Chief Bassey, Cross River Sage Passes


A sage and an icon of the Efik people, Calabar, Cross River State and indeed the entire Nigerian nation, High Chief (Dr) John Henry Bassey, has crossed over to the great beyond at the age of 91.

Popularly known as Jebs and uniquely titled; Ntanta Calabar (meaning The Star of Calabar), High Chief (Dr) John Henry Bassey was an influential community leader, politician and elder statesman, who stood at the forefront in the struggle for the creation of Cross River State out of the then South Eastern State of Nigeria.

He commenced his work career in the Public Works Department as a civil engineer in 1949 from where he transferred to the Nigeria Police Force in 1959.

He retired as a Assistant Commissioner of Police in 1975 as the officer in charge of all Police Works, comprising the construction of police stations and barracks all over the country.

While in service he won several laurels namely; Long Service Police Medal, War Medal, IG`s commendation for meritorious service, Republic Medal, National Service Medal etc.

After retirement, Jebs plunged himself totally to the service of his people.With people of like minds he struggled doggedly for the creation of Cross River State as presently constituted, a dream that finally came true in 1987 when Akwa Ibom was finally excised from the then Cross River State.

With Lagos as the base and his home as the meeting place, the people of Calabar and Ogoja provinces (as at then), launched and sustained a consistent campaign for the creation of present day Cross River State from the then South Eastern State.That collaboration led to the drawing up of the Calabar-Ogoja Accord in 1980.

There were 26 signatories to that epoch document that signaled the agreement of the people to co-exist in one state.
For that visionary and pioneering effort, all the signatories to the Accord, including Jebs were honoured as Millenium Personalities and their names engraved on the obelisk at the Calabar Millenium Park.

High Chief (Dr) John Henry Bassey was elected the pioneer Chairman of NPN, the then ruling party (1978-1980), from which position he successfully installed the first civilian Governor of the state, late Dr Clement Isong in the 1979 election.
After he relinquished the state party chairmanship position, he became the Chairman of South Senatorial District of the party.

An astute politician and a great mobiliser, he effectively galvanised support for the party in the areas that won a landslide victory for the state.

He was the Chairman of Cross River State Forum from 1978 to 1996 and up to his demise he was the National Leader of the Greater Calabar Forum, an umbrella body of community and political leaders from the seven Local Gvernment areas of the Southern Senatorial Districts of Cross River State.

His doggedness, courage, resilience, industry and service to humanity, as well as his stand for peace and development are legacies for which he will always be remembered by those he left behind.

Obsequecies for the late High Chief Bassey begin with Service of Songs on Thursday, September 21 at Duke Town Presbyterian Church, Calabar. The
Burial Service holds the next day at the same venue, while there will be a thanksgiving service on Sunday, September 24.