Mr. Edet Okpo, with his wife Mrs. Eno Okpo cutting his 40th birthday cake.

Abasifreke Effiong

Edet Okpo, a renowned media and image management consultant, publisher, editor- in-chief of newspapers, businessman, professional teacher and teacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ in Akwa Ibom State turned 40 years on Monday September 26, 2022. It was a day of celebration, jollity and reflection on the beauties and ashes life has laid on the path of the celebrator in the build up to the very significant two score years of life on earth. The 40th year of a man’s life is special, at least the popular aphorism which says “life starts at 40” has made it so. Hitting the 40 mark comes with some sort of inexplicable aura of attainment, achievement and class – such feeling like, ‘guy I’m 40, you know what that means? I’m a real man’.

That much was the feeling for Elder Edet Okpo. Bracing through the vicissitudes of childhood with one parent and turning up at 40, strong, accomplished and blessed with a beautiful family and awesome galaxy of friends is a strong enough reason to thank the Almighty God who has made life beautiful. Okpo said he struggled ferociously through despairing forlornness in his childhood after he lost his father while in primary 2. “I didn’t have any hope of going to school after my father died while I was in primary 2. But one day, a teacher came to work in his farm in my neighbourhood, so I went and assisted him, after the days job, he asked me what I wanted him to do for me, I told him, I wanted to go to school, he came and asked my mother to allow me to come and stay with him, that teacher was the one who sponsored me from JSS to SS2. Today, I’m a proud post-graduate student to the glory of God”, Okpo narrated the story of childhood in an emotion-laden tone. One of the guests at the birthday, a professor of broadcasting, Prof. Charles Obot, said the humbling story of Okpo’s childhood was similar to his. He lauded his determination, resilience, and focus.

Okpo said “God has given me direction in life”. The man whom the Lord is on his side neither trembled nor falls. Such men don’t stray. Okpo didn’t stray. He has been led divinely into a beautiful life, pleasant enough such that men would celebrate him. The divine direction must have propelled him to marry early in life. He got married to a beautiful and supportive wife, Mrs. Eno Okpo about 12 years ago. The marriage is blessed with beautiful and gorgeous children. Okpo was called into ecclesiastical service and ordained an Elder in The Apostolic Church Nigeria, TACN, and his wife a Deaconess.

The birthday bash will remain memorable for the celebrator because his mentors and Special friends came reciprocating the warm friendship he has kept with them, with all his might and main, these past years. Most of them said they had to suspend other engagements to honour Okpo’s invitation. The cornucopia of tributes from Okpo’s mentors, friends, associates, colleagues and community were inspiring and revealing; they were strong-enough endorsement of his affable and complaisant nature.

Cornucopia of tributes to Edet Okpo at 40 Mr. Okpo with his wife and children posing with guests at his 40th birthday.

From the governor of the feast, Prof. Uwem Akpan, a lecturer at the School of Communication Studies, University of Uyo, the President General of Oron Union, Bishop Etim Ante, his close friend who proposed the toast, His Worship, Magistrate Sam Ukoima, the tributes came pouring in like fresh sweet palm wine. Prof. Akpan said “Okpo has been touched by God’s faithfulness…because he is God fearing, kind hearted and very generous.”

Bishop Ante whom the celebrator described as one of his close allies and mentors, remarked that Edet Okpo is one of the powerful young men on earth whose 40th birthday marks the beginning of greater breakthroughs. “Okpo is one of the powerful young men on earth. 40 years is significant. The Israelites sojourned in the desert for 40 years before reaching Canaan. Okpo, what you have been labouring for these past 40 years, you will find them and you will surely reach your Canaan. ORO Nation is proud of you. You are a shining light. You have served the State and humanity diligently and faithfully. Your time of restoration has come and anybody who will attempt to stand on your way will be crushed by your Creator.”. That prophetic tribute got a resounding and thunderous Amen from the guests and well wishers. I also say Amen to that prayer.

Every person and group had something positive to say about Okpo. Representatives from his community, local government area, professional Union -the Nigeria Union of Journalists- took turns during the moment of tributes. From his hometown came Pastor Asukwo Nduonyi with his tribute, prayers and well wishes, said, “Okpo is a shinning light in our community. His life is about service to God and humanity and We are very proud of him”. From his local government area, Okobo, the council’s vice chairman, Rt. Hon. Asuquo Koffi, described Okpo as a man of purpose who “had started life before 40”. He predicted a new mega breakthrough and celebration for Elder Okpo. The chairman of the Akwa Ibom State Council of NUJ, Comrade Amos Etuk spoke on behalf of Okpo’s professional colleagues.

Okpo’s close friend, Magistrate Sam Ukoima gwe who proposed the toast capped the tribute. He said, “Elder Okpo is a brother, a fine gentleman, compassionate and kind-hearted”. It is usually said a testimony from two or more persons settles it. That settled it. At 40, Elder Edet Okpo is already an inspiration, a huge positive influence and blessing to his immediate and remote community.