The Crowning Of Uyo Monarch

By Ekemini Simon


It was a momentous day abounding with pomp, pageantry and traditional panoply as the Paramount Ruler of Uyo, His Royal Majesty, Edidem Sylvanus Effiong Okon was formally crowned.

The aristocratic ceremony which took place on Saturday 7, December 2019 at the exquisite and accommodating ambience of Ibibio Unity Park, Udo Udoma Avenue, Uyo, a locale turned momentarily into Christmas Village because of the season witnessed women cry out in jubilation as the sound of drums, trumpets and flutes permeated the air, women, men and children displaying their artistic dance steps with royal gunmen firing several volleys to mark the coronation of the respected traditional monarch.

Eminent sons of Uyo including Sen. John Udoedehe, government functionaries, captains of industries among other notable personalities were at hand to experience this historic occasion. Interestingly, the occasion attracted personalities across the breadth and length of the State and dignitaries from other States of the Federation. Gargantuan crowd flooded the Unity Park to catch a glimpse of the enthroned monarch who rode majestically on chariot with his dear wife followed by an avalanche of palace guards and maidens into the venue. But why would this occasion attract such assemblage of dignitaries, crowd and fanfare? The answer lies in the uniqueness of Uyo and the personality crowned.

Uyo local Government area which also doubles as the capital of Akwa Ibom State lies between latitude 5.05 North and Longitude 7.933 East and situates at elevation of 45 metres above the sea level. Uyo has a population of 309.573 according to 2006 National Census figure. This is within the equatorial rain forest belt, which is a tropical zone and home to vegetation of green foliage of trees, shrubs and oil palm trees. The people of Uyo speak “lbibio” language which is the local dialect in lbibio land and entire Akwa Ibom State. Though there exist some slight differences in the dialectical aspect of some vocabularies as found among the people of Ikono clan; all the people of Uyo local government area hear and understand themselves in this one language. Interestingly, Uyo has 80 villages cutting across the four clans of Offot, Oku, Etoi and Ikono.

It is reported that Uyo was chosen the capital of Akwa Ibom State due to its centrality and historical background. With it doubling as a local government and the capital of Akwa lbom state, Uyo has witnessed phenomenal transformation evolving from a village into town and to a city. With the creation of lbesikpo Asutan local government area from Uyo and lbiono lbom local government area from Itu in 1996, Uyo Capital City is now bounded by six local government areas of Ibesikpo Asutan, Uruan, ITU, Etinan, Abak, and Nsit Ibom.

The traditional institution has also witnessed tremendous growth and development both in the quality of its functions and in beauty of the activities. Six Paramount Rulers have so far occupied the ancient throne of Uyo.

These were Edidem Atakpo Nyong-the Nsobom of Uruan and the Paramount Ruler Uyo; Edidem Ekpenyong Udo Ekong- The Clan Head of Offot Ukwa and the Paramount Ruler of Uyo; Edidem Okon Essien Okon-The Clan Head of Offot Ukwa and the Paramount Ruler of Uyo; Nsobom Michael Udo Eka, (KSM) – The Etete 1 of Oku and the Paramount Ruler of Uyo; HRM Edidem Cyril Ubit Nyong (KSM) – The Annaga 111 of Etoi and the Paramount Ruler of Uyo and HRM Edidem (Surv.) Edem Silas Akpan, FNIS, JP-The Clan Head of Ikono and the Paramount Ruler of Uyo.

Now crowned as the Paramount Ruler on the epochal occasion is His Royal Majesty, Edidem Sylvanus Effiong Okon, JP, NDM, AMBL who is the Village Head of Eniong Ofot and Clan Head of Offot Ukwa. Yet, the uniqueness and historical facts about Uyo as a local government area would not serve as the only factor that attracts people. The personage coronated gives a clue of a traditional ruler worthy to be reckoned and associated with.


HRM Edidem Sylvanus Okon has been a man of expedition. His life is fully enveloped in multiple adventures. Born in 1939 into the royal home of Chief Brendan Effiong Okponesip of Nung Osom, Ikot Ebide in Eniong Offot of Uyo local government area of Akwa lbom State and moulded in the caring hands of his mother, late Madam Arit Etim Okponesip who hailed from lbonda, Greek Town of Cross River State, Edidem Sylvanus grew into a muscular gentleman and set out for his voyage of life.

Not hampered by lack of opportunity for improved education, after acquiring his First School Leaving Certificate (Standard Six) in 1958 from the St Joseph’s School, ldu Uruan, Sylvanus Okon had his palm kernel cracked for him by benevolent spirit where in 1960, took a course in Catering and Management in Kano State where he obtained a Diploma Certificate.

No doubt, his life was significantly amplified after he further registered in a Driver’s School in 1965. This training offered His Royal Majesty the ample exposure into the world of possibilities as he obtained certificates and Diplomas in courses like:

Accident Prevention and Traffic Control, Petroleum Product Marketing and Consumption, Matrix and Transit Project Services and Privatization and 1Trade Union Investment in Nigerian Economy Conversant with the philosophy of Thomas Sterns Eliot who suspended himself in a mind blowing thought, asking, “Where must we go, we who wonder this wasteland, in search of our better selves?”, HRM Edidem Sylvanus Okon dropped his former career of catering, taking up an appointment with the Post and Telecommunications Department (P & T), Lagos where he served between 1975 and 1979.

Nevertheless, Sylvanus Okon was greatly influenced by the pensive provocations of T. S. Eliot which he read from fragments of his poetry. He once locked up himself reflecting on his personal desires for endless exploration. The end product of this had sent him into enrolling in the Driver’s School and so he became a fulltime explorer- long distance driving.

His Royal Majesty had drank himself to stupor with T.S. Eliot’ broken lines asking, “We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring.

Will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time?” But, greatly emboldened by the exploits of the iconic explorers, he further registered with the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Uyo Branch. Just four years into active exploration, he exuded visible leadership traits, hence his emergence as the Branch Chairman of NURTW which lasted from 1984 to 1988.

Zestful, resilient, committed, patriotic, disciplined, and visibly progressive, Edidem became the toast of the Union which surrendered the Akwa lbom State Chapter to him for leadership in 1988. As the State Chairman, his outstanding performance, sense of prudence and accountability, acute sense of judgement, extreme propriety and organisation ability unanimously threw him up for the position of the Zonal Treasurer and the first National Trustee of the NURTW. At this duty post, Edidem was saddled with the enormous responsibilities of organising and coordinating the National body of the Union in Abuja.

As a man who came, saw and conquered the remote world’ of exploration on the Nigerian roads, he was careful to cement the future generation in productive mentorship. Hence, not only was he giving the upcoming drivers fishes, he was also teaching them how to fish. The opportunities he provided for younger drivers to also acquire their own cars have spoken well for him, even in retirement till date, most drivers who own their personal cars in Akwa lbom State owe their gratitude to His Royal Majesty.

Kingship Beckons

Unlike Ulysses in Tennyson’s poetry who vowed, “I will not rest from travel: will drink life to the less”, Edidem was mindful that as a Prince, the throne was in furious palpitations. He knew that just like Prophet Jonah, he might not escape the oil of kingship on his head. And so at age 48, HRM Edidem Sylvanus Effiong Okon stepped into the traditional institution, even while being engaged by his Union. It happened at the Offot Ukwa Clan council in 1987, when he was selected as the Village Head of Eniong Offot and later issued with a Certificate of Recognition by the Akwa Ibom State Government. He was severally appointed as the Chairman of the Clan Council and nominated to represent the Clan at the Uyo Traditional Rulers’ Council, prior to his elevation to the rank of the Clan Head of Offot Ukwa.

A reflective thinker who engages his mind at all times to provide solutions to all of life’s challenges, Edidem has initiated various developmental programmes and projects in his capacities as both the Village Head of Eniong Offot and the Clan Head of Offot Ukwa. These he accomplishes in addition to his duty of maintaining Law and Order Progressing on his royal pedestal, HRM Edidem Sylvanus E. Okon became the fifth Paramount Ruler of Uyo local government area after his selection at the Akwa lbom State Council of Chiefs on Tuesday, June 19, 2018. He was duly issued with the Certificate of Recognition and Staff of Office by the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, His Excellency Deacon Udom Gabriel Emmanuel on September 24, 2018. The uplift has afforded him the empowerment to unite and coordinate peaceful coexistence among Uyo people and residents of the area.

14 months after receiving staff of office, the time finally came for the Royal crown to be bestowed upon the head of the monarch. Interestingly, this coronation rites was performed by the Traditional Rulers in Akwa Ibom State led by Oku Ibom Ibibio and Chairman of the Akwa Ibom State Council of Chiefs, His Eminence, Nteyin Solomon Daniel Etuk. But is the royal father worth the glorious crown? Besides the traditional recognition, has he gained other recognition in time past to equip him fully for this exalted recognition?


Interestingly, the Royal Father has gained many awards and recognitions, some of which are:
Chairman- National Union of Road Transport Workers Uyo Branch (NURTW), Chairman- National Union of Road Transport Workers, Akwa lbom State Chapter (NURTW), Zonal Treasurer- National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), First National Trustee- National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Member- National Executive Committee of National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Grand Patron- National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Akwa lbom State Chapter, Village Head- Eniong Offot Village, Clan Head- Offot Ukwa Clan, State Treasure- Assembly of Clan Heads Presiding Member- Uyo Traditional Rulers’ Council, Paramount Ruler- Uyo Local Government Area.

Yet, that is not the end. The monarch has bagged several awards. They include: Third Perfect Niger Delta Monarch Award, January 13, 2007, Award of Honour as Ambassador of Light by the Apostolic Church Nigeria, Excellence Award as Life Patron by the Inspectors Mess, Cross River Command, Merit Award for the Development of Transportation in Nigeria by NURTW, Itu Branch, Award of Excellence for Human Development by NYSC Federal Road Safety Club, Award of Excellence by the Apostolic Church, Eniong Offot District in recognition of his fatherly role and meritorious contributions to the greatness of the Church, Certificate of Recognition by Uyo Cooperative Forum, Best lbibio Clan Head Award by Supreme Council of Ibibio Youths (Esop Iwaad lbibio), 2013, Award of Honour by Akwa Ibom Youth Integrated Assembly, 2015, Excellence Service Award by Nigerian Christian Youth Organization, Akwa lbom State, 2014, Excellence Service Award by Akwa lbom Youth for Change and Development Initiative, 2013, Excellence Recognition Award by the Sunday School Movement, Apostolic Church Nigeria, Anua Offot District, 2012, Justice of Peace (JP) by UNDP for Leadership and Community Development. Besides these, HRM has received many other Awards, including appointment as Patron of several organizations, institutions and Communities.

Indeed, HRM Edidem Sylvanus returned to the Royal Home to rest his long years of toil on the Uyo Royal Throne.
The monarch who just clocked 80 years of age is an accomplished business mogul, a fervent Christian and an upright community leader. His Royal Majesty Edidem Sylivanus E. Okon is a fulfilled man, blessed in marriage where he is a caring husband and a diligent father. Entrenched in the character of honesty, subsistent in humility, renowned for love and hospitality, the traditional ruler is seasoned in philanthropy hence widely known as ‘Eti-ldo (Good-Life).

Notwithstanding the coronation, who really is His Royal Majesty Edidem Sylvanus Effiong Okon in the eyes of Akwa Ibom State Government?

Edidem Okon in the Eyes of the State Government

The Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr Udom Emmanuel at the coronation notes that he is delighted over the quality of the Paramount Ruler crowned.

Represented by the Deputy Governor, Moses Ekpo, he commend the Uyo Traditional Ruler’s Council for giving the State a Royal Father whose service profile among other credentials are highly rated.

The Governor equally applaud them over the orderly manner and rancor-free selection process which has culminated in the coronation. The Governor then points out what the State expects from the Monarch: “We believe that the crowned Paramount Ruler will not be involved in partisan politics. The vision and expectation of government is to see our traditional institution grow in status in line with the realities of the modern world where, for instance, the British monarchy serves the background purpose of that countermanding father figure which calls the boys to order when the excesses of democracy drive things to the precipice.”

Just like the popular Oliver Twist, the Governor is desirous for more. He says “I hope to see Akwa Ibom monarchy evolve into a veritable custodian of that galvanizing myth which a people must have as an insurance against social disintegration.”

Nevertheless, for these expectations to manifest, Governor Emmanuel advises that the subjects of the Crown Monarch must learn to work together with the monarch for the common good of the people, knowing fully well that power comes from God. In the same vein, he maintains that government expects that the new Monarch will work harmoniously with everyone, even if some persons may have shown any form of opposition to his emergence.

What is more, the Chief Executive Officer of the State wishes His Royal Majesty well in his reign.
He notes “As the last layer of administration, it is our desire that we work together to bring development to the people. It is my hope that under the reign of His Royal Majesty, peace, harmony and general development will continue to characterize the life of the people of this Local Government Area and the State in general.

“Once again, I congratulate you on your emergence as Paramount Ruler, and pray that the Almighty God grant you the grace and strength for productive service to the people in this high office.”
In spite of the glowing expressions from the Governor, what is the thought of the Monarch’s subject over their newly crowned traditional ruler?

Newly Crowned Monarch in the eyes of Uyo people

The Chairman on the occasion, Obong Simeon Umoette notes that the coronation marks a great day, not only for the people of Uyo but also for sister Local Government Areas in Akwa lbom State, considering the role Uyo plays in the State.

The Chairman says that the last Coronation of the magnitude witnessed at Uyo occurred some twelve (12) years ago, precisely on 24th November 2007 hence they are happy that after waiting for 12 years, another opportunity beckons to the people to not only to showcase their delight but also to felicitate with their King in a colourful ceremony marking his ascension to the ancient throne of his fore fathers.

Obong Umoette who describes the celebrant as a consummate, cerebral and epic gentleman says that from the quality of his royal personage, the crowned traditional father is an exemplary counsellor and mentor of highest breed.

He adds “He is characterized by foresightedness, courage, objectivity and sagacity earning him the sobriquet-ETIIDO We are very proud of our King and will go to any reasonable legitimate extent to express our adoration today”.

What is more, the Chairman, Central Planning Committee for the coronation, Mr Charles Udoh says the people of Uyo Local Government Area are glad to have His Royal Majesty sit on the stool. He offers insight to the fact that over the years, the crowned king has proved his mettle in different capacities and excelled in many endeavours.

Udoh notes “Your accomplishments are monumental and have become sources of pride for our people. It is not an accident that His Excellency, Governor
Udom Emmanuel ratified your choice as the Paramount Ruler of Uyo Local Government Area and subsequently presented you with a Certificate of Recognition in September 2018. He found you worthy to sit on the traditional stool” Udoh explains that Over the years, the throne of the Paramount Ruler of Uyo has been significant, not only to the people of Uyo, but also to the entire people of Akwa lbom State since whoever sits on the throne becomes a voice that reverberates not only in the traditional matters of Uyo, but also in the socio-economic and political affairs of Akwa Ibom State, through the contribution of noble ideals and wise counsel.

While wishing that the Traditional father a successful reign, he advise “Your Majesty must continue the good work of finding common grounds among people of different interests, beliefs and inclinations in Uyo. Your reign must continue to witness the participation of illustrious sons and daughters of Uyo in the genuine efforts to reinvent the local government as a leading local government area, which is the political and economic capital of Akwa Ibom State.”
Yet, with all the expectations and wishes, is the Monarch really ready for the task ahead?

Crowned Monarch Unveils plan

In his inaugural speech, HRM, Edidem Sylvanus Effiong Okon, Paramount Ruler of Uyo local government area thank God and the people for choosing him to serve in the lofty position.

The King offers insight to the fact that what is called “Uyo” is a centre of peace, order, regulated habitation of harmonious people who in their formative years would gather to listen to the ‘Üyó (voice) of their ruler which in turn, their leader, a Royal Father, just like himself, would from time to time gather the people and direct them on what to do, when to do it and how to do it, so they can remain peaceful and bonded in love and togetherness.

He recalls that by doing so, the people were obedient, disciplined, patriotic and committed to community service, because they knew their reward.

Edidem Okon explains that their reward was nothing far From the blessings of their ancestors conveyed to them through the Royal Father.
The Crowned King adds “Here we are listening to that same Uyó (voice). This time, not that old voice of a dreaded and influential traditional ruler, but that of a modern monarch of Uyo people. Of course, I was at my lower post as the Village Head of Eniong Offot. I am still one as I have been in the last 25years ago.

“Later on, the Offot Ukwa Clan, poured on my head, the oil of service, making me to assume the headship of the clan. I continued to discharge my duties in the two capacities until two years ago when the whole of Uyo people chose me for a higher responsibility. Your Excellency, fellow royal fathers, after I have been tested and trusted as a reliable and dependable authority in traditional matters, the entre Uyo people decided to gather here for this coronation.

“This event therefore points to the fact that, like people were always eager to hear the Royal voice (Uyó) of that first monarch, the Uyo people of today are eager not only to listen to my voice, but to respect, obey and cherish the wisdom in that voice.”

Edidem Okon assures that as a Paramount Ruler, he will neither relax on the throne am nor hide somewhere to bar any of his sons or daughters from reaching out to him in the event of any form of necessity.

He says his duties cut across mediation of crises, settlement of disputes, giving of direction on traditional matters and overseeing the overall progress of his people which he describes as beloved.

The Monarch notes that it is also his duty to ensure that those who live with the people of Uyo abide by their prescribed way of life in line with the saying that when you go to Rome, you must put on the Character of a Roman.

Edidem Okon expresses determination to engage individuals, relevant stakeholders, political leaders and operators of private ventures within the enclave of Uyo to ensure they promote peaceful coexistence in our area.

However, the Monarch will not end his speech without requesting contributions from the State government. He says “In the manner of that innocent man called Oliver Twist, Your Excellency, I implore you to look at this crowd once more. As you can see in the crowd, there are many of Uyo sons and daughters who are ably qualified to serve in one office or the other. As their father, I plead that you accommodate more of them in your list of new appointments.

“In doing this however, I request that you effectively engage your leadership skills, so as to ensure that those appointments spread across all the political wards in Uyo. Again, as a central seat of government in the state, we have lost most of our natural resources. A saying goes that to whom much is given much is expected. I urge our kind hearted Governor to consider the absorption of Uyo people in government, not on the basis of equal sharing formula, but on the basis of the sacrifices we have made in accommodating government”.

The newly crowned monarch completed his responsibility by extending the blessing of the day to others through the conferment of traditional chieftaincy titles and awards of excellence to notable sons the area and beyond.

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