“A king has emerged. The entire traditional stool of the Ibibio nation has been bestowed on the Oku Ibom Ibibio today.”
Joe Effiong, Uyo
Finally, Ibibio, the assumed or real fourth largest ethnic nationality in Nigeria, appear to have put their acts together to select a patriarch, known as Oku Ibom Ibom Ibibio, who is acceptable to all.
Until recently, the tussle for Oku Ibom stool, which traditional office is known as Ifim Ibom Ibibio, had almost torn the Ibibio race apart. Probably, apart from the first Oku Ibom, every other Oku Ibom appeared to have had one controversy or another dogging their steps or emergence.
But on Monday, December 31, 2018, the rancour was buried, as Nteyin Solomon Etuk emerged the Oku Ibom Ibom, the supreme spiritual leader of the Ibibio people.
Nteyin Etuk is already the paramount ruler of Nsit Ubium and Oku Ibom Ibibio can only emerge among the paramount rulers of those local government areas populated by the Ibibio in Akwa Ibom State. That usual takes a long screening process, taking rotation and other criteria into consideration. Thus, before the coronation, the Oku Ibom Ibom has to be officially proclaimed at the Asan Ibibio, (a traditional Ibibio parlour), situated at a junction of about four major Ibibio clans. That having been successfully performed on Saturday, November 17, 2018, the stage was set for the formal coronation.
Governor Udom Emmanuel who recalled the sacrifices and contributions the Ibibio people have made in the Nigerian project described the ceremony as a defining point in the quest for sustainable peace and development.
“A king has emerged. The entire traditional stool of the Ibibio nation has been bestowed on the Oku Ibom Ibibio today. I know that with the calibre of person who has emerged as the Oku Ibom Ibibio, he will administer justice, fairness and equity for all and sundry. Today is a huge significant day for the Ibibio nation and indeed the whole Akwa Ibom State. We must show respect to our traditional institutions and ensure that there is unity of purpose and humility in whatsoever we have to do as a people.
“I want us to re-enact today that spirit of unity, that spirit of togetherness, that spirit that we used to break those walls, to discourage all those who are sowing the seed of mistrust and disunity among us, and make sure that seed is not planted. That seed will never germinate; that seed will never bear fruit because we must remain together. Let us also today say here that all of us must pay respect to our traditional institution and our traditional fathers. Let also say here that the Oku Ibom Ibibio represents the supreme council of all the Ibibio traditional rulers. So we must ensure that there is that agreement and unity of purpose in whatever we have to do as a people. And we must rally round that stool as a concord of peace among our people. I believe we will accord that stool the dignity and respect it entails.
“I, as the governor, I pledge to accord that stool the respect it deserves; not only that stool but the entire royal fathers. We will collaborate to ensure that we maintain peace in this state. Without peace, there can be no development. Without peace, the people cannot carry out their businesses.
“Let me also join him (Oku Ibom Ibibio) to pray for peace in the coming elections. I wish the entire state that 2019 shall be a year of God’s power and glory in Akwa Iboms State; it will be a year that God will prove to man that man is man and God is God and only God will reign in 2019,” the governor payed.
He enjoined the people, especially youths not to be scared by the traditional artefacts accompanying the coronation because they only showcased the richness of Ibibio culture.
The governor specifically thanked the paramount ruler of Ibiono Ibom, Okuku Udousoro Inyang, who did the traditional pronouncement of the Oku Ibom coronation, saying he knew much about the tradition.
“May the God Almighty preserve his life, keep him and show him mercy. And I stand here as the leader of the state to, on behalf of all of us, ask God Almighty that if there is anything we have done today that God is not happy with, let mercy triumph over judgment. Let God show us mercy.”
The new Oku Ibom Ibibio said he was encouraged to embark on the sacred voyage based on the encouraging display of unity by fellow paramount rulers and the entire chain of the traditional institution in Ibibioland, coupled with the tacit cooperation, goodwill and support of Ibibio stakeholders.
“Let me further assure you all that I have taken this honour and responsibility to serve the entire Ibibio race faithfully with a good conscience and with fatherly disposition in accordance with the sacred norms entrenched in the office of Oku Ibom Ibibio. Let me reassure you that the Oku Ibom Ibibio stool shall be a canopy for all Ibibio sons and daughters, nay Akwa Ibomites and others who believe in unity, togetherness and progress.
“What is more, the watchword of Ifim Ibom Ibibio is, Nsehe, Uyio Kiet and Emem (meaning progress, one voice, togetherness and peace). At this time of our state and national life, we can only preserve our identity and develop on the basis of our collective aspiration if we unite and see ourselves as one. We must see unity as a commodity that must be bought at all cost.
“Through unity, we, as a people can climb the highest of mountains. In togetherness, we can surmount the most tasking of hurdles, stand tall and be strong as a front. The scriptures enjoins us to learn even from a minute insect like the ants (Proverbs 6:5-7).
“We have to reinvent the exemplary lives of pursuits advanced by our forebears. They dreamt and canvassed for the entity – Akwa Ibom State – through Ibibio State Union, that we have today. We shall not be children of such stock of wise men, yet falter and allow our ranks to be polluted by invidious characters and merchants of disunity.
“The stool which I sit will not fail in providing that shade and rostrum we need to thrive on, unmolested. We will broker togetherness and brotherhood across borders. The Nigerian nation belongs to us all.”
He urged all politicians and non-politicians to abhor hate speeches, fake news and utterances capable of causing a breach of peace, strife or disharmony among brothers and sisters, since after campaigns and elections, they would still remain together as indigenes of Akwa Ibom State.
“Our interest as a people must be bigger than our individual interest. The peaceful disposition seen so far in Akwa Ibom State is commendable and deserves to be encouraged. Our forebears lived a life of peace, unity and togetherness and we cannot do otherwise. I will seek the support and cooperation of traditional leaders across Akwa Ibom State towards collective decisions that will enhance our ranks, build greater understanding and promote development as one people under a common ancestry,” the monarch said.
In his goodwill message, the Ooni of Ife, Adeyeye Enitan Babatunde Ogunwusi, thanked Gov Udom Emanuel for the recognition he has given to the traditional institution in the state and promised to collaborate with the new Oku Ibom Ibibio and the traditional institution in the state to promote unity among the ethnic nationalities in the country.
“Governor Udom Emmanuel is godly. He is a very focused governor. He is a forward looking governor. From the throne of Oduduwa, you will continue to progress, the people of Akwa Ibom will continue to progress. I have noticed that Udom is a very humble governor. I thank him for respecting and upholding the tradition and culture of his people. I therefore call on Akwa Ibom people to continue to support him.”
The Obong of Calabar and the Amanyanabo of Opobo in Rivers State, among other monarchs also presented their goodwill messages.