Eno Benjamin Akpan Ikpe (1940 – 2017) renowned pen pusher
Elder Eno Benjamin Ikpe, who frequently referred to himself as, ‘Ufot Udo Nkasang,’ a nickname which pointed to his birth order as the fourth of the five brothers, would fondly refer to his children as ‘ndito Ufot Udo Nkasang’ (the children of Ufot Udo Nkasang) and would teasingly call his wife ‘akanawan baby’ (old woman, baby). Himself, he described as ‘the plant that flowered late.’ He ascribed this late flowering to the ‘inhibitions of time and circumstances.’ Indeed, he may have flowered late, but in the short span of time that God allowed him to serve humanity, he affected a lot of people in ways that would impact upon their lives for a very long time.
He was born on January 17, 1940 to late Madam Aggie Isaac Eshiett (nee Akpadiagha Uko) of Nnung Otuoyo (later Nnung Udoinyang) family of Etinan, and late Elder Benjamin Akpan Ikpe of the great Ekpuk Nnung Ukpong family of Ikot Ebiyak, Etinan Urban.
His father, elder Benjamin Akpan Ikpe, was an avid diarist and writer who kept impeccable family records. In his childhood days, when other homes boasted of the gramophone, Aladdin or Tilley lamps, which were elitist items in those days, theirs boasted of newspapers and magazines like Daily/Sunday Times, the Eastern Outlook, and the Eastern Express.
His father Elder Benjamin Akpan Ikpe, served the Qua Iboe Mission and church in various capacities as teacher and preacher in many stations of the church including Etinan itself, from about 1920 to 1966, before he voluntarily retired from active service owing to failing health.
Eno Ikpe (as he was called for short) began his academic pursuits at the John Kirk Memorial School, Etinan from 1947-1955, after which he proceeded to Etinan Institute for a brief stint from 1957-1958, before he completed his secondary education at the Enitonna High School in Port Harcourt from 1960-1962. He obtained his West African School Certificate (WASC) in 1962 with a Division II grade. He worked briefly in the Department of Customs and Excise in Lagos; then as Air Traffic Control Assistant in Lagos and Kano, before commencing a series of courses in secretarial studies at the Federal Training Centre, Lagos, between 1964 and 1969.
He worked as an official reporter at the Parliament buildings in Lagos from 1963-1964. He also worked at the Federal Ministry of Transport as a stenographer in 1968 and was adept at writing in shorthand. He transferred to the South Eastern State (Cross River State) Civil Service in 1972, and between 1979 and 1983, served as Hansard editor in the Cross River State House of Assembly. He spent the summer of 1980 at the Legislative Improvement Centre, Denver, Colorado, USA, on a six-week study tour to the US Congress and selected Capitols in the USA. He also served at the Political Department of the Cabinet Office in Akwa Ibom State.
After Eno Ikpe transferred to the South Eastern State Civil Service in 1972, he achieved a number of feats. He established the Official Reports Unit in the Office of the Military Governor, and at the Cabinet Office, Calabar. He was part of the Justice Nasir Boundary Adjustment Commission in 1976, Customs and Usages Commission of Inquiry, 1976, and conducted a crash training for would-be legislative staff of the first Cross River State Legislature, where he served as its first Deputy Editor in 1970. He headed the Committee on Verification of Alleged Omitted Clans and Villages in Cross River State, and was involved in the processing of the recommendations of traditional rulers from traditional councils for government recognition.
On creation of states, Eno Ikpe returned to Akwa Ibom State Civil Service, where he served as a staff of the State House of Assembly, Akwa Ibom State as its first editor-in-chief in 1990. He continued his work verifying alleged omitted clans and villages in Akwa Ibom State under the political department, and processing of the recommendations of traditional rulers from traditional councils for government recognition from the verification exercise.
He was an editorial staff attaché to the Constituent Assembly, Abuja, headed by the retired Justice Balonwu. In 1989, he was involved with the delineation of wards in Akwa Ibom State, and in 1992, he was the officer-in-charge when the Legislative Affairs Department resumed verification of omitted clans and villages in Akwa Ibom State after the military take-over.
Eno Ikpe had charted a brilliant career path in the civil service. In 1998, he closed the door on his public service career by retiring after 35 years of unblemished service.
However, there is no hiding place for the gold fish, because after he had retired, he was appointed Special Adviser to the then Speaker- the Right Hon. Peter Linus Umoh on Legislative Matters from May 2003- May 2004, and was co-opted as a member of the Publicity Sub-Committee on Governor Victor Attah’s re-election in 2003, under the leadership of Mr. Parchi Umoh, who was Commissioner of the Akwa Ibom State Ethical and Attitudinal Re-orientation Commission (EARCOM).
When Eno Ikpe complained of shortness of breath just a little over a week before his death, little did anyone know that the homeward journey had begun and he was about to heed his Master’s call. He was in hospital for a little over a week, and just as his family were about to heave a sigh of relief that he seemed to be getting better and would come home, he gave in to the heavenly call, and breathed his last at about 4:45am on the 8th of May, 2017, at the Teaching Hospital in Uyo, a few hours after he told his youngest son, who had called him on his mobile at about 10pm on Sunday night, ‘Ekom, I am fine. I am at the reception.’