Prof Chukwuma Soludo’s inauguration as Anambra State governor yesterday was marred by an altercation between Ebelechukwu, wife of the immediate-past governor, Willie Obiano, and wife of late Ikemba Nnewi, Bianca Odumegwu-Ojukwu.
Bianca is a former Nigerian Ambassador to Spain and Permanent Representative to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (WTO).
She is also a Board of Trustees member of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), on which platform Soludo was elected.
Mrs Obiano arrived at the venue after Soludo and his deputy, Onyekachi Ibezim, had been sworn in by the Chief Judge, Justice Onochie Anyachebelu, at 10.55 am.
The former First Lady first sat near Senator Uche Ekwunife and the Anambra House of Assembly Speaker Uche Okafor.
She then moved towards where her husband sat, but was stopped by Bianca.
Mrs Obiano was heard telling Bianca: “You said we were not going to be governor.”
She allegedly went on to address Bianca with other certain strong words.
As Mrs Obiano appeared to nudge Bianca’s shoulder, the former beauty queen stood and appeared to slap the former First Lady, removing her headgear in the ensuing scuffle.
Mrs Obiano held onto Bianca’s hair and dress before security operatives and guests separated them.
Following the incident, Obiano left the venue with his wife before Soludo’s speech.
It was learnt that security men had earlier stopped Mrs Obiano, who arrived late, from driving into the venue.
Soludo apologised for the breach of protocol, promising to intervene in the rift between Mrs Obiano and Bianca.
In a statement by his media aide, Joe Anatune, Soludo said: “The breach was caused by improper communication, which itself arose from a personal issue between the two parties involved in the breach.
“Steps are being taken to resolve the misunderstanding and restore the parties to their previous relationship.
“Anambra State has over the years been known for a huge stock of social harmony, and the stock will increase substantially in the years ahead as part of the concerted effort to accelerate the state’s development,” he said.
Before the inauguration, Bianca had described the occasion as a day of liberation.
She wrote: “I used to wonder…But now I know. Now I know just how those Israelites felt on the day they took those tentative first steps out of the land of Egypt.
Just the sheer excitement and anticipation of liberation, the long-awaited return to the promised land must have kept them awake through that night.
“This is the Day the Lord has made…a day that reaffirms the age-long truth that no-one holds the stage forever.
“I thank the Almighty for keeping us all alive to witness this day. To Him be the glory. It was long in coming, but it’s finally here.”
“A more dynamic and progressive Anambra is achievable. Yes indeed. we are the barracks!”
It is believed the two women’s bad blood goes back to the 2019 general election when Bianca sought to run for Senate and reportedly got Obiano’s support.
But Mrs Obiano was thought to have favoured Nicholas Ukachukwu, who eventually became APGA’s candidate but lost the election.