The news was devastating. A terse report rent the air: “The state chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party in Akwa Ibom State, Obong (Hon.) Udo Ekpenyong, has passed on;” came a pathetic announcement by the Party.
It stated further, “According to his physicians, he died in the early hours of Tuesday, January 19, 2021 from complications traceable to the novel Covid-19 virus.
“Obong Udo Ekpenyong who assumed office as the 6th State chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party in Akwa Ibom State was the immediate-past commissioner for local government and chieftaincy affairs, Akwa Ibom State, and former member of the National Executive Committee of our party. He was also a former political adviser to Governor Victor Attah as well as one-time chairman of Ukanafun Local Government Area.
“Our party, the PDP, has been thrown into unimaginable grief by the news of his passing even as we condole with the bereaved family.
“We are confident that God Almighty who is the source of all comfort will grant us the grace to bear this tragic loss.”
The above press statement by Mr. Borono Bassey, publicity secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Akwa Ibom State, confirmed the shocking exit of Ekpenyong, a consummate politician.
Since the news broke out, Akwa Ibom has literally become a terminus for mourners as they keep thronging in to identify with the state, the PDP and the deceased family.
This is even as unceasing tributes from the various tiers of government, religious bodies, traditional institutions, companies and individuals have been pouring in torrents.
The Akwa Ibom State governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel, described the demise of Ekpenyong as a personal and painful loss to him and the PDP.
Governor Emmanuel who was speaking when a national delegation of the PDP paid a condolence visit to the State, noted that Ekpenyong’s loyalty and commitment were incomparable.
He appreciated the departed for “the efforts he invested in serving the state and the party” and prayed God to grant eternal repose to his soul.
During the visit, national chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, said the national leadership of the party long noticed Ekpenyong’s gallant and sacrificial contributions to the progress of the party.
Secondus promised that the PDP would be fully supportive of the state government and the immediate family of the deceased to help lessen the effect of the loss.
Following suit was the Executive Committee of the PDP, South-South Zone.
The committee members visited the Government House, Uyo, to condole with the leader of the PDP in Akwa Ibom and governor of the state. The delegation led by the PDP national vice chairman, South South, Chief Dan Obih, said the party and the country have “lost a strong pillar.”
According to Chief Obih, despite his short stay in office, late Udo Ekpenyong was making robust efforts on how to multiply the gains of the PDP in the region.
Chief Obih told Governor Emmanuel that the PDP would continue to remember the late state chairman for his result-oriented contributions which were critical to building the PDP to become a virile party in the region.
On their part, members of the Akwa Ibom Caucus in the National Assembly led by Senator Bassey Albert who represents Uyo Senatorial District, lamented that they have lost a father figure and mentor.
The caucus during a visit to the state leadership of the party on Thursday, February 25, 2021, however, consoled members of the party, saying though his demise occurred at a time he would have impacted more on the party, the best party members can do is to immortalize his virtues.
“Hon. Udo Ekpenyong lived for us all. It is a difficult moment for us all. We all have to honour him with our deeds. Yes, we are mourning, but we have to realize the importance of emulating our departed father and immortalizing the virtues he represented,” said Senator Albert.
Members of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly during a recent visit to the deceased family at Ikot Oku Usung in Ukanafun Local Government Area commiserated with the family, saying “the pain such untimely death has caused the family is unquantifiable.”
Bassey recalled that Ekpenyong was a “dogged, strong, committed, dedicated and an accomplished party man who had held numerous positions and appointments that culminated in his rising to the pinnacle of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Akwa Ibom State as state chairman.”
“Apart from being a quintessential politician, your late father was a strong indefatigable community leader, consummate bridge builder as well as devout Christian who dedicated his life to the service of God, humanity, your community and Akwa Ibom State,” Bassey added.
He admonished the family, the people of Ukanafun and the entire PDP structure in the state to be consoled in the fact that the late party leader left behind the legacies of hard work, strong character and abiding faith in God.
Local government council chairmen under their umbrella body, Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), Akwa Ibom State Chapter, in a release signed by their chairman, Mr. Iniobong Robson Nnamso, described the late state chairman as “a consummate administrator, exceptionally loyal team player and an uncompromising patriot who combined hard work and integrity in his service to the state.”
Mr. Robson who is the chairman of Esit Eket LGArecalled Ekpenyong’s stellar exploits as former chairman of Ukanafun, political adviser to Obong Victor Attah, national ex-officio officer of the Peoples Democratic Party, commissioner for local government and chieftaincy affairs and lately as state chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, and described his records in service as exceptional. He also reminisced his unfettered love for God and His work as exemplified in the many sacrificial investments he made in God’s vineyard.
He said the ALGON family was exceptionally pained at the sudden passing of Obong Ekpenyong, adding that he would be greatly missed as he lamented that death had left a big scar in the hearts and minds of many well-meaning sons and daughters of the state that would take a while to heal.
Still on the tributes trail, came one from the College of Commissioners and Special Advisers led by their dean, Dr. Glory Edet, who paid a condolence visit to the deceased family.
During the visit, the college condoled with the bereaved family and offered prayers for them.
The Akwa Ibom State Traditional Rulers Council headed by His Eminence, Ntenyin (Dr.) Solomon Daniel Etuk, also condoled with the state government on the loss.
In a statement signed by the monarch, the council bemoaned that Ekpenyong’s demise and those of other prominent Akwa Ibomites in recent time have been calamitous.
“Never at any time have we witnessed the passages of patriots and elder statesmen like these, which have thrown the entire Akwa Ibom State into deep mourning. Our hearts writhe in pains and profound lamentation as we reflect on their sagacious lives and immutable contributions to the government, the society and ecclesiastical well-being,” the council decried.
Akwa Ibom PDP on its part has promised to immortalize the late Ekpenyong by sustaining his leadership ideals.
State acting chairman of the party, Rt. Hon. Lawrence Udosen, while receiving groups who came to pay condolence visit on Tuesday, February 23, also acknowledged that Ekpenyong “left enduring legacies in leadership evident in the orderliness and peace enjoyed under his watch as chairman.”
The state chapter of the party also visited the deceased family on Wednesday.
The acting chairman, Rt. Hon. Udosen, who conveyed the condolence message of the party to the family, described Obong Ekpenyong’s demise as “a painful loss to the party which was his second family.”
Udosen highlighted that “he turned around the fortunes of the party within the short period he superintended it,” adding that he was a man full of life and disciplined character.
As per a report by the publicity secretary of the party, “the first son of the late chairman, Dr. Frank Ekpenyong, thanked the party delegation for the visit. He observed that his father had led an impactful life which he said is evident in the level of solidarity shown to the deceased family. Dr Ekpenyong noted that although the demise of his father was painful, the family was comforted in God. He encouraged the party to do the late chairman the honour of preserving his legacies.
Meanwhile, to ensure a befitting honour at his funeral, a central planning committee headed by the national legal adviser of the PDP, Barrister Emmanuel Enoidem, was inaugurated.
The funeral holds at his country home, Ikot Oku Usung in Ukanafun LGA, today, Friday, March 26, 2021.
Rt. Hon. Udo Samuel Ekpenyong was born in 1957.