Outpour of glittering tributes have not ceased since elder statesman, late Chief Ekpenyong James Inuaeyen, passed away. Everything said or written so far paints a picture of one who lived courageously but peaceably, a man of the people, father of all, community leader, church elder and disciplinarian.
The tributes gleaned from the traditional institution, government, political office-holders, companies, clergy and private citizens detail the impact and legacies of the departed family head of Ikot Edon, Mbente, and member of the Mbente Village Council, Nkari Clan in Ini Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, as well as console the immediate family on the loss.
The Akwa Ibom State government in a condolence message signed by the secretary to the state government, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, noted that the “testimonies lauding his personage and character, lend credence to the truth that the late Elder (Chief) Ekpenyong Inuaeyen lived an exemplary life of excellence in the service of God and humanity.”
The government referenced that “as a devout Christian faithful of The Apostolic Church Nigeria, his kindness and generosity beyond borders helped in enlarging the banner of love and care for humanity.”
Admonishing the deceased son, Obong Bassey Inuaeyen, and the entire family to be consoled, the state government stated that although his exit has created a vacuum, the family should count it as joy that he left behind immutable legacies.
A tribute personally signed by the deputy governor of the state, Mr. Moses Ekpo, and addressed to the eldest son, Obong Bassey Inuaeyen, states that Chief Inuaeyen lived an accomplished life and likened his life and times to an open book on devotion to God, commitment to family and selfless service to his community.
The deputy governor noted that as a member of the Mbente Village Council, he offered tangible contributions to the development of his community, adding that no crucial decision would be taken by the council without his input and ennobling influence.
The legislative arm of government in the state, the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, on its part asserted that the nonagenarian “died as one of the few Akwa Ibom sons that commanded patriotism and pride.”
The message signed by speaker of the parliament commiserated with the family and prayed for a peaceful repose of his soul. Senator Christopher Ekpenyong, representing Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District, where the deceased Mbente, Nkari, is under, paid tributes to the deceased for his exemplary courage and admirable attributes as a loving father.
“I urge you to be consoled by the fact that Papa was an icon of virtues and a loving father; an embodiment of forthrightness, diligence and patriotism, and that he died an accomplished man as typified in his devotion and commitment to his people, the church and the larger society,” part of the condolence message reads. He also prayed God to grant his soul eternal rest and his family the grace to be guided by the virtues he bequeathed to them.
Senator Bassey Albert Akpan representing Uyo Senatorial District acknowledged that the late Chief Inuaeyen contributed to the growth of Mbente and Nkari as well as peaceful disposition of the area.
“His death is therefore a great loss to you, Mbente village and Ini Local Government Area. As a committed and devout member of The Apostolic Church, the church will also miss him while his family will miss his leadership. Be consoled, however, that the late Elder (Chief) Ekpenyong Inuaeyen left behind legacies to be proud of. On behalf of members of my family, I pray God Almighty to grant his soul eternal repose and give you the strength to bear the loss,” Senator Bassey Albert penned.
Senator John Danboyi from Nasarawa State mentioned that his death has brought great emptiness, but expressed certainty that the strength and love in the family will make them pull through.
Danboyi added, “Baba may be no more, and nobody can fill the void he left behind; but in a way, he is very much around, considering he needs no tombstone to remind us of his legacy as represented by his scions…”
The Akwa Ibom State Council of Chiefs headed by His Eminence, Ntenyin Solomon D. Etuk, in its condolence message declared that news of the demise was received by him and Ifim Ibom Ibibio with heavy heart, adding that the occurrence is a great loss for the village, community, church and the immediate family.
“The demise of your father is a great loss for your village, community, church, and most especially to you. It is always painful to lose a close relative, more so, a loving father whose wise counsel, excellent leadership and fatherly love will be sorely missed,” the council added.
The council prayed God to grant the family the fortitude to bear the loss.
“I want you to know that Ifim Ibom Ibibio mourns with you all,” the council concluded.
Chief whip of Nigeria’s Senate, Senator Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, also wrote to convey “deepest and heartfelt condolences,” saying in spite of the fact that his passage is painful; his legacy of honour which he left behind is a sufficient consolation to the family and the entire community.
Kalu described the departed as a precious gem of inestimable value who would forever be remembered as he stamped indelible footprints in the sands of time.
“Please accept once again the sincere condolences on behalf of myself, my family and the good people of Abia North Senatorial District,” he appealed.
Former governor of Kogi State, Capt. Idris I. Wada, also condoled the family, saying the departed patriarch would be greatly missed by all. “On behalf of my family, I wish to express our deepest condolences to you and all the members of your nuclear and extended families. We pray Almighty God to grant your dear father, Elder Ekpenyong Inuaeyen, eternal rest in perfect peace in the bosom of the Lord, Amen. We also pray God to grant you and all the members of your family the fortitude and courage to bear this heavy loss,” the message stated.
Also, member representing Ikono/ Ini Federal Constituency, Rt. Hon. Emmanuel Ukpong-Udo, extolled the deceased for living a life worthy of emulation. “His life reflected the attributes of a devoted Christian, great man, loving father and community builder whose dynamics are seen in his children and all who came in contact with him,” he said. His state assembly counterpart, Rt. Hon. Emmanuel Bassey, in his message expressed regret that he left when his wealth of experience, exposure and good heart were most needed, and prayed God for the repose of his soul.
On his part, the Ini Local Government Council chairman, Hon. Israel Idaisin, asserted that the council is pained by the exit, and stressed that a dependable pillar has been lost.
“God should give you and your family the fortitude to bear this irreparable loss and grant the soul of the departed eternal rest in His bosom,” Idaisin prayed. The state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) also commiserated with the family.
The party in the message signed by its state chairman, Rt. Hon. Aniekan Akpan, consoled the family using the scriptures: “Death is an inevitable part of life, but just because death is fate that is destined for every mortal does not mean it is easy to bear it, remembering love and affection shared, but “Before dust returns to the earth as it was before and the life returns to God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7), have assurance with God in His word, today you will be with me in paradise…” (Luke 23:43).”
The University of Uyo via its vice chancellor, Professor Nyaudoh Ndaeyo, wrote inter alia: “Late Elder (Chief) Ekpenyong Inuaeyen lived a fulfilled, eventful and productive life as a community leader. He was the family head of Ikot Edon and member, Mbente Village Council, Nkari, Ini Local Government Area. It is worthy to note that the deceased was an ordained elder of The Apostolic Church Nigeria who impacted positively in the church. He departed at the time his counsel, comfort and services were needed most. His life was dedicated to the pursuit of the development of his immediate family, church, community and the state.”
Ibom Patriots, a socio-political group under the stewardship of Obong Bassey Inuaeyen, first son of the deceased, also acknowledged that his wise counsel would be missed, not only by Obong Bassey Inuaeyen, the family and the entire community, but also by those who were privileged to associate with him while he was alive.
“May his transition to eternity be peaceful, and may his gentle soul rest in perfect peace,” the group prayed in its message which was signed by Rt. Hon. Okpolupm Etteh and Rt. Hon. Usenobong Akpabio, deputy chancellor and secretary respectively.
His native Mbente Village Council in its message jointly signed by Eteidung Udoette Edon, village head of Mbente / clan head of Nkari, and Mr. M. A. Akpan, village secretary, announced that the village council received the news of the demise of the elder statesman with submission to God’s will.
They said he would be sorely missed.
A foremost cleric, John E. Ayah, Catholic bishop of Uyo, described the deceased as “a loving father, caring leader and steadfast elder with The Apostolic Church, Nigeria who impacted on the lives of so many people in his service to God and humanity.”
He prayed “the good Lord through the intercession of our Mother the Blessed Virgin Mary to grant him eternal rest in Heaven.” An earlier press release signed by the son of the deceased and chief mourner, Obong Bassey Inuaeyen, indicates that the remains of the nonagenarian shall be laid to rest on Saturday, August 21, 2021, at Mbente village, Nkari, by 10:00am.
According to Obong Inuaeyen, the funeral service will be conducted by The Apostolic Church Nigeria, the denomination of the late Chief Ekpenyong James Inuaeyen, where he served as an ordained elder till his demise. The obsequies for the departed patriarch, who lived from 1923 to 2021 commenced with the opening of mourning house on Sunday, August 15, 2021, followed by visitations to the deceased family, spanning Monday, August 16 through Thursday, August 19, 2021. The press release further stated that night of songs/ tributes held on Friday, August 20, 2021. Obong Inuaeyen stressed that COVID-19 protocols shall be strictly adhered to throughout the period of the obsequies.
He appreciated the prayers and goodwill of friends and well-wishers and sought their presence during the funeral. “Our family and I will be greatly consoled by your esteemed presence as you join us to give our father and patriarch a befitting farewell,” he added.