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Idongesit ‘D’instructor’ Essien and the Thorough Design of a World-Class Ibom Heritage Project

Idongesit ‘D’instructor’ Essien and the Thorough Design of a World-Class Ibom Heritage Project

By Uduak Umo

There is no levelheaded day in Lagos; not even on December 31 when other Nigerian urban engines disentangle self of home-sick hustlers headed home for yuletide. Ask any Lagosian; the Lagos experience is one of constantly packed hours kept busy by the need to work in between dense human and vehicular traffic or both the innocent citizen and men of the underworld. Consequently, in Lagos, friends never find time to physically visit. If this happens, it is either an overwhelming emotion or pure business. So, when D’instructor went with Ottoabasi Abasiekong to Victoria Island on a typical Lagos Thursday, to visit Oto-Obong Uwah whom he had never met prior, the emotion drawing him there would have been suspect.

What emotion was that? I have known him for decades; this could have been nothing but his nature of loyalty taken notches higher than the standard brother. It is what makes him see and communicate patriotism in a unique manner. I theorize that his passion for meeting brothers took him to V.I that day. And the product of that costly visit would prove my theory.

The Book Discussion
The paragraph you just went through is the best way to name the emotion that carried D’instructor across that impossible traffic for something other than money.

It was when they had exchanged pleasantries in Ibibio and related their unique diaspora experiences that the topic of a book being authored by Uwah surfaced. These were three passionate Ibibio nationals interacting. As the topic of a literary work on the Ibibios showed up in the meeting, banter became an inferno.

The Men in That Room
Let’s spotlight the men in that room to get a clearer picture of the birthing of Ibom Heritage.
Oto-Obong Uwah has worked his way up in the Accounting career and crossed many rungs of ascendancy in corporate Nigeria. But a remarkable attribute of his’ earns him the right to be called a modern day variant of ‘philosopher-king’: this is a knowledge junkie. He jumps on such a broad variety of diverse knowledge you would think he is unsafe to listen to. But he takes it even deeper when it has to do with the Ibibio.

Oto-Obong Uwah was born into an illustrious family in Uyo. The history of the creation of Akwa Ibom State and the role of Uyo in the struggle that preceded State Creation cannot be complete without the role played by the Uwah family.
Let’s talk about the smooth, handsome and just as demure Ottabasi Abasiekong.

Besides his impressive career through the Telecomms sector, Abasiekong has effluoresced into an intimidating finance journalist, news presenter and political-economic analyst. Presently, he works with Proshare Nigeria even as he continues to sniff out opportunities to advance the Akwa Ibom cause.

And then there was Idongesit David Essien, the man with the sobriquet ‘D’instructor’. The Nsit Ubium son is an International Emmys Awards nominee having been recognized for a factual entertainment documentary made while working with the BBC as a News Director.

He field-produced the Lagos component of the documentary. D’instructor is an accomplished Nigerian and one whom the Akwa Ibom State Government recognizes for his work as well as his commitment to the motherland. He is a co-founder of a Real Estate and Investment promoting company – operators of the Akwa Ibom Estates brand. He is also a co-founder of Devlenda Technology, a Silicon Valley – backed marketing tech company. Privilege of access allows me to know that by the time he is 41, D’instructor would have become a mid-depth investor in the Agric. potentials of Akwa Ibom State. This is a passionate dispenser of knowledge and one who does have an increasing quantum of knowledge in possession.

As at January 2023, he had become the publicity secretary of The Concerned Akwa Ibom Professionals in Lagos, CAKPIL. Elected in the same month, he was appointed Convener of Mboho Ndito Nsit (Nsit Nation) Worldwide, Lagos chapter.

How the Dream Was Born
Uwah mentioned to the gentlemen; “I had been documenting the history of the Atan Offot clan that I hail from when I realized that to properly consolidate on the project I had embarked on, the story was far larger than just Atan community. So I expanded the scope to cover the entire Ibibio tribe. For 6 years, I have been researching, studying, taking notes and consulting intensely on the actual story of the Ibibio man.”

Not only did the mission broaden in scope, it went deeper too into the ideation of an Ibom Heritage project – an effort to document and custody the accurate culture of the entire Akwa Ibom people from core Ibibio to Annangs, Oro, Ekid, Obolo, Mbuzo and Efik people. This project would seek to preserve the original identity of the global Ibibio person and also propagate their values and culture. Between these 3 men, a dream shared was born.

Hatching the Dream into Reality
Don’t forget Idongesit was only getting to meet Oto-Obong Uwah for a first time. But they hit it off immediately, thanks to kindred spirit. And so when he, Idongesit, invited Uwah to a virtual session he hosted in the Akwa Ibom Tech Week, the invite was met with a yes.

And, according to Uwah, when he saw how D’instructor moderated the online event, he immediately saw “an extremely organized person”. So, not only did they share the vision of propagating the Ibibio story, he had found a reliable ally for project management.

Oto-Obong did not take long in initiating discussions towards the launch of his book and the other ideas in his head.

Here is the story on Ibom Heritage
Inspired by patriarch of the popular Uwah family and his dad, Oto-Obong Uwah had set out to write about the Atan Offot community of Uyo in Akwa Ibom State. After investing effort never-before-done, his associates advised him to expand the effort. So he took the plunge and expanded the scope of study to cover the entire Ibibio story – with the vision to take it even farther.

From just a book on the Ibibio story, the idea has now opened further into a grand assignment to document the culture of the entire Ibom people in physical format, an immersive experience for people looking to learn about the total story of the Akwa Ibom people. The project is titled “Ibom Heritage”, now registered as a Not-for-profit heritage preservation organisation.

Now, an ally like D’instructor came into the project not just an Ibibio man, but one with a broad-enough worldview and experience for getting the job done. Beyond that, he is equipped with thorough planning aptitude. Introduced into the project, a shape begun to form out. Oto told me; “That’s why I love D’instructor. He is so organized. I needed such a person to help me organize this entire thing, and he has done such a crazy job. It is why I call him ‘le magicien’”. He would emphasize; “I discovered Idy was grounded in culture and I was completely bought with his eye for detail and level of organization”. Idy D’instructor stepped up to the task and at the end of the day, he literally worked magic with the Ibom Heritage launch.

Project Launch
As the year 2021 began to wind up, plans were already on top gear for a world-class launch in Uyo. Date was scheduled for March 25, 2022.
Firstly, Oto submitted a manuscript of his new book to Professor Ekong Edem Ekong (OFR) to read towards writing a foreword. The Prof, who is an academic expert on Rural Sociology – on realizing that the book was heavy on history as it was detailed on culture – decided to suggest the name; “Ibibio Nation: History & Culture”, a proposal that Oto adopted.

This book would be dedicated “To all Ibibio sons and daughters, home and abroad who cherish their ancestry, individuality, and purpose.” Professor Ekong himself attests to the magnetic feature of this book. Coming from an understanding that genealogies can be a boring, endless controversial topic, Professor Ekong was overtaken by Oto-Obong’s work that he wrote; “I prayed that the work would be interesting to read. I told him to give me two weeks but did it in four days.”

Next up, it was time to publish, print copies and then launch the book and also present the concept of Ibom Heritage to the public.
Idongesit and Oto agreed that the prosecution of the public presentation of these two products would largely involve marketing communications and project management. In bid to package a world-class event, they also agreed that only the best creative would be engaged. D’instructor was designated curator while Abasiekong became Director. Given the nod, D’instructor drafted a strategy document which he would then share with facilitators. The first he had in mind was an old friend, Dare, who had plenty of experience in creative project management and art in corporate Lagos. But, after agreeing to hop on the project, Dare went AWOL.

See Also

The project decided to move on past Dare and D’instructor brought in his old gorillas in Uyo; Mbuotidem ‘Krox’ Ukpe, Ubong ‘Kardynal’ Ekanem, Ndifreke Ekong, all of them Akwa Ibomites. Their job was to conceptualize designs that would bring the ideas to life. In other words, this team would interpret the strategy in the document into a brand on ground. A few weeks later, Uduak Umo was brought in to second Idongesit Essien D’instructor on the PR side of the global strategy. It is the same Uduak that wrote this piece.

Why did D’instructor Get on This Project?
Firstly, he came passionate about issues of cultural identity, a prototypical patriot. I asked him recently, ‘would you consider yourself a patriotic individual or a nationalist?’ But then I answered the question myself; ‘you are a passionate loyalist’. He is loyal to the Ibibio identity in a harmlessly fervent manner. To be more accurate, he will always be found around the broader topic of ‘Africa’.

Secondly, as Oto-Obong Uwah would say often, D’instructor remains the single individual within the web of initial discussions on Ibom Heritage who could trap the inspirations, interpret them exactly, proffer solutions to questions raised, find the right talents to get things done and just run it through.
Also, Idong is organized. From home to work, this son of a ‘titia’ is thorough – just the right profile of handler you need to do what no one else has ever done and to do it artistically, in 2nd person, to last long, in a relatively short time and in a financially prudent manner. Note that last part; this man would save you money despite all he will help you accomplish.

How it Turned
How did the launch of Ibom Heritage turn out, meanwhile? Well, for starts, arrivals were met by a media walk-through crafted out by that team of brand designers in Uyo. And then as you got into the main arena of the event, everywhere was jam-packed; Ibom Hall was filled. Even the microphones used on the day were branded; to show the depth of detail. The guests who flew in for the event were as impressed as the local attendees were blessed by the organizing of this event.

I mentioned that D’instructor is a thorough handler of projects. This was very evident in the fact that he was able to draw up a project plan and mobilize different departments to be able to run on autopilot while he rolled in on a rigmarole on the morning of the event. By the time he walked into the hall, the moving parts were all rolling simultaneously and not surprisingly to him.

And why not!
You were met by a beautiful Ibibio lady, decorated in the delightful traditional garb of our young women – and she was there to interview you at the red carpet. You would have walked through a world-class media walkway to get to her.
In the hall itself – the prestigious cultural icon we call Ibom Hall – you were met by traditional music and theatre masterfully designed for global consumption.

By the time the book was getting reviewed by the ebullient Professor Effiong Johnson, visitors from outside Akwa Ibom knew that this was not just a launch; it was an eye opener.

How it Ended
It never ended. The book has arrived 4 continents of the world, verified. Who knows how many countries it has gotten to at present?! Ibom Heritage has been incorporated and conversations have been flying over the media, the website and the social media.

Pause. There is an Ibom Heritage launch fact to note before we wrap this up: 100% of the talents who executed the entire Ibom Heritage unveiling event were Akwa Ibom people brought in by Idongesit Essien and Oto-Obong Uwah. More than 90% of these were resident in Akwa Ibom State as at time of the event.

It would be fair to say that without a great pool of talents who came with both experience and appetite, there would have been a jumble of Ibom Heritage. But instead of chaos, what we get is an introducing outing that made Akwa Ibom people proud even as non Ibom jaws dropped in admiration. While guests from all over the country joined others watching online to praise Oto-Obong Uwah’s idea, Oto-Obong in turn praised the team who delivered the idea, at the centre being the genius of Idongesit ‘D’instructor’ Essien.

  • Uduak Umo, the lead publicist at Jabboro PR wrote in from Uyo.
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