COMMENTARY BY MR EMMA MADU Former Press Secretary to the former Governor/Deputy Governor to Former Anambra Governor, Deputy Governor, Dame Virgy Etiaba  as she clocks 81. 

Today November, 11 2023 marks the eighty-first birthday of the former Governor and Deputy Governor of Anambra State, Dame Virgy Ngozika Etiaba whose participation in politics could be described as both historical and glorious being the first female governor in Nigeria.

Born on 11th November 1942 at Nnewi in Nnewi North Local Government Area and married to late Barr. Benneth Etiaba, Dame Virgy Etiaba (CON) had her Primary and Secondary School Education in Kano State followed by her Teacher Training Education in Gombe State. Her Educational qualifications include; National Certificate of Education from the Abraka College of Education Delta State, Bachelors Degree in Education from the University of Nigeria Nsukka as well as a certificate in Information Technology from Goldsmith College, University of London.She also holds Doctor of Education from Imo State University.

Dame Virgy worked as a Headmistress and Secondary School teacher for thirty five years at different parts office the state. She retired meritoriously in 1991 and established the Benneth Etiaba Memorial School, Nnewi.

Dame Virgy Etiaba’s Political life is quite impressive and remarkable. She was  sworn in as Deputy Governor of Anambra State on March 17,2006 and latter became the Governor between November 2006 and February 2007, following the impeachment of former Governor Peter Obi.It is on record that she declined being sworn  in as Governor, as according to her “The Governor is my boss and he remains my boss”. Reports had it that it took some religious leaders, elders, stakeholders as well as her party leadership to persuade her to submit herself for the swearing in as there would not be a vacuum in the governance of the state.

Mama Anambra as she is fondly called, governed the state for a brief but impactful period of little above three months. Despite having a short tenure, she made remarkable achievements. She flagged off and constructed several roads, increased subventions and over heads of various Ministries and Parastatals to enhance productivity and appointed a lot of people into key political positions. Dame Virgy signed into law during her tenure “Anambra State Child Rights Bill”. 

Generally, Dame Virgy Etiaba governed the state when there was a high political turmoil especially between the PDP controlled House of Assembly and APGA led state Government. She weathered the storm and brokered peace amongst the political actors. It was in appreciation of her good governance that Ndi Anambra gave her the name “Mama Anambra”.Presently,she is a Member of Board of Trustees of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).

Talking about her legacy, former Governor Dame Virgy Etiaba said “I have always held the belief that if you are kind to history, history will be kind to you. I would want to be remembered as a public officer who served responsibly, compassionately and competently. My training and background as a teacher mandates me to show good examples at all times. So, I would want to pass on, directly or indirectly, a legacy of principled leadership, hard work, commitment to the needs of the people, respect for the feelings of the people as well as the fear of God”.

Religiously, Dame Virgy  is a devout Christian of the Anglican Church extraction. She is a knight of Saint Mary and belongs to many religious organizations. She is a member of the Christian Association of Nigerian Schools. Dame Virgie has continued to render quality services to God and humanity. Dame Virgy Etiaba authored a book entitled “My Life, My Story” where she chronicled accounts of her life journey.

Former Governor Dame Virgy Etiaba could be described as a virtuous woman due largely to her sound moral and mentoring tendencies. She has remained a good example of motherhood and a source of inspiration to the entire womanhood. God as a perfect rewarder of good deeds has blessed “Mama Anambra” in all facets of life. She has six successful children of which two of them are Senior Advocates of Nigeria and others are doing pretty well in their vocations.

So, as the first female Deputy Governor in Igbo land and first female Governor in Nigeria, Dame Virgy Etiaba (Mama Anambra) marks her eighty-first birthday  we pray God to continue to strengthen and confirm her in all goodness and give her the much needed longevity to enable her continue to impact positively on the masses.

“Mama Anambra”, we salute you and extol you as a mother, teacher, Deputy Governor and Governor. Ndi Anambra, Ndigbo and Nigerians are proud of you. We wish you more eventful years ahead.

Happy birthday,"Mama Anambra"

*Mr.Emma Madu*

Former Press Secretary to the former Governor/Deputy Governor.


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