The former editor-in-chief of Newswatch magazine, Ray Ekpu, is among the people honoured in Akwa Ibom as the state celebrates its 33rd anniversary.
“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.”
Mr Ekpu and a handful of others from Akwa Ibom State are being celebrated for their contributions to the “success story” of the state. They were nominated online by people in Akwa Ibom State.
The nomination continues through September, even though the Akwa Ibom government has announced the cancelation of street partying, state banquet, and other public gatherings for the anniversary because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Ekpu, 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.
Newswatch pioneered magazine reporting in Nigeria and had won several awards.
Mr Ekpu himself 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 highpoint 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 Communication from the University of Lagos, this was a crowning glory.”
Uwem Akpan, a Catholic priest, whose novel, Say You’re One of Them, won the 2009 Commonwealth Writers Prize; Sunday Mbang, Prelate Emeritus of the Methodist Church of Nigeria and former President of the World Methodist Council; and Mayen Adetiba, Nigeria’s first female civil engineer; and Ubong Obot, a foremost entrepreneur in Akwa Ibom 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; 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.
The most fascinating figures, probably, in the Akwa Ibom publication, are Nsikak Essien, said to be the longest-serving editor of the now rested Concord newspaper and his daughter, Eno, an award-winning entrepreneur and founder of Rheytrak, a leading vehicle tracking company in Nigeria.
Both father and daughter at separate times rang the closing bell of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, the publication said.
“In case you don’t know, I’m from Akwa Ibom and (I am) so honored to be recognised and celebrated by my home state, alongside my father as the state marks its 33rd year of creation, this month of September,” Ms Eno wrote on Facebook.
Ini Ememobong, the Commissioner for Information in Akwa Ibom state, said 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.