By Ita Williams
Many Nigerians, including leaders of major tribes residing in Cross River state, have eulogized the Obong of Calabar, His Eminence Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu V, for ensuring that peace and unity reigned in Cross River and beyond.
Speaking with our reporter at the sidelines of the 11th edition of the Utomo Obong cultural homage to the Obong at his country home, Adiaba, in Odukpani local government area of the State, the leaders said the Monarch had succeeded in bringing different tribes, race, and ethnic groups in Cross River together.
Etinyin (Arch) Bassey Ndem, a member of Efik Traditional Council, in a chat, said Cross River was witnessing unprecedented goodwill and peace partly due to the disposition of the Obong who ensures he settles any form of ethnic disagreements among not only among the Efiks but also various tribes in the State.
“The Obong has done very well since he came on board. The Utomo Obong is an occasion for all tribes and tongues to come together as one to pay homage to our father, who is the Treaty King. We pray that God will continue to bless him, give him long life and the wisdom to continue to lead our people well,” he stated.
President, Ohaneze Ndigbo in Cross River, High Chief Felix Odoemene, in his remarks, paid special tribute to the Obong of Calabar, and prayed that the peace, which the Monarch typifies, should be sustained by all means.
Also speaking, another prominent Igbo son, Sir Chukwemeka Egwuonwu, said, “the Igbos, other tribes and indeed all Cross Riverians are today celebrating the epitome of peace and unity, The Obong of Calabar.
“The Obong is a man God has used to bring maximum peace in Cross River among various tribes here. He is a man who does not discriminate, and we pray that this peace shall remain as we go into election and even forever,” he stated.
To Mrs Adegoke Oyeleye, Vice President of the Yoruba community in Cross River, and who spoke on behalf of her people said the presence of the Yorubas in their number in the event was a demonstration of the high regards they have for the Obong, who she described as a father and man of peace.
Also speaking, Etinyin Sir Steven CocoBassey, the Etubom Ufok CocoBassey, described the Monarch as one of the best first class traditional rulers in Nigeria, adding “we have never had it this good. The man typifies humility. He is accommodating and down-to-earth. We are blessed to have him as our Obong at this point of our history as a people.”
In his brief remarks, The Obong of Calabar expressed satisfaction that major tribes in Cross River, for instance, had demonstrated unity by attending the festival despite high cost of transportation and other challenges.
“Your presence today, I mean the attendance of various groups, tribes and people in this event, is an indication that God has started answering my prayers and indeed our prayers for peace and unity, not only in Cross River but also in our country as a whole. I believe that this demonstration of unity and goodwill you have all exhibited will be seen across our country.
“I call on all our people, no matter your tribe and religion, to know that we have no other country except Nigeria. Forget your differences and work for the progress of our country at least for the sake of posterity,” the Monarch stated.
Our reporter, who monitored the event, said there were various traditional dances and displays to honour the Monarch as the crowd cheered on and danced.