Describes Gov Udom as Joseph for Akwa Ibom
… Gives recipe out of recession
By Joe Etokudor
The scriptural declaration about Bethlehem Ephrathah, is equally and perfectly applicable to Abama, which is a village in Nto Edino Clan, Obot Akara Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. It is not a very vast locale perse, but has a long list of heroes and heroines.
Explorations have revealed that most African families roll out drums whenever the creator favours them with a man child. Consequently, the Late Chief and Madam Johnson Ekarika, had their turn in early 1962, when they received into the great family, a boy, imbued with wisdom, knowledge, charisma and other potentialities. A child who on arrival on May 10, 1962 informed the mother that her womb had delivered a rare gem and a leader, a specie with in-built dynamo for the generation, assimilation and distribution of knowledge and other powers capable of birthing civilization and transformation. This information was embedded in his first cry on earth. The first cry of a baby described the man or woman in the baby. Morale and etiquette are not hereditary but products of proper upbringing, that is the reason God prompts parents to: “Train up a child in the way he should go. And when he is old, he will not depart from it. (Prov. 22:6). Pastor Nicholas Ekarika’s parents lived up to God’s expectations. They gave him very good but humble early parental upbringing. They painstakingly taught him the disparity between black and white, light and darkness, truth and falsehood. This is expected of all parents even though many have defaulted. Again, none is an island, like every other child, Nicholas Ekarika did not grow in isolation. He definitely had contacts and communications with other children, the good, the bad and the ugly, yet he maintains a life worthy of recommendation and toed the path of righteousness and wisdom which is rare in youth. Alexander Pope, and English poet rightly said, “In youth and beauty wisdom is but rare”. Certainly, he had a dream that some day, he would dine with kings and queens, so he strove to wash his hands clean. However, dreams, especially, the ones with genuine origins and motives are like mustard seeds. They have great potency and prospect. This is a testimonial that he who wants to succeed should first dream of the success. A life without dream is a worthless life, and a worthless life is a complete waste of God’s resources.
Providentially, Pastor Nicholas Ekarika was not born in ancient Nigeria, where diminutive or no attention was accorded formal education nor allowed it to replace the informal. He came in the era that most Nigerian parents had had the realization that a child needed both formal and informal education for the attainment of self-sufficiency. This prompted his incisive and versatile parents to give him informal education within their reach at that time. This is evident in Pastor Nicholas Ekarika’s unconventional but certainly religious and ethnical manner of doing things. He is an epitome of etiquette, decorum and sanity. He does not accept very good where excellence is possible. He is a gifted writer, and an architect of sophistication and idealization.
Pastor Nicholas Ekarika was one of the best brains, most active and vigorous pupils at the schools. Naturally, these are the characteristics of trainees who have a future that will baffle the world. They also startle their teachers with technical and methodological questions. That was Nicholas Ekarika at St. Patrick’s School, Abama and sacred Heart School, Ikwen where he sat for and passed the First School Leaving Certificate Examination with merit. This was not a mean feat in 1974 when education was accorded its due honour in Nigeria. It is a confirmation that he is a performer not a spectator. He has the traits and mind of an icon. He was born, endowed and prepared to create a history that will encourage the contemporary and future generations. The art of climbing a hill to the peak is a task in which only the determined ones succeed. Those who are in resolute hardly go far because they live by others’ sympathy.
Pastor Nicholas Ekarika was so determined to take his educational journey to the peak. Consequently, he advanced to St. Columbanus Secondary School, Ikwen in 1975, and in 1980 he sat for and passed the GCE O/L in four papers. When he stepped out of the confines of St. Columbanus Secondary School Ikwen, he certainly did not envision the scale of impact he would make years later on the people that would come across him, when he at first was employed to work in the ministry of Commerce and Industry in the then Cross River State in January 12, 1981 as Assistant Statistical Officer, he did not look down on his little and humble beginning but the foundation for bourgeoning career of impact and influence was being erected. The minimal job mobility he undertook was the result of the ethical foundation he had built. As a professional statistician in the ministry, Pastor Nicholas Ekarika made the experience he has acquired to come in very handy. Pastor Nicholas Ekarika comprehended the mysteries of self-sacrifice hence, he resisted challenges, frustrations and distractions and enrolled in the Federal School of Statistics, Ibadan in 1983. Signs that he would become a financial administrator of note began to manifest when he had finished his Higher National Diploma Course at the Polytechnic, Calabar in 1987, and after his National Youth Service Corps programme in Awka.
History is replete with such narratives of great personalities who, inspite of their background made it to the very top of their chosen career. The familiar cliché, “from grass to grace”, connotes the rising of people above circumstances of their birth to become great personalities in the society. Pastor Nicholas Johnson Ekarika arguably belongs to this class. He rose as a child of a peasant farmer to the Zenith of his profession as an accountant and an epochal juncture of polities as Permanent Secretary, State Budget Office.
Pastor Ekarika is not just the Permanent Secretary, State Budget Office, but the leader of the new Akwa Ibom Ministry of Finance in the Civil Service. It is instructive to note here that the leadership potentials he exhibited as a toddler in primary and secondary schools has been redefined and developed to serve the larger society. From childhood, destiny has prepared him for leadership and quality service to humanity.
His outstanding performance and exceptional rise at every point of his assignment are indications of the child of destiny that he is. His journey to stardom again started in 1995 at the University of Uyo, when he finally combined the knowledge of statistics which he earlier had with the present knowledge in Accounting Administrator par excellence and other achievements in life. The meteoric rise in his career has all the trappings of providence with evidential variables standing as attestations of God’s plan for Akwa Ibom State and indeed humanity. At the University, he introduced himself to purely accounting career and other noble adventures which catapulted him to rostrums. He is so blessed that he creates positive impacts wherever he finds himself and succeeds where others failed. He does not take nor give excuses as earlier hinted in this expose. This means he agrees with N. Vincent, who says that “Excuses are the tools a person with no purpose or vision uses to build great monuments of emptiness.” Some people may see Pastor Nicholas Ekarika as a magician, or the only man that God favours. This is a very wrong perception. He is just a God-fearing, hardworking and principled fellow. Life has principles which leads their custodians to greatness.
2010 precisely, Pastor Ekarika was given special promotion from Salary Grade Level 12 to levels 15 and 16 respectively. Again in January 13, 2011, he was catapulted to the apex as Permanent Secretary, Budget Office. Pastor Nicholas Ekarika, while preparing to sing his Nunc Dimities’ for retirement received an added responsibility from His Excellency as Acting chairman.
Board of Internal Revenue from July 2015 to April 2016 and is now on his Retirement Leave. While exchanging views with Newsmen in his Shelter Afrique Residence, Pastor Nicholas Ekarika said, “The greatest and joyous moment in my life was on October 10, 1983 at the Federal School of Statistics, when I had an encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ. My progress in life started from that time till now.” Asked if he had any regrets in his life as challenges, Pastor Ekarika emphatically stressed, “I look at everything in life as a challenge, and not regret. There was a time in my life when I went to Lagos to collect the Kumbi Bus I bought, I was mobbed, people shot gun at me, but the gun refused to explode and I attribute that to the loving kindness of God and his protection over me. Infact, it was as if it was an acted film”. Pastor Nicholas Ekarika so much relies on the word of God which says, “I believe in the Lord who strengthens me” that is why he could manage such tedious political appointments coupled with with the work of God. He is never proud since he knows that to be proud is sinful in the sight of God.
Pastor Ekarika is of the opinion that when funds are injected to some critical areas by Federal Government it will stimulate the economy of the states thus reducing the current recession plaguing the entire country.
Describing Governor Udom Emmanuel as the Joseph of Akwa Ibom State, Pastor Nicholas Ekarika urges all Akwa Ibom People to be obedient to the government, intercede and always pray for the leaders to succeed. “During this period of recession, we should support the governor for yet another term in order to complete the lofty programmes he has for the state. We should cooperate and give peace a chance for Akwa Ibom State to succeed”, he noted.
Pastor Nicholas Ekarika has seen days and years that are good enough to ignite melodies from his spirit and also challenging enough to spur him to think. However, fortune and misfortune are Siamese twins. They both make life eventful and unique. Experiences have made him a good Counselor, teacher and adviser. One can only dialogue with or listen to him without learning new things. That is one of the reasons he is loved and respected. He derives joy in helping those in need, be they poor or rich, literate or illiterate and does not discriminate against anyone by reasons of class or creed.
Though he is now retired, Pastor Nicholas Ekarika is not tired, but very strong and virile to take up any other responsibility the government might thrust upon him.
In all his activities and interactions with other members of the public, Pastor Ekarika has proved himself a man of honour and accountability who is imbued with wisdom and knowledge to understand the dynamics of Akwa Ibom State Civil Service. He is knowledgeable and insightful not only because of his educational attainment, but his natural disposition. As a career civil servant who attains the highest Civil Service career by dint of handwork and integrity, he lives above board in a society replete with corruption and other societal ills. The Abama-born, Budget Manager and Financial Management Guru is a humanitarian- personified.