He stood on a bright and sunny day in 1997 and directed proceedings at the event.

It was the official reception ceremony of the Military Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Navy Capt. John Adewusi in Uyo.

He was the compere and the event was a routine performance for him.

But the Governor enthralled by the scintillating wordplay of the Compere, asked, “Who is that young man?

“Oh, your Excellency, he is Mr Aniekpeno Tom Mkpanang, he is a secondary school teacher in this state”

“Whaaat! I want him posted immediately to Government House as Information officer and official state compere!” The Governor ordered.

The order was carried out with military alacrity and the young Mc landed in Hilltop mansion, Government House.

It was the stuff of dreams.

He served as state compere and was retained by the next Governor and the next…

His self-sponsored program on radio,  Something to Remember, a potpourri of historical facts, present facts and the future was already a listener’s delight, earning awards from BBC and being recognized as Nigeria’s longest-running radio program by the NBC.

One day, Governor Victor Attah played host to President Olusegun Obasanjo in Uyo.

The man with the microphone was on duty as usual.

“Who is that guy?” Obasanjo asked, impressed by the performance.

“Oh, that’s the State’s Compere, Your Excellency”

“I am taking him with me to Abuja immediately!” Obasanjo announced.

And so the boy from Ikot Akpa Nkuk village in Ukanafun landed in Aso Rock, the seat of power as Special Assistant to President Obasanjo.

He compered the biggest national events including the Commonwealth Head of Governments meeting with 27 Head of States in attendance.

The British Prime Minister, Tony Blair dazed by his performance commended him and gave him an automatic scholarship for a second degree in the UK.

And the grass to grace story of the man from a little African village went up notches higher.

Aniekpeno Mkpanang

A few years later, he returned to Akwa Ibom to take up higher responsibilities.

Consistency in the practice of your craft, talent and skill will pay off.

But on the day that our destiny helper will show up, may we not be absent.

May we not be complacent.

May we have someone to give us an opportunity to ‘perform’ on the ‘stage’.

One night, as Aniekpeno Mkpanang returned home from hosting a major government event, he noticed a shadowy figure in front of his door.

He stared at the apparition for some seconds and wondered what was going on.

The apparition grabbed him by the shoulder.

“Who are you?” He asked, frightened.

“What is the name of the longest river in the world?” The apparition interrogated.

“River Nile with its source at East Central Africa” The compere replied.

The apparition probed further, “Who built the leaning tower of Piza?”

“Tommaso di Andrea Pisano” The compere replied.

The apparition nodded its head and disappeared.

The compere stood still in puzzlement and suddenly raced into the house, shutting the door behind him.

And that is something to remember!


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