Continued from last Monday
Now, who’s Etim Ibibio? The first-class Akwaibomight medic has done and continues to do fabulous work for Akwa Ibom state, for Nigeria, and for humanity. The Okon-Eket-born Christlike Christian had an Efik (Cross River state) mother who called him Etim Ibibio (you know, after his father’s people). Dr Dominic Inyang Ukpong retired at the very top of the multinational ExxonMobil, after over three decades of selfless pro-life work, in time to be called up by Gov. Udom Emmanuel as Honourable Commissioner, Health.
He served in that post until last year when he moved offices. He currently is Honorary Special Adviser to the governor on health matters. The Udo Iyaya house and indeed The BUSH Clan shall eternally be grateful to Dr Ukpong and his dear wife, Mummy Nelly, for their love, parenthood, physical presence, spoken words and support a generous dose of which we enjoy. In this league are many others most of whom were mentioned earlier.
A handful of such people must be discussed here and now. Number one: Prof. Mbuk Mboho, my first boss, while he was General Manager of Akwa Ibom Broadcasting Corporation, AKBC. I don’t remember seeing him at the burial venue, so I am not sure he attended. In any case, there were many, many, many who attended that I didn’t see.
Yet, Prof. Mboho, by every standard an elder statesman, a Nigerian big man, stands out and gets this special mention for something striking that he did 24 hours before the mourning house opened. I hadn’t been in touch with him for nearly a year and had not remembered to include him when I sent out a few burial invitations. However, the moment he heard, he called me up to offer his condolences adding that he looked forward to seeing me at Ekpene Ukim on the D-Day. That was real fresh air, that our people should emulate.
It is insensitive and silly and immoral to query someone who is bereaved why they haven’t told you. So that you bring the dead back? Many, many hitherto thought close people either put me through this hell or even stayed away from my father’s burial all because I didn’t tell them. Death is not a wedding or such other joyous events; death is grief and grief makes you forget even yourself.
When you hear about death and you know anyone concerned, please reach out. Never wait to be contacted or invited. There’s a way we do it in Akwa Ibom. If you’re not so sure of the news, you may begin the conversation thus: ‘what’s this one I hear?’
As for Prof. Mbuk Mboho, it matters quite little whether he did eventually attend. Plus, he had come to spend an hour with us the Saturday before the burial during the commemorative recordings of 20 QUESTIONS, one of the funeral events, but ended up staying from start to finish. In fact, he was at the venue long before me, the anchor. For life, every time I dance with my father mentally, the picture of Prof. Mboho I shall see shall be a Nigerian big man who’s totally and differently human.
Number two: Dr Ita Udosen, the outgoing state chairman of All Progressives Congress. Having not sent him any invitation, it was the sweetest shock seeing him walk into that muddy venue. I guess there is something about my past with him that he remembers or it’s just in his nature to show up for people. I love you, Dear APC Chair!
Next, Dr Essien Ukpe, the Life Chairman of The BUSH Clan. The Head of Department, Political Science, Akwa Ibom State University, was his humble, supportive and ubiquitous self throughout the planning and event proper. There’s also Rt Hon. Itoro Columba, immediate past chairman of Ikono Local Government, who rose and fell and rose looking to add value; so much so he talked to people he had no business with. Enter Rev. Osondu Ahirika, the Imo state-born scholar who also hails from Akwa Ibom: he mobilised own resources, own church, own writing skill and put them all at my disposal for my father.
Many people and groups did many things, for which my family and I shall forever be grateful. It is impossible to name everyone but I shall attempt to in the days, weeks, months and years ahead once opportunities arise. Still, there are a threesome I wish to talk about before moving on. Dr Martin Akpan, Miss Emem Mojima and the youths of Ita street of Ekpene Ukim.
Over the course of five decades, I’ve had the honour of working under many leaders. The latest of them is Dr Martin Akpan, a wonderful and humane Christocentric medical doctor, who chairs the board of Akwa Ibom State Primary Healthcare Development Agency, of which I am member. I’ve enjoyed robust relationship with and uncanny understanding from this icon of literature loaned to medicine by the arts. From when he heard my father had transited, he increased the frequency of sharing with me per time his knowledge of God, his support and his guidance.
Many thanks, Dr Martin Akpan and your delectable wife, Inimfon. Gather here, all youths of Ita street, Ekpene Ukim Thank you for the sacrifice you displayed throughout our father’s funeral activities and I hope you make it a traditional going forward. And now, the last and if you like the best for the youngest: please give the Senior Prefect (Girls) of Obong Christian High School, Obong Ntak, in Etim Ekpo local government area of Akwa Ibom state, Miss Emem Mojima, a standing ovation.
The 15-year-old accompanied her parents and uncle on an early morning condolence visit to me. As is the custom, the parents spoke and presented goat, yams, drinks, etc. When it was time to leave, Miss Mojima who sat closest to the door and ought to walk out first stood by while the three others took their turns. Then, from I-don’t-know-where, she manufactured a white envelope and hurriedly, quietly, secretly, handed it to me -before half-running out to catch up with her family!
•Continued next Monday
So, graduating second class lower is death sentence?
Continued from last Monday
Here now are my closing arguments vis-a-vis this unnecessary debate. Graduating third class let alone second class lower is not the end of the matter. So, it cannot be the end of life: Prof. Wole Soyinka and Prince Charles did not die.
In fact, graduating this low should be a clarion call that you can do better with a little more push. Graduating the poorest should incense you enough to want more, the same way most first classers and two oners relax thinking they have hit the ceiling. After all, Mark Zuckerberg, Ellen DeGeneres, Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Brad Pitt and Lady Gaga, who are today billionaire global brands did not even graduate!
My point is: work hard, study hard, do all that’s positive and possible to get the academic result of your dream. But, never give up if the tally is a discouragement. If you’re too crazy about what they would say, go for another degree or simply keep aside the paper thing and work towards a better bragging right: ability to deliver on any job!