…Says their father was peacemaker, symbol of unity
By Cyriacus Nnaji
The late Pa (Elder) Okon Bassey Udoh who died after 106 years was laid to rest in his compound at Ikot Ebom in Ibiono Ibom Local Government of Akwa Ibom on December 5, 2020. His children narrated fond, loving memories of their late father whom they described as a peacemaker and symbol of unity.
His first son, Bishop (Dr) Edet Bassey Okon of Mount Zion Pentecostal Victory Mission, who spoke to NEWS AURA said it is a privilege that he is the one burying his father and not the other way round. “It is a privilege to me as a son being the one burying my father and not the other way round. On the fifth of December, 2020 my father was finally laid to rest in his compound in our Village Ikot Ebom in Ibiono Ibom Local Government of Akwa Ibom and the burial ceremony was quite successful.”
He said a man of that age 106, the entire family celebrated his departure to eternal glory.
The church service was an open air service, it was held in the compound, conducted by Bishop Bassey’s parents’ church, Mount Zion Church of Salvation Incorporated, and the officiating team of ministers was led by Bishop Ismail Johnson Umoren, ably assisted by other renowned ministers of God. The preacher was Reverend (Dr) Aniefiok Elijah Uko, “it was spiritually edifying,” Bishop Okon stated.
Narrating the message by the day’s preacher, Bishop Okon said “You know as a preacher myself, in such a message you are not preaching to the dead, the dead is dead and gone, you preach to the living, the people, the guests, because a day comes also for us, the bereaved family and the guests. He reminded us of that final call, he reminded us of that final day we gathered for my father, that a gathering will also hold like this, but how prepared are we?
“It serves as a reminder to the living that a day like this will surely come and he prayed that being a part of that funeral ceremony that God should mercifully grant us the grace to enjoy such longevity.”
Narrating what he remembered his father for, the Bishop said “As he was being laid to rest, I remembered him for so many things especially, my father was a determined man, like a testimony I shared during the service; how he was able to send his children to school particularly myself being the first son. It was not really easy but because him being a very determined man, he succeeded in seeing me through school. He was a peace-maker.
“My father was a peacemaker. Since I grew up to know myself living under the same roof with my parents, I can’t remember a day my father ever had a quarrel with anybody. I remembered him to be a peaceful person, with my daddy there was not doll moment. He was very active in his old age, but at that particular point in time he was lowered into the grave, it wasn’t easy because, I know at that point it was the end, and that would be the last opportunity of seeing him again. It also reminded me of my own time, how will my own time be? How old will I be, how will my children take it? Will they be strong enough to take it? A lot of things went into my mind. My Dad’s departure is a great loss, probably because he lived with me in the last four years of his life; even as I speak I still feel the pains,” he said.
He said one of the highlights of the funeral was the Biography of his father which chronicled how he left his village to Calabar and then to Lagos.
“He worked with British Bank for West Africa which later became FirstBank, he retired when he was due for retirement, as at the time he died he was still a pensioner with FirstBank though very little amount but it was something. In a civilized society Firstbank should have played a role in his burial, for a former staff to live 106, but because of the environment, it is everybody to himself; God for all,’ Okon said.
He went further to state “M father’s burial also offered great opportunity for some of my siblings, because I happened to be the only one properly known in the village, it was an opportunity for them to connect with uncles and aunties, it might interest you to know that my father’s younger sister is still alive, she is about 104. The family has the grace of longevity; just like my father till he died he did not use glasses to read.”
The Bishop however made an entreaty “My father during his life time was a rallying point, he was that point that brought all his children together and I pray that his departure should not also be reason for us not to come together. And I pray that as he has slept off let him continue to enjoy God’s mercy. And in whatever area we didn’t do well in taking care of him, it wasn’t deliberate. To the best of our capability, financially and otherwise, we believe we did our best, because before he died, he stopped talking from July October, he didn’t have opportunity of actually telling us anything, but I believe to the best of our capability we did our best.
Pastor Mrs Mercy Akpabot, Pa Udo’s First daughter said his father was not just a father, he was a role model, her first husband, He reiterated that his father was a symbol of unity in the family. His father was someone who hid nothing in his mind and forgave easily. “He easily let go,” she stressed.
Speaking as a mother she advised her siblings to emulate the legendary peaceful mien of their late father “My siblings must learn to let go, they must be able to forgive one another. I pray they live my father’s legacy of unity and the children must uphold that.”
She disclosed she wished her father would continue to live even though he was old. “Nobody wants to see someone die even a bad man, how much more a nice man, a man of peace and symbol of unity like my father,” she said.