History of Akwa Ibom State: Celebrating iconic milestones and pioneering legends of the Promised Land
The people of Akwa Ibom State are culturally homogenous with a common identity and are reputed to be the first settlers in present-day South-Eastern Nigeria. But that is not the only pioneering effort of Akwa Ibom.
Information from the three major dialectal Nations in the state- Ibibio, Annang, and Oron- have confirmed that the history of Akwa Ibom State is decorated with iconic milestones and footprints of several heroes and legends of the Promised Land who have carved a niche for themselves with their pioneering efforts in various spheres of life.
As Akwa Ibom State celebrates the 34th anniversary of its statehood, Morenews.ng celebrates iconic milestones and pioneering legends of the Promised Land who have contributed to the rich history of Akwa Ibom State.
What is Akwa Ibom known for?
Created from the old Cross River State on 23rd September 1987, by Ibrahim Babangida, Akwa Ibom people are known for excellence, honesty, and integrity.
Akwa Ibom is one of Nigeria’s 36 states. In fact, it is the 21st state of the Federation with a population of over five million people in 2016 But it is far above its peers in iconic milestone achievements and developments. The state is currently the highest oil- and gas-producing state in the country with an estimated production of 800,000 barrels per day.
Oil and gas may bring Akwa Ibom financial fortunes but what proves its status as the Land of Promise is the footprints of its heroes past and present, young and old.
Celebrating iconic and pioneering legends of Akwa Ibom:
1 . Obong Sampson U. Etuk: Initiator of the Ibibio Scholarship Fund
Obong Sampson U. Etuk, who lived from 1903 to 1954, was a man of many firsts. He founded the Ibibio Scholarship Fund, Nigeria’s first communal education initiative. He was the Amalgamated Ibibio Union’s first President General. He was Warri Province’s first Provincial Education Officer (now Delta State). He founded the Abraka College of Education, which is now Delta State University, in 1943. His contribution to the awesome history of Akwa Ibom State would continue to inspire many.
2 . Chief Nyong Essien: First installed President of Ibibio Union
Chief Nyong Essien (CMG, GCON) was the first Old Province delegate in the Lagos Legislative Council. He was also the first president of the Eastern Regional House of Chiefs as well the Ibibio Union’s first president.
Chief Nyong Akpan was a traditional ruler, retired, teacher, civil servant. Nsom of Uruan was born on November 9,1872. He attended Duke Town School in Calabar from 1900 to 1907, passing Standard Seven; taught at Duke Town School from 1908 to 1909, and then became a Methodist missionary and preacher in Issiet Ekim Town.
In 1918, he began his career in the judiciary as a confidential clerk and interpreter for Justice Webber, Justice Herbert Norman Cleverly, and Philip Peter-Rides in the Supreme Court in Calabar. He was a co-founder of the defunct N.C.N.C. party with late Herbert Macaulay and Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe.
Chief Nyong Essien was awarded an honourary degree in law, the C.M.G. in 1960 and the C.O.N. in 1964; and became Supreme Ruler of Uyo Division, president of Uruan County Development Council, Idu, and president of Uyo Divisional Council of Chiefs; as well as supreme ruler of Uyo Divisional Council of Chief. A status at Nwaniba by Oron and a road named after him are just a few efforts to immortalise his contributions to the amazing history of Akwa Ibom State.
3 . Brig. Udoakaha Jacob Esuene: First Military Governor of South-Eastern
Brigadier Udoakaha Jacob Esuene (1936–1993) was a Nigerian air force commander who served as Military Governor of South-Eastern State (later renamed Cross River State) under General Yakubu Gowon’s military rule from May 1967 until July 1975. He became the state’s first governor in May 1967, when the Eastern Region was divided into three states: East-Central, Rivers, and South-Eastern. Before being appointed governor of South-Eastern State, Esuene was a fighter pilot.
He ran for the Social Democratic Party’s presidential ticket in the run-up to the 1993 presidential election (SDP). That was something to remember in the history of Akwa Ibom State.
4 . Edidem Thompson Udo Uyoata Akpabio III: Proffered Akwa Ibom name
History of Akwa Ibom State is not complete without mentioning Edidem Thompson Udo Uyoata Akpabio111. Late Edidem Thompson Udo Uyoata Akpabio III, OFR (1907-1989) is said to have proffered the name “Akwa Ibom State” instead of “Qua lboe State” which was first suggested.
He became the Paramount Ruler of the 6 on Ibibio -speaking Local Government Areas of the then Cross River State known as “Ifim Ibibio” and would be remembered for leading the cause of Ibibio land.
5 . Etim Okon Inyang: Akwa Ibom First Service Chief and Inspector General of Police
Whenever the history of Akwa Ibom State is recounted, the name Chief Etim Okon Inyang will ring. Late Sir Etim Okon Inyang hailed from Ukokpan, Enwang, the headquarters of Mbo Local Government Area.
Late Ikpoto Etim Inyang was a historical figure. He served as IGP from 1984 to 1986. He served as the Police Service Chief alongside other service chiefs such as Major General (later General) Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (Army), Rear Admiral (later Admiral) Augustus Akhabue Aikhomu (Navy), and Air Vice Marshal (later Air Marshal) Ibrahim Mahmud Alfa (Air Force) (Air Force), from the military regime of Nigeria’s current president, Muhammadu Buhari.
The Ikpoto Oro blazed a trail as the first Service Chief from Akwa Ibom as IGP, becoming the second indigene of the Niger Delta Region and the South-South Zone to do so, following the late Chief Louis Orok Edet of neighbouring Cross River State, who was the first Nigerian to serve as IGP from 1964 to 1966. Not only that, but Chief Etim Inyang is the first and only Akwa Ibom State indigene to be appointed IGP.
He held the record that cannot be broken in the Nigeria Police Force, having emerged the only Nigerian to rise from Constable to helms of affairs in the force, the Inspector General of Police, IGP.
The super cop was the Service Chief at a critical stage of Nigerian security history.
“Even after his retirement from the force, Etim Inyang remained influential in the regime of Babangida, his close friend, and colleague. He was appointed the Vice Chairman of the Constitution Review Committee by Babangida who ousted Buhari in 1985. His influence transcended the Babangida regime to that of Abacha who ruled the country from 1993 to 1998. With his presence and connections in the corridors of power, Etim Inyang easily became the most influential Oro leader in Nigeria after the death of the iconic Senator Victor Akan in 1987. He remained so for several years. And Etim Inyang clearly did not fail his people,” Inemesit Inah observed in a tribute to the departed icon.
Born on 25th December 1931, the iconic late Inspector General of Police (IGP) died on Monday, September 26, 2016, at the age of 85, just three days after the 29th anniversary of Akwa Ibom State creation. His contribution to the creation of the state can never be forgotten.
6 . Christy Essien-Igbokwe: First Female President, PMAN
Christy Essien-Igbokwe, MER, was another pioneering icon who contributed to Akwa Ibom State’s rich heritage.
Christy Essien-Igbokwe was born on November 11, 1960, in Okat, Onna Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. She came to stardom in the late 1970s and was dubbed “Nigeria’s Lady of Song” by Nigerian entertainment writers in 1980. Her song “Seun Rere,” which has been remade by a number of musicians, is one of the most popular Nigerian songs ever.
She emerged as the first female president of the Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN). Christy Essien-Igbokwe’s ability to sing in a variety of languages, including Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba, English, and her native Ibibio, earned her national appeal beyond tribal lines.
On her 58th posthumous birthday, Google honored the late Akwa Ibom-born singer and actress with a doodle as part of its policies makes changes on the Google logo to commemorate holidays, anniversaries, and the lives of notable artists, pioneers, and scientists.
She was also noted for writing ”the unofficial anthem of Akwa Ibom State, “Akwa Ibom Mmi” in 1987 and had earlier appealed to General Ibrahim Babangida to create the state.
7 . Late Barr. Vincent Uwemedimo: First ‘Ntisong’ Ibibio
Late Barr. Vincent Uwemedimo was a well-known lawyer in the defunct South Eastern State of Nigeria. At the launching of ‘Akwa Esop Imaisong Ibibio’ in 1981, he became the first ‘Ntisong’ Ibibio, organization which was founded 40 years ago to support Ibibio solidarity, peaceful coexistence, and growth both at home and abroad.
The founding patriarch and leader of Akwa Esop Imaisong Ibibio played a crucial role in the creation of the state and the amazing history of Akwa Ibom State.
8 . Late Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga: First indigenous Military Governor of Akwa Ibom
Late Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga was Akwa Ibom State’s first indigenous Military Governor. He was in charge from September 1990 to January 1992, until being succeeded by an elected civilian governor at the start of Nigeria’s Third Republic.
Air Commodore Otuekong Idongesit Nkanga was born on January 27, 1952, in Ikot Nya, in what is now Nsit Ibom Local Government Area, and died on December 24, 2020, at the age of 69, from Covid-19. As Akwa Ibom marks her 34th anniversary, the departed icon deserves to be celebrated for enriching the history of Akwa Ibom State.
9 . Obong Ufot Ekaette: Secretary to the
A modest man from Ikot-Edor in Akwa Ibom’s Onna Local Government, Obong Ufot Ekaette was born in 1939 and died in Abuja on September 25th, 2019.
In his lifetime, Chief Ufot Joseph Ekaette, CFR, accomplished many firsts. He was the longest-serving Principal Secretary to the Head of State, to General Yakubu Gowon, GCFR (equal to Chief of Staff to the President), with an eight-year tenure. He was the first Director-General of the Food, Roads, and Rural Infrastructure Directorate (DFFRI). He was Akwa Ibom State’s first deputy governor. He was the longest-serving Secretary of the Federation’s Government from 1999 to 2007. He was the Niger Delta’s first Minister.
10 . Obong Akpan Isemin: First civilian Governor of Akwa Ibom
Another pioneering that enriched the history of Akwa Ibom State was Obong Akpan James Isemin. Obong Akpan Isemin was the first democratically elected Governor of Akwa Ibom State. He was the governor of Akwa Ibom State from January 1992 to November 1993.
Obong Isemin was a philosopher, statesman, and shrewd negotiator. In keeping with his philosophical bent of thought, he named his government after Noah’s Ark (Ubom Noah, in Ibibio). It was his way of conveying and capturing his administration’s inclusiveness.
Obong Akpan Isemin was able to persuade the Federal Government to increase the oil revenue allotment through the repealing of the Oil Dichotomy Law. As a result, the state now earns N11.2 million per month from this source, compared to N350,000 or less per month before the enactment of decree 23 of 1992 at his request. This initiative pushed Akwa Ibom into the million naira income class for the first time under the 1% (one percent) derivation based on the repeal of the on-shore-off-shore policy. It significantly increased Akwa Ibom State’s OMPADEC project advantages, which had previously been minimal.
To be continued