By Maxwell Effiong
The Obong of Calabar, Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu V has said the southern port city of Calabar, is the mother of the modern geographic entity, Nigeria.
The monarch stated this while inaugurating the second membership of the Obong of Calabar Executive Forum (OCEF) last weekend at his palace where he called for unity in order for the nation to grow.
“Calabar is the mother of this country. They were the first to actually integrate with the white in everything, every administration, so they were right there to be used as of that time. and they benefited from that initial education from the white and so they were everywhere,” the monarch said while inaugurating Chief Gershom Essien Henshaw as the new Chairman of OCEF and preached the message of unity as the panacea to the myriad of challenges the country and especially Cross River State faced.
Charging the new executive of OCEF to work towards achieving that, the Monarch averred that: “I think the key thing is that we should as much as possible not backslide in the scheme of things like other tribes.
“The big body Nigeria and Cross River State is a blessed entity. I think it is a State that is blessed and all we need is to tidy up ourselves, come together and then reclaim our lost glory. So, I think what we need in Cross River is unity and for all of us to come together and work as a body and as a people and upgrade our life and that would actually change a lot of things and tribal sentiments.”
The OCEF first came into existence 11 years ago with the aim of bringing together Efik daughters and sons at home and in the diaspora.
The first Chairman, Chief Asuquo Ekpenyong, resigned after 10 years of serving with the palace initially not putting a time limit for members of the OCEF.
The palace has now issued a time limit for OCEF and included a vice Chairman, Chief Anne Ene Ita and the Monarch said there was need for the new OCEF to improve on the old
“We give thanks to God that it was so colorful that everybody came around. My advice to them is for them to toe the line of the old executive of the OCEF and gather the people together, and then improve on what the former leaders did. The OCEF created what we know today as ‘Utomo Obong’ that became international traditional output that people are looking up to.
“Indeed, you know what the Utomo Obong is, and that is all the principalities of Efik people going to pay homage to the king at a particular time, and that is what use to be in those days. It was actually revived in this dispensation by this body of the OCEF, and we want it to go beyond that.
“The former chairman of the forum resigned after a period of ten years, and then we decided to have a new person, initially it was open without time duration, now we decided to create a time duration for whosoever is coming in as a chairman,” the Monarch said.
The oath of office was administered by the Secretary of the Etuboms’ Council, Etinyin Ekpo Archibong.
And, Chief Henshaw in his acceptance remarks said his membership of OCEF since it’s inception will be brought to bear as his desire remains the Efik Eburutu kingdom to grow.
“My venture into OCEF 11 years ago was purely for service, service to my tribe, the Efik Eburutu Kingdom; devoid of any personal attachment. I never imagined to witness a day like this when I would be appointed the chairman of this revered body. I give thanks to God who in his infinite mercy and grace has made this possible,” Henshaw said and announced new appointments.
Dr. Maurice Ekpenyong is to serve as the new secretary while Engineer Idim Ikpeme is the Chairman of ‘Utomo Obong,c the yearly cultural homage to the Obong of Calabar. He also called for a minute silence in honor of the late Colonel Edet Gregory Effiong who passed away earlier this year.
Earlier, the Chairman, Etuboms’ Traditional Council, Bassey Okor Bassey Duke while welcoming attendees, commended the past OCEF membership which included Dr. Emmanuel Nsan as secretary and Mr. Bassey Kooffrey as Director General for their service and a job “well done.”
Duek who posited that leadership was no easy task, listed some of the attributes which he said the Obong of Calabar has always displayed.
“Leadership is not an easy task, it is not for people with weak heart but for the brave, it is about having a vision and aim, commitment, determination, team work, loyalty and respect, including being diligent; active, selfless, visionary, calm and helpful, above all listening and accepting change,” he said.
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