News had filtered through social media that Mr. Aniekpeno Mkpanang Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Culture and Tourism Akwa Ibom State had died. Many had written R.I.P on his pictures and made posts announcing and confirming that he was no more.
To debunk the claims by naysayers, Mr Mkpanang on Monday organised a thanksgiving service in his hometown in Ukanafun to thank God for saving his life, while sharing his near death experience from a ruptured appendix in faraway Zurich, Switzerland.
He was in the Swiss capital where he attended a one-week brainstorming session in event planning and also to meet with Sunny Badu in Huddersfield to seek his consent to attend the Akwa Ibom State 2018 Carol Fiesta.
Unknown to many, he had a sharp pain in his stomach, followed by sudden weakness of body, numbness, inability to move or speak, conditions that took his entire being away from the announcements that the local town where he was heading to were experiencing a strike situation.
“I resigned to fate, there was no one to talk to, no help and the intensity of the aches only heightened. Every condition that signalled the end of man was present in me, I could’ve died”…. Mr. Mkpanang told the audience, amidst sobs and songs.
Like the story of the Samaritan in the scriptures, it was a Lebanese who showed up at about 02.00am, who helped him to his hotel. Getting to the third floor room took hours as he could only manage to carry one luggage at a time going back and forth the lobby to his room…this part of the ordeal ended at 5am.
He reached the airport, got checked in, passed out many times and finally landed in the hospital to the news that he had just 15minutes to live. A quarter of an hour! As God would have it, the operation was successful, albeit with many complications, and healing was still far off.
For anyone who knows Mr. Mkpanang, his insistence on giving his all to the job at hand is legendary. So you can begin to understand the strike against food and counsel of the medics as he insisted on returning to plan for the carols.
He left the hospital and went ahead with organizing the event. He read the speech at the carols-with support to stand from his aides. Little did he know that the news of his death would be a sumptuous meal for social media.
Mr. Mkpanang further recounted how the Governor’s wife visited him at the hospital and for three and a half hours holding his hand as she prayed and urged him to reverence God. Governor Udom Emmanuel never left his lieutenant, He called, checked up on, and sent support.
Mr Aniekpeno is the man behind “Something To Remember”, an informative and entertaining radio programme and also responsible for Akwa Ibom State’s entrance into the Guinness Book of World Records with the 9999 Carols.