For Engr. Oliver Ebong, Saturday 28th July, 2018 will remain indelible in his memory bank. It was a day the political class, the nouveau riche and indeed people from all walks of life gathered to celebrate a man described by many as a paragon of humility.
For the celebrator, it wasn’t just another day. It was a special occasion in his life odyssey, little wonder he pulled all the stops to mark the epochal event with pomp and ceremony.
Clad in a well-fitting attire with a matching headgear, Engr. Ebong was all smiles as he relished the feeling of joining the sexagenarian club in a blaze of glory. Accompanied by his wife, Annastacia and his two children, the dark-skinned thoroughbred professional couldn’t contain his joy as he moved from one seat to another to welcome guests to his expansive home at Adiasim, Essien Udim Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. He was easily the cynosure of all eyes on a rainy afternoon in the hitherto sleepy community of Adiasim.
As a man with a great desire to put smiles on the faces of his people and ensure they have access to qualitative healthcare centre, the celebrator remodeled and donated a Healthcare Centre to to his community which was inaugurated same day before the commencement of the Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Peter’s Parish, Adiasim.
In his homily at the Holy Mass, the Parish Priest of Sacred Heart Parish, Aka and Vicar General Administration, Uyo Diocese, Very Rev. Fr. Donatus Udoette, charged Christians on the virtues of giving. He urged Christians to imbibe the virtues of sharing what they have with others especially the downtrodden in the society. Fr. Udoette described the celebrator as a good Christian of the Catholic faith who is simple, humble and accessible.
He noted that Engr. Ebong is always willing to assist people and put smiles on their faces, adding that God keeps blessing him because he has not stopped blessing others. He called on those who are blessed to learn how to lend a helping hand to others in the society. He stated that wealthy people should see what they have as an instrument to reach out to others. Fr. Udoette encouraged his children to remain cool-headed and supportive while praying for more strength and God’s blessings for the sexagenarian.
After the Holy Mass, all roads led to the celebrator’s state-of-the-art palatial residence where streams of guests trooped in to celebrate the life of a man whose life many unanimously said is a study in excellence and grace.
Not even the rains deterred guests from making their way into the tastefully decorated reception ground. Tents of various shapes and sizes provided shade for guests who were treated to sumptuous meals and drinks by gaily dressed but courteous ushers who attended to them with refreshing civility. Nothing was in short supply. Everyone ate and drank to his fill plus beautifully packaged souvenirs as take-home mementoes.
Entertainment was in full throttle as the Real Brass Band, cultural dancers and comedians kept the venue alive with their crafts. The line up of guests was as rich as could be imagined. Members of the Catholic Women Organisation of Nigeria (CWON) were there to show solidarity to their son in whom they are well pleased.
The governor of the state, Mr. Udom Emmanuel was represented at the occasion by the Speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Barr. Onofiok Luke while the deputy governor, Mr. Moses Ekpo, Secretary to the State Government, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, Senator Emmabuel Ibok Essien, Commissioner for Health, Dr. Dominic Ukpong, Managing Director, SENYANG Group, Engr. Samuel Inyang, immediate past SSG, Sir Etekamba Umoren, Elder Aniekan Umana, Sir Emem Akpabio, and a host of others including his friends and associates from Turkey and other parts of the world formed part of the crème de la crème that graced the momentous occasion.
Speaking on turning sixty, the celebrator said that God has been very good to him, adding that the least he can do is to be good to others in return. “God goes around doing good to me hence if God is good to me, the least I can do is to do good in return to those around me. I can’t even measure up to what God has done for me, I can only aspire to do more,” he said.
He noted that God has blessed him not only in material acquisitions but in other things especially his wife and children. “When you have a good wife and have very exemplary children, you have gotten ninety-nine percent of what you need as a human being.” He said that good health and goodwill are all testaments to God’s blessings upon his life.
On the calibre of personalities that graced the occasion, he said he was honoured and grateful, adding that God alone deserves all the praise.
On the health facility he donated to his community, the celebrator said he did it in order to bring a healthcare centre closer to the people especially those who can’t afford to seek medical attention abroad like some people who are well-to-do. “The best thing you can do for the aged men and women here is to bring a facility like this close to them. Even at night, they can walk in without any fear.”
He added that his blessing starts with his family, describing his wife and children as the best thing to happen to him. “Getting a good wife and good children is the beginning of unending blessings. My children are godsend. They are very obedient and understanding.”
On her part, the wife of the celebrator, Mrs. Anastacia Ebong, thanked God for her husband’s life, noting that she was humbled by the way the event turned out. She said her husband is blessed and “he is also able to share it with people,” she averred.
According to her, “when God gives you a torchlight, you have to shine it for others. When you do so, you gain more,” she noted.
On whom her husband is to him, she described the celebrator as a “good, loving, caring and focused young man. You see that among his children and around the community. My husband enjoys giving. That’s how God made him.”
Also speaking, Mr. Senas Ukpanah, described the celebrator as a “lion”, adding that at 60, “he looks like 45.”
He noted that he shares certain values like hardwork, humility and commitment to doing good with Engr. Ebong. On the healthcare facility, he said he is a great man by citing such a project in his community.
The Bishop of Ikot Ekpene Diocese, Most Rev. Dr. Camilus Umoh, described the celebrator as his friend hence the reason he had to attend the occasion despite his busy schedule. “I came here because he’s my friend. I thank God with my friend, Engr. Ebong for reaching sixty, so I’ll teach him how to be sixty because I’m sixty-two.”
Also baring his mind on the occasion, Mr. Aniefiok Christopher, described the celebrator as his political leader, a brother and a good friend to him. He said the celebrator has blessed his community especially considering the calibre of personalities that came to the community for the first time. He submitted that he has never seen a man exhibit such love for his people at such level.
Other speakers at the event were unanimous in saying that Engr. Oliver Ebong, “the birthday boy” is a philanthropist whose love for his community and those around him knows no bounds.
Wearing a cheerful mien and flanked by his wife and children, the celebrator who was in joyous mood all day cut his sixtieth birthday cake to the admiration of all.
To celebrate Engr. Ebong, members of the Catholic Women Organisation of Nigeria (CWON) Sacred Heart Parish, Aka, presented a plaque to him. They described him as a man of “integrity, intelligence and excellent spirit”.
Others who spoke at the event described the celebrator in glowing terms, stressing that his kind are rare in the society given that he is not a politician and has no interest in contesting for any political office but committed to doing good to a large number of people.
It is safe to say that Engr. Oliver Ebong’s birthday soirée had all the trappings of a high octane shindig that was not only colourful but played host to the cream of the society both from the political and business circuit.
The event may have come and gone, but the memories of the bash will linger for a long time to come. Not a few guests left the arena praying for God’s continued protection for the ageless celebrator.