To mark her 33rd creation anniversary, Akwa Ibom has honoured some of her citizens who have made the state proud through their valued contributions.
Ray Ekpu, the former editor-in-chief of Newswatch magazine, and others from Akwa Ibom, are being celebrated for their contributions to the “success story” of the state. They were nominated online by people in Akwa Ibom State.
“Ray Ekpu is a true hero,” said an online publication by the Ministry of Information, Akwa Ibom state. “Akwa Ibom State is proud of you.”
He is a recipient of Nigeria’s national honour, Officer of the Order of Niger, co-founded Newswatch in 1985, alongside Dan Agbese, Yakubu Mohammed, and Dele Giwa who was killed through a mail bomb on October 19, 1986.
Ekpu won the International Editor of the Year, 1987, in New York, United States of America, among other personal awards.
“Think of him and what comes to mind is the printed word. Mention his name and thoughts of journalism flood through your mind,” the publication by the Akwa Ibom Ministry of Information said of Mr Ekpu.
“For the South-South, this great son of Akwa Ibom State first shot to fame in the 70s as the fearless editor of Nigerian Chronicle in Calabar. His distinctive prose, his perceptive mind and his well-informed analysis soon attracted national attention. By the 80s, he was editing The Sunday Times and Business Times, and serving as the Chairman, Editorial Board of Concord Newspapers.
“The high-point of his career was in 1985 when he co-founded the game-changing Newswatch magazine. For a man with a first class degree in Mass Communications from the University of Lagos, this was a crowning glory.”
Other honourees include Sunday Mbang, Prelate Emeritus of the Methodist Church of Nigeria and former President of the World Methodist Council; Vincent Enyeama, goalkeeper and former captain of Nigeria’s national team, Super Eagles; and Edmundson Akpabio, a medical doctor and the first person from Akwa Ibom state to be elected National President of the Nigeria Medical Association.
Mayen Adetiba, Nigeria’s first female civil engineer; Uwem Akpan, a Catholic priest, whose novel, Say You’re One of Them, won the 2009 Commonwealth Writers Prize; Nsikak Essien, one-time editor of defunct Concord newspaper and his daughter, Eno, an award-winning entrepreneur and founder of Rheytrak, a leading vehicle tracking company in Nigeria are among those celebrated in the publication.
Others are Mark Essien, the CEO of Hotel.ng, Africa’s biggest online hotel booking platform; Michael Bush, a renowned broadcaster; Udeme Ufot, Group Managing Director of SO&U, one of the leading advertising agencies in Nigeria and Ubong Obot, a foremost entrepreneur in Akwa Ibom.
Ini Ememobong, the Commissioner for Information in Akwa Ibom state, told Premium Times that the essence of the “celebration” project is to remind the world of Akwa Ibom’s “strategic contributions which must never be forgotten.”
“People will have the opportunity to nominate Akwa Ibom people (by birth, marriage, or residence) for celebration. When the nomination reaches a preset benchmark, our in-house analysts will research on the persons and prepare a brief on them for publication,” Mr Ememobong added.