SPOTLIGHT ON THE LIFE AND TIMES OF LATE EDIDEM ITA BASSEY ETUK, PARAMOUNT RULER OF IBESIKPO ASUTAN LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA
By Abasifreke Effiong
The last rites of passage in honour of a patriarch, and Paramount Ruler of Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government Area, Late Edidem Ita Bassey Etuk, will be performed tomorrow Friday, May 19, 2019.
The Late Edidem Ita Bassey Etuk, was born on October 1, 1932, to the Late Chief Bassey Etukudo, Obong Nung Ekpot and Late Madam Affiong Etokowo of Nung Ntuen, both of Attai, Nung Udoe, Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government Area.
Edidem Ita Bassey Etuk passed on recently at the age of 84. His remains will be laid to rest tomorrow in his palace, at Nung Udoe Ibesikpo, Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government Area, after a funeral service by the Lutheran Church of Nigeria by nine O’ clock in the morning.
Mourning House in honour of the Late Edidem Ita Bassey Etuk was opened on Sunday May 14; condolence visits to the family will end today, Thursday May 18, 2017.
A condolence register has been opened at the Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government secretariat, Nung Udoe.
There was traditional plays and exhibitions in his honour on Saturday May 13, 2017. A memorial service in his honour will be held at on Sunday May 21, 2017, at Lutheran Church of Nigeria cathedral, Nung Udoe Ibesikpo, Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government Area.
So far, the Akwa Ibom State government and the Ibesikpo Asutan local government council led by the transition committee chairman, Barr. Ukana Udofia, have paid condolence visit to the deceased family.
Other groups that have visited the family include, Akwa Ibom State Execitive of the Peoples Democratic Party; Nigerian Police Force; Akwa Ibom State traditional rulers council; University of Lagos Alumni; Ibesikpo Asutan traditional rulers council; Rotary club; NCWS; Uyo local government council; stakeholders of the Peoples Democratic Party in Ibesikpo Asutan; Lutheran Church of Nigeria; Nung Udoe village council; among others.
The Late Edidem Ita Bassey Etuk unlike his peers at that time was exposed early to formal western education by his parents. He attended the famous Boecler Memorial Primary School, Ikot Ediom Ibesikpo, from where he obtained his First School Leaving Certificate in 1949. Thereafter, he proceeded to Lutheran High School, Obot Idim Ibesikpo.
At Lutheran High School, Late Edidem Ita Bassey Etuk, made amazingly outstanding performances in academics and school sports. His brilliance, high self-discipline, and exceptionally good looks endeared him to management of the school and he was appointed Senior Prefect of the school. He passed out with Distinction in 1955.
After his secondary education, the Late Edidem Ita Bassey Etuk took up a teaching job, and taught at Primary School, Ikot Ekan, Etinan Local Government Area, for four years.
As a teacher, he never failed at any given opportunity to speak unequivocally against lawlessness in society. He was a vanguard in the enforcement of discipline in the school, his community, and anywhere he went.
His stark intolerance for crime, and interest in building a lawful society made him resigned from teaching, and get enlisted in the Police Force as a Cadet Inspector in 1959. While in the police force, the Late Edidem Ita Bassey Etuk led several successful operations and kept a clean record everywhere he served. Records of his service show that he made remarkable successes in instilling discipline among men and officers of the Police Force who worked under him in Makurdi, Benue Province, under the then Benue Plateau State, where he was the Provincial Police Officer.
Outstanding among his achievements in the Police Force was that he led a team of 162 mobile police to peacekeeping in Congo in 1962 and no live was lost. Again in 1967, Late Ita Bassey Etuk went with 150 policemen to establish civilian administration at Enugu.
He rose to the rank of Chief Superintendent of Police, and retired from the Police Force at the age of 42. While in the Police Force, and after his retirement, the Late Edidem Ita Bassey Etuk, helped and encouraged young persons with reputable character to enlist in the Police Force.
The Late Edidem Ita Bassey Etuk, enrolled and studied law at the University of Lagos, and graduated in 1972. He attended the Nigerian Law school, Lagos, in 1975 after he retired from the Police Force.
Immediately after he was called to bar, the Late Edidem Ita Bassey Etuk, set-up his law firm, Bassey Etuk and Co. chambers in Uyo, and started private law practice.
The Late Edidem Ita Bassey Etuk, was already a renowned lawyer and politician before the creation of Akwa Ibom State. His involvement politics got him elected as State Secretary of the National Party of Nigeria, NPN, Cross River State. He served the party when the Late Senator Joseph Wayas, was President of the Senate.
Though, he was a member of the National Party of Nigeria, the Late Edidem Ita Bassey Etuk, had always spoken well of Chief Obafemi Awolowo and his brother Chief Eyo Uyo, who were in the Action Group. He said they were the “most intelligent politicians” of his time.
While serving as State Secretary of the NPN, the Late Edidem Ita Bassey Etuk, demonstrated his love for education. He built five four-bedroom flats at Ibesikpo Secondary School, Nung Udoe; and four flats of four-bedroom at Community Secondary School, Ikot Essien, now called Secondary Grammar School.
Because of the successes he made on responsibilities entrusted to him, Late Edidem Ita Bassey Etuk was appointed chairman, Cross River Breweries, Uyo, now Champion Breweries Plc.
He gave good report of himself when he served as chairman, Uyo Capital City Development Authority. While serving as chairman of UCCDA, Late Edidem Ita Bassey Etuk built the popular Akpan Andem market, erected the Late Chief Nyong Essien monument at Oron road Nwaniba circus in Uyo. This honour done on the Late Chief Nyong Essien earned Late Edidem Ita Bassey Etuk the chieftaincy title of “Ufan Uruan”, conferred on him by the Uruan traditional rulers council.
The Late Edidem Ita Bassey Etuk established the cemetery at Mbietebe Obio/Mbiokporo Nsit.
He also served as Chairman, Uyo transition committee before the creation of Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government Area.
The Late Ita Bassey Etuk played immense role in the struggle for the creation of Akwa Ibom State. He also play key role alongside his friend Air Marshal Nsikak Eduok, retired; in the creation of Ibesikpo Asutan in 1996.
After his retirement from active service, he was made village head of Nung Udoe in 1986; clan head of Ibesikpo in 2005; and was coronated Paramount Ruler of Ibesikpo Asutan in 2006.
The Late Edidem Ita Bassey Etuk was an enigma. He was different thing to different people. To some people who didn’t get to know him closely in his later life, he was a vehement atheist, but he died a devout Christian.
He was a great satirist. He was creative in the use of euphemisms and local maxims, especially when he sat over cases as Paramount Ruler. He was peace-loving. He loved philosophy, law, and education. He sponsored quite a number of persons outside his family in the university.
The Late Edidem Ita Bassey Etuk, devoted a better part of his life to social works. He will greatly be missed.