The maritime world stood still last weekend, in honour of late Pa Edet Udo Ekong, the father of the Ex-Director General of NIMASA and a maritime legal luminary, Mrs Mfon Usoro as he was interred in his country home, Oku in Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.
At Ikot Nkim/Oku Government Primary School, the official venue of the obsequies, the crème-de-la-crème of maritime industry and other people from all works of life gathered to pay their last respect to a man generally described as ‘an icon, dear and loving father and philanthropist par excellence’.
The occasion which was conducted strictly according to the principles and doctrines of the Jehovah’s Witnesses gave no room for formal recognitions, but the occasion witnessed a gamut of personalities across the divides of politics, governments at all tiers, business with groups and organizations conspicuously identified in their colours and brandings.
In the funeral talks, the speaker drew the attention of the people to the ephemeral span of life on earth as contained in the book of Psalms 90:10 and exhorted the people to apply wisdom to live righteously to gain eternal life, pointing out that, whatever man does God is watching.
From the biography, late Brother Edet Udo Ekong was born on May 4, 1933 into the family of Jimmy Udo Ekong as the first son. After his education, he started his working career with the United African Company UAC in 1954, where he worked and voluntarily retired in 1981 to go into private life.
Late Pa Ekong’s religious life as a Methodist witnessed a change of faith into the Jehovah’s witnesses where he baptised by water baptism in 1951 and ever since had remained a faithful brother serving in various capacities for the growth of Jehovah’s Kingdom. His life of philanthropy touched many lives in family and the communities where he lived and worked.
In death, Pa Ekong has left behind to mourn him his best friend cum wife ,Mrs Grace Ekong, five children among whom is Mrs Mfon Usoro and her husband Paul Usoro SAN, among others.
During the obsequies, our South-South Correspondent captured the moods of some of the personalities About Late Pa Ekong. Excerpts.
Chief Adebayo Sarumi, retired Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority NPA
The event has been a very beautiful befitting ceremony for the departed icon. Papa Richly deserves it because he spent time training his children and making sure that they hold their own in life. As you may very well know, we all follow the daughter, the former Director General of NIMASA, Mrs Mfon Usoro who is one of the handiworks that late Pa Ekong has trained in his life time to become such a big fish not only in Nigeria, but internationally whose vast experience has benefitted the maritime world. Probably in Akwa Ibom here it is not known how big Mfon Usoro is, but we know her when it specifically comes to maritime law. Pa Ekong was really a pillar in maritime sector for other parents to emulate.
It is indeed our pleasure to be here to witness the beautiful solemn occasion and to wish Late Pa Ekong perfect peace as he has gone home to be with lord.
CAPT. Ezekiel Bala, Executive Director, Maritime Safety and Shipping Development, NIMASA
We all know the contributions Mrs Mfon Usoro whom we fondly refer to as ‘MP’, during her tenure as Director General DG of NIMASA, to made to maritime development in Nigeria. It is on that note we have come to condole with her and the entire Akwa Ibom State on the death of her father, Late Pa Edet Udo Ekong, who was a rare gem of a father. We pray God to strengthen the family and Akwa ibom State to continue to support the growth of NIMASA.
AKPARAWA MONDAY ETOK AKPAN JP, International President Mboho Mkparawa Ibibio:
You can see from the turn out of people for the burial that if Late Papa Ekong did not train Akparawa-anwan Mfon Usoro to excel in the world of maritime, you would not have witnessed this crowd today to honour her father today. I am happy as an Ibibio son Akparawa-anwan Mfon Usoro has brought great honour to Akwa Ibom State and Nigeria by standing out as a beacon in her chosen area of endeavours. With her the future of maritime operation in Akwa Ibom State and Nigeria is very bright. We wish Late Pa Ekong a perfect rest with the Lord.
MRS JANE EBONG, Retired Director, Nigerian Engineering Technology Company (NETCO)
It has been a beautiful end to a loving caring father, Late Pa Edet Ekong. The bereaved family should appreciate God that their father is not dead but lives in the heart of people who must emulate his good examples.