Okure, of Annang descent, was the third son of Umoton Abatekpe, who was a paramount chief and ruler in the village of Ikot Ekpene in the then Ikot Ekpene province of Eastern Nigeria.
After attending mission schools in his home town of Ikot Ekpene, he was awarded a scholarship to study abroad in England. Okure studied in Oxford University in England where he obtained a bachelors degree in government. He also obtained a bachelors degree from Exeter University in England. After completing his studies in England, he returned home and began a teaching career. He served for a number of years as the Principal of Uzuakoli Methodist College in Bende district (Umuahia Division) before being appointed by the Eastern Nigeria Government as a Public Service Commissioner. As Public Service Commissioner, he traveled extensively abroad to recruit and bring back many Eastern Nigerians who were living or studying abroad. In recognition of his outstanding government service to Nigeria and the former British Colonial Government, Queen Elizabeth 11 of England awarded Okure the high honor award of OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire). The Order of the British Empire recognises distinguished service to the arts and sciences, public services outside the Civil Service and work with charitable and welfare organisations of all kinds.
Okure was a prominent Annang leader who worked tirelessly with his political colleagues like Minister Akpabio of Ukana Ikot-Ekpene and Minister Afia of Abak to bring economic development to Annang land. He was outspoken and uncompromising with the Ibo ethnic majority in Eastern Nigeria on vital economic development issues affecting minority Efik, Ibbibio and Annangs. He was actively involved in bringing about the electrification of Ikot Ekpene and the establishment of Ikot Ekpene Library, to name a few of his accomplishment.
He established many scholarship funds to educate his townsmen and brought together and unified the seven diverse families which then made-up Ikot Ekpene. He was instrumental in establishing what is today commonly referred to and celebrated as Ikot-Ekpene day.
After the military coup of January, 1966, which brought an end to civilian rule in Nigeria, Okure was reassigned and appointed as the First non-white Chairman of the then newly created Calabar Cement Company (CALCEMCO) by the then Military Governor of Eastern Nigeria Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu. After the liberation of Calabar and the mainland part of South Eastern State by the Nigerian Army from the secessionist state of Biafra (1967-70) during the Nigerian civil war, Okure was appointed by the then military Governor of South Eastern State of Nigeria, Governor Esuene to serve as the Chairman of the Rehabilitation Committee for Ikot Ekpene. Shortly after his appointment, he was detained and then released by the field military commander in charge of the Ikot Ekpene war zone. He continued his work as Chairman of the Rehabilitation Committee, but as a result of a conspiracy to get rid of influential Annang tribesmen, he was subsequently arrested and detained again with a number of other prominent Annang natives during a rehabilitation plan nary meeting. Udo Udo Okure was later executed while in Nigerian military detention. The mystery surrounding his detention and eventual murder while in military detention in June 1968 has not been resolved.
By Tom U.U. Okure, Ph.D
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