Speaker of the Akwa Ibom state House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. (Barr) Onofiok Luke has extolled the roles which the late Akwa Edidem Akpabio Udo Ukpa played in maintaining peace, justice, and harmony in Akwa Ibom state and in the Niger Delta region during the monarch’s lifetime. The Speaker said the late paramount ruler was instrumental to the tranquillity which Akwa Ibom state enjoyed amidst political instability and hostilities in other states of the country.
He made the remarks on Wednesday during a condolence visit to the family of the late Akwa Edidem who doubled as the paramount ruler of ONNA local government area and Oku Ibom Ibibio III. He described the rite of passage for the late Akwa Edidem as a celebration of a life well lived.
He said: “This is a celebration of life because the things he needed to have achieved within his lifetime, he achieved them. He spoke honestly about political issues which bordered on the socio-political stability of the state at a time that this was most paramount. He was a respected voice; this is why he commanded the respect of stakeholders across the three senatorial districts of the state. He was a pathfinder who showed leadership to ensure peace, justice and tranquillity. He protected the interests of the Ibibios and across the state and spoke boldly on the need for political leaders in the state to do be fair and just. For instance, I recall his staunch insistence for the balance of power across the state in 2007. For equity sake, our late father was at the forefront of the agitation for governorship to go to Ikot Ekpene Senatorial district in 2007. At the same time, he was advocating for the protection of the interests of Ibibio people in that senatorial district as was evident in his call for stakeholders to support the election of Senator Aloysius Etok for two terms. Very exemplary is that in all those 8 years, our late Akwa Edidem remained in support of the Governor Godswill Akpabio administration.
“Also, in his capacity as Oku Ibom Ibibio, he did so much to galvanise and unify all the socio-political groups in Ibibio land and by extension other groups in the state. Indeed, his contributions to the development of the entire state cannot be quantified.
“As the Chairman of the Traditional Rulers of Oil Mineral Producing Communities in Nigeria, he was a major voice who pushed for the actualization of the interests of oil producing communities in Akwa Ibom state and in other Niger Delta states. He was at the forefront of the onshore-offshore struggle. History records his role in leading other traditional rulers across the region to support the then governor, Arc. Obong Victor Attah, to succeed in the fight for what was rightly ours.
“Also, in 2015, he stated his stand on the issue of governorship in the state and blessed his son to run. I am happy that in his lifetime, he saw and contributed to the actualisation of his wishes which was that every senatorial district in the state should produce a governor. He was here when Uyo Senatorial District produced a governor; he was here to see to the producing of a governor from Ikot Ekpene Senatorial district; and I am happy that in his time, God rewarded him through the emergence of his son, His Excellency Deacon Udom Gabriel Emmanuel, as the governor of Akwa Ibom state from Eket Senatorial district. For us as a House, we believe that one of the ways for us to sustain the legacies of our late father is to continue to support his very performing son, His Excellency the Governor, to succeed. For us, the least reward we can offer for Akwa Edidem’s strife for peace, justice, and tranquillity in this state will be to continue to lend our collective support to the governor to succeed in delivering his promises to the people of the state.”
The Speaker said that it was Edidem Ukpa’s ability to manage the politics of oil producing communities in the state that made it impossible for extreme cases of vandalization and kidnappings as was seen in other communities in the region.
He used the opportunity to call on those in traditional institutions in the state to emulate the sterling leadership qualities and lifestyle of the late Akwa Edidem, reiterating that government is about service to the people first before service to self. Speaker Luke said, ‘’we are at a time in the country where leaders must learn to rise and speak the truth to bring about development, just as was known of our late Akwa Edidem.’’
In company of the Speaker for the visit were honourable members of the House. The wife of the late paramount ruler, Akwa Obonganwan Patience Akpabio Udo Ukpa, thanked the lawmakers for their visit and prayed for their success. Prince Ini Akpabio Udo Ukpa, son of the late monarch and Chief Mourner, also expressed gratitude to the members for their show of warmth.
PS to the Speaker