-By Anietie Udobit
That hurdle has been cleared. It was decided that the best approach to the scholarship scheme should be that each District Union in the Mainland Territory of Calabar Province be requested to select a candidate of its own choice as a beneficiary of the scholarship. There was to be no interference by the Central Union. The selection of candidates should, and was to be concluded completely by December 1937.
The selection of the students which was very competitive by all the Districts Unions had to be accelerated; and by June, 1938 instead of December, 1937, the selection had been completed and the names of all the prospective students were submitted to Government as was required. The students were allowed the special privilege of selecting their branches of study, which together with the Districts they represented appear here in the order in which they were selected:
Bassey U. A Attah : Agriculture : Uyo
Obot E. Antia Obong : Medicine : Itu
IBANGA U. AKPABIO : Education : Ikot Ekpene
Asuquo U. Idiong : Medicine : Abak
Egbert Udo Udoma : Law : Ikot Abasi
James L. Nsima : Education : Eket
During the Selection meetings in the District Union, there were disputes in only two instances. The first occurred at Ikot Ekpene where Mr. IBANGA U.AKPABIO was opposed by Mr. U.U. Ekam, who was then Secretary of Ibibio Union, Ikot Ekpene. Later, Mr. IBANGA U. AKPABIO was preferred.
The second dispute took place at Eket where the Oron group opposed the candidature of Mr. James L. Nsima but without providing an alternative candidate except to insist that any candidate chosen should be from Oron Group.
The success which attended the selection augured well for the future well-being of the Union. The occasion of the successful selection of candidates for the scholarships was especially celebrated. Religious services were held in churches.
Then at the end of the month of July, 1938 all the successful students except Mr. James L. Nsima of Eket met the Assembly of the Ibibio Union at Uyo and were commissioned. It was reported that Mr. James L. Nsima would have to join the rest of the students later; which he did.
Before the students departed, each was served with a sealed envelope with instructions that the same be opened only at the student’s destination.
There was held at Ikot Ekpene, a thanksgiving Church service on the Sunday preceding the departure of the approved students in the Methodist Church at which the Superintendent Minister, Revd. Groves delivered the sermon. After service, a strong delegation of the Ibibio Union representatives of each District Union accompanied the students and the delegates. Then, on the first of August, 1938 the students embarked upon M/V Calabar and sailed for Lagos. And on the 3rd of August, 1938, like Jason of old in search of the Golden Fleece, they set sail from the shores of Nigeria on board the M/V Apapa, an Elder Dempter Lines’ mail boat for Liverpool. But that was after they had been bidden farewell at a number of parties and functions characterized by festivities including a Christian religious service of thanksgiving, which was held at St. John Aroloya Church, and an all-night cultural display staged at the Campos Square-all in Lagos.
In 1943, Mr. IBANGA UDO AKPABIO, and Mr. James Lawson Nsima, who had pursued their courses of study in the United States of America, specializing in the field of education, returned to Nigeria.
On arrival in Lagos, both graduates were accorded a rousing reception arranged for them under the auspices of the Ibibio Union. Subsequently, similar receptions were arranged for both of them at various centres in the Mainland Territory of Calabar Province.
-culled from the Story of The Ibibio Union, by Sir Udo Udoma