First female governor in Nigeria sworn in amid misconduct controversy

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Monday, November 6, 2006

Former deputy governor Virginia Etiaba was sworn in as the Governor of Anambra, a state in south-central Nigeria, making her the first female governor in the country's history. Her instatement comes as the previous governor, Peter Obi, was impeached by the state legislature for alleged gross misconduct.

Etiaba initially refused the position, saying that the impeached man was still the governor and her boss. However, she later accepted the position due to what she called the "peculiarity of the situation". Both the 64-year-old Etiaba and 45-year-old Obi have been in office since March 2006 after the previous governor's election was overturned by a court.

The new governor may not last in her job, however. While Obi does not contest the legality of Etiaba's swearing in, he intends to contend the impeachment in court. Additionally, the ongoing impeachment proceedings may yet cause Etiaba herself to be removed from office if she is indicted for the same misconduct as her former boss.

Etiaba was also criticized by a number of local religious and community leaders, who put out a statement condemning both the original impeachment of Obi as well as the promotion of Etiaba. The statement reads in part:

We are shocked at the alleged summersault of the Deputy Governor of Anambra State, Dame Virgy Etiaba who we had commended for keeping faith with the people when she rejected the offer to replace her boss and sincerely hope that she was not coerced into accepting to be sworn in as the Governor of Anambra State against her peoples wish.

Etiaba is expected at the impeachment hearing today.