It was the former British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill who once said, “history with its flickering lamp stumbles along the trail of the past trying to reconstruct its scenes, to revive its echoes, and kindle with pale gleams the passion of former days. What is worth all this? The only guide to a man in his conscience; the only shield to his memory is the rectitude and sincerity of his actions. It is very imprudent to work through life without this shield, because we are so often mocked by the failures of our hopes and the upsetting of our calculations; but with this shield, however the fates may play, we march always in the ranks of honour”.
This clearly summarises the life and times of His Royal Majesty, Okuku (Engr.) Augustus Jonah Ekpenyong Assiak, Paramount Ruler of Ikot Ekpene. A man with a good conscience, renowned for his rectitude and sincerity of his actions.
Born on the 1st of August 1931, Okuku Assiak was the unceremonious august visitor to the family of Mr. and Mrs. Umo Ekpenyong of Nto Akpan Assiak Royal Household of Ikot Udo Essien, Nto Akpan Esute family, Ikot Abia Idem Village in Ikot Ekpene Local Government Area. His father was one of the earliest Methodist teachers from this part of the world. Being born into a Christian family, the young Augustus labored to make his name synonymous with transformation, reformation, integrity, honesty, dedication, commitment and hard work; an accomplished life dedicated to the service of his people.
He attended Methodist school Ikot Abia Idem in 1940 and proceeded to Methodist Central School, Ikot Ekpene in 1942 and later Otoro Central School, Ikot Abia Idem, Ikot Ekpene where he obtained his Standard Six Certificate in 1947. He enrolled in the famous Ibibio State College Ikot Ekpene and obtained the Cambridge School Certificate in 1953.
He obtained Diploma in Telecommunication (Radio) through an in-service Course at the prestigious College of Technology, Yaba Lagos State in 1954 and also final Certificate of City and Guilds in Telecommunications and Supplementary Certificate in C and G Microwave Techniques at Rapid Results College, London in 1967. He was further selected to study in the British Broadcasting Corporation School of Engineering, Evesham, Wood Norton for his BBC Grade C Engineering Diploma in A.M. Transmitters (Short Wave and Medium Wave) in 1960. Being destined for the top, he undertook top Management Courses at the ASCON Senior Management School Kano, and Cambridge University, London for top Management Diploma in 1975 and 1980 respectively.
HRM worked with the Nigeria Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria(FRCN), Cross River Broadcasting Corporation(CRBC). He rose diligently from the position of a Junior Technical Staff Grade 3 in 1954 to an enviable height of Assistant Chief Engineer, State Controller and Pioneer General Manager of CRBC, Calabar where he voluntarily retired with zealous Patriotism in 1985.
HRM immensely contributed to the development of Broadcasting in Nigeria. Some of his numerous contributions include installation of the Medium Wave(M.W) mast at Enugu (Milliken Hill), Personal installation of Medium Wave Transmitters at Abak and Ogoja, Correction of the Marconi Design Error in Short Wave (S.W) Transmitters at Shogunle, Marconi Aerial design Error at NBC Nassarawa and Kaduna, The correction of the Design Error in 100KW RCA Transmitters, Voice of Nigeria (VON), Ikorodu which enabled the Transmitter to run all day rather than breaking down hourly. It should be noted that the modifications by this young Engineer were later adopted by the Manufacturers, Radio Company of America (RCA). Moreso, Okuku Assiak built the Administrative Block at FRCN Calabar, he established MW Stations in Ogoja and Abak without any funding from the Government. He introduced commercial monitoring in CRBC, Calabar and instrumental to paid news items, an adaptation that became necessary when CRBC received no funding from Government in 1985. The present day NTA Calabar is also as a result of his endeavor.
HRM was a devout Christain of Methodist Faith, an accomplished Telecommunication Engineer who served the Country and the people creditably well. As a mark of honour upon his retirement, he was unanimously selected Village Head of Ikot Abia Idem in 1985. He rose to become the Clan Head of Ikot Ekpene Urban in 1992 and ultimately, the Paramount Ruler of Ikot Ekpene in 2001.
On the Traditional stool, Okuku Assiak left no one in doubt that he came to this world with a well defined purpose – to give direction to those in darkness, blinded by uncivilized cultures and traditional practices. As Robert Green Ingersoll noted “ a great man is a torch in the darkness, a beacon in superstition’s night and inspiration and a prophecy”. One of the greatest contributions of Okuku Assiak to the Society is keeping the peace of Ikot Ekpene. He fought tirelessly for the suspension of Ekpo Masquerade which had assumed notoriety in the late 80’s and early 90’s. In 2003, he suspended Ekpo display in Ikot Ekpene and this was adopted by the State Government throughout Akwa Ibom State the following year. He was also behind the abolition of the pouring of libation by Traditional Rulers during official functions in Ikot Ekpene Local Government Area in 2001. This was also adopted in the entire State.
In his faith as a Christian, Okuku Assiak came to appreciate God through Jesus Christ as the Supreme Power. He came to realize that faith in God can lead a man through trying moments in life. Little wonder why Okuku Assiak became a major pillar of the Methodist Church in 2003. He was also installed as the Grand Patron of the Full Gospel Businessmen Fellowship International 2002. His royal Palace was dedicated to the worship of God by Christian organizations including Full Gospel Businessmen Fellowship Intl.
After 15 years on the throne as Paramount Ruler of Ikot Ekpene and quality service to his people, Okuku Assiak takes a final bow at the age of 85. As the remains of this revered monarch and broadcast Engineering Icon are laid to rest this weekend, Akwa Ibom people nay Nigerians have every reason to pay tribute of love and respect to a man who used his office and intellect for the good of the people and Society.
He will be remembered as a monarch who exhibited unquestionable integrity and uncommon visionary excellence. A man of amiable character who appreciates the reality that much is expected of him by his subjects and is determined to measure up to their expectations. He will be remembered as one Royal father who takes responsibility for the problems of his people and whose leadership style accommodates various opinions. He was always ready to advice and make peaceful negotiations on crucial matters affecting the social conditions of his people. Though the position of a Paramount Ruler come with great influence, Okuku Assiak is not one who would use his authority for personal whims. He saw leadership as a responsibility and not an opportunity for self aggrandizement and enrichment.
In truth, one can say that His Royal Majesty, Okuku (Engr) Augustus Jonah Ekpenyong Assiak was a man of honour ,lover of peace and development; an architect of unity and mutual relations and a symbol of the modern Ikot Ekpene where love, peace and unity prevail. He may have taken a final bow, but the legend in him lives on. Adieu Tete!