GLORIOUS HOME CALLING: AHTA EDET ISEMIN MARCHES ON!

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Like all mortals are bound to, Ahta Ọrọ VII and Paramount Ruler of Mbo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, HRM Ahta (Hon.) Edet Okon Isemin, has joined his ancestors.

The remains of the patriarch of Oro nation, who departed this terrestrial plane at the age of 84, will be committed to mother earth today Saturday, 24 April, after obsequies at the Oron Stadium by 10am prompt.

Oron people, over whom the departed royal papa reigned with civility and candour, have celebrated his life through various activities in the course of the week.

The schedule were contained in a release co-signed by the Chairman of Obio Ifong Isong Ọrọ, formerly known as Council of Ọrọ Traditional Rulers (COTR), HRM Offong Effiong Unanaowo JP; his Secretary, HH Offong Etim Oquong; as well as former Nigeria’s Ambassador to Greece and Central Planning Committee Chairman, HE Amb. Etim Uye; the Central Planning Committee Secretary, Offong Engr. E. E. Okon; and Chairman, Media & Publicity Sub-Committee, Chief Paul Ulo Uye.

The deceased for whom the bell tolls, Ahta Edet Isemin, was a man of many parts. A journey into his book of life opens our hearts to knowing a leader whose script was uniquely written by God’s fingers.

He was elected on Friday, 18 August, 2017 and presented to Oron people on Friday, 25 September, 2017, as the Grand Patriarch of Oro nation. His coronation held on Saturday, 28 April, 2018, at the Oron Civic Centre. Ahta Isemin succeeded Ahta Oro VI and Paramount Ruler of Okobo LGA, His Royal Majesty, Owong Bassey Andem Ibok, who passed on at age 93.

Edet Okon Isemin was born on 1 October, 1935. His father, Chief Peter Okon Uneng of Udung-Abasi, Ibaka, was a community leader. His mother was late Madam Arit Udo of Udung Isemin. His parents were of the ancient city of Ibaka group of villages in Uda community, found in today’s Mbo LGA. He began his primary education at Government Primary School, Abak, Abak LGA, after which he enrolled for his secondary education at Holy Family College, Oku Abak, still in Abak LGA. He also obtained General Certificate of Education.

Ahta Isemin joined the civil service in 1957 in the then Eastern Nigeria, where he was active in labour unionism, even as he served the nation meritoriously until he voluntarily resigned in 1971. His Royal Majesty, while in the struggle for workers’ rights, had served as an executive member of the then Eastern Nigeria Stores Union between 1962 and 1963.

After his voluntary resignation, Ahta Isemin, already a gifted entrepreneur, pitched his tent in the private sector as founder and Managing Director of Isemin and Sons Enterprises. This was sequel to the experience he gathered as a Sales Executive, Utuks Group of Companies from 1971 to 1973.

He later joined politics and got elected as Councilor representing Effiat/Ibaka Ward in the erstwhile Oron Local Government in 1976. He became Supervisory Councillor for Works in Oron between 1977 and 1979. Unblemished in his records, Ahta E. O. Isemin was elected member of the old Cross River State House of Assembly on the ticket of the defunct National Party of Nigeria, NPN. He served in the legislative house between 1979 and 1983 representing Efiat/Mbo State Constituency.

His leadership distinctions could not be hidden as he was appointed Chairman of different committees, namely: Public Accounts Committee and House Committee on Industrial Planning, Housing and Public Utilities Committee, Selection Committee and Appropriation & Finance Committee. While he served as Councillor and House Member, His Majesty facilitated the establishment of the then Ibaka Health Post, now Health Centre, and the Police post, now Ibaka Police Station.

It was Ahta Isemin, who moved a motion for the reactivation of Calabar airport, now Margaret Ekpo International Airport. A great supporter of the late Dr. Clement Isong, the Governor of old Cross River State, Ahta Isemin remained an advocate of good governance throughout his life.

No history worth its salt could be written about Mbo LGA, if Ahta Isemin is not prominently featured. His efforts in this regard cannot be forgotten. In 1989, for instance, the monarch, together with the late Inspector General of Police, Sir Etim Inyang, Ikpoto Oro; and a community leader, Chief E. O. Moses (on the rock), raised a memo for the creation of Mbo LGA out of the then Oron LGA. Of course, Ahta Isemin also played a pivotal role in the creation achievement of Akwa Ibom State.

As a believer in the value of good education, he awarded yearly scholarships to deserving students for secondary and tertiary education. He facilitated the establishment of Ibaka Development Organisation (IDO), and Ibaka Community Secondary School, even as he, as legislator, also influenced the creation of Ibaka political ward.

Like Paul Apostle teaches the Church, a leader must first have a well-led home, with his wife and children to serve as an example of a good leader. Married to Her Royal Majesty, Obonganwan Emma Edet Isemin (nee Emma Dan Etuk) from Usung Inyang Village, Eket Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom, Ahta Ọrọ was blessed with disciplined children.

Away from politics and royalty, Ahta Isemin was also a firm believer in the sovereignty of God over the whole universe. He also believed strongly in the ideology that the main purpose of human existence on earth is to have a close relationship with God Almighty. He was a member of the Roman Catholic Church, and remained a communicant till his last days.

The patriarch served his fatherland meritoriously and earned himself several awards and honours such as Diamond Excellence Award for Peace, Good Leadership, Hard Work and Community Development by St. Mark’s Catholic Church, Oron; Award of honour for his dedication and commitment to God and propagation of the ideals of Methodism, and an Excellence Award for his contributions to the advancement of humanity by Methodist Church Nigeria, Ibaka Circuit, Diocese of Oron. He also bagged an Award of honour for his remarkable support to the growth of the youth by Akpakip Oro Students Union; among others.

In 1993, the seasoned community leader was unanimously selected by the family heads in Ute Udombo Ibaka as the Village Head of Ute Udombo, one of the villages in Ibaka group of villages. The then Military Administrator of Akwa Ibom State, Colonel Yakubu Bako, recognised and certified him as the Village Head of Ute Udombo in December the same year.

The Supreme Monarch progressed on his duty post and on 2nd August 2004, the Akwa Ibom State Government recognised and certified him as the Clan Head of Ukwong in Mbo. By God’s grace, the Patriarch was on 13 March, 2017, recognised and certified by the Government of Akwa Ibom State as the Paramount Ruler of Mbo after his selection on 31 January of the same year. The royal father had served as the President, Assembly of Clan Heads in Akwa Ibom State. Until his selection as the Grand Patriarch for Oro on Friday, 18 August, 2017, Ahta Isemin was the Chairman of Council of Oro Traditional Rulers (COTR), the kingmakers of Oro Patriarchy and the highest traditional body in Oron Nation.

Ahta Ọrọ VII was a sports enthusiast, an outstanding footballer in his heydays, which earned him the nickname ISOKWE. He had served as an executive member of the Eastern Nigeria Football Council from 1958 to 1961 and a member of the Eastern Nigeria Referee’s Council from 1962 and 1964. Between 1956 and 1962, His Royal Majesty was Honorary Secretary, Uyo District Football Association and Chairman, South Eastern State Referee’s Council from 1970 to 1975. Between 1991 and 1994, Ahta Isemin was a member, Caretaker Committee of Akwa Ibom State Football Association. He was Match Commissioner, National Football League; member of Akwa Ibom State Sports Council from 9 May, 1994, to 31 December, 1994, and from October 1995 to October, 1996 respectively.

Prior to his emergence as the President of Assembly of Clan Heads, His Majesty as a founding father of the Conference of Village Heads, (now Mboho Mme Eteidung) Akwa Ibom State, became the Secretary-General of the conference, while the late Clan Head of Oku in Uyo, His Highness, Etebom Effiong Eberefiak served as the President-General of the conference.

According to the obsequies conveyed in the release referenced above, the week-long event had commenced on Monday, 19 April, 2021, and featured the official opening of the mourning house with the sounding of the traditional drum, ‘Obodom’, at the residence of Ahta in Ibaka, Mbo LGA. On that day, traditional groups witnessing the ceremony were Obio Ifong Isong Ọrọ, Ukwong Clan and the clergies from all sections of the country.

Tuesday, April 20 witnessed the showcasing of all kinds of traditional plays at the Ahta’s residence. Among those who visited the Royal House were corporate organizations, captains of industry, legislators, commissioners, and professional colleagues of the departed monarch. Others were some of the socio-cultural organizations resident in Ọrọ, and the Mbo Traditional Rulers’ Council.

On Wednesday, April 21, visitations were scheduled for all the five local government chairmen of Oro nation or their representatives. Also visiting the Royal Home were the Oro Unity Forum. Again, a novelty football match was played between 4pm and 5pm at the Primary School, Ibaka.

Similarly, Friday, 23 April was for tributes and visitation by Obio Ifong Isong Ọrọ, cultural groups, women groups, in-laws and associates. That was to proceed the final obsequies billed for today, Saturday 24 April at the Oron Sports Stadium. To crown it all, an interdenominational Thanksgiving service holds on Sunday, 25 April at the Oron Civic Centre by 10am prompt.

May the soul of the Supreme Monarch of the Oron people take its rightful place in Abraham’s bosom. Amen!

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