DENNIS UDOMA, Uyo
President Muhammadu Buhari, Shehu Shagari and Chief Olusegun Obasanjo were among a host of past and present Nigerian leaders who condoled with the family, government and people of Akwa Ibom and Cross River States on the demise of erstwhile Governor, late Senator (Chief) Donald Dick Etiebet who was interred, Friday at his home town in Ikot Ekpuk, Oruk Anam Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.
President Buhari, who was represented at the funeral by his Senior Special Adviser on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Sen. Ita Solomon Enang deeply mourned with Etiebet’s family and both states. He expressed the hope that the deceased lived exemplary life, that would always be remembered as a worthy ambassador and great politician especially, his contributions in the development of the two states.
Former Presidents Alhaji Shehu Shagari and Chief Olusegun Obasanjo also commiserated with the family.
In their separate message of condolences delivered at the funeral service, Alhaji Shagari described the passing away of former governor under the platform of National Party of Nigeria (NPN) , in the old Cross River State as a great loss.
“I have received with a heavy heart the sad news of the passing away of our beloved friend, Chief (Dr. Donald Dick Etiebet, OFR, former NPN Governor of Old Cross River State.
It was indeed an irreparable loss not only to the members of your distinguished family but also to all of us who have a lot of compassion for late Chief Etiebet”.
Also, Chief Obasanjo lauded the deceased contributions to the service of the nation in the course of his career as a public servant which his enviable qualities stood him out as an outstanding patriot, politician and fine gentleman.
According to Chief Obasanjo, “…His service to the country as Deputy Chairman of the Constitution Drafting > Committee of 1995 could also not go unnoticed. Chief Etiebet’s commitment to enthroning democracy in our dear country, his tenacity in the face of daunting odds and mortal risk to life was very common knowledge. All these marked him out as a courageous political leader and true patriot”.
Although Chief Etiebet’s passage was like a dream, especially as he still had a lot to contribute to his community and national life, Chief Obasanjo urged the family to take solace in the worthy legacy he left behind.
Other dignitaries who also expressed their heartfelt condolences to the family included former Senate President, Dr. Joseph Wayas, former Peoples’ Democratic Party National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, Senate Minority Leader, Sen. Godswill Akpabio, Akwa Ibom State Deputy-governor, Chief Moses Ekpo, Secretary to the Akwa Ibom State Government (SSG) Sir. Etekamba Umoren, State Chairman of PDP, Obong Paul Ekpo, Senators Emmanuel Ibokessien, Bassey Albert, John James Akpan Udoedehe, former Deputy-Governor, Obong Chris Ekpenyong, Chairman, Police Service Commission, Sir. Mike Okiro, Managing Director, Niger-Delta Commission (NDDC), Sir. Bassey Dan Abia, Registrar and Secretary to Council, University of Jos, Jilli Dandam Esq. National President, University of Lagos Alumni Association, Dr. Sonny Kuku and Akwa Esop Ima Isong Ibibio, Ntisong, Dr. E.U. Ekidem.
Earlier, both Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel and his Cross River counterpart in their separate speeches at the funeral eulogized the sterling qualities of the deceased and urged the people to imitate his exemplary life and service to the state and nation.
Younger brother and one time petroleum minister, Atuekong Donatus Etiebet in his eulogy to late governor said, his brother was a straight forward and hard working politician, whose transparency and accountability in governance made their heads high even at daunting circumstances.
Cross River Governor, Prof. Ben Ayade was represented by his Deputy.
Arrays of dignitaries who graced the occasion are; former Governor of Akwa Ibom, Obong Victor Attah, Akwa Ibom Speaker, Rt. (Hon.) Aniekan Uko, State Chief Judge, Justice Stephen Okon, former Deputy-Governors, Sir Michael Udofia, Obong Nsima Ekere, Obong Chris Ekpenyong, Son of late Deputy-Governor to late Etiebet, Iya Nna, former Military Administrators, Col. Mohammed Bako, Group Capt. John Ebiye, Navy Capt. Joseph Adewusi, former Cross River State Governor, Mr. Donald Duke, former Director-general, NYSC.
Major-Gen. Edte Akpan, Senate delegation led by Senator Banabas Gemade, former minister of Lands/Housing, Chief Nduese Essien, APC Chieftains, Dr. John Harry, Obong Tony Esu, Mr. Inibehe Toho and Chief Sonny Udom and others.
It would be recalled that, late Don Etiebet was elected governor of Cross River State between October and December 1983 before the nascent dispensation became the victim of a military coup three months after assumption of office.