Bassey Inyang in Calabar
It was tributes galore yesterday in Calabar, Cross River State as the remains of Mrs. Temitope Ekpenyong-Ita, wife of former Director General of the Department of State Services (SSS), Mr. Ita Ekpenyong, was laid to rest.
Temitope, who passed on March 13 in Abuja after brief illness, was laid to rest in her family residence in Atimbo, in Calabar Municipality, after a requiem church service at the at Hope Waddell Parish of the Presbyterian church, Calabar.
The funeral was attended by dignitaries from across the federation including Cross Rivers State Deputy Governor, Prof. Ivara Esu, Rivers State Governor; Mr. Nyesom Wike; his Akwa-Ibom counterpart, Mr. Udom Emmanuel; former Anambra State Governor, Mr. Peter Obi; former Governor of Cross River State, Mr. Donald Duke; former Minister of Culture and Tourism, Chief Edem Duke and former Chairman of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Sen. Victor Ndoma-Egba, among others.
In his sermon during the burial service, the Prelate of Presbyterian Church of Nigeria, Revd Nzie Eke said Temitope’s death was a call to glory, noting that she had returned to meet her maker at the appointed time.
From all indication, the prelate said the deceased was a good wife who encouraged and stood by her husband and family, saying Temitope left ‘at a time that her family and the church needed her most.”
Eke said her demise “is just the end of her life on earth, but not the end of communion with God. So, our brother Mr. Ekpenyong, your dear wife, the mother of your children, and that beloved sister will be dearly missed. She touched so many lives. Her lifestyle touched so many people.”
Speaking his deputy at the church service, Cross Rivers State Governor, Prof. Ben Ayade said the turnout of people from all works of life, who graced the event, had proved a great testimony of how Temitope and Ita led their lives.
He explained that her demise “is not his own personal loss. It is a loss to us in Cross River State. God knows best. All I can tell you is that the way he has led his life, he should continue in that way. Only God knows why he decided to call upon her so early.”
Also paying tribute, Emmanuel said it “is only somebody who has not experienced something like this before that will not know the emotions attached to it. Death is an appointment everybody must keep.
“Even though we know it is an appointment everybody must keep, nobody honestly volunteers to keep this appointment. That is why the Bible says that secret things belong to the Lord our God. You cannot change it.
“We really want to console our big brother, the man who is always there for us. On behalf of the government and people of Akwa Ibom State, we will like to express our deepest condolences on the sad and untimely passing of our sister.”
Wike described Temitope’s death as painful and sad, saying being a member of the Ekpenyong family, it was very obvious that he and his family share in the grief caused by the demise of the late woman who was like a mother to all.
Wike said Temitope died too early, thereby asking rhetorically why good people “always die too early while the bad ones live for too long.”
On his part, Duke, who spoke in both Efik and English languages, urged the family “to bear Temitope’s death with fortitude because it is only God that knows why he allowed it to happen.
Duke prayed that God should keep and strengthen the family of the former SSS boss in this most trying time of theirs, thereby describing the day as a sad one.
According to him, we were richer for knowing her, but definitely poorer for her loss.
For Ndoma-Egba, we have lost a jewel. For those of us, who are regular visitors to Ita’s home, we know that something tragic has happened. We know because we feel the change.
Before March 13, Ndoma-Egba said, “You could not go to their home without having several offers. You must eat. You must drink. But today, that does not happen. Our brother, our friend, and the one I call number one.
“Number one simply means Nigeria’s number one gentleman is clearly broken. From being clean shaven, he has developed beards. We share the pain with you. It is not the years of our lives that matter, but the lives in those years.
“Number one, your wife, Temitope, had life in every of the 52 years of her life. It is not the quantity of life. It is the quality of life. She lived a quality life,” she said.