By Jonathan Ugbal
Cross River Governor, Senator Ben Ayade has expressed deep shock and sorrow over the death of the Archbishop Emeritus of the Catholic Archdiocese of Calabar, Most Reverend Joseph Edra Ukpo who passed away midweek at 85.
The Governor, in a condolence message signed on his behalf by his Chief Press Secretary/Special Adviser Media and Publicity, Christian Ita Esq, said the Archbishop’s passing is a “personal loss to me and my family.”
According to him, the late Archbishop was “a source of wisdom and counsel who was always there to lend a shoulder.”
Ayade, a Knight of the Catholic Church, said the Clergyman’s demise, “came with a profound pain of loss of such a great treasure of the Church and humanity at large.”
He likened his relationship with him to a “son-father” one, which makes the Archbishop’s demise a personal loss to him and a void that will be too difficult to fill.
“This is a personal loss and a void that cannot be filled because he was a father to me. I cherished the moments of all my encounters with him and I wish him a safe journey and eternal repose in the bosom of the Father.”
Ayade lamented that the cleric’s demise has robbed the Catholic church of a true teacher and promoter of the faith.
“He was compassionate and exceptionally generous, gave hope and succor to many people, and touched so many lives positively.
“Archbishop Ukpo was a special son of our Blessed Mother, Mary, he was full of pastoral zeal, a great teacher of the gospel, and an ardent promoter of vocations, both to the priesthood and religious life who promoted and stood for the authentic teachings and practices of the Church.
“He was a meticulous minister of the Sacraments, an ecclesiastical prelate who led the people through collaboration and listening to the people of God”, the statement quoted the Governor as saying.
He condoled with the Catholic Archdiocese of Calabar, the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, and the Ukpo family, assuring them that “at this trying moment the prayers and thoughts of the government and people of Cross River are with you.
“Archbishop Ukpo’s memory is our keepsake with which we will never part. God has him in his keeping while we have him in our hearts.”