Mary Ekah
One thing Nigerians and most especially, indigenes of Enwang in Mbo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, will not forget in a hurry about the late former Inspector General of Police, Sir Etim Okon Inyang, is his selfless and dedicated service to his immediate community and the nation at large, which resulted in his many accomplishments for his local community and for the generality of Nigerians.

Late Etim Okon lnyang, (December 25, 1930–September 26, 2016) a Nigerian Policeman and former Inspector General of Police, was a devout Christian and a believer in the leadership by example and equal opportunity for all. The late retired Inspector General of Police (Ikpoto Oro), was the coordinating and moving spirit of his community, a pillar of strength and inspiration to diverse persons.

Inyang was a man of peace. He abhorred conflict and discord and would leave no stone unturned to ensure harmony and peaceful relationships among people. In this regard, he has left an enduring and lingering legacy for the people of Mbo Local Government Area.

His Odyssey as a peacemaker had been extra-ordinary, particularly in Mbo Local Government Area. He was acknowledged as an individual who worked genuinely and selflessly with a curious mix of commitment and sacrifice to make his community, Mbo, enjoy monumental peaceful relationship.

No wonder Sir Edet Amana wrote in his tribute to Etim Inyang that: “The stage for Etim Inyang’s life opened on Christmas Day 1930 at the little-known village of Uko Akpan, Enwang in present Mbo Local Government Area (LGA) of Akwa Ibom State. At that time, Enwang, now the headquarters of Mbo LGA, was completely cut off and without vehicular access to the rest of Oron, Akwa Ibom State.”

“To get to Enwang one had to walk through a very tidal swamp ad undertake perilous canoe journey through many of the creeks of Mbo River. But our God whose ways are beyond human comprehension made this man, who was to be the beacon of light for his people to be born a few kilometers from James Town where Rev. C.P Groves of the primitive Methodist Church Foundation of Greta Britain established the seed of Christianity ad Methodism to spread to other parts of Eastern Nigeria,” Amana noted.

For a long time, only Oro town was served with public electricity and even at that time, it was only within a small radius of the town. Late Inyang took up the issue to the seat of power and was able to single-handedly influence the award of a contract from the Ministry of Mines and Power for extension of the National grid from Eket to Oro and Mbo local government areas.

Regrettably, not all parts of Oro and Mbo were lucky enough to get electricity at that time and probably till now. Nevertheless, Inyanng’s little effort in extending this line to those areas has brought his people happiness and it is now the line to be used for network grid spanning of these areas. Etim Inyang brought light to people who were long accustomed to blanket darkness.

The expertise the late former Police Chief cultivated and acquired in the course of his profession earned him many international honours, which were not just honours for self-estimation but also served as signpost of recognition for the greatness and relevance of his country. He was honoured by the United Nations as an eminent expert in Narcotics Law-Enforcement and Control. He earned an international honour as a member of International Association of Chiefs of Police with membership number 401996.

Late Inyang was the creator and motivator of Enwang Development Union, the engine room for communal development and hope for the people. Through his influence, Enwang Community benefited from laudable initiatives like construction of Community Comprehensive Secondary School, Enwang; establishment of Allied Bank Plc. in Enwang and Comprehensive Police Complex for urban and semi-urban areas.

Interestingly, a lot of credits must go to late Inyang for the creation of Akwa Ibom in 1987. Very few highly placed indigenes of the state knew the behind the scene strings pulling he got involved in to bring about the state. As usual he shunned publicity but the good work he did has never been hidden.

Therefore, for the cause, among the circles of those who determined the fate of Nigeria at that time, they would always refer to Akwa Ibom as a gift to Etim Inyang. Similarly, the people of Efiat-Mbo will ever be grateful to him for his gift to them of Mbo Local Government Area.
Born in Uko Akpan, Enwang in Mbo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State on December 25, 1930 to a wealthy merchant father and warrant Chief of Uko Akpan, Chief Oko Inyang and mother, Mrs. Mma Ikwo Amah Inyang, both of royal lineage, young Inyang started school at the Roman Catholic Primary School, Ujo-Apkan, Enwang a lot earlier than his age, from 1936-1937.

Young Inyang was born virtually with a silver spoon in his mouth. However, at the tender age of nine, a capricious turn of event started with the loss of his father. This sad event bereft him of the needed financial support for his education. Despite the precipitate challenges, Inyang was able to pass through Akani-Obio Group School, Oron in 1938; Methodist School, Oron (1939-1940); Oyubia Central School, Oron, now Urua Ofong, Oruko LGA (1941-1945). In spite of his brilliance and promise, fate and circumstances again contrived to deny him the opportunities for further education. Nevertheless, providence anchored him on the shores of the Nigerian Police Force.

He was appointed in 1983 to succeed Sunday Adewusi and was succeeded by Muhammadu Gambo Jimeta in 1986. Having joined the Nigerian Police Force on October 1st, 1949, Sir Etim Okon Inyang, who died at the age of 85 in Lagos, rose through the ranks, becoming Commissioner of Police in Kano and old Bendel States. In 1984, he was appointed Inspector General of Police and served meritoriously until his voluntarily retirement in October 1986. He was appointed Vice Chairman of the Constitution Review Committee in 1987 and also conferred with the National Honour of Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON).

It is also of importance to note that within his local community, Inyang was involved in virtually every activity or initiative that promoted the wellbeing of his people. He overtly supported the positive aspirations of the people for socio-economic development. He was an ardent builder who erected platforms to serve as veritable organ in consensus building for group interest. He wholeheartedly worked in support and strengthening of Oron Development Union and for over a decade served as its capable president in Lagos.

Surprisingly, many people in Akwa Ibom State may not have known how the federal university, University of Uyo came into being. It was late Inyang’s involvement and contributions that were significant in transforming an underfunded institution of the State Government into a federal university. At the time the Federal Government decided to take over the University of Cross River, Uyo, the institution was to become a Federal University of Technology. A group of concerned indigenes of the Akwa Ibom State in Lagos led by late Etim Inyang readily discerns the disadvantages, which could be the lot of Akwa Ibom State with this move. So they painfully and meticulously articulated the State’s objective and their desires for a conventional university to enable the state derive maximum benefit like similar institutions that were cited in other states.

It was late Inyang who carried the fight to the apex of authority where he met stiff resistance as a definite policy directive had already been issued to the Federal Ministry of Education. Nonetheless, Inyang fought hard and eventually won over the then Military Vice President, Vice Admiral Augustus Aikhomu to his side. The duo then persuaded the Military President who favoured their plea with an assent and granted late Inyang’s request, which reflected the wishes and aspirations of the people of Akwa Ibom State on the matter. So with his triumph achievement, the University of Cross River became a Federal institution, a conventional university known as the University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.

In recognition of his services and noble contributions to his Enwang community, Calabar, Oron people and indeed Akwa Ibom State, Sir Etim Okon Inyang was honoured with many high traditional chieftaincy titles. These include: Ada Idaha K’ Ebrutu, Anwabo-Enwang; Ikpoto Oro; Out Ekong Uyenge, Obong Iberedem Ukam and Out Ekong of Akwa Ibom State amongst others.

Etim Inyang, who is survived by a wife, Mary and five children, was indeed the people’s hero. He has carved out a memorable niche for himself for all the good works he did amongst the people of Akwa Ibom State. The warmth and selflessness of his personality drew people to him as he always sought to be of service to them. As a hero and role model, he radiated calm and soothing reassurance and was totally devoid of that callous insensitivity to the plight of others, which robs the soul of the joy and peace. The accolades given to him by his grateful people are the affection and sincere respect, which are indelibly etched, in golden letters in the depth of their hearts.

Activities leading to the final internment of the late Police IG started last Friday with a Commendation Service at the Trinity Methodist Church, Tinubu, Lagos, followed by a Night of Tributes on Monday at same venue. Lying-in-state will hold at the Civic Centre Oron, Akwa Ibom, State on Tuesday, November 22 while another Night of Tributes will hold again at the deceased hometown on Friday, November 25 at the St. Peter’s Primary School, Enwang, Mbo Local Government Area. Funeral would hold on Saturday November 26 at Enwang Stadium at 11:OOam and finally a Outing Service at the Methodist Church Enwang by 10;00am on Sunday November 27 will round off the burial ceremony of the legendary policeman.