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Oku Ibom Ibibio: A Distinctive King And Patriarch

By Edidiong Albert

Oku Ibom Ibibio is the apex traditional stool in Ibibio land, Nigeria’s fourth largest tribe. The occupier of the throne, apart from being the supreme king and chief priest, is the patriarch of all the Ibibios to wit, the numero uno and final arbiter. From ancient times, the Ibibios, known for communality and sound administrative system, have counted on the stool to wax stronger and maintain progressive hegemony.

On the stool is His Eminence, Ntenyin (Dr.) Solomon Daniel Etuk, JP, CFR, who ascended the royal throne following his official coronation on Monday, January 31, 2018, at Asan Ibibio, the sacred ground of the Ibibios located at Nung Ikono Ufok, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State capital. The coronation was preceded by his overwhelming election by Ifim Ibom Ibibio – the conclave of all Paramount Rulers of the Ibibios otherwise known as the Supreme Council of Ibibio Traditional Rulers on Friday, September 14, 2018. In keeping with strict traditional protocol, His Eminence, Ntenyin (Dr.) Solomon Daniel Etuk, JP, CFR was after his successful election, treated to a proclamation rite on Saturday, November 17, 2018, where he was formally presented to the public before the official coronation. As the Oku Ibom Ibibio, he superintends as the President General of the Supreme Council of Ibibio Traditional Rulers Council and the Patriarch of Ibibios.

The supremacy imbued in the Office of Oku Ibom Ibibio is reflected in the speech of the then-governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr Udom Gabriel Emmanuel on that memorable coronation event. “A king has emerged for the Ibibio people. I know he will administer justice, fairness and equity. I challenge the stool that we want to see the unity of the Ibibio State Union re-enacted; re-enact the spirit of unity. This day is very significant for the Ibibio nation and indeed the whole Akwa Ibom State,” he stated.

Giving a vivid clarification on the significance of the throne, Nigeria’s former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Nsikak Eduok (Rtd.) of blessed memory said, “For the Ibibios, after God is the Oku Ibom. He is the father of the Ibibios. Whenever he advises, we are morally bound to obey. It is not only to give advice but once he makes a pronouncement, it is final.”

Ntenyin Etuk is a patriot, unifier and a gifted leader. The entirety of his life is nobility-defined. He is also the premier royal father in Akwa Ibom State and presides as the President General, of Akwa Ibom State Traditional Rulers Council; Member of the Executive Committee of the National Council of Traditional Rulers of Nigeria (NCTRN); Member of the South-South Monarchs Forum (SSMF) and the South-South Zonal Coordinator of the National Development Mega-summit of Traditional Rulers.

Related: Solidarity Mounts For Oku Ibom Ibibio As Life PG Of A’Ibom Traditional Institution

In recognition of his leadership qualities and contribution to the nation, Ntenyin Etuk was conferred with the National Award of the Commander of the Federal Republic (CFR) by His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in Abuja on October 11, 2022.

A scion of the royal family of Daniel Etuk from Ikot Ukobo, Western Nsit in Nsit Ubium, the monarch was born on September 21, 1958. He obtained his First School Leaving Certificate in 1974 and West African School Certificate in 1982. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree and MBA from the University of Calabar, Calabar, Cross River State. He also holds an LL.B and M.Sc. from the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN). He has a Doctorate (Honoris Causa) awarded in 2019 by Akwa Ibom State University.

His ascension to the traditional stool has been steadily progressive. He emerged as the village head of Ikot Ukobo, Nsit Ubium Local Government Area in 1998 and rose to become the group head of the Ibiakpan group of nine villages in 2004.

Following his proven sterling leadership, the people of Western Nsit, comprising 32 villages, unanimously selected him to be their clan head in 2012.

He later became the Paramount Ruler of Nsit Ubium Local Government Area, comprising 64 villages; a position he became the President of Nsit Ubium Traditional Rulers Council (TRC), Akwa Ibom State. He has served as chairman of, the Police Community Relation Committee (PCRC), Nsit Ubium (2003-2005); Chairman of, the Akwa Ibom State Traditional Rulers Dispute Committee in 2017 and was also re-appointed in 2018 to serve as a member of the committee.

The royal father as a man of wisdom has been a sound arbiter on issues of conflicts among disputants brought before him for peaceful and mutual resolution and peaceful co-existence.

Read Also: A’Ibom At 36: Oku Ibom Ibibio Calls For Stronger Bond Of Unity, Love And Peaceful Co-existence

Ntenyin Etuk berthed from the private sector as a successful entrepreneur, where he sat atop some business conglomerates, including S. Daniele W/A Limited, Dansol Enterprises, Faith and, Blessings International Limited and Drumbeat Global Services Limited. He is a renowned philanthropist and sports enthusiast, who spares no efforts in fostering unity, peace and love within and outside his immediate domain and across Akwa Ibom State and beyond. Oku Ibom Ibibio has a knack for promoting cultural renaissance, and preservation of Ibibio heritage and drives an all-inclusive national policy development for all stakeholders in the State and the Nigerian polity based on equity and social justice.

His reign has emblazoned the Ibibio congeniality and ensured closer ties amongst the various peoples in Akwa Ibom State and beyond. The Oku Ibom Ibibio is known to have also brought healthiness, unity and dynamism into the Ibibio traditional institution and the Akwa Ibom State Traditional Rulers Council. A former Minister of State, Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Senator John Akpan Udoedehe, described the monarch thus: “The physical look and carriage of His Eminence, Ntenyin Solomon Etuk, coupled with the fact that he is a business mogul, shows how worthy he is for that stool. He has brought dignity to the Ibibio people since his emergence. He is a unifier of all Ibibio people irrespective of beliefs or political inclinations. He deserves the support of all and his impartial voice should be ours always.”

In a similar vein, a former senior special assistant to the Governor and former President-General of Oron Union, Chief (Mrs.) Janet Amba, PHF, spoke of the monarch thus: “Without equivocation, Oku Ibom Ibibio, His Eminence Ntenyin (Dr.) Solomon Daniel Etuk, JP, is a gift to Akwa Ibom State from above.”

A visit to the palace of the premier royal father in Akwa Ibom State reveals his sense of splendour. The expansive palace, situated in the serene community of Ikot Ukobo, Ibiakpan in Western Nsit, Nsit Ubium Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, goes with a rare taste of royalty.

What is more, His Eminence, Ntenyin Etuk, is a man of many parts. The patriarch is also the Chancellor of the Akwa Ibom State University at Mkpat Enin Local Government Area with a campus at Obio Akpa, Oruk Anam LGA. He was appointed to the prime office of Chancellor by the then-governor, Mr. Udom Gabriel Emmanuel on Thursday, April 18, 2019.

Ntenyin Etuk, happily married to Akwa Obonganwan Philomena Etuk and blessed with children, was subsequently installed on October 31, 2019, at the AKSU’s sports ground, Main Campus, Ikot Akpaden, Mkpat Enin LGA. He took over from the first Chancellor of the institution, His Royal Highness, Alhaji Najib Hussaini Adamu, CON, Emir of Kazaure, Jigawa State.  As the Chancellor, he is the father of the university and takes precedence over all other members of the university, the pro-chancellor and chairman of the governing council as well as the vice-chancellor, except on academic and day-to-day general administration.

The Oku Ibom Ibibio has rekindled renaissance and communal bond in Ibibio land, Akwa Ibom State and beyond. As a member of the National Council of Traditional Rulers of Nigeria (NCTRN), he has enhanced royal ties with other traditional rulers.

His opinions on most national issues have been quite germane towards peace, unity and development of the nation. He was in the delegation of the National Council of Traditional Rulers of Nigeria on a courtesy visit to His Excellency, Mr Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR, President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; His Excellency, Senator Godswill Akpabio, CON, President of the 10th Senate and other key officials, soon after they assumed offices in June 2023.

Read Also: Elders, Leaders Of Ibibio Socio-Cultural Organisations Laud Gov Eno, AKHA ON Amended TRC Law

At a pre-constitutional amendment exercise, the premier ruler called for a united front for Akwa Ibom State. He postulated that for common positions on critical issues to be easily achieved, there must be effective synergy amongst stakeholders in Akwa Ibom State to ensure that our views as a people and as a state were well articulated and presented during the conference which was held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State on Wednesday, May 26, 2021. The monarch’s views hinged on the fact that the constitution amendment exercise was an important process aimed at achieving an acceptable constitution for the country. “We must unite and support ourselves, and contribute to the growth of Akwa Ibom at all times. Identify with the lofty programmes of government so that we can achieve desirable development, peace and prosperity for ourselves and the generation yet unborn”, he added.

Conscious about the need to build an egalitarian society, the monarch is always calling on the privileged members of the society to put all hands on deck and rally around their communities to assist in uplifting their progress. “Let us be proud of our communities. Let us show concern for how our communities are developing. We have to encourage village heads, clan heads and paramount rulers to ensure peace, tranquillity and progress,” he said in a recent interface with eminent sons and daughters of the state held at his palace.

Speaking about the personality of His Eminence, Ntenyin Etuk, the former Speaker, of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Aniekan Bassey was unequivocal that the monarch has greatly ensured peace and harmony in the State. He said, “Ntenyin (Dr.) Solomon Daniel Etuk, the Oku Ibom Ibibio, has brought unprecedented peace, harmony and tranquillity to the Ibibio race since his ascension and enthronement as the Oku Ibom Ibibio. Apart from being the Oku Ibom Ibibio, he has also brought peace and progress to his domain, Nsit Ubium Local Government Area, where he is the paramount ruler. Little wonder that as a bridge builder and peace advocate, the Akwa Ibom State University through the visitor, Governor Udom Emmanuel, found him worthy to be appointed the chairman, of Akwa Ibom State Council of Chiefs, on September 23, 2019.” With the restructuring of the traditional institution as Akwa Ibom State Traditional Rulers Council, Ntenyin Etuk was appointed its 1st President General on September 23, 2021.

A former military governor of Akwa Ibom State, His Excellency, Otuekong Idongesit O. Nkanga of blessed memory, also echoed the sterling qualities of the monarch during an interview. “When the leadership of the Ibibio race faced challenges, God intervened. Ntenyin (Dr.) Solomon Etuk emerged as a result of divine intervention. He has done exceedingly well and we are very proud of him.”

Other eminent sons of Akwa Ibom State who also spoke about the monarch hailed him for driving the stool responsively towards the unity of the Ibibios and Akwa Ibom State in general. Senator Ita Enang, ex-senior special assistant to the President, Niger Delta Affairs, said. “The ascension of His Eminence, Ntenyin (Dr.) Solomon Etuk, to the throne of Oku Ibom Ibibio, has given the Ibibio traditional institution and the entire Ibibio race a high stature, rallying point and indeed a totemic symbol. It is not only for him to sustain the awe of the stool, but for us, the subjects, to accord same the high regard as done by the Efiks to the Obong, the Yorubas to the Ooni or Oba or the Hausas to the Emir with primacy. May His Eminence reign for long in good health, and sound mind and represent the high virtues of the Ibibio and Akwa Ibom man”.

For Rt. Hon. Nduese Essien, elder statesman, a former member of, the House of Representatives for Eket/Esit Eket/Ibeno/Onna Federal Constituency and former minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, “Ntenyin Solomon Etuk’s emergence as Oku Ibom Ibibio has come very timely to place the Ibibios on the same pedestal with other leading tribes in Nigeria. According to him, “His educational background, level of riches, exposure, personal carriage and public standing equate him comfortably with the heads of other tribes.”

In a portrait of Oku Ibom, Obong Bassey Inuaeyen, elder statesman and chancellor, Ibom Patriots, of blessed memory added that “Oku Ibom Ibibio is God’s gift to Ibibio land and in particular, to Akwa Ibom State and Nigeria in general. He’s a man of high moral conduct, respect, integrity and credibility fit to lead his people in the 21st century. I am very proud of him as the king of my race.”

Within the ranks of the traditional rulers and leaders of socio-cultural organizations, Ntenyin Etuk’s leadership is seen as phenomenal and impactful. His tenure has brought about the building of a State-of-the-art Traditional Rulers Council Chambers for use by paramount rulers and a Lodge for the President General along Wellington Bassey Way, Uyo. Also is an ultra-modern Asan Ibibio complex at Ikot Oku Ikono, Uyo. Besides, his leadership has engendered improved welfare for traditional rulers, rapid certification of traditional rulers as well as the promotion of peace, unity and development among component groupings in the state and beyond.

Lending his voice to the exemplary leadership and acumen of Ntenyin Etuk, the Paramount Ruler of Ika Local Government Area, HRM Edidem Joseph Okosi Ekot (III), said his reign has heralded more respect and sunshine on the traditional institution in the State. Edidem Ekot, who spoke on the heels of the commissioned Asan Ibibio complex, said Oku Ibom worked harmoniously with the then Governor Udom Emmanuel to bring to bear the building of such a project and the improvement on the welfare and duties of the traditional institutions in the state.

In a tribute to Oku Ibom Ibibio, His Royal Majesty, Odidem Bassey Etim Edet, JP, Paramount Ruler of Udung Uko Local Government Area said that the leadership of Oku Ibom Ibibio is inclusive and very thoughtful of the larger interest of the people and the State. “The focus of His Eminence, Ntenyin (Dr.) Solomon Etuk is best for the prosperity and good leadership of the State and Nigeria. Every decision he makes in collaboration with his council members is done with thoughtful consideration and analysis of long-term implications for the State’s traditional institution and his people.

“So far, Ntenyin (Dr.) Solomon D. Etuk has laid a solid foundation upon which others may build as his tenure has had a profound and positive impact on the State. He possesses and exhibits significant and notable humility without boasting his potential ability and capability,” he stated.

According to him, Oku Ibom “displays and expresses selfless love and kindness to his people especially those living in painful hardship and distress by extending helping hands to them and leaving their lives above the troublesome stress. His tremendous vigorous courage is worthy of emulation. As a servant leader, he lives a life showcasing the true and right example as a guiding shepherd and a loving father.”

Speaking also, Elder Statesman, Dr Emmanuel Akpanobong, Chairman, of Ibibio Elders Forum said Ntenyin Etuk has lived up to the expectations as the Oku Ibom Ibibio since his ascension and coronation in 2018. He said, “On the position of Oku Ibom, I can say authoritatively that he is what we have been yearning for over the years. We are now lucky to have a man in the mould of the present Oku Ibom. He is a man of courage, a man of means, a man of self-sufficiency and a self-reliant person.

“I have seen the image of Ifim Ibom Ibibio being elevated by this Oku Ibom. In terms of organization and leadership vis-à-vis other people particularly Paramount Rulers, Clan Heads and down the line to the Village Heads and so on, I have seen proper coordination.”

The International of Mboho Mkparawa Ibibio, Akparawa James Edet, NPOM and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information, said the Oku Ibom Ibibio, Ntenyin Etuk has exuded inspiring leadership qualities that have engendered the growth, unity and progress among socio-cultural organizations and groupings in the state and beyond.

With a note of finality, HRM, Okuku Ime Udousoro Inyang, JP, Paramount Ruler of Ibiono Ibom Local Government Area, AKS, said, “With a sense of total submission to the Supreme Ruler of the universe, God Almighty; Oku Ibom Ibibio is the first and the last and the ultimate voice in the earthly, temporal, traditional and cultural spheres of the Ibibio land. That throne is a perpetual dynasty. That means it can only be occupied by another person at the death of the Oku Ibom.”

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