The paramount ruler of Eket Local Government Area has conferred honorary chieftaincy titles on 18 distinguished women of Esop Mbong Mbaba Ekid and also elevated his wife, Her Royal Majesty, Mandu E. C. D. Abia, to the position of Akwaobonganwan (Mkpouto) of Eket, the highest traditional title for women in the land.
The event took place at the weekend at Atan Palace, the ancestral stool of the paramount ruler of Eket, His Royal Majesty, Edidem E. C. D. Abia.
The Eket monarch, in his address, advised the beneficiaries not to usurp the positions and responsibilities of wives of village or clan heads, but to act as supportive jewels in the day-to-day running of the royal institutions in their respective domains.
"The honorary chieftaincy titles conferred on you today is not meant for you to take over the roles of wives of the village heads or clan heads, Abia said.
Her Royal Majesty Mandu Abia is the first woman to be conferred with the highest chieftaincy title of Akwaobonganwan by any paramount ruler of Eket in living memory. The office carries with it enormous responsibility pertaining to women's role in the society.
The wife of the commissioner for local government and chieftaincy affairs, Mrs Bright Archibong, was conferred with the title of Obonganwan (Ekeh Unwana Ekid), while others got Obonganwan titles with different symbolic meanings for the overall development of Eket.
Speaking on behalf of the awardees, Obonganwan Bright Archibong thanked the paramount ruler for finding them worthy for the honour and described the monarch as a very enlightened person who is gender-friendly.
"This is the first time in the history of Eket for women to be given this kind of traditional honour. Our king, we wish to thank you and assure you that we will not disappoint you. May you live long and may your reign continue to usher peace and development in Eket, Obonganwan Archibong said.
The president of Mbong Mbaba Ekid, Lady Jane Akpan, assured the paramount ruler of members' continuous loyalty to state authorities and diligent observation of their responsibilities as mothers and mentors.
Those honoured were, HRM Mandu Abia, HRM Comfort Enodien, Mrs Bright Archibong, Esther Victor Johnson, Elizabeth Ette Ntuk, Enobong Victor Amaunam and Anna Tom Peters.
Others were, Mrs Inyang Akpanwan, Ekaette Kufre Eshiet, Roselyn Isukette Umoetuk, Charity Akpadiaha Imose, Mrs Helen Mbang, Ekaette Uncle Williams, Mrs Bassey Nse Samson, Jane Akanam, Elizabeth Essien, Uduak Ubokudom and Mrs Elizabeth Ebongo.