Madam Regina Achi Nentui was born on the 31st December, 1929 to Chief Nentui Odu, a farmer and fabled Chief of Bokomo and Mma Eguri Ojong Nentui of Assenasen, Ikom Town. She was the only child of her mother’s seven children who survived.
It was her father who gave the land where the initial Roman Catholic Church establishments and institutions were built in Ikom to the Church. These include St. Martins Primary School, Holy Family Catholic Church, Holy Family Joint Hospital, the Leper Colony, Holy Child Convent School and Holy Child Secondary School.
In appreciation, the Roman Catholic Church asked Chief Nentui Odu for one of his children to be brought up in the ways of the church in other words, in the whiteman’s ways. Since the girl called was thought to have ‘’little value’’ in those days, he gave them Regina. Fortuitously she became amongst the first four Ikom (Ekpache Nkome) women to receive western education joining Mrs. Marcelina Enemeba Etta, Mrs. Getrude Bassey Njar and Mrs Rosa Aiyegbe Ekuma all of blessed memory. Mama was the youngest.
Her mother was among the earliest converts to the Roman Catholic faith. She took the name Teresa at her baptism. The conversion, along with the serial loss of her children, cost her her marriage.
Ma Regina started her primary school in Ididep, Ibiono, attended St. Theresa Covent Primary School Edemekpat, Etinan and thereafter proceeded to Modern School, Ifugho in Ikot Ekpene Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. She then proceeded to Teachers Training College, Afikpo, Ebonyi State where she obtained her Teachers Training Certificate. She much later attended the University of Benin, Benin City for a certificate course in social work.
Mama was a teacher with the Roman Catholic mission from 1941 to 1969 and was headmistress of Schools in Assiga and Ugep (in today’s Yakurr Local Government) and Ikom (Holy Child Convent School) and Edor(in Ikom Local Government). She was also the first Parish Secretary of the Holy Family Parish Ikom and served for many years before handing over to the late David Ebi Assima. In between she contested elections for the Chairmanship of Ikom County Council (now Ikom, Boki and Etung Local Governments) of the platform of the defunct National Council of Nigeria and Cameroun (NCNC) in 1960 and won.
She was Chairman of the then Ikom County Council between 1960-1963 making her the first female Chairman of a County Council(now Local Government) in the then Eastern Region, and indeed, the entire Country. Her legacies include Holy Family Joint Hospital( built by the Roman Catholic Church in collaboration with the Council) County Secondary School now Government Secondary School, Ikom (Govisco), Ikom Water Works, Hospital Road, UAC-Four Corners Road, Ikom Town, the first tarred roads in Ikom. She had previously been elected as Councillor for Ikom Urban, the first woman to be so elected.
She transferred her service to mainstream civil service of the then South Eastern State (now Cross River and Akwa Ibom States). She worked as a Social Welfare Officer until retirement in 1992. She spent many years at the Remand Home, Ogoja as pioneer Matron reforming deviant youths.
Mama cherished her family both immediate and extended. She saw every child as hers and her home became home to all. She encouraged girl child education and did everything for her brothers, sisters, relatives and friends children to acquire education. She was the rallying point for all her relations and their children.
She was loving but strict, firm but fair and had very clear moral boundaries. She was strong, hardworking, resourceful, courageous and friendly and had a keen sense of justice. To her integrity, character and the fear of God were the bedrock of a proper life. She was totally indifferent to material things.
She was a true and authentic EkpacheNkome daughter. Both parents were originally Ekpache Nkome and of royal lineages. She was a member of the Girls Guide, Catholic Women Organisation, Society of Saint Jude among others and held the traditional title of Okim Mgbe which she inherited from her father and also got in her own right. She was a member of Lion Club International.
Mama retired in 1992 to a quiet life in Ikom and devoted her time to Roman Catholic Church activities, community service, farming and enjoying the company of her her numerous relatives. She performed the Chirstian pilgrimage to Jerusalem. She was a fervent Catholic who went to mass every day until she took ill.
She was among 100 Cross Riverians inducted into ‘’The Cross River State Roll of Honour’’ by the then Governor Donald Duke. On June 6, 2019 she was also inducted into the Nigeria Hall of Fame by the National Centre for Women Development in Abuja. She was represented at the occasion by Amaka, her daughter-in-law who received her insignia from the Director General of the Centre Mrs Mary Ekpere Eta, and Roy. The Ikom Chapter of the National Council of Women Societies also honoured her with a Life Time Achievements Award.
Mama was stable in health for most of her life. She however suffered trauma when she lost her biological daughter in 1963 and when she had complications from eye surgery in the 1990’s, Professor Rowland Ndoma-Egba, Dr Michael Nkwam, Dr. Bob Eriom and Dr Ezenwa Odurukwe and lately Dr Caleb Ekuri attended to her medical needs. Dr Ekuri was there when she passed on on 1st July 2020 at 4; 15pm.
Mama remained grateful to her mother Ma Eguri for standing by and with her all through her trials and triumphs and especially for her support towards her education. She was her pillar. She was ever proud of her father. She acknowledged throughout her life the contributions of the famous Chief Nkang Abang and Chief Michael Odi Ogar, Ikom’s first Honourable Commissioner, to her political career and those of Dr. George Ogar in her career in the Civil Service.
She remained fond her contemporaries, Mrs Marcelina Enemeba Etta, Mrs Getrude Bassey Njar and Mrs Rosa Aiyegba Ekuma. They represented feminist determination and the quest for gender equality in old Ikom (Ikom, Boki and Etung). Late Chief John Ugbe was her pioneer Director of Social Welfare and Mrs Helen Enya her immediate boss were very helpful in the early stages of her career in the civil service, John Egba, Chief Ojong Enim, Ochaji Tandu and Eucharia Bachot, Okpem Ndoma-Egba and Ma Regina Ndoma-Egba were always with her and were there until the end. Special mention must be made of Dr. Caleb, Ekuri who went beyond his professional mandate to care for her. He became her son.
Survived by: Three biological sons, Chief Kenneth Effa, retired executive director, Bank of Industry, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba OFR, CON, SAN former Senate Leader and former Chairman, NDDC and Roy Ndoma-Egba a Development Expert and Special Adviser on International Development Corporation to the Governors Donald Duke and Liyel Imoke of Cross River State whom she had with Honourable Justice E.T Ndoma-Egba OFR, JCA of blessed memory. Other children include Prof. Rowland Ndoma-Egba, Ransom Ndoma-Egba, Mrs. Victoria Nchor, Glory Ndoma-Egba, Knut Ndoma-Egba, Eta Ndoma-Egba, Mrs. Mbong Akinyemi, the entire Ndoma-Egba clan and Mrs. Mercy Ntui. She left behind many grandchildren and great grandchildren, nephews, nieces and a host of other relations.
Mama was ever grateful to God for her life and the Roman Catholic Church for the education and opportunities given to her and the spiritual support especially during her illness. Priests came to say Mass for her at home and to give her the sacrament and Reverend Sisters supported her. She was grateful to her children, grandchildren, relations, friends and her doctors for their love and care whom she said celebrated her while alive and from whom she requested a simple burial.
With her death at the age of 90, the last pioneer has gone, a generation extinguished and an age closed. Hers was a life indeed, a worthy life of love, service and sacrifice to family, government, community, humanity and the Almighty with whom she certainly has earned eternal rest.
May she rest in perfect peace.