The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate in Rivers State, Chief Nyesom Wike, on Tuesday unveiled Mrs. Ipalibo Banigo, as his running mate for the 2015 elections in the state.
Banigo, a medical doctor and retired career public servant, had at various times served as permanent secretary, head of service and secretary to the state government.
Presenting her, Wike said Banigo, a Kalabari from Degema Local Government Area, obtained her medical degree from the University of Ibadan in 1976 and also attended other first-rated universities abroad, including Harvard University and the University of London.
Wike said the choice of a female running mate was informed by the desire to create a special place for women to play active roles in the politics and development of the state.
He said the task of picking the deputy governor took a long time in order to get the right person for the job, adding that it was more challenging because of what he said was the deep rot in governance in the state.
Wike said: “The search has ended. Dr. Banigo is a rare breed and a leader with uncommon traits. She will join us to rebuild the state. Her choice was informed by the need to create a special place for women to play an active role in the politics of the state.
“Since 1967 when the state was created, no woman has been given such an opportunity. Yet, the history of the state is replete with women of great achievements.
“The time has come to give women the chance to play pivotal roles in the state. Rivers PDP is determined to move away from the primordial era of treating women with disdain and indignity.
“We want to move away from the acts of our opponents who relish in giving out tokens to women. As a first step, Rivers PDP decided that a woman should occupy the post.
“Our choice is a tested retired public servant. She was a permanent secretary, a former head of service and secretary to the state government before retiring. She is a medical doctor and an accomplished professional, with long experience of integrity.”
He said the time of regarding women in the state only as people who put on uniform wrappers and blouses to attend rallies was over as women in the Federal Executive Council (FEC) had shown that women can hold responsible positions in government.
He said there was also the need to ensure that the 35 per cent affirmative action encouraged by the federal government under President Goodluck Jonathan trickled down to the states.
In her acceptance speech, Banigo said the event was a great history-making day, adding that she was honoured to be considered and nominated as the Rivers PDP deputy governorship candidate.
Acknowledging the various challenges facing the state and the country, she said the challenges were more serious in the face of the dwindling revenue and security issues, among others.
She described her nomination as an honour for Rivers’ women and promised that she would deploy her experience to the service of the state, especially for the empowerment of women.
She thanked the party leadership in the state for considering her for the position, in accordance with the party’s belief for affirmative action.
She called on women in the state to reciprocate the gesture and come out en masse to vote for PDP during the 2015 general election.