Ete-Idung Benard Joseph Akpan (1936 – 2019)

“To praise what is lost makes remembrance dear” — William Shakespeare

Ete-Idung Bernard Joseph Akpan was born in 1936 to the family of the late Chief Joseph Akpan and the late Madam Cecilia Nta of Nung Essien Ibout in Ekpuk Village, Mkpat Ennin Local Council of Akwa Ibom State. He died a couple of weeks ago after a protracted illness of more than five years, which had rendered him immobile and inactive. He was aged 83. We never dreamt of his death this near, as it was our hope that Papa would clock 100 years, and even more.

Akpan attended St. Andrew’s Catholic School, Afaha Obong and thereafter, taught at St. Patrick’s Primary School, Mbioto Ikot Nseyen.

On completion of his formal education in 1955, Pa Bernard Joseph Akpan, the Ete-Idung as he was fondly called, worked for Post and Telecommunications Limited (P&T), and later for the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) from 1956 to 1991. After 35 years of meritorious service to his great nation, he retired and returned from Port Harcourt, his station prior to retirement, to his people of Mkpat Ennin in Akwa Ibom State.

He was selected, presented and enthroned by the chiefs and people of Ekpuk as the Village Head (Ete-Idung) of Ekpuk Town; a position he held until his demise. Ete-Idung Bernard Joseph Akpan was born into a Christian family of the Catholic faith and remained faithful unto the Roman Catholic doctrine. He was a member of the Catholic Men Organisation (CMO), Christ the King Catholic Church (CKC Parish), Port Harcourt and Catholic Men Organisation (Nka Akpanobong), St. Bernard’s Catholic Church – Ekpuk, respectively.

In November 1956, he got married to his sweetheart, Mrs. Esther Bernard Akpan, former Miss Eseme Johnny, and the union was blessed with children: two boys and three girls. To his children, he was a good father, who imbibed in them, tenets that would be instrumental to their growth as useful citizens. In addition to his invaluable sacrifices and investment of untiring love, support and resources to see the children well brought up, he encouraged and supported the wife’s business drives and in return, she supported the growth of the family.

“He was a loving husband, who meant the whole world to our mother until death snatched life off her in 2009. There is no gainsaying the fact that her death was another major tragedy, which struck the family, 10 years ago,” his son said.

A very affectionate father, uncle, grandfather and a brother, his faithfulness to different people in his life could be seen in the way he steadfastly maintained ties with his children. By nature, he was a carefree person, with a very good sense of humour. Our father was loyal and stood tall for the righteous cause and never bowed to unscrupulous pressure. He was a strict disciplinarian who never failed to reprimand his children or admonished anyone when they veered off the right path. He was deputy secretary, Ikemesit Social Club of Nigeria, Port Harcourt chapter.

He was a member of Akwa Ibom Development Association (AIDA), Rivers State branch, a just and sincere person who was always put in a position of trust.

Dede Bernard Joseph Akpan was such a happy man that we the children ever knew. Our only hope is that we should be as good a people like him. We feel blessed and very honoured to have had him as our father. He has been and will always remain a beacon of light for us; guiding us through the treacherous passage of life. Daddy, you will never be forgotten because your soft and consistent counseling filled with affection has touched us deeply; molding and shaping our lives without curbing our inherent inclinations. Thanks, Papa, for the care and love you have bestowed on us; the understanding and support you have extended to whatever best we could have achieved in life, is unquestionable.

Ete-Idung Bernard Joseph Akpan: an energetic, pragmatic, dynamic, honest, peacemaker and above all, a selfless man who was one of such an enviable and God-fearing personalities till his death, was born in 1936 and died after attaining 13 years in addition to the biblical milestone of 70, in a complex and polluted environment where an average life expectancy remains at 45 years. Though died a couple of weeks ago, he began his final journey on a lonely road that is strewn with thorns and spikes to mother-earth on October 12, 2019, at his country-home (his compound), Ekpuk Village in Mkpat Ennin Local Council of Akwa Ibom State. While embarking on the journey, he has fear, sorrow, and uncertainty for the company, and neither fear nor sorrow nor uncertainty makes good company. Death is, of course, every man’s companion.“Oh! Death, where is thy sting? Christ has conquered death for us (1 Cor.15:55).

Pa Bernard Joseph Akpan, we know you are up in Heaven, rest on, till we meet again to part no more! We love and miss you and still think about you to this day. Words cannot heal the pains of losing someone so dear; may your good memories hold deep in our hearts. May God give us the strength to overcome the pains of this great loss. We believe God in His infinite mercies has ended your sufferings and that is the only consolation we hope for. We celebrate you: a magnificent man, a loving husband, a devoted father, and a true friend. May the Almighty God grant you a place in the bosom of Abraham where eternal peace reigns supreme, Amen.

To mourn him are his children, brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, grandchildren, sons-in-law, daughters-in-law and many other relatives.

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