If there is anything to learn from the recent beef between Donald Duke and Florence Ita-Giwa, it is that resentment when harboured for too long, eventually bursts loose as the venereal disease runs the proverbial brothel amok, bare like nude giant tramps that have no secret.
Whatever the nature of their animosity, it was neither ladylike of Ita-Giwa, nor gentlemanly of Duke, to hurl the dirt they have on each other, at each other, in public glare.
Just recently, Duke, a two-time governor of Cross River State, issued a subtle rebuke to Ita-Giwa aka Mama Bakassi, a former Senator, for querying his gender and thus casting aspersion on his person.
Duke also stated that in 2022, Ita-Giwa scoffed at a meeting that he held at his residence to harmonise southern aspirants under the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), simply because she wasn’t invited.
Although the former Cross River Governor stated that he would never respond to the aspersions cast on his person by Ita-Giwa, because he considers her “family” and clapping back at her would betray his upbringing, it is glaring to every discerning mind that his perceived subtle riposte resonates as a shrill put down of Senator Ita-Giwa.
In a statement signed by him, Duke accused Ita-Giwa of being a courtesan in her political and business dealings and narrated how he stood as next of kin for Ita-Giwa, when she 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 a courtesan in her political and business dealings. All said it would 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 is anywhere near her age and I don’t take that lightly,” he said.
Duke dished it hot to Ita-Giwa despite his professed deference to her age and clout.
Pundits aver that he could have simply addressed Ita-Giwa’s query about his sexuality, and responded as he deemed fit without delving into other issues capable of aggravating the impasse between them.
But his subtle yet scathing riposte has certainly opened a Pandora’s Box as Mama Bakassi would be hard-pressed to retaliate by responding in kind.
At the heel of their controversy, another interesting dimension has manifested from the submission of a former member of the PDP’s Board of Trustees, Ntunkae Grace Eyo Ita. Ntunkae described Ita-Giwa as an ingrate and vindictive person.
Speaking with newsmen at her residence at Federal Housing Estate, Calabar, Cross River State, Ntunkae addressed remarks by Ita-Giwa, who alluded that Duke arrived in Calabar with a briefcase to assume office as a governor and was squatting somewhere along Whitehouse Street, Calabar South whereas Governor Ben Ayade arrived with a truckload of wealth.
“How can Florence Ita Giwa have the courage to insult Donald Duke after everything Donald has done for her, just because she found a new paymaster? How can she accuse Donald Duke of selling Bakassi to Cameroun when she was deeply involved in everything that happened to Bakassi from the federal level at that time,” said Ntunkae.
The former state legislator in the second republic recollected that she and Ita-Giwa had vied to represent the Cross River Southern Senatorial District at the Senate in 1999 on the platform of the PDP but Donald Duke and Liyel Imoke backed Ita-Giwa as the preferred choice.
She said, “After all my stress, Sen Florence Giwa was preferred, and I was dropped. Since I know that God is the only one that gives power and God wanted Florence to be announced, I sent a congratulatory message to her, but what did she do? She took the pictures that I suffered to go to Law School, placed them on a coffin, paraded around this God owned City and bought a piece of land at Hawkins and buried it.”
Ntunkae continued that she first contested for the senate on the platform of UNCP against Sen Bassey Ewa Henshaw and won as the candidate of the party and then faced Ita-Giwa at the election and defeated her.
She recalled: “Florence is very vindictive, Chief Anthony Ani, former Finance Minister, during the UNCP and APP gave each of us, N2,500,000. I have remained loyal to him, despite his role in my PDP elections. When Chief Ani went to contest the Obongship of Calabar, Florence was the first to carry placards against him. Without Donald and Liyel, Florence wouldn’t have been in the Senate, but as ungrateful as she is, she said Donald came to Calabar with a suitcase and was squatting with Gershom Bassey.
“Donald is from a big home, Liyel is from a big home and Gershom is from a big home, I and Ma Florence are from what we call humble homes, who should insult each other? Donald and Gershom believed that an Efik lady should go to the Senate, and because of the bond of friendship among them, Liyel supported his friends, and today she is being addressed as a senator of the Federal Republic. How could she easily forget them? She referred to them in an uncultured manner. I, who should be angry, I am happy, maybe because I know the Bible.”
Ntunkae maintained that Ita-Giwa has the right to support any person of her choice and submitted “Ayade is my son, Prince Otu, (Cross River APC governorship candidate) is my brother; Donald and Liyel are my younger brothers, so as mother and senior sister, if they quarrel, what is expected of me and Ma Florence is to call them to other, settle issues amongst them and make peace. I’m shocked at the kind of things Mma Florence said with her mouth about Donald.”
Already the social space is buzzing with the attacks and counter-attacks hurled by Duke, Ita-Giwa and their loyalists. But as the warring camps return to their respective bases to service and reload their weaponry, let them pay heed to the voice of reason, which counsels tactfulness and caution in every man or woman’s dealing with the other.
Both Duke and Ita-Giwa, whatever their grievances with each other should exhibit greater maturity and self-respect in their future dealings. The fact that they had both served as public officers in the highest echelons of Nigeria’s corridor of power behoves them to adopt the or at least pay heed to the prerequisite of statesmanship and good breeding.
Those who would like to be acknowledged as elder statesmen will not adorn their frames in the cloak of juveniles.