Engr Christopher Stephen Ekpeyong ph.D FNSE belongs to a rare class of persons who came into the world to make giant imparts. His footprints are in the sands of time everywhere across the nation. Like or loathe him, he remains a recurring decimal in circles where development and strides are discussed and his monumental achievements have earned him a confetti of honours and a plethora of awards from the academia, the state, the church and the traditional institution. At 60, he leaves me in awe. He has more going on in his life than most people have in a whole lifetime. He is an inspiration to me and everyone who know him and leaves all wondering… what’s next for this fascinating person. As glasses of good wine are clinked in toast to a momentous life of this great man, I sit to ponder on such a rewarding journey it has been these past 60 years.
Born on the 29th of September, 1954 at Ikot Ukana in today Obot Akara Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, Chris started out in life as a young promising child – energetic, vivacious, unyielding and alloyed with protestant work ethics. Six years after (1960) he started the journey to education at St. Patrick’s Primary School, Ikot Ukana. By 1964, he relocated to St. Michael’s Primary School, Rumumasi, Port Harcourt in River State where he made his First School Leaving Certificate (1969).
By 1970, Chris had registered at Government Technical College Tombia, Port Harcourt having completed primary school; and, five years later he clinched the City and Guilds Intermediate Certificate, London. That qualified him for admission into the Federal Government Technical College, Yaba Lagos. By 1976, he earned the Advance Certificate of the City and Guilds, London.
Not daunted, and having tested technology early in life, he proceeded along that path and got admission into Federal Polytechnic, Bida in Niger State where he earned the Ordinary National Diploma in Electrical/Electronic Engineering (1977-1979). Next front was the Polytechnic Calabar, Cross River State shooting the Higher National Diploma into his bag of fast enlarging certificates (1982).
Between 1993 and 1995, Chief Ekpenyong earned an MBA (Marketing) from Kensington University Glendale, California USA. He capped it up with a Ph.D in Public Administration (2000).
Chris Ekpenyong’s work experience is as long as his sojourn in school. Almost immediately after the Mandatory National Youth Corps Service, he developed appetite for politics and by 1983 became a Member of former Cross River State House of Assembly. That adventure was short-lived having been truncated by the military interregnum brought by the 31st December, 1983 coup d’état.
Clad with his engineering certificates, he quickly joined Data Sciences Limited, a Computer Engineering Firm as an Electrical Engineer in charge of Power Systems, EAC’s Installations and Computer Environment Engineering (1984-1989). From this date, he bade farewell to paid employment and plunged into the murky waters of business and
He thus became the founder/CEO of Gestric Limited, a company involved in Mechanical/Electrical Engineering & ICT. He is also the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of Temps Engineering Limited, EEMJM Investment Company Limited, Chrisaden Steve Int’l Enterprises Limited, Gestric Oil & Allied Products Ltd., Imperial Technical Enterprises Limited, JSC Farms Limited and of course EEMJM Hotel & Suites Limited. It may interest you to note that these above-mentioned companies are involved in oil exploration & marketing; engineering procurements, installations, designs, constructions as well as agriculture and hospitality.
Led by the divine hand, and challenged by the many inadequacies characterizing politics in the country and, not minding the first debacle in Cross River State, Chris went into a joint gubernatorial ticket with Arc. Obong Victor Attah and became the second elected Deputy Governor of Akwa Ibom State in 1999. That closed in 2005 only to reopen as a gubernatorial candidate and strong contender for the Hill Top Mansion in 2007. He is bidding his time waiting for where next the divine hand will lead him in the service of Nigeria.
Engr Chris Ekpeyong I dare say is a study in professional, social and community life. A registered Member of the Council of Registered Engineers of Nigeria, Member, Nigeria Institute of Management (MNIM), Fellow of Nigerian Society of Engineers, Institute of Independent Marketing Management of Nigeria, Nigerian Institute of Salesmanship, Institute of Public Administrators of Nigeria and Institute of Corporate Executives of Nigerian. He is also a member of Nigerian Institute of Safety Professionals and Nigeria Institute of Directors.
He has won so many awards. Best Performing Deputy Governor by the Institute of Public Administrators of Nigerian, Paul Harris Fellow by Rotary Club International, Doctor of Science (Engineering) Honoris Causa (Kensington University) and Melvin Jones award (Lion Club International) Chris is the Grand Patron 1 and grand patron of the following bodies – Abiakpo Ekaisong Youth Forum, Obot Akara Co-Operative Union Ltd and National Association of Computer Science Students University of Uyo chapter and Nka Nto Annang, Ikot Ekpene Chapter, etc.
Chris holds 31 traditional titles including Obom (Pillar) of Akwa Ibom State. Chris has interest in Rotary Club International, Lion Club International, Uyo, Ikot Ekpene and Prestige Club respectively as member. If this looks too intimidating, if it sounds like gimmick contrived by accidental pilgrimage in politics, lets note that it start quite early in life as a House Prefect in Government Technical College Tombia, Public Relations Officer Students Union Government Federal Polytechnic, Bida, 1st National Vice President National Association of Technological Students, President Students’ Union Federal Polytechnic Bida, National President, National Association of Annang students and President Catholic Community, Polytechnic Calabar. Nothing but a good seed!
Who says you are sixty? You are just a 20 year old with 40 years of experience. Stay young. You are not turning 60. You are just turning 20 for the third time. Every passing year brings in an experience and a hope for tomorrow. May you have them both. Keep your heart unwrinkled, be hopeful, kindly, cheerful and happy. Go, Ukarakpa, go. Inspire the younger generation, teach them if you can. Speak fearlessly and let our society get better for it. Some may think of 60 as getting older, but it’s actually an amazing time in a person’s life where they can take stock of who they are and celebrate each new day with a renewed sense of self. Live life to the fullest!
I rise to say a happy birthday to the Mkpisong Ibibio, Ubok Udom Annang, Akpan Otoro, Obom Akwa Ibom, His Excellency, Engr, Dr. Obong Chris Ekpenyong, Ph.D, FNSE, the Ukarakpa of Akwa Ibom State.
Finbarr is a Public Affairs Analyst