Two Sauls are documented in the Bible. Both are notorious for their obsessions and addictions. One is seen in the old testament, while the other lives in the new testament. The first was the first King of Israel, while the second was the Apostle Paul who was formerly known as the Saul of Tarsus. It seems there is something in the name which carries an aura of extremism and ruthlessness. One thing is important here, they both were converted at one point of their lives or the other. This piece would address the conversion of Saul as it relates to the event of the thanksgiving service in honour of Senator (Dr) Akon Eyakenyi.
Perhaps a look at the lexical import of ‘conversion’ would prepare the mind for some absorbable abstractions. The Websters Dictionary says the word conversion is “the act or process of changing from one form, state, etc., to another.” It is “the act or process of changing from one religion, belief, political party, etc., to another. By this definition, it is safe to state that at least one person may have jumped into the gowns of the priest, seeking the anointing to function in the ecclesiastical realm. We shall be back together on this.
The Senator, Akwa Ibom South Senatorial District, Senator Akon Eyakenyi, on Sunday, March 1, 2020, captured a fraction of the Nigerian Senate and emptied them into the large hall of the Destiny International Missions, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State. More than 15 sitting senators, both Christians and Muslims were physically present. From the far nothern part of the country, the east, west and the middle belt, Nigeria had officially relocated its federal capital territory to Uyo, the capital city of Akwa Ibom state. All ethnographic components of the Nigerian federation were subsumed in that single gathering. The event pretentiously portrayed an image of a Nation whose unity is at its peak.
Akon Eyakenyi, PhD, a former minister of lands, Housing and Urban Renewal during the Jonathan’s administration was elected to replace Nelson Effiong at the red chambers. After showing a sense of devotion at the Senate, the former Akwa Ibom commissioner has shown clear seriousness in her representation. Turning 60 recently, she had hosted about 250 widows in the senatorial district where she touched their lives passionately. She equally presented health facilities and drugs to community health centres within the constituency. The event of Sunday, the Senator said, was to celebrate the goodness and faithfulness of God in her life. Of course, when she took the microphone, and began singing songs of victory, she told the story of her political surjourn, where she began as a supervisor, a commissioner, a board chairman, a minister of the federal republic and a Senator.
Then came the story of her senatorial engagement. Mrs Eyakenyi told the Church how she was favoured by God through the instrumentality of the Governor, Deacon Udom Emmanuel; the support from her party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, her constituents and her family. She glorified God for sustaining her in good health till age 60 and the grace to win the election, without having to face the huddles of judicial hostage. She praised the President of the Senate, Dr Ahmed Lawan and the Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege, whom she described as fathers, for giving equal opportunity to everyone in the Senate, irrespective of party difference.
“I am grateful to God who has made my ways smooth in all that I do”. My political journey has been ordered by God. It was God who made it easy for me to get the ticket. After that, he made it easier for me to come out victorious at the polls. The most important thing is that, while everyone else was running around at the tribunal, God made it simple for me. There was no litigation in my election. And today, God has made me 60, giving me and my husband five children and 17 grandchildren”, she said.
In his speech, the President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan has said political differences should be a factor for enhancing national unity. He urged Nigerians, irrespective of their party lines, ethnicity and religion, to unite for the nation’s development.
Lawan described the celebrator as a hardworking senator who has made her voice very audible since the beginning of the Ninth Senate. He warned politicians across party lines to desist from beginning the campaigns of 2023, but to focus on fulfilling their promises to their people, for which the electorate voted them into office. The Senate President expressed optimism that the nation will soon overcome its challenges.
Also speaking, the Akwa Ibom governor, Udom Emmanuel thanked God for Eyakenyi’s life of service, which he said had kept her going stronger. He advised politicians in the state not to distract his attention with consultations and political campaigns for the 2023 elections.
“I have known Eyakenyi to be a devoted woman. I am satisfied with her representation in the Senate so far. I have no power to anoint anybody for governor in 2023 until God reveals him to me. Let me warn that nobody should come for consultation because I want to work and bring in more investors into the state in the Year 2020,” he added.
While the priest in charge of the ministry, Archbishop Cletus Bassey was fully in charge, pouring enormous anointing on the leadership of the state and charging them to carry on the prosperity work, the Church witnessed a high praise that suddenly ended in solemnity. In fact, the solemn moment was invoked when the governor began to make his speech. He sounded like one who was fully anointed to spread the good news, when he sought God’s face for him to see his successor. The governor reminded many of the old Saul who was infected by the spirit of the prophets which made him experience the manifestation of the prophetic ministry. Of course, this is what had made the people wonder whether Saul was also among the prophets.
Obviously, we all know the story of Saul who had seriously persecuted the children of God. But when he had an encounter with God, he was instantly converted. Saul actually changed and confessed that he was exceedingly zealous of the traditions of his father. As captured in Galatians 1:7, Saul told the brethren that he thought he was keeping the norms of his father’s house. But after an encounter with Christ, he became blind to sin and could only see the righteousness of God. It could be safe to admit that Cletus Bassey had been the iron that sharpened the irons. Completely arrayed in his bishopric regalia, he told the Church of how he has never sat on that particular seat, without something unusual happening.
Interestingly, Akon has effectively represented Akwa Ibom south in the Senate. At least, the Senate President and the governor both agreed. This could be a message that those who had the opportunity but couldn’t make marks were unfruitful. It reminds that trees being watered without useful fruits are wasteful. Worshippers in the Church may have been transformed by the propelling message of God. People may have used Senator Akon as a mirror of good virtue, whose trajectory could be a shining example for useful life. Governor Emmanuel, like Isaiah may have sought the conscious spirit of God to show him his successor. We know God does not deny those who earnestly seek his face. Consequently, we should be proud to note that while Akon Eyakenyi is basking in the euphoria of her excellent service for her constituency, Saul is practically undergoing conversion which should make him see clear visions for the future survival of Akwa Ibom State.
Joseph Atainyang is a journalist and public affairs commentator. GSM: 07036964637