“When beggars die, there are no comets seen;The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes.”
“Cowards die many times before their deaths;The valiant never taste of death but once. Of all the wonders that I yet have heard. It seems to me most strange that men should fear; Seeing that death, a necessary end,Will come when it will come.”-Williams Shakespeare in one of his greatest plays, Julius Caesar.
Little wonder, the passage of Senator Etang Edet Umoyo to the world beyond human comprehension has unveiled the low and the mighty. His kinsmen have words of comfort, inspiration and hope for the living, put together by Anietie Akpan, a Veteran Journalist with The Guardian and member, Umoyo’s Media and Publicity Sub Committee.
Dr A. A. Ikoiwak, a one time Commissioner for Education in the then South Eastern State (now Cross River and Akwa Ibom States) in the early seventies under late Brigadier U. J. Esuene as the Military Governor in his tribute made available to the committee summed up the feelings of a great loss.
Without mincing words, the Octogenarian said, “Otuekong Senator Etang Umoyo is dead! I broke down weeping like a baby. Many great sons of Ekid were forced to tears by the sudden, unexpected news”.
“Genius sees, in a flash through problems to their very solution while mediocrity gropes about wondering what to do. Genius is impatient with mediocrity and downright contemptuous of idiocy. Etang Edet Umoyo was a genius…I have already profiled him in my first book, ‘Profiles in Service’ (pages 133-137) where he is tagged “Untapped Genius”, he said. Recalling his hey days, Ikoiwak who is from Efoi, formerly of Esit Eket but now in Eket Local Government Area opined, “Etang Umoyo had featured in all parleys with the catchment area communities and Mobil. He was present on the 10th of March, 1998 when the author (Dr Ikoiwak) delivered his “Big Head Truth” address and, in a joint-effort with patriots of Ekid, virtually wrested thirty-two places from Mobil for the employment of Ekid graduates. He dialogued constantly with Neil Blackburn and Paul Caldwell jnr; all former Chief Executives of Mobil for the good of the catchment area communities of former Eket Local Government Area”
He described him as a fearless person saying, “Fear is a word Senator Umoyo has seen only in the Dictionary. He is courageous to one remove from foolhardiness. He and the author testified at the Justice Bassey tribunal of April, 2000 at Uyo and presented Papers and documents to buttress their arguments. It was all to show the great harm that Mobil has done over the thirty years of its operation to the catchment area communities in particular and Akwa Ibom State in general. Only true patriots can boldly speak about the evils multinationals have committed in our midst.
“Permit me to say that at the time of his demise, Otuekong Senator Etang Edet Umoyo was the most qualified, leadership traits considered, to lead Ekid to the Promised Land. And, believe it or not, his death has seriously fractured Ekid’s shoulders”.
Apparently making reference to Basco Bassey’s music of years ago, lamenting Ekid’s nonchalance on the death of two prominent patriotic sons of the soil, Ikoiwak said, young patriotic Basco Bassey, does not need to produce an Album chastising Ekid for any indifference to Umoyo’s death. Ekid is helpless, baffled and in tears. “But, our Almighty Father in Heaven, as always, will put things right”.
Chief Etim Awana, a retired Deputy Superintendent of Police who will be 81 by June this year declared, “during childhood we were all in the village playing Mbre Ekpe Afiong together at moonlight. We also played Mbre Ekpe Atim and Ukabadisua
“What I will really remember him for is that he was a friend in need and a friend indeed. We were in Lagos together and when he was in need he will come to me and vice versa. When his mother In-law died. I gave him 30 police men for security at the friends night at Giwa street. There after he left and came back home while I was still in Lagos. I retired in 2008 and joined him at home. I am the political Leader of Ward 8 and in fact he was one of my mentors that made me. He was a good friend of mine”.
On what the community will miss about him, Awana from Etebi in Esit Eket LGAsaid, “we used to call him ‘Ikpoto’. Eket in its entirety, we have lost a pillar. We do not have his type again, there is no such person again in Esit Eket who can represent us in government. We called him Ikpoto because he was a pillar and anything we wanted to do he must be present or involved in decision taking. He never stayed behind. He was a man of truth, very calm and respectful and never engaged in causing trouble”.
On what they will do to honour him, he said, “already, he (the deceased) and his family are in our good book. We are very friendly as his wife is the first daughter of our late Village Head. We are all together and will do our best to honour him”.
Another Esit Eket son from Akpautong, former Member of the Federal House of Representative, Hon Eseme Eyiboh is not left out.
The astute and dynamic Lawmaker of the green chamber described Umoyo who was in the red chamber as “the first among equals in content and in personality. He was quintessential in his opinions and he was steadfast in his choice of friendship and his judgements at all times were a reflection of capacity and integrity.
“No man will be able to fill the vacuum he has left behind. What we are all trying to do, those of us who knew him is to make sure that we inculcate into our daily lives those strength of his we are eulogising today.
“It should not end at the eulogies, we should be able to inculcate those strength into our daily activities. We should at no point forget what he stood for and this should be inculcated in our community aspirations”.
Eyiboh said, “the loss is unmitigated and invaluable but all the same the community should be able to thank God that he passed through this and he passed through our community. In thanking God we should be able to show examplenary attitude in community development, accountability and the issue of value reorientation which was one of the philosophies that underpinned his extraordinary lifestyle “.