Elder (Pa) Jackson Ukpeh Eyenidem (1925 – 2016)
Peacemaker, Leader Departs In A Hail Of Glory
From a very humble beginning, entrepreneur and businessman, Elder (Pa) Jackson Ukpeh Eyenidem, who is being committed to mother earth today, rose to enviable heights in the course of his earthly sojourn.
Perhaps, that explains why men of goodwill from all works of life, from home and abroad are gathered at the little ‘bone’ village of Nto Edet, Etim Ekpo Local Council, Akwa Ibom State, to bear witness to his testimonies on earth and pay him their last respect.
Late Elder (Pa) Jackson Ukpeh Eyenidem (alias Telor Ukpeh) was born in 1925, into the family of Late Chief Ukpeh Akpan Umoh Eyenidem Aboh, and the Late Unwa-afa Udoekpo Etukudoh Ubehe, of Ikot Osum, in Ikpe Atai village, Etim Ekpo Local Council. He was the 14th son of his father and third son of his mother.
The deceased attended Qua Iboe Church Infant School, Nto Edet village, as one of the pioneer pupils, and on completion of his infant education, with the help of his father, he gained admission for further studies at Ikot Edong Q.I.C. High School, now in Oruk Anam Local Council, where he started his Standard One. As a brilliant pupil, he progressed steadily to Standard Three, where he stopped due his father’s ill health. He saw this sudden stoppage of his educational journey as only a distraction, and not the end of his world, as he remained focused and pursued his goals in life.
In the course of his earthly sojourn, the devout Christian attended many Christian educational courses to boost his knowledge and understanding of biblical teachings and better his lot as a Sunday School teacher.
The departed was an entrepreneur and a businessman of high repute. At the dictate of his father, he proceeded to undergo training in tailoring and marketing under the supervision of a renowned tailor of Abiriba extraction, Mr. Mba, at Ikot Ebioema, Etim Ekpo Local Council, in 1959. After his training, Papa opened his first workshop in 1962, at Obong Ikot Akpan, in the same local council. The well-equipped workshop was with the assistance of his father.
He moved to his second workshop in Ikot Obioema and after a refresher course in suit making at Afaha Obong, Abak Local Council, he returned to Nto Edet village, where he opened a tailoring service and training workshop at Ekenyong Akpan Udoh Market Square.
According to his first trainee and brother, Sir. Sylvanus Ukpeh, now a retired school principal, the deceased elder was one of the best tailors ever known in the area. Due to his ingenuity, the management of Q.I.C. High School, Ikot Edong lobbied to have him come and station at Ikot Edong to make dresses for high-ranking teachers and religious leaders of Q.I.C. Supretendency.
He obliged to the call for a brief period of time, after which he returned home to serve his people. From there, he moved to a brand new workshop at Chief Jonah Udoh’s compound in Ikot Obioema, where he opened an enterprise named Socials Tailoring Service.
He left Ikot Obioema to Ikpe Atai Market Square, from where he retired to his hometown. During his time, he trained notable young men who have excelled in tailoring and fashion design profession.
Pa Ukpeh Eyenidem was also a renowned agriculturist, and a very strong subsistence farmer. In 1968, he had a short stint with Obio Akpa Agriculture – as an extension officer, where he also developed his interest in farming business. As a notable farmer in palm fruits and other agricultural produce, his farming experiences exposed him to renowned farmers of the time such as Chief Udo Akpan Ime of Ukanafun Local Council, who leased expanse of farmlands for him to cultivate at the time.
The late elder got married to his wife, Arit Sunday Umoh, of Urukata Ikot Isemin, Etim Ekpo. The marriage was blessed with eight children (four males and four females). Till date, his dear and surviving wife has brought treasure to his household and beyond. Most significantly, Papa brought his wife to a family of over seven siblings living together in one house, and his wife became a mother to all as they grew together in love until each was able to have a place of his or her own.
As John Maxwell, an American author once said, “Leaders became great, not because of their power but because of their ability to empower others.” Such leadership qualities shown by our late father culminated to unimaginable empowerment and achievements seen today in the Ukpeh’s family. His ability to show love and give direction to the whole family left behind by his late father has today produced highly qualified professionals in the field of law, medicine, pharmacology, engineering, priesthood, agriculture among others.
The deceased was a very sociable person, who was friendly to both young and old. He was fond of nick-naming people based on his ardent perceptions. To mention a few, he nicknamed his first son Okuibatara, Dr. Ifiok Ukpeh as ‘Elehekudim’ and many others. He was also generally known for his generosity and kindness that during the Nigerian Civil War, he received as many refugees as possible and cared for them in his household. He was adjudged by those who knew him as truthful, outspoken and humble, and a peacemaker.
Late Ukpeh Eyenidem was a family builder, and as the most senior member of the family took good custody of all the portions of land shared by their late father to all siblings
Papa’s Christian sojourn started at the Q.I.C. Nto Edet, Eim Ekpo L.G.A. at a very tender age. With the promise he showed and the leadership traits he displayed, he was soon appointed the leader of the Sweeper’s Association of the church. He later became the Youth Leader of Q.I.C. Nto Edet in 1950. Following his successful Christian practice, he was baptized in Q.I.C. Nto Edet in 1949. Later on, he, in concert with the late Rev. S. I. Inokon and the late Rev. J. A. Ekpe saw to the establishment of Christ Faith Church in Nto Edet village, where he was ordained an elder. He served in that capacity till death came calling.
On Sunday January 4, 2016, his son Pastor Aniebiet J. Ukpeh, the District Overseer of the C.F.C. District 14, Rev. Pastor Ekanem, his wife and close family members prayed and blessed his soul as Late Elder (Pa) Jackson Ukpeh passed on peacefully at exactly 11am, after a protracted illness. He is survived by his wife, Deaconess Arit Jackson Ukpeh and many other relatives to mourn him.