A Journalist in Government

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Moses Ekpo

With an unblemished and distinguished career record that spans journalism, public relations, population management, information management, diplomacy, the creative industry, broadcast and governance, Mr. Moses Frank Ekpo, Deputy Governor of Akwa Ibom State identifies himself, first, as a journalist

Recently, Deputy Governor of Akwa Ibom, State, Mr Moses Ekpo was among the congregation at St Peter’s Cathedral, Owerrinta, Abia State. The occasion was the celebration of distinguished mothers in the Anglican Communion, and his son’s mother-in-law, Mrs Joyce Uche was awarded the Daughter of Zion for her advocacy and evangelism in the Diocese of Isiala Ngwa South. With words of exultation, Ekpo described mothers as pillars in their respective homes, even though they are not the head of the family.

On the first anniversary of the death of Chief Frank Okonta, the famous promoter of Nigerian art and culture, Ekpo penned a heartwarming tribute to him, recalling their days in the Federal Ministry of Information where they met and entered a working relationship that evolved to an enviable friendship, the type that David and Jonathan had in The Bible.

These two instances encapsulate the persona of the cerebral politician who many fondly call Uncle Mo: a family man, debatrialised Nigerian, consummate professional and loyal friend. Interestingly, his in-law and friend are from the Igbo ethnic group, a trait that shows his long relationship with the ethnic group which probably began during his time at the Eastern Nigeria Broadcasting Commission.

Ekpo is admired for many traits including loyalty, a disposition he displayed when the Minister of Niger Delta, Godswill Akpabio surprised his acolytes in Akwa Ibom by defecting to the All Progressives Congress, (APC), a party which he had famously rubbished. As rumours of the defection of other top politicians spread in the state, Ekpo reassured Akwa Ibomites of his loyalty to Governor Udom Emmanuel, a man he pledged to work with and ensure good governance for the state. It was a rare trait in the political landscape where betrayal and backstabbing is a common occurrence. In this instance, it could be argued that Akpabio single handedly picked and ensured that the duo of Emmanuel and Ekpo won the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) nomination and subsequently, the chance to govern the state. Moreso that Ekpo and Akpabio are of the same ethnic stock. But Ekpo who understands the meaning of friendship and public service, having cut his teeth in the media at different designations in the public and private sectors knows his role as a team member: To always show support; championing the maxim that victory for one team member is victory for all! Therefore, it wasn’t a difficult choice. Akpabio remains his kinsman, but faithfulness to his boss and the higher service to state were more persuasive. For his global trademark of fidelity, which is the ink of humility, Ekpo is well known.

A man who has had his finger in many pies, working as journalist, broadcaster, information manager, diplomat, copyright expert, commissioner in two states and now as Deputy Governor, Ekpo comes with vast vast cognate experience acrossvariousdisciplines. He gained a Diploma in Politics from the London Polytechnic and followed it up with a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in the United States.

His journalism qualifications got him jobs at different times with reputable media organisations of yore such as the Nnamdi Azikiwe owned West African Pilot and the Daily and Sunday Express Newspaper which was formerly Daily Service. The newspaper had in its employment the revered and veteran journalist Lateef Jakande, first Civilian Governor of Lagos State. Ekpo also established the Nigerian Chronicle Newspaper, the Cross River State, then Southeastern State, owned publication) in the 70s and edited the paper for four years, before serving the state as commissioner. When Akwa Ibom was created, again, Ekpo had the rare privilege of starting the Akwa Ibom State owned newspaper, The Pioneer and also served as a commissioner.
There are not too many Akwa Ibomites with an unblemished and distinguished career record that spans journalism, public relations, diplomacy, information management, population growth management, the creative industry, broadcast and governance like Ekpo’s. His friends, acquaintances professional and service colleagues can be found in places of influence all over the world. Yet, he is not swayed by these connections, its accompanying professional fellowships and dozens of communal honours, he prefers to go with the ‘Mr.’ title.

Beyond the print arm of the media, Ekpo spread his professional tentacle to the broadcast medium, working, first at the Western Nigeria Broadcasting Service and later at Eastern Nigeria Broadcasting before the Nigerian Civil War. The Akwa Ibom Deputy Governor was unjustly detained throughout the war on the suspicion that he could have been compromised because of his friendship to Chief Obafemi Awolowo.

His penchant for knowledge, however, did not stop at Politics and Journalism. The indigene of Abak local government area of Akwa Ibom State took an interest in Intellectual Property and gained a Diploma of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Academy. He would later obtain a certificate of the United States Patent Academy. The knowledge garnered in these institutes would help him serve in different capacities on the world stage. Between 1989 and 2000, he was the Nigerian Representative to the General Assembly of the World Intellectual Property Organisation. Within this period, he served as the President of the body and currently serves as a consultant. Naturally, he became the first Director General of the Nigeria Copyright Council, annexing another professional interest in the creative industry. He also served a National Population Commissioner representing Akwa Ibom State, before becoming the state’s, Number Two Man.

Arguably, Ekpo’s towering career spanned other sectors such as public relations, diplomacy and governance. The latter is where he’s been working in the past few years and has commanded and maintained the level of respect that is due to only rare breeds like him. His sojourn in governance can be traced to the late 70s when he was appointed the Chief Information Officer of Cross River State, before the creation of Akwa Ibom. He would climb the rungs of the political ladder to become a member of the Presidential Strategic Communications during President Muhammadu Buhari’s previous reign as the Head of State. His excellence made him the best candidate to lead the War Against Indiscipline (WAI), from 1985 to 1987 as the Director and Chief Executive Officer.

However, his lofty plans for the exercise were not executed as a result of the General Ibrahim Babangida coup that dethroned Buhari, thus, terminating the initiative.

Notwithstanding, Ekpo served as Commissioner for Information, Social Development, Youth, Sports and Culture in both Cross River and Akwa-Ibom States.

With all his accumulated accolades and deals within the corridors of power, Ekpo is expected to have a chip on his shoulder. After all, he has moved in the circles of influential personalities both within and outside Nigeria. Far from it. Anyone who has encountered the 78-year-old politician would easily attest to his humility. For instance, in an article on Guardian Nigeria Newspaper, Ray Ekpu, the veteran journalist and co-founder of the defunct Newswatch Magazine, Ekpo was described as a man who is “simple and humble and carries himself well, not haughtily, not with his nose in the sky but humbly with his feet on the floor.”

This humility made him the best choice as deputy for Governor Emmanuel when the latter assumed office in 2015. The synergy between the two makes their age difference insignificant. Ekpo is 25 years older than Emmanuel but accords him the respect he deserves because of his understanding and value of public service. Not a few would have robbed their experience and years on their junior, probably dig holes for them. But not Ekpo, his track record shows that he is loyal to the government and provides stability for those he works with. He is known to be contented and generally accomodating despite the hurdles life has placed on his path.

Perhaps, his reverence for the Holy One is the guiding principle in his life. He has always kept a clean slate and continues to leave a legacy of posterity that will be chanted by generations to come.

QUOTE

Ekpo’s towering career spanned other sectors such as public relations, diplomacy and governance. The latter is where he’s been working in the past few years and has commanded and maintained the level of respect that is due to only rare breeds like him. His sojourn in governance can be traced to the late 70s when he was appointed the Chief Information Officer of Cross River State, before the creation of Akwa Ibom. He would climb the rungs of the political ladder to become a member of the Presidential Strategic Communications during President Muhammadu Buhari’s previous reign as the Head of State. His excellence made him the best candidate to lead the War Against Indiscipline (WAI), from 1985 to 1987 as the Director and Chief Executive Officer