently queried his gender and that in 2022, “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”.
However, according to Duke, hurling abuses or casting aspersions at Ita Giwa will betray his upbringing.
In a statement signed by Duke and obtained by our correspondent, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain narrated how he stood as next of kin when Ita Giwa had a breast implant, upliftment and liposuction.
He said, “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.”
“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,” he said.
“Indeed, if she were family, she would qualify as my late 94-year-old mother’s 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.”
Indeed, in May 2022, Ita Giwa knocked Duke for not inviting her to the PDP meeting, saying, “When the destiny and political future of an entire ethnic nationality is to be deliberated upon, it requires that partisanship and chauvinistic sentiments be set aside. All shades of opinion and all tendencies have to be given the space to find expression.
“The recent so-called non partisan consultation convened by H.E Donald Duke ostensibly to deliberate on governorship power shift to the south and possibility of coming up with a consensus Governorship candidate might have been commendable but for the fact that it was clearly not all inclusive.
“How such an assembly can be called without my involvement and participation is downright insulting not just to my person but the Efik Kingdom of which I represent in my capacity as Mother of the women in the Kingdom.
“It also demonstrates utter disregard for the women of the Southern Senatorial Zone of who by the grace of God, I am a leading light of.
“Even as the matter can be said to be of a political nature, with all modesty I make bold to say I parade the most impressive political portfolio of all political actors in the zone.”