Mr. Okon Okon, Executive Chairman, Akwa Ibom Internal Revenue Service, AKIRS, flanked by his wife, Barr. Nkereuwem Okon, and village head of Ekpene Ibia, Eteidung Sabastian Okon, after receiving a special recognition as Akamba Ntanta Ekpene Ibia, by Ekpene Ibia village Council.

Abasifreke Effiong

Ekpene Ibia, one of the six communities in Southern Uruan ward 1, Uruan local government area, on Saturday 17th December, honoured 62 Akwa Ibomites who have distinguished themselves in service to the nation, Akwa Ibom state, Uruan local government and the community. The occasion was the Ekpene Ibia day celebration 2022 and fundraising for the building of a technical school and other projects.

The honours were in four categories namely, award of excellence in service to the state and nation; distinguished entrepreneurial award; recognition for ecclesiastical service; and recognition for leadership, human capital and community development.

Leading the list of awardees were Mr. Okon Okon, the Executive Chairman of the Akwa Ibom Internal Revenue Service and his wife, Barr. Nkereuwem Okon, and select elites of Ekpene Ibia. Okon bagged two awards; a star award/recognition as “Akamba Ntanta Ekpene Ibia” (The big star of Ekpene Ibia), and an award of excellence in service to the state and nation. His wife, a weight loss specialist and wellness coach, was also honoured for excellence in service to state and nation.

Rt. Hon. Aniekan Bassey, Speaker of the Akwa Ibom state House of Assembly; the Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Linus Nkan, his counterparts in the Ministries of Power and Petroleum Resources, and Economic Development, Dr. James Etim, Mr. Elem Bob; the member representing Nsit Atai state constituency, Elder Mark Esset; the Chairmen, Akwa Savings and Loans, and AKROIMA, Mr. Ime Okon and Prince Godwin Ntuk Udeh; Mr. Iniobong Ekpenyong, Executive Chairman of Uruan local government area and Mrs. Itoro Etim, PDP candidate for Uruan state constituency, were also honoured for their excellence services to the state and nation.

Ekpene Ibia day: The Okons, Aniekan Bassey, celebrated for outstanding community service  Barr. Nkereuwem Okon, after receiving an award of excellence in service to Akwa Ibom State and Nigeria.

Others honourees were, Prof. Stephen Okon Edem, a professor of soil science at the University of Uyo, Mr. Ubong Obot, MD/CEO of Ubotex Nigeria, Mr. Ini Utuk, MD, Verini construction company; Rt. Rev. Edem Offiong, Bishop of the Methodist Church Nigeria; Apostle Ime Offiong; Pastor Cletus Etim; HRM Edidem Cosmos Nkanga, Paramount Ruler of Uruan; HRH Eteidung Sabastian Okon, village head of Ekpene Ibia, among others.

The event was spectacular. The full presence of the dignitaries listed above and others who turned up made the day very thick for the community. There was a live vocal music (accapella) presentation by Ekpene Ibia teens, gyration by Ekpene Ibia youngsters and the folk songs by the women, all lyricked to thank Governor Udom Emmanuel for opening up the community with well-paved roads, standard drains and other projects. As the village head, Eteidung Sabastian Okon, and the youth leader noted in their presentations, the construction of the Anua-Mbak-Issiet road which passes through Ekpene Ibia has opened up the community and saved it from the destructive perennial flooding. For that token, the village head in his address said, “our special thanks goes to Governor Udom Emmanuel who has executed life-touching projects in Ekpene Ibia. I have given this speech to the local government chairman, I have told him to make sure that it gets to the Governor. Go and tell him (The Governor) that we are with him 100 percent.”

Having overcome the challenge of access road, and receiving great assurances from the Governor through the Commissioner for Power that electricity will be restored to the community in few days time, the Ekpene Ibia Elites – a forward thinking, community-development minded group – working in unanimity with the village council and the youths decided to take on the community’s next development challenge – having a technical school in the area.

Ekpene Ibia day: The Okons, Aniekan Bassey, celebrated for outstanding community service  Rt. Hon. Aniekan Bassey, displaying his award of excellence in service to Akwa Ibom State and Nigeria presented to him by Ekpene Ibia community.

Their reason for seeking to establish a technical college is that there is no public secondary school in Southern Uruan ward 1 ward and South 2 which has five villages including Ekim Enen, hometown of the Speaker of the State House of Assembly. They noted that there is an increase in population occasioned by movement of new residents into the area because of good access road leading to the Issiet seafood market.

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More so, in an era where the state government is pushing attention vehemently towards entrepreneurship and industrialisation, technical skills should be a big deal. Ekpene Ibia community is seeking to create access for her youths to acquire basic technical education. Their justification was roundly applauded by guests at the event including the Speaker of the House of the House of Assembly, the Commissioners, Board members and the Executive Chairman of Uruan local government council who sat as chairman on the occasion. The proposed school will primarily serve 11 communities in South 1 and 2.

The Ekpene Ibia Elites who are stirring the community to such height of creative thinking on development planning have shown great foresight, love for their community and generations of indigenes coming after them. Notably, Mr. Okon Okon, who received double honours at the event leads the pack. He announced his full endorsement for the school project and made a financial donation for it.

Okon also announced full scholarship for 10 indigenes of the community. The educational grant covers full boarding cost for skill acquisition training for five youths, and a full university scholarship for five other youths of Ekpene Ibia who have gained admission in a public university. It was not the first educational grant he has given to youths in the community.