MKPANANG’S MODEST THANKSGIVING
By Joe Iniodu
About an hour to noon, the expansive country home of the Permanent Secretary of Akwa Ibom State Ministry of Culture and Tourism in Ikot Akpa Nkuk in Ukanafun Local Government Area had begun to receive the guests it was going to play host to. They were mainly clerics and members of prayer groups that dedicated themselves including the sacrifice of self-denial to offer prayer for Mr. Aniekpeno Mkpanang from his active days as director and eventually Permanent Secretary, Protocol Department to the recent harrowing experience that almost claimed his life.
“I did not want to make this a public show of ostentation where people would revel and forget the essence of the event”, Mkpanang explained, adding that the event which held at Chapel of Goodness and Mercy located in his luxury country home was designed to call a few persons who sacrificed to intercede for him in prayers, notifying them that God answered their prayers by keeping him alive. The Permanent Secretary said that it was based on that role that he accorded them the first line charge of being the first to know that God WHOM they trusted had saved him.
“Today I decided to call the people that were praying for me to come and thank God for keeping me alive”, Mkpanang said during his testimony which came amidst tears of joy and songs. He said the various groups that prayed for him are the reason for his survival. He advised Christians not to take prayers for granted. He charged the prayer groups to continue to pray for him.
To give the event the somber mood, decorum, piety, dignity as well as the atmosphere for the praise and worship of God who wrought the great miracle of bringing him back to life when hope was at the nadir, Mkpanang, the cynosure of the day and at the moment the most outstanding beneficiary of God’s benevolence said that he selected five people from each prayer group. He also invited some eminent clerics whom he said set aside every Tuesday to fast and pray for him with a caveat that their sacrificial duty shall attract no cost. The recuperating permanent secretary said that no sacrifice can be greater than that and thanked them for such act of Godliness.
The Homily which was delivered by Apostle Isaiah Isong was woven around a theme that was salient to the event of the day: GOD’S SPECIAL BLESSING TO SOMEONE VERY SPECIAL TO HIM. He said that the special blessings sire three cardinal items to wit: longevity, prosperity and posterity. The man of God posited that God had spared the permanent secretary because he is special in the sight of God. He told him that he may be sick but death would not come near him until he has fulfilled God’s purpose which is longevity. Apostle Isong declared that Mkpanang is too special and cannot go so soon. The leader and founder of Believers’ Assembly also took a cursory look at the architectural masterpieces that dot the lavish land space that make up the compound of the permanent secretary, noting that Mkpanang did not build a mortuary and so must stay to savour the bliss and beauty of the exquisite edifices.
Prelate Emeritus Sunday Mbang who was a guest at the event, thanked God for the life of Aniekpeno Mkpanang. He described him as a son that he is proud of. Mbang who honoured the event on short notice said that shelving other engagements for the thanksgiving was a worthy venture. He called on God to show Aniekpeno mercy as He has always shown him, reliving the days he used to be perpetually on the move, travelling from one country to the other. He prayed to God to extend the same protection He gave him to Aniekpeno.
Primate Emmanuel Udofia of the African Church also prayed for Mr. Aniekpeno Mkpanang at the thanksgiving service. He thanked God for sparing the life of the permanent secretary and urged him to reciprocate God’s gesture through righteous actions.
The private chapel of Goodness and Mercy also had Bishop Ahaziah Umanah, who also offered special prayers for Aniekpeno and family,
Archbishop Udeme Simon and wife both played critical roles at the event. While Archbishop Simon read the Bible portions among other ecclesiastic roles, his wife led in the praise and worship as a prelude to the Homily.
One of the observable outcomes of Mr. Mkpanang’s health travails is his renewed relationship with God and determination to pursue the cause of righteousness with all his might. According to him, in this new chapter of his life, he should be able to find his depth with God. He pledged to serve God and humanity with all humility. Mkpanang opined that he would henceforth stoop to meet the low and stand to meet the tall, but all in humility. He said that the experience has humbled him and again reiterated that only God is awesome and eternal.
Mkpanang was full of thanks to Governor Udom Emmanuel and wife, Martha whom he said played important roles that aided his recovery. The Permanent Secretary who described the governor and wife as humane and compassionate recalled how the Governor personally called him severally in the hospital in Malta and visited him on return to Nigeria to pray for him. He thanked the wife , Her Excellency, Martha Udom Emmanuel whom he said visited him in the hospital and spent upwards of three hours holding his hand and praying for him. Mkpanang said that the actions of Their Excellencies foisted on him rarefied and humbling experience.
Mr. Mkpanang was early in the year rumoured to have passed on. Even though Mkpanang has said that his case was bad enough to justify the rumours, it was strange that people who should know better, took to the social media and other public events to announce his death. It was indeed sad and unfortunate.
Aniekpeno’s return into public space through the “suddenly sudden” thanksgiving to declare that he is alive, serves notice to those who prefer to merchandize the misfortune of people than celebrate their mileage, that such actions have the trademarks of mischief, wickedness, envy and jealousy; vices we should eschew and not be associated with as Christians.
Joe Iniodu is a public affairs analyst