My father, Elder Archibong Bassey Ubong told me that I was born on October 5th, 1954, at Lagos. That wonderful man, who is recorded as having designed the plate numbering system used in Nigeria until the recent digital system while he was the Assistant Motor Licensing Authority in Eastern Region, had a profound influence on my life. He left mother earth on November 12th, 1990. Meanwhile, I have noted that I was born in a turbulent city, yet I seem to enjoy being along as much as is possible.
My ancestral village is called Oboyo (Oboyo Ikot Ita in full); it is located a few kilometres from the capital city of Uyo in Nigeria’s Akwa Ibom State as a border village in Nsit Ibom Local Government Area (county). It is a sleepy but enchanting village.
I had a sheltered childhood, having been brought up by my maternal grandmother, Madam Matim Robert in my mother’s village of Afia Nsit II in the same county. My mother, Mrs. Jenny Ubong is still very lively and has seen four score years plus. She remains our link to the early generation and the wonderful days of early Nigeria.
Aside from Afia Nsit II where I attended Nsit Number 1 Qua Iboe Church Primary School and enjoyed the rigours of long-distance walks to the stream and school, the market days, tales by moonlight, foraging for firewood, “afang” vegetable and snails, choir and worship in Qua Iboe Church where my maternal grandfather. Elder Johnson Inyang was the preacher, I can still faintly recall my early days in Buea where my father worked as a Clerk in the Education Department of the Southern Cameroon, then part of Nigeria. I can still recall the precipitous road journeys to that station at the foot of Mount Cameroon and a few occasions when I had the temerity to run into the hailstorm to pick ice blocks that fell from the sky, in the process receiving hard knocks on the head. My stay at Bamenda with my parents is hazy, except for the cool climate and the dusty apartment we lived in with my parents and my siblings – elder sister Ema, and younger sister Ime.
I attended what was then known as Ibibio State College in Ikot Ekpene. I fondly recall my first close encounter with a white man, Mr. P.A. Reeve Newson, then on a Peace Corps assignment from Canada. He was the Principal of the school and he personally interviewed me for admission. The catch was that I was the only child that was able to put together a jigsaw puzzle of a cowboy. He told my father, “this boy will be a great man,” and my father never tired of reminding me of that statement any time I was displaying any laxity in anything I was engaged in.
I ended my secondary school days at the Lutheran High School, Obot Idim in present day Ibesikpo-Asutan Ekepe County, near Uyo. Those were great days that have had an enduring influence on my life. I had a brief stint in higher school at Etinan Institute and left after one term to work as a Statistical Assistant in the civil service of the South Eastern State in 1972. I remembered those days as ones that you must put on a tie to the office; you must not arrive after 7.30am, and you must not leave before 3.30pm. The discipline of the Head of Service, Mr. Michael Ani reached all of us. You may notice a few close encounters in the novel “My Son, Your Son” that reflects the few months I spent as a junior officer in the civil service and Calabar the “Canaan City.” Calabar (“Come and Live and be at Rest”) remains an enchanting city, an island with great promise yet to be fully developed although it is now the Brazil of Nigeria with respect to the annual carnival. It is a tourist attraction with a cinema production location; Nigerian’s third largest seaport; culinary delights; and warmth for the businessperson and the holiday mater.
By October 1972, I was in the University of Nigeria as one of the early post-war students of that great University. I graduated as the best student in my Department of Agricultural Economics in 1976, went for the compulsory national service in Ondo State (as a teacher in Ilawe and later Ikoro Ekiti), then back to the civil service of Cross River State during which I served at Ogoja and Ikot Abasi counties as Agricultural Extension Officer.
A further stint at the University of Nigeria saw me with MBA in Marketing in 1983, Icon Limited (Merchant Bankers) came next, and I spent about seven years in that great bank. It had the greatest impact on my working life. I learnt the art of research, proposal writing, corporate leadership and administration, and the need for a high level of dedication to duty and trustworthiness. I lfeft the bank for private business as a consultant and publisher of “The Price Monitor,” a compendium of prices and developments in the economy. As a consultant I was able to set up a mortgage bank and operate for three years before going back to private business. I currently teach business education in the Federal College of Education (Technical), in Omoku, Rivers State where my roommate at Nsukka and friend, Professor Addison Wokocha employed me.
I went back to the life of an employee in 1999 as a staff of the Federal College of Education (Technical), Omoku, first as a staff of the Busary where I served as a Chief Accountant, then as a teacher. Before teaching, I had to undergo a professional course – the Technical Teachers Certificate course in Business Education in the College. Incidentally there are subtle moves to make it compulsory for anyone teaching in Nigeria to have a teaching certificate before registering with the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN) where Professor A.M. Wokocha was until recent, the Registrar/Chief Executive Officer. In essence, I am a certified and registered teacher.
In 2008, I went back to school – a senior student. I earned the M.Ed. degree in Philosophy of Education of the University of Port Harcourt in 2009. I immediately sought for and was admitted to study the PhD degree in Philosophy of Education. The Senate of the University approved the degree in January 2013.
In 2013, April 5th, I presented the 1st Inaugural Lecture of the Federal College of Education (Technical), Omoku. It was a 3-day event that involved the entire College.
I have published 15 plays used mostly in universities, 2 full length novels; one collection of fables, 4 collection of poems, (2 of them religious poetry); and 3 children books. 7 scripts are ready for publication in various genres.
I have received several awards including one from Development in Nigeria Merit Award by PSR; Play Wrights Guild, University of Port Harcourt Faculty of Education and others.
I share my time to cover teaching and other duties in the College; choir activities in the First African Church Mission, Omoku; Rotary where I have been involved in the Charter of three clubs – Omoku, Yenagoa, and Ahoada Metropolis and I am a Paul Harris Felow, and my family. I generally put in an 18-hour day.
I was married for thirty-three years to Lady Inyang Ubong, a nurse. We enjoyed a large family – always have – with children: Ekemini, a Journalist; Akanimo, a security consultant; Aniemma, a graduate of Industrial Physics; Inimfon, a graduate of Petroleum Engineering, Ndifreke, a Fine & Applied Arts graduate; Iboro, a Computer Science graduate and broadcaster; Omonike, a Mass Communications graduate and business person; and Mary and Beatrice both teachers, and Anietie. I enjoy a close family life with sisters – Mrs. Ema Ekpo, a retired broadcaster; Ime Ekanem, Proprietress of Science & Arts College, Port Harcourt; brothers – Ekanabasi, a retired Permanent Secretary, Akwa Ibom State Ministry of Education; Iniabasi, former Registrar, Akwa Ibom State College of Education, Afaha Nsit; Anthony, a School Proprietor, and Ekan Joe, a chartered Accountant. I cherish the friendship of Professor A.M. Wokocha, and Dr. Otonye Danagogo among others. I delight in the professional relationship I have with Dr.Joe Ushie, Dr. Ashong Ashong, Dr. Etop Akwang, and Mr. Mfreke Ikpeikpe who read my scripts and encourage my efforts in the rarefied world of creative writing. Prof. Kalu Uka remains a patron, having been the first professional to read my drama script titled, “The Tyranny of the Creditors way back in 1980 when he was at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and to date continues to use “Freeworld Square”, my first published play, do teach at the Universities of Uyo and Calabar.
My sojourn at the once upon a time an Eldorado named Omoku took a different turn after about two and a half years as a classroom teacher in Marketing, Commerce, Business Communication, and Entrepreneurship.
From 1st August 2010, courtesy of Dr. Nkasiobi Silas Oguzor, then Provost of the College, I was appointed the Deputy Provost/Deputy CEO. I served in that capacity for three and a half years till 31st March 2014 when I took over as Acting Provost of the College. After three months, and following a rigorous interview, I was appointed Provost of the College by the President and Commander in Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I am still serving in that capacity.
From 2010 when I started travelling abroad on educational engagements, I have been involved in the following:
- Women in Philosophy of Education Seminar at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland organized by the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain (2010).
- 1st Association for Cultural Studies Summer Institute at the University of Ghent, Belgium (2011)
- 2nd Technology for Development Conference by Technology Development Center/UNDP at the Ecole Polytechnic Federale de Laussane, Switzerland (2012).
- 2nd Association for Cultural Studies Institute at the University of Klagenfurt, Austria (I was a member of the Education or Planning Committee, 2013).
- Big Data Conference at the University of Washington in St. Louis, Missouri, USA (2013)
- Higher education management workshop at Washington DC, USA (2014).
- Higher education management retreat at Dubai, UAE (2015).
- Youth and technology workshop at Accra, Ghana (2016).
Literary writing is both a talent and a pastime. To date, I have published the following:
- Butty & the Mosquito – Sci-fi for Children (1993:2012 by Trafford Inc. USA)
- Freeworld Square – A Play (1995)
- Perils – Poetry Collection (1997)
- My Son, Your Son – A Novel (1997; 2012 by Trafford Inc USA)
- The Cunning Tortoise – Prose for Children (2nd ed, 1998)
- Esemsem – A Play (2000)
- Hippo & Other Poems – Poetry for Children (2nd ed, 2000)
- The Wise Elders – Fables and Wise Sayings (2001)
- Entangled Lives – A Play (2002)
- By Any Means – A Play (2002)
- The Gods are Sharp Shooters – A Play (2005)
- Zero-Sum Game – A Play (2006)
- Queen Asaari – A Play (2006)
- Compromises – A Play (2009)
- Lovelorn – A Play (2009)
- Songs of the Creations – Religious Poetry (2009)
- Verses of Worship & Supplication Religious Poetry (2009)
- Say Yes! – A Play (2010)
- Islands of Goodness – Novel (2012, Trafford Inc, USA)
- Usomini (Boom Town Inc.) – A Play (2013)
- A Season of Plots – A Play (2013)
- You Can’t Even See My Break Lights A Play (2015)
- Praise the Lord – A Play (2015)
- Ekondo – A Play (2015)
- The Hurricane Lamp – Poetry (2016)
- Cry the Beloved City – Poetry Anthology
- Manchild Blues – A Play
- Don & Flora – A Play (Musical)
- Three Sixty Degrees – A Play
- Festival of Goblins – A Play
- Moment of Madness (MOM) – A Play
- Trapped – A Play
- Uyai – Children prose
- The Boy who was Wiser than the King- Children prose
- The Hen Comes Home to Roost – Epistolary novel
- Combined Honours – Radio Play