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Nduese Udom: A loss So Painful

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By Etim Etim

On December 19, 2023, I published an article titled ‘So many deaths around us’ in which I bemoaned the passing of many of my friends. It was a sorrowful lamentation of the tragedy of deaths and the griefs it leaves in its wake. I mentioned names of the five friends that had departed a few months earlier and paid tributes to them, hoping that the season of sadness would ebb.   I ended the emotional piece with a prayer to the Almighty to give their families comfort. Little did I know that a bigger calamity was still ahead.

You can therefore imagine the shock I received on January 4 when a friend called me. ‘’Have you heard? Nduese. Very unfortunate…’’. He stammered along as he tried to convey the sad news. I shouted. Cried. Not again!

Nduese Udom and I have come a long way, from UNN, where we first met, over 40 years ago. Even as a youngster, he was well-built and athletic, walking with a bounce and long strides. We took to each other instantly, but the bond grew deeper when we found ourselves as members of one of the gentlemen’s clubs on campus.  Our fondness for each other became stronger.

While he called me ‘Eti’, a modification of my name that signifies endearment, I referred to him as ‘Corporation’ or simply ‘Corp’, derived from his childhood dream to build a big corporation.

Nduese is one of the kindest and most generous persons that I know. Always happy, jovial and mirthful, corporation was comfortable in the midst of everybody – both the high and mighty and the lowly and vulnerable. He had no airs about him.

A devoted Catholic and an avid golfer with a sharp intellect, he had a fascination for eclectic mix of interests: sports, politics, fashion, automobiles, wildlife, business & finance, etc.  Spending those evenings with him in Uyo and Lagos was fun, for he was a fun guy, naturally. I can’t remember seeing Corp moody or pensive. He would giggle, chuckle or laugh out loud. Corporation loved debates and intellectual engagements, and he would easily wear you down with his analysis, if you don’t have the stamina. Over light drinks, we would talk into the night and continue the next morning.  

After university, Corporation got into Shell Petroleum, working first in PH and later in Lagos where he retired. On retirement, he joined his family in Florida. He had a long and fulfilling career, and was savvy enough to cultivate a wide circle of friends across social strata and spanning many countries.

In 2017, Corporation came down to Uyo and the three of us (including my wife) went to Ikot Ekpene to attend a funeral. That was the first and only time my wife ever met him, but she continued to ask of ‘’that your lively Shell friend’’. You can imagine her reaction when I broke the sad news to her.

I write two columns in two national newspapers every week and Corporation maked it a point of duty to read and comment on almost all of them. He was incisive, keen and sharp-witted. I last heard from him on December 6. This is a very sad loss.

I am so grateful to the Almighty God for the beautiful life, a liberal spirit and a sweet family Corporation was blessed with. I am heartened that his children are all doing okay and that Nkem, his wife of over 30 years is keeping up. May the Almighty receive Corporation; may his memory continue to be a blessing and may his family be blessed. Amen.

Etim is a Journalist and Political Analyst based in Abuja.

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