Remembering an Icon: An abridged biography of Late Senator Justice Nsima Akpabio
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story “so says Maya Angelou. The story of Senator Justice Nsima Akpabio may not be completely told but like every great story, it is everlasting, refreshing, tasting better with time. His story is an unending tale of quest and conquest abridged for want of pages.
SenatorJustice Nsima Akpabio had a peaceful arrival. There was no accompanying brimstone and fire as would be testified by his mother, Madam Ekanem Akpan Akpabio. Scholars understudying Late Justice Nsima Akpabio agree that his peaceful birth was a pointer to what was going to be his phenomenal role in the peace of the universe that he was born into. His father, Prince Ukpong Akpabio, a happy polygamist joyfully had him as one of his fifteen children from six wives.
He choose education for a chief cornerstone. His confidence in what he could achieve with education was as unflinching as Archimedes’ confidence in lever when he made the famous declaration ” give me a place to stand, and I will move the earth “. Education is that lever Justice Nsima needed to move the earth and he paid all dues to get it against all odds.
The journey for Nsima began in 1954 when he was admitted into the Methodist Central School, Ikot Ekpene. His father’s demise around that time posed destabilising challenges but the young Nsima’s undaunted characteristic was evidenced in his ability to surmount the impediments on the path to attain his first certification. Nsima’s stellar performance at his first cadre of learning secured for him an admission into Regina Coeli College in Opopo, the present day Ikot Abasi. Driven by his sense of excellence and cravings for the best, 1967 saw Nsima proceeding to the Prestigious Holy Family College, Oku Abak, one of the best institutions at the time. It was in HOFACO that he obtained the West African School Certificate in 1969.
FENDING FOR SURVIVAL:
With each new day came new responsibilities and the burden of survival as at 1969 was beyond what Justice Nsima handle simultaneously with academic pursuit and hence his decision to embark on academic break. His Senior Secondary School leaving certificate and his burgeoning reputation for brilliance made it easy for Nsima Akpabio to earn a teaching appointment at Methodist Secondary School, Nto Ndang, Ikot Ekpene in 1970. Although his teaching period was brief, it was enough for him to make his mark before proceeding to accept a civil service job as a clerical officer. As a reward for his sense of hardwork, the system promoted him to the position of Assistant Executive Officer in 1973.
ASSUMPTION OF FURTHER STUDIES:
The passion for education was jealously guarded by Nsima and the struggle for survival during the working years would not impede his prospect for further studies. When the University doors open for the learning enthusiast, he opted to study law in the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, a course he entrusted for the platform to fulfil his dream of advocacy and service to humanity. His duration of Studies in Nsukka was between 1976 and 1980. He graduated in flying colours and proceeded to the Nigerian Law School in the same year.
MAGISTRATE NSIMA AKPABIO:
With the compulsory one year of National Youth Service completed, the rising law star got appointed Magistrate Grade 11 in Uyo Magisterial District. Having distinguished himself, Nsima climbed a step higher to the level Magistrate Grade 1 at the Chief Magistrate Court, Akamkpa. Destined for more, he sought the experience of private practice with the decision to quit the magistrate court.
IMPRINTS OF A GREAT LAWYER AND FANTASTIC SOLICITOR:
The imprints of Lawyer Nsima as an advocate and solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria is non erasable. The present day Akpabio Chambers is a legacy of Nsima’s years of private practice. He joined the chamber as a Partner retrospectively known as Ufonowo and Co.Messr. Eno Jacob Udo who was his partner in the firm got elevated to the bench, precipitating the status of Nsima as the Principal Partner. With the demise of Hon. Justice Eno Jacob Udo, Nsima assumed total ownership of the Chamber which he would later incorporate as Akpabio Chambers & Co. The Chambers thrived with clients thronging for satisfactory service and representation in litigations.
NSIMA THE PHILANTHROPIST:
Philanthropy and Nsima Akpabio were bird of a feather. It was impossible to separate him from the passion to better the lots of others, especially the youths. To buttress his firm belief in education as the most effective tool of social change, Nsima made scholarship the cardinal focus of his philanthropy. He did not want for others, the inconvenience and hard price for which his education was purchased and hence the midwifery of fully sponsored scholarship offers to zillions of beneficiaries through his Trust Fund and Scheme called Eka Nsima Award. His magnificence, kind gestures and contribution to humanity skyrocketed his fame and the result was a clarion invitation to him by his people for political representation.
THE TRAVERSE IN LEGISLATURE:
He was the voice and conscience of his people and it was not difficult for the people of Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District to trust Senator Nsima Akpabio as a reliable voice in the hallowed red chamber. He took with him to the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, his zeal and revolutionary tendencies which earned him respect amongst colleagues and stood him out as an influential figure in the Senate. It was the Mohammadu Buhari led coup of 1983 that cut short the span of the four years mandate with the Senator made to retire to private service to his people. The legislature had become Senator Nsima Akpabio’s first point of public service.
INVITATION TO THE EXECUTIVE ARM OF GOVERNMENT:
Unrelenting in his social contribution, the name of Senator Nsima Akpabio was still afloat in the grassroots. He was still the darling of the people. This love for people couldn’t go unnoticed and hence his appointment as a Caretaker Chairman of Essien Udim Local Government Area in 1994. His tenure marked the age of infrastructural renaissance in the local government. The Local Government Secretariat, Cenotaph and the sports stadium stands as some of the evidence of the gigantic strides of his Chairmanship.
THE GREAT RETURN TO THE JUDICIARY:
The Judiciary was Senator Nsima’s first love. He saw in it the last hope of the masses and a temple of his lifetime dedication, sacrifice and service. Providence worked out for him in 1995 when he was required of the State to dispense Justice as an Honourable Justice of the High Court of Akwa Ibom State. With this appointment, Nsima had recorded the historic major traverse through the three arms of government. He indeed served here as a judge till his death in 1999.
HONOURS AND AWARDS:
There were several of it; from sociocultural organisations to religious organisations and to the educational sector that he prioritised in his deeds of charity and philanthropy. From far beyond the shores of Nigeria, Cornerstone University of the State of Hawaii deemed him worthy of Honorary Doctorate Degree in Business Administration.
Having cemented his name in the annals of time, death and time has found it impossible to drive the name of Senator Justice Nsima Akpabio into oblivion and extinction. He is still glorious and more alive than ever with his name still found as an attraction for highly covetous awards and honour. In 2019 alone, the highest sociocultural organisation in Annang Land, one of the three major tribes in Akwa Ibom State, immortalised Senator Justice Nsima Akpabio in it’s Hall of Fame. The University of Nigeria Alumni body also bestowed on Justice Nsima Akpabio their posthumous award of excellence as a worthy Ambassador and alumni of the first class Nigerian University.
THE YEARS AHEAD:
Late Senator Justice Nsima Akpabio will not only live forever, he will be loved and cherished forever by the thick and united family he left behind now referred as NSIMA AKPABIO HOUSEHOLD. The household has two lawyers in Barr. Prince Ukpong Akpabio and Nsima Ukpong Akpabio Jnr who are both determined to protect the legal legacies of their father with the Akpabio Chambers.